The first teaser trailer for JJ Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness is a tricksy thing. Let's take a look at it, up close, and see what we might work out.
The film's first poster may have taken us to London, but this trailer doesn't. You'll recognise San Francisco here by its bridge. The city was heavily featured in the last film too, being a key centre for the United Federation of Planets.
And we're here, it would seem, for a memorial of some kind. That's Kirk at the podium, suggesting he has a personal relationship with the deceased.
Our own Alasdair Stuart tells me this is the "missing man" formation, flown to commemorate a fallen squad member.
In this shot, Kirk seems to be down on his knees - that makes the most sense of the eyelines. And that kind of depends on the character with his back to us being seated, which makes me pretty sure it's Captain Pike. He was left in a wheelchair at the end of the last film.
There's a pattern, repeated throughout the trailer, in which the camera sits more or less at Kirk's eye level but it looks up to others, for reverse angles on the shots of Kirk most particularly.
It's like we're down with Kirk, looking up to other people. Keep an eye out for it.
An establishing shot for what I presume is some kind of alien world, though it could be some odd region somewhere on Earth.
There's a flag flying on the top of that 'pile' in the middle - probably way too much of a stretch to hypothesise this is a 'capture the flag' training arena, though.
Note how the blurriness has a bit of tilt-shift effect and makes everything look miniaturised.
Why are Bones and Kirk wearing scarves? Note the hoods too - there's a lot of hoods in this trailer. What has these guys on the hop, do you reckon?
They find that the only way out is to leap off of the cliff. It's a little bit Butch and Sundance, a little bit The Fugitive, a little bit The Dark Crystal, a little bit Apocalypto, a little bit Walt Disney's Pinocchio... it's not really a new idea. I expect this shot is part of the shot-on-IMAX sequences too.
Here's Alice Eve as... somebody. When she was cast, we were told she'd be playing a newly invented character. I didn't believe it then - betting on Janice Rand - and I don't believe it now. I'm just no longer betting on Rand.
We're looking up at her, but as before, we'll be more or less level with Kirk in the reverse.
The expression on his face in this reverse angle suggests that Kirk is quite attracted to Eve's character. How do we read Bones face, though? He seems to be worried about this. Should Kirk not be flirting with this lady?
Note that the item in her hand has flashing lights on it...
Here's another hood. I'm thinking this is likely to be Benedict Cumberbatch's villain character, complete with super jumping powers - more on those later. And do note the Klingon he's about to land by, and whup on.
What's the big super-fat rocket launcher-looking thing that he's swinging around? Something he's stealing from the Klingons, maybe? A weapon he used to break in?
Note the scarves, suggesting we are in the same sequences as the flag-top thing - unless they're different scarves, which they look like they might be. The only thing this trailer has more of than scarves is hoods, it would seem.
It's much easier to see it when the image is moving but there's either snow or ash or similar blowing in the breeze here.
And, yep, we're down with Kirk...
...looking up at the villain.
And more ash here too, so it seems that these shots and the "Klingon fighting shots" all take place in the same overall sequence.
This pair of shots (above and below) seem to show Mr. Bad Guy has Kirk and Uhura in his sights. How does this go wrong for him?
The grand entrance of those infamous Star Trek lens flares... are in a title card containing nothing buy JJ Abrams' credit. They must have thought this was hilarious.
Here's Spock. We saw behind the scenes images from this sequence, so I'll pop one below. He's apparently wearing some kind heat-proofed suit for a descent into a volcano.
And here he is, galavanting around in the belly of the beast.
Here's Uhura in the location of the Klingon fight. We're looking up her. Stops us confusing her with that Kirk chap anyway, huh?
Spock with a gun.
Is this The Enterprise? Or isn't it? If it is, we'll later find out how it got down there. If it isn't, add underwater spacecraft to hoods and scarves on the list of repeated tropes.
I think it is, though.
Okay, maybe not. I'm pretty sure we can make out the NCC-07 labelling. Just about. That would make it the Poseidon, appropriately enough.
Spock stands in the centre of the volcano as it errupts. I think he's come down here to trigger this - that's the purpose of the device he was carrying. But why? Why would you want to make a volcano errupt?
Continued on the next page.
It's all gone whoops-up on the Enterprise. The lights are out, sparks are flying and either the gravity system or the ship's orientation seem to have gone wonky.
Seems that some key members of the crew are falling. Chris Pine is recognisable enough on the right, but I'm not 100% on the others.
And we're back to whaling on Klingons with some choreographed martial arts.
The impact of that kick cuts to the explosion of sparks flying. It's an impactive piece of cutting. Well played, whoever did that.
The victims here seem to be a bunch of greyshirts.
Here's a shot of Kirk and then a reverse in which we don't look up towards the other character, for once. But the underlying structure is still there - both shots are from Kirk's eye level.
Note that the costumes tie these shots in with several earlier ones. Also, there's some kind of rusted valve in the background. Where are we?
