Geekwatch: Star Trek, X-Men and more
Set your phasers to fun, the first poster for J.J. Abrams’ long-awaited Star Trek sequel has landed. The one-sheet, which was revealed in a Tweet by Paramount on Monday morning, gives us our first glimpse of what the film might be like when it beams into cinemas in May 2013.
For a franchise that’s traditionally associated with the blinking computer monitors and whirring gizmos of the Enterprise bridge, there’s an altogether grittier feel to the poster, which shows Benedict Cumberbatch’s as-yet-unnamed villain standing amid the debris of some urban destruction. Clad in gothic garb, Cumberbatch looks out towards some futuristic metropolis (said by some to be a 23rd Century London on account of the iconic Gherkin building front right) framed with the familiar silhouette of the Starfleet emblem.
It all seems a world away from the rejuvenated franchise’s altogether more upbeat opening voyage, which saw Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Simon Pegg breathe new life into the now familiar crew of the U.S.S Enterprise.
So what does it tell us about the film? Details are still pretty thin on the ground but last week Paramount did unveil an official synopsis for the sequel that gave us a little more insight of what to expect come May 17th. It read:
“When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.
With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.”
With that in mind we can probably assume that the pile of rubble Cumberbatch stands atop in the poster is what remains of Star Fleet, and that perhaps the metropolis he’s set his sights on is most definitely on Earth itself. But despite whetting our appetites for the upcoming adventure both the poster and the synopsis still leave plenty of questions unanswered.
The biggest amongst these is just who Cumberbatch’s villain might be. Plenty of pundits suggest that the infamous Khan Noonien Singh might be the most plausible identity for the British actor’s character. The titular villain from 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Khan also appeared in an episode of the original series and has long been considered as one of the franchise’s iconic foes. His backstory states that he was one of a breed of genetically engineered supermen who became a tyrant that once ruled over a quarter of the earth before being deposed in the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s. After being placed in suspended animation he crosses paths with Kirk’s enterprise some three centuries later and attempts to usurp control of the Enterprise and eventually exact his revenge.
It certainly chimes with the description of a “one man weapon” given in the synopsis, but his apparent destruction of Starfleet in the poster jars a little with the character’s timeline – though Abrams has already shown he’s not afraid to mess with the canon. Perhaps instead it might point to an alternative identity for Cumberbatch’s villain, perhaps that of Gary Mitchell, a character from the original series who appeared in an episode entitled “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.
It’s a name that’s previously been bandied around by fans and was even teased by Karl Urban AKA Dr. Bones McCoy. He’s also a character whose history dovetails nicely with the recent synopsis. In the original series Mitchell was a close friend of Kirk; a fellow Starfleet officer who was exposed to a strange phenomenon at the edge of space that granted him god-like psychic powers that eventually corrupt him.
For now the mystery remains, well, a mystery. But perhaps it’s one that will finally be solved when we get to see our first glimpse of footage attached to screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Bryan Singer won’t be the only familiar face returning to Marvel’s mutant franchise in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The director, who stepped into the spot vacated by a supposedly Star Wars bound Matthew Vaughn, took to Twitter this week to reveal who’ll be joining him for the sequel.
Bryan wrote on his Twitter page: ''I'd like to officially welcome back James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, & Nicholas Hoult to #XMEN for #DaysOfFuturePast (sic).''
Before stating: ''Thrilled to announce @ianmckellen118 & @SirPatStew are joining the cast of #XMEN #DaysOfFuturePast #magneto #professorX More to come... (sic)''
Whilst the return of messrs McAvoy and Fassbender is a welcome if unsurprising announcement, the news that Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Patrick Stewart have signed on to appear in the upcoming sequel is something altogether more exciting.
The casting suggests that we can expect to see plenty of time travel to explain how the elder statesmen will co-exist with their younger counterparts; something the director himself all but confirmed when he told Deadline ''The movie is called 'X-Men: Days of Future Past', use your imagination.''
Another man returning to the franchise is Hugh Jackman who confirmed earlier this week that he too would make an appearance in Singer’s sequel. Jackman who played Wolverine in the original trilogy, as well as his own spin-off series, made a brief cameo in X-Men: First Class. However, he stopped short of confirming how big his role would be opening up the possibility for him to take a larger slice of screen time in Days of Future Past.
All of which opens up the tantalising possibility that Singer might attempt to bridge the gap between the warmly received reboot and the original trilogy, which he oversaw the first two instalments of between 2000 and 2003. It’s a bold and potentially brilliant move, which will enable the director to cherry pick the best of both worlds for his hotly anticipated sequel.
Remember the Star Wars prequels we’d all rather forget? You know the ones with
the pod racing, Jar Jar binks and the “younglings”? Well if like me you’ve
spent the past seven years trying to scrub them clean from your frontal lobes
then you’ve made a mistake. That’s according to a respected British art critic
who described them as the greatest work of art for the past 30 years.
Yes, flying in the face of convention, critical opinion and all semblance of common sense, Camille Paglia recently said in an interview that the finale of Revenge of the Sith “has more inherent artistic value, emotional power and global impact…” than anything else from the past three decades. And there was us thinking that the moment Vader staggered towards the screen like a drunken Frankenstein was the day the franchise died, silly us, eh?