Star Trek Into Darkness does not arrive in theaters and IMAX 3D until May 17, 2013, but that hasn't stopped director J.J. Abrams and his intrepid Starfleet officers from giving fans a tasty treat five months early with a look at the first 9 minutes of the movie in IMAX (running before screenings of The Hobbit starting this weekend) and a sit-down with members of the Enterprise crew (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana and John Cho) and two new faces to the franchise (love interest Alice Eve and bag guy Benedict Cumberbatch).
"All the characters are put to the test," says Urban, who plays Dr. McCoy, of the new movie. "In the first movie Kirk earns his captain's seat. In this movie he has to own it, and he comes face-to-face with the reality of what that means."
"Kirk really has to face his self-worth in this film and if he's capable of leading," says Pine. "He experiences and sees absolute evil, and a lot of that is related to his deep fear and a sense of vulnerability."
Star Trek Into Darkness finds the Enterprise crew called back to Earth to battle an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization. Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction, and our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death.
Just in case you were thinking that J.J. Abrams' sophomore Star Trek effort is all doom and gloom, the director clarifies that while the adventure does indeed get pretty dark, "You can't have darkness without light, and our characters are, I think, as much fun and compelling and interesting and relatable as you can get."
Plus, Kirk's still got that swagger… "Kirk loves his blonde women, and there's a lovely blonde lady played by Alice Eve, so there's much flirting and there's definitely a connection there," says Pine. "But this film is so big and the plot moves so fast and there's so much action to be had, there's not really much time to explore the romantic side of Kirk -- although classic Kirk with his swagger, I would say, is definitely back."
And, we'll see a badass Spock: "Logic can only prevail so far," says Quinto, who plays the half-human, half-Vulcan character. "I think you'll see different sides of him in different ways this time, as with all the characters, and if he needs to kick some ass, he will."
Audiences were pleasantly surprised to discover in the last film that Spock and Uhura were dating, and Saldana also gives some insight into where their relationship may be headed: "Whether they're together or not in this movie will remain to be seen," she teases. "But you can see in those first nine minutes [of this movie] that there is a great deal of affection for each other."
Watch ET for more with the cast of Star Trek Into Darkness…
CLICK HERE for our one-on-one with new villain Benedict Cumberbatch.