The Starship Enterprise has proved to be a rather doomed vessel for any filmmaker in recent years with an array of, shall we say, questionable big-screen adaptations. This is of course before J.J. Abrams took up the poisoned chalice in 2009 with the successful reboot of the Star Trek franchise that proved a hit with not only the general public, but also with the all important ‘trekkies’ who managed to catch a rare glimpse of natural light before huddling back into a darkened room to watch their heroes back in action. Abrams has managed to make Star Trek cool again, in turn, making the debate of Piccard or Kirk an acceptable one; his follow up, Into Darkness develops from the building blocks put down four years ago.
The all star cast returns, with a few additions (notably Benedict Cumberbatch) and we are plunged straight into action from the off, we join Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban) being chased by an odd looking native colony of a far away planet, note the fast pace and edgy camera work which proves extremely eye-catching, and if that wasn’t enough we’re then thrown into the middle of a manhunt; an ex-Starfleet officer, John Harrison (Cumberbatch) has detonated a bomb in 23rd century London, and Kirk along with his fabled team are sent after him.
Like Abrams’ first Star Trek feature, he has made a film that appeals to all audiences and it has undoubtedly been very successful at the box office. Into Darkness finds the right balance between action, and character development; the action sequences are frequent and exciting, one in particular that stands out is a superbly made set-piece where Kirk and Harrison are flung from one spaceship to another, whilst dodging any debris that comes their way. The dialogue is very ‘tongue n’ cheek’ throughout, the banter between Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) is a highlight, as is the performance of Simon Pegg as Scotty, with all this going on however, you do wonder how serious the film takes itself, and it perhaps becomes a slight disadvantage as the balance between the serious plotline and comical side becomes lost in translation.
Urban’s character, Bones also proves to be a major distraction in the film, the combination of his ‘witty’ short liners and generally poor acting puts a downer on many scenes, and you might actually start seeing yourself getting angry at him, I certainly did. Having said that, I am not a ‘trekkie’, I have never watched Roddenberry’s original TV series, so perhaps Bones’ character is supposed to be annoying, but that still can’t excuse the poor acting.
However, the main strength of Into Darkness is Zachary Quinto’s illuminating performance of Spock; he easily steals the show as the half human, half Vulcan first officer of captain Kirk. The character’s inability to feel emotions is played expertly by Quinto, his constant disagreements with Kirk are amusing, and his relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) provides an extremely watchable romance. Abrams’ film is of course a must see for any big Star Trek fan, although it lacks in some departments and is probably not quite as good as its prequel, it remains a very good, exciting sci-fi flick.