Director: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumerbatch, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Alice Eve
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and (based on the characters created by) Gene Roddenberry
Running Time: 132 mins
Release Date: 9th May 2013
Four years after the first reboot and newly appointed Star Wars director J.J. Abrams returns for the second outing of the all-new crew of the Starship Enterprise, kicking off with a pre-credit sequence that looks like it came from an Indiana Jones adventure and refuses to let go with it’s relentless energy of excitement and out and out fun. Plus, it has one of the screen’s best baddies in years.
A terrorist attack at a Starfleet archive centre in London triggers off a man-hunt for John Harrison, a fugitive ex-undercover agent for the Federation. Captain James Kirk and his crew of the Enterprise have to head to the outer zone of Klingon territory where Harrison has gone into hiding, risking life and possible war to capture their man, having armed their ship with over 70 torpedoes all aimed at him. What Kirk doesn’t realise is that the truth about Harrison hasn’t been revealed to him by head of Starfleet Command, Admiral Marcus and the contents of the torpedoes could put, not only the Enterprise and its crew in great peril but also the world and the worlds beyond.
The first film gave us the opportunity to see how the familiar characters from the years of TV and film adventures originally got together. This time round, we are given a full-on adventure in which the new cast, now seemingly comfortable in the roles they have aquired, have more room to enjoy themselves. That they certainly do and Abrams isn’t afraid to just sit back and let the magic happen. With his customary shaky camera work and shining light photography, he hasn’t changed the look of the film from the original but this time he has given enough room to let his characters grow, let friendships and relationship blossom while giving us a cracking little action film on the side.
The script seems a lot tighter than before and the dialogue crackles. The title does seem a little misleading. Into Darkness might give you the impression that this is going into Dark knight territory, where Kirk and Spock and the gang show their inner demons. But no, this is, in fact, a much lighter affair, brimming with banter and one-liners from the much more relaxed cast.
with his matinee idol good looks and charm, Chris Pine has become a much more likeable Kirk than the first film. Acting like a rebel without a cause in the 2009 film, here he is witty and tough, managing to command his team while lacking that arrogance he had. His relationship with Zachery Quinto’s Spock is also growing nicely, as the pair from two different worlds slowly but surely become friends. Zoe Saldana as Uhura is given more to do this time and Karl Urban, last seen (or not) as Dredd, is slowly becoming the embodiment of Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy, with his gruff outlook on life, while Simon Pegg, still with his slightly dodgy Scottish accent, delivers more comic relief as Scotty, although this time he has more competition from the other cast members.
What the last film lacked was a strong villain and here they have got it absolutely right. Literally walking away with the picture, Benedict Cumerbatch as the baddie, John Harrison, is a wonderful creation, all deep tones and quiet confidence, mixed with sudden outbursts of violence. Much has been written and spoke about Cumerbatch’s character but I’m not going to say anything about who he really is as it will spoil the fun. Only to say that this is a masterclass on how to steal a film as a villain without once crossing that line into pantomime. He is a genuinely unnerving character that you never know whether to trust and it is the power of Mr C’s performance that he truly brings it to life.
This is a rip-roaring Summer blockbuster that delivers on all levels; it’s funny, it’s exciting, it’s sometimes moving and it has a nice little homage to Star Trek II. I am pretty sure, like the first film, that it will divide the true Trekkies but if you are looking for some entertaining cinema that is big and brassy, then this is the film to see. It does get a little flabby by the end and drags its feet a little (another victim of the here’s one ending, let’s have another syndrome) but I am being picky. Also the 3D works better here than it does in most films but it does dampen the bright colours of the bridge of the Enterprise. If you liked the original reboot, then this is right dowen your alley. If you just want a fun night out, this delivers. As for giving over Star Wars to Abrams, I think it’s in very good hands.