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Star Trek Into Darkness prologue reaction

Star Trek Into Darkness is previewing a nine-minute prologue ahead of select IMAX screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey .

We managed to see the footage at London’s BFI IMAX this morning, which was presided over by producer Bryan Burk and stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Alice Eve.

If you fancy seeing the prologue cold, then you should turn away now, as this is going to get spoilery (well, as spoilery as you can get in nine minutes).

The prologue opens on Noel Clarke’s character, who wakes up in a future London, before heading to a stately hospital with his wife. There they look over their very sickly daughter.

When Clarke steps out to get some fresh air on a balcony, we hear Cumberbatch’s authoritative delivery of an offer that Clarke presumably can’t refuse, saying that he can save the child.

In a moment that’s sure to have all the Khan conspiracy theorists banging their fists in frustration, Clarke asks, ‘Who are you?’, and the camera trains in on Cumberbatch’s face (overwhelmingly enormous on the IMAX screen), before it cuts to the next scene without an answer.

Trek fans should be pretty happy with what they see next, though. We’re on that planet, overgrown with scarlet flora, glimpsed in the announcement trailer . It’s Nibiru apparently, a Class M Planet.

Two cloaked figures sprint across the forest, before tearing their hoods off to reveal that they’re Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban). Hot on their heels are the natives, wearing similar robes but identifiable by their cracked white skin. Think Prometheus ’ Engineers, but gone off.

It seems that Starfleet are on a mission to deactivate a volcano that’s set to level the planet, although its inhabitants don’t seem to appreciate the gesture.

The Enterprise is revealed to be loitering nearby, underwater. At least that answers one question about the trailer

Meanwhile, Spock’s being lowered into the volcano to activate the device that’ll defuse the eruption, but the safety cord snaps, leaving the half-Vulcan stranded amid the lava.

Being logical, he doesn’t want the team to risk the mission by saving him. And so the preview ends, with a brief sizzle reel showing off some of the trailer’s highlights.

The Total Film staff members that attended the screening were hugely enthused, and desperate to see the other 111 minutes.

Particularly impressive was the use of 3D. Despite being post-converted, there was an appreciable depth to the action (the IMAX sizing also helped), with the sputtering lava and the natives’ spears drawing notable gasps.

J.J. Abrams manages to squeeze almost every major cast member into the prologue, creating an impressive mini-story that’s as effectively concise as the fate of Kirk’s father that opened the 2009 film .

Roll on 17 May 2013, when Star Trek Into Darkness opens in the UK.

Matt Maytum
Matt Maytum

I'm the Deputy Editor at Total Film magazine, looking after the long-form features there, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar.