The second movie out of the gate, in the coveted Summer Movie Season, is the sequel to 2009’s reboot of the popular Sci-Fi series Star Trek. Rather than do a complete remake of the original series of films, Abrams has decided to go down the alternative timeline route, which allows him and his writers to pick which elements they want to re-use and develop it into something a bit fresh.
Now, I must confess, I am not a Star Trek fan and can’t remember seeing any of the original films or any of the TV series. I have enough familiarity with many of the elements of this franchise due to them being lampooned many times before. So for me this series is new.
So, what is the story about? A year after the events of the previous film, Kirk and his crew are on a mission to scout out foreign planets. They have strict instructions NOT to interfere with the species they find. Kirk being Kirk disobeys orders and sets of a chain of events that results in him being demoted to First Officer of his mentor Christopher Pike.
Meanwhile, the mysterious John Harrison, one of Star Fleets agents begins a one man war against StarFleet for unknown reasons. His attack first on an archive in London and then on StarFleets Headquarters in San Francisco, causes many casualties. One of these is a personal loss to Kirk. Thus he convinces the Admiral to reinstate him as Captain in order to bring Harrison to justice, but all is not what it seems.
Star Trek: Into Darkness is a fun movie, where you never feel the story lagging. It’s fast paced and you are dragged along with the cast, as they try to apprehend John Harrison. While watching the film, I had this feeling that not everything was at it seems. Not being familiar with how John Harrison was introduced into Star Trek, I was completely in the dark. This made it compelling stuff as I sat in the cinema, trying to work out why John Harrison turned on his employers.
It should be noted that the writers, producers and director are all veterans from one of my favourite Sci-Fi shows, Lost. This is reflected in the script for the plot is very character driven. Yes, there are big set pieces and edge of your seat moments, but this group of talented people are able to show why they are in such high demand. This is expertly shown in the character John Harrison, the villain of the piece.
Much like Ben Linus from Lost, Harrison is not your straight cut bad guy. His motives are complex and as the movie progresses you do feel some sympathy towards him. To give much more detail, would be to spoil one of the (worst) kept surprises out there. All the Trek fans know what John Harrisons real identity is, but I won’t say any more about it. By the end of the movie, you are still left wondering if Harrisons motivation was partially down to the StarFleet’ actions against him, or if he truly is as evil as he is portrayed to be.
The conclusion of the film brings the new timeline back to the origins of the series, where it looks like Kirk and his crew are going to go on their exploration mission into Deep Space (or Into Darkness). It will be interesting to see what the film makers will do next and who will direct it, especially as Abrams’ has now taken over Star Wars directing duties.
Pine has settled into the role of Captain Kirk, giving him his own little spin on the charismatic ladies’ man. He doesn’t try to replicate Shatners take on Kirk, but brings an altogether fresh approach, that is both modern and yet rather chauvinistic. There is always that mischievous twinkle in his eye, but when the script calls for Pine to deliver some really dramatic stuff, Pine brings his “A” game. You do believe that he is the Captain of that vessel.
The scenes that Pine shares with Cumberbatch are what carry the film. The tension is wracked higher as Cumberbatches character, Harrison, face off each other. This is partly down to Cumberbatch himself and his calmness. In fact, I think that Cumberbatch makes this movie so great. He has this menacing presence that just seems to draw your attention, without being over the top. It is a difficult balance, but Cumberbatch just pulls it off.
While the main plot is all centred on Harrisons one man vendetta against StarFleet, there are a few sub plots that keep the movie going.
One of the most interesting sub-plots was the relationship between Uhura and Spock. The differences in culture threaten to drive a wedge between the couple and you begin to see what challenges lay ahead. It all steams from the fact that Spock believed that to sacrifice himself for the greater good, was the noblest thing to do. This upsets Uhura, for she believes that he didn’t care enough about them to want to fight for survival. This sub-plot was really interesting to watch and both actors really bring heart to this situation.
Star Trek: Into Darkness is a film that benefits from being on the big screen. I watched this in 3D and the opening scene alone showcases this format really well. The special affects make this world seem realistic and you can imagine that there are planets out there that look like this.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film, so much so I went to see the film again on Sunday. I only hope whoever takes over this franchise carries on the excellent work that Abrams and his team have started.