Following a huge explosion at a Starfleet building in London, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the Enterprise crew are tasked with brining the man responsible, one of their own agents, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), to justice. However, Harrison is a much greater foe than they had first feared and threatens to bring Starfleet and the world to its knees.
If any franchise was in dire need of a reboot it was Star Trek. Beloved by many, it was starting to fade away and was on the verge of disappearing into deep space forever. 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis would be the last a lot of people would hear of it until J.J. Abrams made the franchise relevant again with 2009’s Star Trek. Now Star Trek is just as much a part of the fabric of sci-fi cinema as it once was and, whilst not without its flaws, Star Trek Into Darkness should see it stay that way for the time being.
Whilst there are still the customary money shot set pieces throughout, the film does feel a little more grounded. Despite zooming across the universe a fair few times, the story never really feels that far from home, which could, in part, be due to the obvious allegorical main plot centered around terrorism and the conflict between those who have a desire for true justice and those with an itchy, revenge-motivated trigger finger. The film is rarely short of excitement and the pacing is damn near perfect throughout, although a few too many action movie cliches and a slightly underwhelming climax is a little disappointing. Also, some of the characters’ motivations do feel a little flimsy and at times you might sometimes find yourself asking why everything is happening.
With any reboot, it’s absolutely essential that much-loved characters are well represented and Star Trek Into Darkness takes the foundations built by its predecessor and builds on them. The relationship between Kirk and Spock is starting to feel much more developed and genuine, which is vital as neither character feels anywhere near as strong without the other. Bones (Karl Urban) feels like a an integral part of the crew and Scotty (Simon Pegg) has a significantly larger and more important role this time around. However, characters such as Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) feel a little surplus to requirements despite efforts to find them something worthwhile to do. We also get introduced to new character Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), although it’s unclear exactly what narrative purpose she has whatsoever. Her inclusion feels nothing more than an excuse to shoehorn in a new character and provide a little more eye candy.
Then, of course, we get the new villain with his super evil name, John Harrison. Benedict Cumberbatch is suitably menacing as the one man wrecking machine, unsettling calm one minute and violently crazy the next. Despite Cumberbatch’s excellent showing, the character does feel a little underused. He seems to spend rather a long time about to do something rather than actually doing something, which does make it seem as if no-one is ever really in massive amounts of danger.
Just like its predecessor, Star Trek Into Darkness (pretty sure there should be a colon in there somewhere) looks superb. From the Indian Jones inspired first scene on a distant planet to a futuristic London, everything looks rich, expansive and, more importantly, believable. Oh and there’s lens flare. Lots and lots of lens flare. So much so, in fact, that it is actually a little distracting at times.
With Abrams taking the helm of Star Wars Episode VII, his future with the Star Trek franchise is currently unclear. However, if he is to walk away from Kirk et al, then he has left it in good health. Star Trek Into Darkness is fast paced and fun, and if he can reinvigorate Star Wars in the same way he has with Star Trek, then it can only be good to have the two giants of sci-fi duking it out once more.