JJ Abrams reboot of the much-loved Star Trek franchise was met with great fanfare back in 2009 and his sequel, whilst taking over four years to finally arrive, will receive a similar amount; for ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ is an exciting summer blockbuster, with maybe a touch too much sci-fi for some, and a certain chunk of it’s predecessor’s obsession with Kirk and Spock’s relationship returns but it amounted to being just enough of both for me personally!
Beginning with an impressive foray to a copper-red coloured planet, the action is light-hearted, a little bit campy and a rollercoaster ride all in one. Arrows are flung about, a high speed footchase is taking place and it feels like ‘Star Trek’. This coming from someone who has seen the most meagre of clips from the old series’ and been fed a healthy dose of Wikipedia knowledge. Still though, I like these characters. They are fun, interesting and carried forward in a similar vein to their ‘parallels’ from the old series and that the actors themselves aren’t deemed A-listers whatsoever with the most familiar face arguably being Simon Pegg. That again being something I enjoyed and allowed me to immerse myself with these semi-familiar names (that is to say, whilst I know these actors, it doesn’t mean I’ve seen them in too much, bar Pegg, other than the first ‘Star Trek’).
Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto’s Kirk and Spock respectively carried the film for a while, propelling it forward with a couple of great performance: the banter between them providing comic relief and Pine’s Captain role suiting him down to the ground, although, as I say, I could’ve done without the love-hate relationship they had that had transferred over from the first film, a third film cannot still have that as a central theme.
The aforementioned Pegg also appeals in the ‘comedy’ role of Scotty with a thick Scottish accent that is indistinguishable from the real deal and a little alien sidekick to boot. Pegg is a real highlight and new addition, fellow Brit, Alice Eve as a scientist who sneaks on-board the Enterprise is a good little addition but nothing too special. Zoe Saldana is competent although I’m not too sure she is all ‘that’ as an actor. Karl Urban, from ‘Dredd’, is fun in his serious, yet scratchy dialogue filled role as doctor, Bones. And then we reach the star of the show, the villain, Benedict Cumberbatch.
Cumberbatch, so often the hero as BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ fits the villain role perfectly, demonstrating great prowess, spitting out his lines with pure vitriol and hatred in his eyes. Everything about his performance is perfect and his mysterious John Harrison character is the stand-out from his first appearance as he forces a desperate employee of the London branch of Starfleet to blow up a building in spectacular fashion. And this is just the first in a big year for the Brit. Adding to his role as the ‘bad guy’ with voice work in ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ as the titular dragon, another lead as the controversial Wiki-Leaks founder, Julian Assange in ‘The Fifth Estate’ and rounding off the year with a supporting role in Steve McQueen’s latest, ‘12 Years a Slave’. 2013 should be a big year for Cumberbatch.
Back to the film on a whole and it never feels like a parody, at times suiting it’s ‘Into Darkness’, title. But then there are links to recent blockbuster, ‘Iron Man 3′ with its more subtle comic overtones. Some of the dialogue, whether it was meant to or not, is scruffy to say the least which does provide cheesy moments but it never ventures into cringe-worthy territory. I suppose then that this is in keeping with the series’ roots, as that is what I hear the most about the originals, that they are chocked full of light-hearted, overly dramatic moments.
So this sequel was, in my eyes, better than Abrams’ first edition. Sure you get his signature lens flare, a healthy dose of ‘warp speed’ and lots of actions scenes but with a much stronger villain and a couple of genuinely heart-warming moments, this sequel packs a lot into its running time. Not quite toppling the sheer fun of ‘Iron Man 3′, for me personally, ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’, is definitely runner-up in the summer blockbuster stakes, thus far this year.
4 Stars ★★★★✰