Paramount Pictures screened the 9-minute opening of Star Trek into Darkness for journalists that will premiere in front of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in select IMAX theaters - and Screen Rant was invited to attend. While they asked that we not divulge details of the footage, here are our spoiler-free thoughts on what was shown...
If there is a comparison to be made between the opening of Star Trek 2/Star Trek into Darkness to other films, it would be a cross between the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark and a typical James Bond movie. That is to say that it opens with a sequence that (at this point) seems disconnected from the main story, and is instead presented to establish the characters and where they are contextually within the Star Trek universe.
The introduction indicates that the film does not pick up directly after the end of the first film - instead it shows that the starship Enterprise is already into its mission, and that the crew has been working together for a while. The relationships seem more established - and Kirk is put into a position where he must choose between the needs of the many or the needs of the few. It also depicts the USS Enterprise in a situation we haven't seen before, and we have no doubt that Trekkies will debate the viability of the ship's ability to function in this environment.
Prior to the Bond/Raiders-esque sequence, there is a short series of scenes that do tie into the plot - and they are enticingly vague. Benedict Cumberbatch does make an appearance - and that appearance is of a nature that will spark some debate regarding the competing rumors as to who, exactly, he plays in the film.
Star Trek Into Darkness' 3D was added through post-production (which I've always been critical of in the past), but recent examples have improved greatly - to the point where it can be difficult to tell the difference between shot-in-3D and post-production-3D. It seems that director J.J. Abrams had 3D cinematography in mind while shooting the film, as some elements of the action on screen were clearly shot with the format in mind. Some of the use is subtle, and some is pretty "in your face." Whether you enjoy 3D or not, your mind is probably made up, so there's not much point going into it other than saying that it looked good.
As to the impact of the IMAX prologue/preview... did it knock the crowd in attendance off its collective seat? I'd have to say no. However... it did leave us all wanting more and was ultimately successful as a result. The opening minutes of the first Star Trek film are incredibly difficult to top, and the Into Darkness prologue did not have the impact of the similar preview of The Dark Knight three years ago.
It did however, establish where the crew of the NCC-1701 is as a team, and gave us an enticing peek into the villain of the film, with an introduction that may throw into doubt who we expected him to be as a character. Cryptic? Yes, but we don't want to give away too much - it's best left for you to see yourself. For now, check out the one-minute Star Trek Into Darkness teaser trailer.
J.J. Abrams returns to direct Star Trek Into Darkness off a screenplay by Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci. It stars Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg.
Star Trek Into Darkness opens in theaters (regular and IMAX 3D) on May 17th, 2013.