A Preview of the Star Trek Into Darkness IMAX Prologue

Tonight, Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot screened for press the nine-minute IMAX prologue to J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness. Superhero Hype was on hand to take a first look at the footage and will be heading to Bad Robot tomorrow for more information. In the meantime, Abrams himself has requested that we keep specific details of the footage to a minimum.

Most intriguing about what was showcased, said to represent the first nine minutes of the film, is that it asks far more questions than it answers. By the time it’s done, we still don’t know the identity of Benedict Cumberbatch’s mystery villain and we’re left with the reveal that much of what we’ve already seen in the trailer is actually part of a separate adventure that joins the Enterprise crew in media res.

The footage opens with Noel Clarke and Kayla Hassan’s characters living what appears to be a very ordinary life in the 23rd century. They wake up, make breakfast and drive to a hospital where a little girl, presumably their daughter, is unconscious in bed. The entire scene plays without dialogue, but with a surprisingly powerful Michael Giacchino score, somewhat reminiscent of the tear-inducing opening of Up.

Clearly troubled that he can’t do anything to help her, Clarke is standing outside when he’s approached by Cumberbatch, who tells him that he can help. Clarke asks who he is and we just get a mischievous Cumberbatch smile.

The rest of the footage finds the Enterprise in the middle of a mission to the same red-colored planet that we see in the trailer. Kirk and McCoy have been visiting the locals undercover and are now making a hasty escape. Hidden at the bottom of the planet’s ocean, the Enterprise monitors the mission and, from a shuttle, Spock, Uhura and Sulu make their way inside a volcano. Spock has to head into the volcano to prevent it from erupting and, as lava waves build, it looks like he may not be getting out alive.

Abrams made the point in his introduction that fans have already assumed from the title and the first trailer that the sequel will be overly dark and he’s hoping that this footage is going to counter that reaction. What’s genuinely great about what happens onscreen is that we’re seeing a fun “Star Trek” adventure that gives every single crew member a quick starring moment. We also get enough humor (particularly from Simon Pegg) that manages to make light of exactly the kind of fan over-analysis that the film is sure to generate (i.e. Can the Enterprise even operate underwater?)

The film, set for release on May 17, 2013, also stars Chris Pine, John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Alice Eve and Peter Weller. You can find a full list of theaters showing the IMAX preview by clicking here and check back tomorrow for more details from Bad Robot.