Star Trek Into Darkness

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”Star Trek” is a franchise that doesn’t need a tagline. At least it must be, because there isn’t one, and I do enjoy a good tagline. But what it lacks in that department, Captain Kirk, Spock and their rag tag team of Starfleet troopers make up for in a great succession of films.

Noticing a speck or two of dust had found it’s way onto the mantle of the brand back in the early noughties, Paramount got together with TV wunderkind J.J Abrams (“Alias”, “Lost”) to talk about reigging the long-running space-set series. The result? A wonderfully fresh, hip and thrilling “Star Trek” film – released in 2009 – that successfully combined the new with the old, bringing in the new folk, while delicately remembering the die-hard devotee.

The highly-anticipated sequel, “Star Trek Into Darkness” retains it’s precursors – and adds an additional 10 percent more in the realm of – incredible plotting, brilliant casting, action and humour.
The sequel reunites the crew of the 2009 film – headed by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto; now comfy in roles previously made famous by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, Kirk and Spock – with a notable addition to the deck in Alice Eve as the gorgeous and brilliant weapons technician Dr Carol Marcus (if this were a Bond film you know she would have a better name; having said that, Marcus is a character from 1982′s “Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan”, as are other elements from this film’s libretto, so the naming beef diverts back to Nicholas Meyer), and on the other side of the ship, the one man killing machine of Benedict Cumberbatch, playing the mysterious and seemingly unstoppable intergalactic Terminator ‘John Harrison’.

Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof’s full-speed ahead script begins with Captain Kirk (Pine) leading his team on an exploration mission that doesn’t quite go to plan, and our heroes remain one step behind until the film’s glorious conclusion. It’s a film that doesn’t break for breath, and the audience will welcome it!
It has been a few years between “Trek” films (with Abrams taking time off to work on his passion project “Super 8”), which is a bit of a risk with today’s YouTube attention span, but what has resulted, at the very least, is a very well thought out script. There is non-stop action that doesn’t become repetitive, Easter eggs for long-time fans, expansion of the Kirk and Spock bromance, full circle conclusions, and yes, even character development. Where the last “Star Trek” got a bit bogged down in technical details and a villain (Eric Bana’s Nero) with confusing motivations, this film has used the heart of the characters to drive the story forward.

It also has so many shades of “Star Wars” you kind of wonder if this was J.J. Abrams’ – set to direct the next instalment in that franchise, too – audition reel to land the gig. There is one particular moment with a starship flying between cliffs that would even be familiar to a newbie. Regardless it bodes well for the upcoming films. Let’s just say if Han Solo joined Starfleet he and Captain Kirk could quite easily hang out at the pub together, mouthing off and picking up women before drunkenly getting into a bar fight. Now there’s a thought…

While the great sets and explosions are a standard part of these big budget flicks, the film looks incredible and all the actors bring their A game. Zoe Saldana is a powerhouse Uhura, and my only complaint is that we don’t get more of her. George Takei would be very proud of Sulu’s (John Cho) time in ‘the chair’, Simon Pegg as Scotty provides the biggest laughs even when he’s running to open an air lock, and Karl Urban captures the good Dr McCoy so well you almost wonder if it is the same actor (Deforest Kelly) who has just ‘aged’ nicely. Cumberbatch is as impressive as you would expect him to be, and Peter Weller (formerly known as ‘Robocop’) as Admiral Marcus emits an incredible commanding presence even over the ship’s projector. But where this film could live or die is the chemistry between Kirk and Spock, and Pines and Quinto have such a real connection on screen Shatner and Nimoy should be proud. When you finally see the Vulcan salute, I’ll admit, I got a little teary.

A lot of action films tend to drop off in quality towards the end, trying to make up for a tired story with explosions, but a real asset to this film is that it retains its tension throughout. While there are some fates you know can’t be messed with, the story never becomes boring. Funny and action packed enough for kids, scandal free for families, and with enough darkness to satisfy adults, this is a film that will entertain and resonate with most people.

So what would my tagline for it be? ”Star Trek Into Darkness”: bring on the next one. And surely that is a tagline every studio wants to hear.

Blu-ray details/extras : As fantastic as the movie looks and sounds on Blu-ray (2:40:1, 1080p, 7.1 Dolby TrueHD), I gotta admit the extras component of the three-disc release (the other 2 discs being the DVD and Digital Copy) is very disappointing. There’s a few featurettes on here – all in HD, and all reasonably entertaining – but where are the deleted scenes? the commentaries? the gag reel? Guess by skipping on those, they’re avoiding boldly going someplace someone’s been before.