Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Would we expect it any other way. . . .

Star Trek: Benedict Cumberbatch is truly tantalising

With the debut trailer out, big questions remain about the bad guy Cumberbatch is playing in his first big Hollywood role

  1. Star Trek Into Darkness
  2. Production year: 2013
  3. Directors: JJ Abrams
  4. Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine , Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana
  5. More on this film
JJ AbramsStar Trek was something of a surprise treat three years ago, impressively reinvigorating a tired franchise that seemed to have nowhere to go, boldly or otherwise. It may have rubbed purists' noses up the wrong way with its space opera leanings and focus on intense action, yet it delivered a full-blooded vision of extra-planetary conflict like nothing seen before on the big screen while dropping a respectful nod in the direction of its predecessors.
Sequel Star Trek Into Darkness is out in May and the four-year gap alone would have been enough to suggest optimism, Abrams having pointedly refused to sign on until a decent script was in place. The recruitment of Benedict Cumberbatch to play the lead villain only adds to the tantalisation factor, this being the Sherlock star's first big Hollywood role (not counting CGI turns in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey or a brief appearance in Spielberg's War Horse).
The debut trailer hit the internet today, and nine minutes from the film will be screening ahead of Imax presentations of The Hobbit. The discussion surrounding Into Darkness has centred on whether Abrams will head intoStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan territory; while Cumberbatch's as yet unnamed bad guy is unlikely to be the genetically engineered tyrant played by Ricardo Montalban in the 1982 movie (Cumberbatch appears to be wearing a Star Fleet uniform, after all) there are significant hints that something Khan-like is going down.
For a start, Cumberbatch is clearly intent on revenge, the same passion that drove his chest-thrusting predecessor into madness and beyond. On the other hand, so was Romulan meanie Nero in Star Trek: clearly, the reboot series' creators have decided that a little bit of genuine anger makes for a far more convincing bad guy. The suggestion that Cumberbatch might have good reason for his assault on Star Fleet and the Earth itself tallies with a comment from the British actor at a press conference in Japan this week in which he appeared to hint that his character was far from an out-and-out villain.
"He is very ruthless … He is not a clearly good or evil character," said Cumberbatch. "He is a villain but the actions he takes have intent and reason. He is a complicated character not to be judged by white-or-black, or good-or-evil. But this is the appeal of JJ's works and [why] I felt challenged as an actor." Abrams added: "The character is a villain and scary, but I was looking for an actor with humanity who audiences can sympathies with."
Another hint that the director is channelling Wrath of Khan only appears in the Japanese version of the trailer. Thanks to Cinemablend for this screengrab, that shows two sets of hands pressed against each other from opposite sides of a pane of glass. Anyone who has seen the earlier film will remember that this is the bit where Spock dies after being trapped in a radioactive chamber. Leonard Nimoy reputedly only agreed to appear in the sequel to the 1979's misfiring Star Trek: The Motion Picture because he would never have to play the Vulcan again. Of course, the second film turned out to be the best in the series and the powers that be were forced to resurrect Captain Kirk's pointy-eared sidekick for 1984's weaker Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Is Abrams planning to kill off Spock again? That seems pretty unlikely, with Zachary Quinto only one movie into an impressive run as the taciturn deputy. So what exactly is going on here? The fact that the Japanese trailer ends with Cumberbatch asking: "Is there anything you would not do for your family?" only further confuses the issue.
Elsewhere, I'm loving the glimpses of a future, silvery blue Earth metropolis threatened with destruction and the way it's contrasted with a strange, rust-orange, mossy alien landscape in the trailer. Britain's Alice Eve (playing a new member of the Starship Enterprise) has presumably been brought on board to give Chris Pine's Kirk someone to flirt with now that Spock and Uhuru are a public item.
But this one really does appear to be all about Cumberbatch: who is he playing, and will he be up to the task?



  1. I am not a "Trekkie", but I might see this movie just to see Cumberbatch's performance.

    1. Not a Trekkie either, and will wait for the DVD. Wasn't all that impressed with the last Star Trek movie.