Sulu is looking around so fast there wasn't even a single clear frame of him. I guess there are alarms going off left, right and centre.
Spock has his phaser out and he's running. Half human impulse? Half vulcan logical reaction?
It would seem that he's chasing Cumberbatch's character, and that this villain isn't frightened of just jumping through plate glass windows. Can we agree, by now, that he has beyond-human powers?
Another shot of Alice Eve's mysterious character. Note that her blue tunic reveals she's one of the medical or science staff. That, combined with the hair-do, is pretty compelling evidence that's playing Elizabeth Dehner. I'll pop a pic of Sally Kellerman playing the role on the original TV series below.
And wat is she screaming at? This is quite a horrendous, unsettling shot - the odd angle of her leg certainly doesn't help.
Concludes on the next page.
Some silhouettes in a circular corridor bear the brunt of a big explosion. Not nice.
...indeed, cutting directly to this shot of Uhura and Scotty in tears suggest that something rather horrible has happened. Even if the connection between these two shots doesn't stay clearly in mind, the cut has injected even more of a downbeat flavour into the trailer.
And here we see Kirk reaching out... the explosion suggests that he's too late, or too far away.
And amidst all this tragedy, a reminder of the film's villain, acting absolutely brutally.
Here's Kirk, apparently coming in to face the villain. Note once again - we're on Kirk's eye level, Cumberbatch is elevated, and looking pretty naughty to boot.
After the villain voice over asks "Shall we begin?" and the eye-to-eye with Kirk is done, that whole sequence suggesting his confident challenge, the throwing down of the gauntlet to our young Captain, then things start blowing up. We're looking at a terrorist here.
It seems like there's some indication that the destruction is coming, too, as there's a crowd looking up. Can they see something flying in for impact?
The big bang.
The city is taking a whooping. Has a space craft been flown into a building? Is it a bombing? I feel it's the former.
And the cut leads us to the Enterprise, or so it seems, crashing into the water.
Can we presume the crew (ie. Scotty) repair it under there, and it later rises up, as seen earlier in the trailer?
What follows is only included in the Japanese edit of this teaser.
So... what do you think Kirk is looking at, amidst the lens flare and "red for danger"?
The voice over here mentions family, which brings us to that theme for the first time. Do note that the official plot blurb said:Sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.Obviously of some significance here.
And finally, a clear homage to the death of Spock in Wrath of Khan, the second Star Trek movie in the "first run." I've put an image from that scene below.
And there ends the trailer, with a strong suggestion that this storyline, somehow, follows Wrath of Khan. Do we think they're going to kill Spock off? I'm not even sure that's Kirk's hand on this side of the screen.
In fact, we don't even know which side of the screen is which. Maybe things have been flopped here, and it's Kirk in the old Spock position...? That ties-in with him wanting to sacrifice himself for his "family."
The shot was almost certainly included as a nod to Khan, and we did hear, early on, that the villain in this film would be Khan.
And after a week or so of being pretty sure that Cumberbatch was going to be playing Gary Mitchell, I've changed my mind. Now I think he's Khan. Again.
At the same time, I do think Alice Eve is playing Elizabeth Dehner, though. She was always part of the Mitchell story but a recent spin-off project appears to have shown us how things are different here. This new time line is all jumbled up from the original series.
There is aStar Trekcomic, published by IDW, that is set in the Abrams' movie continuity and canon. Producer and writer Roberto Orci has said recently that what goes in the comic stands in the movies.
In the first two issues they introduced Mitchell and then, almost as quickly, killed him off.
But unlike the original TV version of the story, Dehner didn't appear. It was explained that she didn't come on board the Enterprise because she has a romantic history with Bones that had turned bad.
That certainly chimes with the beat in the trailer where Alice Eve is flirting with Chris Pine and Karl Urban is looking grumpy about it.
The comics' Mitchell used electricity from his fingers to fight. This character is always using weapons, including guns. That's not a good match either, if you ask me.
One good visual clue is the collar of the jacket Cumberbatch wears. Look at original Khan's get up here.
Then look at this design.
I think costumier Michael Kaplan has done this on purpose.
And we should also listen to the voiceover."For I have returned to have my vengeance" seems like a reference to Khan's exile, for sure.
Though this would mean that the voice over comes from later in the film's story as the new continuity hasn't adapted the story of Khan's origin and exile inSpace Seed yet, and I think it most likely would.
Do note that a sequence in Space Seed sees Kirk trapped in the decompression chamber. That may be the source of the hands-on-glass sequence above.
As to Khan's ethnicity... well, do remember that he was genetically engineered. Any little tweak is possible in this new design.
And... actually, I've started to convince myself he's Garth of Izar. The only thing I'm really sure of is that JJ Abrams and co. have messed my head up.
This teaser trailer certainly teases, and I don't know how close I am to having fit the pieces together snugly. We're just a week away from the unveiling of the film's 9-minute opening scene, however. That's bound to be the end of at least a couple of the big mysteries.
Star Trek Into Darkness will be released in full next May.