Film Review – Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness (M)

Directed by: J. J. Abrams

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto,

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Space bromances are the best kind of bromances. The complex relationship between a bed hopping, risk taking, gut driven but vulnerable ship captain Captain James Kirk and his emotionless and logic driven first officer Spock create dramatic sparks in this sequel to the 2009 franchise reboot. The much-needed tension between these polar opposites that you just want to see hug it out (if only Spock had the emotional capability to do so) is a nice alternative to the familiar spectacle of exploding space ships, a bad guy’s attempts at world domination and J.J. Abrams’ incessant lens flares. Not that the spectacle isn’t impressive, but like the central relationship, balance is good.

When former Star Fleet agent John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) attacks a secret meeting of officials, killing many, then retreats to an uninhibited area on the planet Klingon, the recently demoted Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and re-assigned Spock (Zachary Quinto) are put back on the USS Enterprise to carry out a military mission. It is a far cry from the crew’s usual exploration trips and is what prompts moral debates between Kirk and Spock. Not only is the mission unorthodox, but it could instigate a war between them and the Klingon race. This proves to be the least of their worries once they discover who Harrison really is and what he is up to.

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With Abrams at the reins, we can rely that there will be plenty of action and adventure with any sequel he delivered to the box office and critical hit reboot, and he does not disappoint. Behind the lens flares, there are impressive, large-scale action set pieces that thrill (albeit accompanied by overbearing score), and special effects that impress, but they wouldn’t have as much impact if the scriptwriters Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof did not focus on characters and relationships. The bromance between Kirk and Spock is strengthened with life and death stakes forcing them to evaluate their friendship. Another bonus is the well-timed humour, with Karl Urban and Simon Pegg delivering spot on laughs with their scene stealing performances as ship doctor Bones and engineer Scotty respectively.

But when it comes to the villain, Star Trek Into Darkness is all smoke and mirrors and misdirection. Cumberbatch relishes the role, playing Harrison with barely contained seething rage, and he is a creepy and intimidating presence. We are privy to several monologues that build him up to be the most evil and relentless man to ever come across and an unbeatable force – and yet we hardly see him at work. Ultimately, Harrison comes across as having a bark much worse than his bite, which results in the dulling of the dramatic edge he has in the story.

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