Star Trek – Into Darkness (Cert 12)
1 Disc (Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment) Running time: 132 minutes approx.
When a Section 31 building in London is destroyed by a bomb, a Starfleet agent named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the confirmed culprit. Following an all out weapon assault on Starfleet HQ by Harrison, killing many Starfleet commanders in the process, it befalls the crew of the Enterprise, lead by Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto), to hunt down Harrison and kill him. Of course, it doesn’t turn out to be that simple.
When J.J Abrahams rebooted the evergreen Star Trek franchise in 2009 the length of the original script, which was to be split into two films, meant the decision was already made for a second film, although the success of the first film guaranteed that anyway. After some false starts the film has now been beamed down to us and it follows on from its predecessor with the same special effects laden, bombastic, high octane escapist sci-fi action.
The story is fundamentally straightforward by becomes more complicated as it progresses. John Harrison is not your average antagonist; in fact he may not be as bad as we are led to believe. He is operating on a fairly noble motive to avenge the man who condemned him and his race to death.
Only seventy three members of his race of genetic engineered beings survived, cryogenically frozen three hundred years ago, with Harrison being the only one revived. Not only is the man Harrison after close to home for Kirk and crew but Harrison isn’t quite who everyone thinks he is.
Many of you may already know the outcome but I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t. However Abrahams and his writers, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof, have dug deep into the Star Trek legend in search of inspiration for their script and in the process have created some potential problems for themselves on the continuity front, depending on how serious (read: pedantic) one is about the Trek canon (Hi Dad!).
For starters our antagonist’s true identity has an East Asian name yet here he is portrayed by a true Brit in Benedict Cumberbatch. Then again in a later incarnation he is played by a Mexican so I suppose we shouldn’t be too harsh on this front. On a similar note, we are also expected to believe that Alice Eve as Carol Marcus, with her English accent is the daughter of good old American Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller)!
Elsewhere Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) plays a vital role early on in this story, but if you remember him as the disfigured wheelchair bound mute from the original TV series well, let’s say that line of continuity hasn’t been adhered to here either. Some people might think this is being petty and too precious about the minutiae but for others this is an egregious abuse of the established Trek history.
Oh and the Enterprise is also a submarine now too. But, for the sake of suspension of disbelief and looking at the bigger picture, we must concede to these liberties taken with a hefty roll of our eyes.
On the plus side, the action is pretty much non stop and the special effects are nothing short of stupendous, not that we should expect anything less from the now legendary Industrial Light & Magic group. The film opens with a humorous chase on the alien planet Nibiru involving Kirk and Dr. Bones McCoy (Karl Urban) and some angry natives. These scenes were actually shot on a set with a real red trees, a heavily made-up cast of aliens and not CGI which makes a refreshing change.
The space set battle scenes are the explosive white knuckle rides we’ve come to expect from the sci-fi genre while the on-ground combat suffers from too much CGI interference which is also something we’ve come to expect from the genre.
One of the script’s recurring themes is Kirk and Spock bickering like a married couple based on human emotion vs Vulcan logic over bending the rules when official protocol is a hindrance. Speaking of married couples, Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) are the most inexplicable, mismatched film couple since Uwe Boll and a movie camera, a development that adds little to the plot, aside from what one assumes was supposed to be comic aside when they have a domestic while on a dangerous mission!
The rest of the main cast from the first film, Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu) and Anton Yelchin (Chekov) are all back but largely underused, save for Scotty who has a few minutes of mostly comic madness to earn his spot. Benedict Cumberbatch once again reminds us why Hollywood always picks British actors to play the villains in their films with a suitably measured yet underlying nasty turn as Harrison while Alice Eve is largely reduced to eye candy.
At the risk of sounding like a prude there is a surfeit of bad language used here which doesn’t really feel appropriate for Star Trek. At first it was merely “ass” and “son-of-a-bitch”, which are apparently staples of American film scripts it seems, and while there are no “F” words, other four letter words appear that were unnecessary. This might a personal objection but in this context it feels incongruous and intrusive. I doubt if Gene Roddenberry would have scripted such dialogue.
Star Trek – Into Darkness delivers the thrills and spills a sci-fi blockbuster should but is let down by a dumbed down script that takes too many liberties. I doubt many hardcore trekkies will have their phasers set to stun when they next meet J.J Abrhams after this.
English 7.1 Dolby True HD
Italian, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Language
English, English SDH, Italian, French, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Spanish Subtitles
Creating the Red Planet
Attack on Starfleet
The Klingon Home World
The Enemy of My Enemy
Ship to Ship
Brawl by the Bay
Rating – ***
Man In Black