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Feature: Star Trek (2009)

The first images…

Image compilation

We were privileged to be among the lucky few invited to a secret London location to view the trailer and footage from the brand new Star Trek movie. This is what we saw…


Dateline: 10th November 2008
Also in attendance was director JJ Abrams, on hand to introduce and explain the four sequences being screened for the very first time anywhere in the world.

Enthusiastic and energetic – impressive given that Star Trek is still in post-production – Abrams is obviously thrilled to have been given the job of retooling such a beloved franchise, which makes his first statement somewhat surprising. “I've was never really a huge fan of Star Trek,” he admits. “When I was asked to do Trek, I found myself saying ‘yes’! There have been 10 movies and a million series [and] I appreciated there was a promise of adventure. The idea of doing this movie where it could feel legitimate and real, despite all the stuff that non-fans might think was silly, was the challenge.

“I've seen all the parodies,” Abrams continues, “but the key to doing this and making it feel real was a great cast. The cast is amazing.” And, to prove his point, Abrams introduced the first clip, “where we meet Kirk as a young man [and see] how he ends up joining Starfleet”

Clip 1: Meeting Kirk
The new bridge
We're in Iowa, on Earth, in a dodgy-looking club that's familiar in every sense – apart from the futuristic clothes and aliens propping up the bar. A striking black girl struts up to the bar and orders a round – which includes a couple of Budweiser classics – and almost immediately is hit on by a clearly drunk young man. Introducing himself as James Kirk (Chris Pine), the chap tries in vein to buy the lady a drink, until her interest is finally piqued by the fact that he knows about Xeno linguistics. It seems that the young lady is, in fact, Uhura (Zoe Saldana), who is studying alien languages. All is going swimmingly until Kirk draws the attention of a group of Starfleet officers who take exception to his demeanour and a massive fistfight ensues. Bloody and battered, Kirk looks up from the floor to see Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) who, after stopping the fight, tells Kirk that he should join Starfleet and so carry on the great traditions begun by Kirk's father, who died in a massive battle with the Romulans just after Kirk's birth.

Kirk, of course, is less than enamoured with the idea…

… but soon changes his mind, as we see him roar up to the shuttle waiting to take new recruits for training, and inform Captain Pike that he'll be an officer in just three years. Hell, yeah.

Clip 2: Welcome to the Enterprise
TheVulcan grip
“So Kirk joins Starfleet and immediately gets in trouble,” Abrams explains as he returns to introduce the second scene. “They all get assigned to ships, but Kirk does not because he's in trouble.” Abrams goes on to explain that Kirk's friend Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban) discovers a loophole, whereby doctors assigned to ships are allowed to bring patients with them, and so injects Kirk to make him look ill and get him aboard the Enterprise.

And so we see the pair stagger onto the ship, Kirk is looking sick as a dog. On the bridge, Russian office Chekov (Anton Yelchin) attempts to give an authorization code to the computer, his strong accent causing recognition problems. He discovers that the Vulcans have issued a distress signal, one that the Enterprise will have to investigate.

Deep in the sick bay, Kirk hears the announcement and immediately flies into a panic. Running to the communications hub of the ship, he tries to extract information from Uhura – very difficult, considering his tongue has swollen to twice its normal size.

We briefly see the dark interior of the Romulan ship where Nero (an unrecognizable Eric Bana) is delighted to hear the federation ships are on the way. A beam coming from the ship drills down into the Vulcan planet.

Back on the Enterprise, Kirk pelts onto the bridge, screaming that they are running into a trap – that Vulcan is actually being attacked by the Romulans. A dispassionate Spock (Zachary Quinto) is initially disbelieving – effectively setting up the immediate animosity between the two men – but in the end can't fault Kirk and Uhura's logic. And, as the ship comes out of warp, it's clear Kirk was correct as the remains of the other federation ships float amid a hail of Romulan gunfire. And the Enterprise is the new target…

Clip 3: Future Echoes
In the ice
Back on stage, Abrams introduces the third scene with simplicity. “So, Kirk pisses off Spock and gets marooned. He lands on a planet and ends up meeting the older Spock. The two of them then meet another character, played by Simon Pegg.”

At this point, a be-flat-capped Simon Pegg stands up to introduce his role, that of Scotty. Describing himself as a huge geek, Pegg is clearly beyond thrilled to be involved with Trek. “I'm pant-wettingly excited to be involved with a character I've known since I was nine,” he gushes, before admitting he needs to sit down before he wells up. “It happens all the time,” he says – and one expects he's only half joking.

The film rolls, and Kirk and the old Spock (Leonard Nimoy) are on a frozen planet, and come across a clearly pissed-off Scotty, who has been ostracized after his attempts to experiment with transporter technology resulted in the tragic loss of the admiral's dog. Yet Scotty is central to Kirk's journey; Kirk needs to be transported onto the Enterprise as it moves at warp speed, and Scotty is the only person who can achieve that (with the help of information provided by his future self). As they prepare to beam up, Spock reveals he can't go with them; he also tells Kirk in no uncertain terms that he must never tell the young Spock about the older Spock's existence, and that Kirk must prove that Spock is emotionally compromised so that he can gain control of the Enterprise.

Live long and prosper indeed, Mr Spock

Clip 4: FreeFall
The new crew
Coming back to introduce the final clip, Abrams reveals it's perhaps the most action-packed of the four. “The drill that comes from Nero's space ship drills into the planet, and this is a sequence where the good guys are space jumping onto it.”

And indeed, that is exactly what it is. The Enterprise's transporters are being jammed, so Kirk, Sulu (John Cho) and Engineer Olsen are ordered to freefall onto the platform and knock out the drill. As Captain Pike is to pilot their shuttle, so Spock is promoted to Captain of the Enterprise. Bones too is promoted to chief medic, after his predecessor has been killed in the attack that has devastated part of the ship.

In the shuttle; Kirk asks Sulu what combat training he has. “Fencing,” is the deadpan reply. The three then make their jump; Kirk and Sulu land (almost) safely but Engineer Olsen fails to open his chute in time and plummets to his death. (Well, he should have known better than to wear a red shirt to work…) On the platform, two guards emerge and a fight ensues; it transpires that Sulu is a top-notch sword fighter, saving both his life and Kirk's. But, seeing that the drill has been compromised, Nero orders the bombing; realizing his parents are in danger, Spock abandons his command of the Enterprise and heads out to save them.

Back on Vulcan, Kirk and Sulu are also in trouble, having been knocked off the platform they are freefalling to earth without a parachute. As Kirk screams at the Enterprise to beam them up, Chekov manages to get a lock on them and, at the last minute, beams them to safety.

“Thanks,” says Sulu, as they lay breathless on the floor of the transporter room.

“No problem,” replies Kirk.

And, with that, it seems that rebooting the Star Trek franchise has been no problem for Abrams, clearly delighted at the positive reaction his footage has achieved. Visually stunning, with a solid cast and moments of genuine humour, Trek looks set to appeal to the fans and win over a whole new audience. We've got to wait until Stardate May 9, 2009 for the finished movie– but we hope our preview has whetted your appetite to boldy go where no man has gone before.

by Nikki Baughn

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Photos © Paramount Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2008. Not for reproduction

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