After John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a rogue Starfleet officer, bombs a London archive, it’s up to Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the intrepid crew of the USS Enterprise to track him down and stop him.
What I expected to be an inferior followup to the very well done Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness turned out to be a superior film in almost every way. From the tighter plotting, a more streamlined story, and a villain that rivals the best in the franchises career, this is a film not to be missed. Especially on the big screen.
After a breathtaking opening scene where Kirk breaks the Prime Directive to save Spock (Zachary Quinto), the crew of the Enterprise return to Earth where Kirk is demoted for his breaking of said Prime Directive. Soon thereafter, a bomb blows up an archive in London. An emergency session is called of all Starfleet captains and their second in commands where they are attacked by John Harrison in a gunship. Kirk disables the ship but not before Harrison beams away. Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) then reinstates Kirk and sends him to kill Harrison, who has been found on an uninhabited Klingon planet. After being attacked by a Klingon patrol, Kirk, Spock, and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) are saved by Harrison who then surrenders to Kirk.
It is at this point in the film where things get really interesting. And I will not spoil the surprises here. Lets just say there are some nods to the past while pushing the franchise into the future.
Once again the intrepid crew of the USS Enterprise are played well by their new actors. Chris Pine as Captain Kirk brings the swagger and sense of adventure that William Shatner did in the role, but Pine makes it his own. He never mimics Shatner but you can see how he would have turned out different if his father had survived. He has more pent up anger than Shatner, but still does the right thing more often than not.
Zachary Quinto is still perfectly cast as Spock, taking over the role from Leonard Nimoy (who once again makes a brief cameo). Quinto’s Spock comes off as a lot more dangerous than Nimoy’s ever did. He struggles with his human side a lot more noticeably than Nimoy did. There is an anger lurking just beneath the surface that was taken advantage of in the first movie and is taken advantage of here. He is not just the logical but the violent, living in the same body, constantly at odds with himself. At times he is a coiled snake, ready to strike, and Quinto convey’s that through his eyes and body language. You can tell when he is upset and it is frightening.
Simon Pegg as Scotty is given a lot more to do here than James Doohan ever was. Once he quits Starfleet, in one of the films more poignent moments, he is then used by Kirk to find out what Admiral Marcus is up to. While you don’t see him for awhile, he appears just in the nick of time to save the Enterprise and throw a wrench into Marcus’s plans. While I can’t go into details without going into spoiler territory, he has a very funny “I’m running, I’m running” scene that pays off very well. The scene in particular had me cracking up in it’s simplistic set up.
Zoe Saldana does well as Uhura, taking the role over from Nichelle Nichols, as does Anton Yelchin as Chekov, originally played by Walter Koenig. Neither are given a whole lot to do but they do their characters very well. The same applies to John Cho as Sulu, taking over from internet superstar George Takei. Geek favorite Karl Urban returns as Bones, taking over for DeForest Kelley. Honestly, is Urban in every geek franchise nowadays? Dredd, Star Trek, Riddick, who knows what else he will be in . . .
The standout for me, though, is Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison. He is a breath of fresh air in the Star Trek franchise, much the same way Eric Bana was in the first film. Whereas Bana was only in the film for a small amount of time, Cumberbatch gets a lot of screen time. I cannot discuss Cumberbatch’s performance in depth due to the possibility of spoilers, but make note that he is phenomenal in the role of Harrison. *NOTE* I may write a spoiler filled review once I get the chance to see the film again, where I will go into more detail about Cumberbatch’s performance.
I really expected this film to not be as impressive as the first. As I walked out of the theater, a tear in my eye, I thought about it. And then I thought about it more. I saw the film on Friday afternoon and needed a couple days to think about it. There is a lot more going on here than what is on the surface. Much like Roddenberry’s original series, this new film is a science fiction parallel to the world we live in. It is emotional, action packed, and certain scenes are pretty jarring compared to what we have seen before in the fairly tame Star Trek franchise.
I cannot recommend this film more highly. Get yourself to the theater to see it soon before the twist is revealed to you. While Trek die hards may be upset by some of the changes made, I found them refreshing and loved every minute of this film.
***1/2 out of ****.
*NOTE* Noel Clarke makes an appearance in this film in a fairly pivotal role. Those of you with SUPER-GEEK CRED may recognize him as Mickey from Doctor Who, the Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant years.
- ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Review (screenrant.com)