Review: Star Trek Into Darkness / Cert: 12A / Director: J.J. Abrams / Screenplay: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof / Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch / Release Date: May 9th
In 2009, J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek movie franchise with a thrilling mix of emotion, humour and adventure in a parallel universe where this crew have to find their own paths. Four years later and he is taking us into daring and action-packed darkness but also remembering to leave room for these characters to grow. Exhilarating free falling, vibrant visuals, marvel and menace, spectacular set design and spiralling starships deliver an immersive high that will leave you buzzing.
The dazzling red landscape of Nibiru and the grey, sleek skyline of London 2259.55 are the backdrops to this fast, striding instalment. The story is set into motion with a bold act of terror by John Harrison (Cumberbatch), which leads into the exploration of this malevolent character and the reasons for his despicable actions. Military command and personal responsibility split crew members’ allegiances, just as the viewer's own sympathies alter throughout in reaction to every twist and turn, but to reveal any more would ruin the fun. Rest assured though, it's all a glorious display of technological know-how and cinematic imagination.
Apart from the grand set designs, which are stunning and seen through the blue hue of lens flare (introduced in the first film and this time turned up to eleven), the characters are the strongest asset here and are brought to life by the stellar cast. The special spark between Spock (Quinto) and Kirk (Pine) is the emotional core of the film as their bond deepens into friendship. Spock’s emotions and relationships are brought to the forefront as his amorous affair with Uhura (Saldana) is tested right from the start. Quinto, Saldana and Pine all get time to shine with funny and poignant moments, but Abrams is careful not to dwell too long before interrupting with a big bang or fast-paced action sequence, which again all three get to have fun with in this sequel. The highly-strung Bones gets some corking one-liners and Karl Urban delivers them with aplomb. On the other hand, a baffling scene involving Dr. Carol Marcus (Eve) appearing in her underwear for no apparent reason feels entirely out of place and could have easily been trimmed to shorten the running time. As for Benedict Cumberbatch's villain, he simply oozes intensity as he swoops across planets and collides with his foes.
Into Darkness does lack some of the emotional punch of the 2009 Star Trek and it would seem that the writing team of Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof didn’t have a clear idea of what the sequel would entail from the start of this franchise, but they’re also aware the characters are cherished for their traits and they play with this very well. They examine the blurry line between good and evil, explore the destructive nature of man and tackle the implications involving the creation of intelligent weaponry with some bold moves. That said, the need to entertain with battles, phaser fights and hand-to-hand combat takes over quite quickly. There are also some clever little flourishes, a tribute to Ray Bradbury in the naming of a USS vessel and Simon Pegg’s Scotty coming into his own and really having fun, which lighten the mood and delight.
Abrams laid down the foundations and origin stories in the first film, couching them in a full-throttle, high-octane adventure. The sequel is more of a pensive journey of discovery, one that delivers a perilous but ultimately somewhat familiar ride. This works in its favour in that it allows the characters to mature into their iconic roles, but it also results in some loss of freshness and suspense; the amazing action sequences, impressive effects and spectacular starships are sure to bring a beaming smile to your face though.
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10