The 2009 ‘Star Trek’ reboot certainly took many people by surprise. J.J. Abrams took a franchise that had been in decline for 7 years and implemented a new sense of energy into it that it had never seen before. The end result was a sleek, exciting, and stylish new take on the Star Trek franchise. Abrams and the writers made the bold move of creating a new alternate universe but in the end, it did work out in the film’s favor. Now, four years after that film, Abrams and the main cast (or shall I say the ‘crew of the Enterprise’) return with ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’. Now that the Enterprise crew has come together, the writers now have more freedom to explore the Star Trek universe further without having to adhere to the series canon. The end result may not be as good as the previous film, but Abrams delivers an exciting new Star Trek film once again, thanks in part to a much stronger main villain.
After an incident on a Class M planet where the USS Enterprise violates the Prime Directive (Starfleet’s most important rule; there shall be no interference with the development of any alien civilization), Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) finds himself demoted for going against Starfleet orders, having done so in order to save his first officer, Spock (Zachary Quinto), from a perilous situation. However, Kirk soon finds himself back in control of the Enterprise when a former Starfleet agent named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) attacks Starfleet directly, fleeing to the Klingon home-world of Kronos. In response, Kirk is ordered to lead the manhunt to capture Harrison but as the Enterprise heads off on its mission, Kirk and his crew soon find themselves in a dangerous situation that only gets worse and worse as they attempt to capture this dangerous fugitive and bring him to justice for his crimes against Starfleet.
If there was any problem with the last Star Trek film, it was that the main villain Nero was rather weak (mainly because of his plan) but because the film was focused on the relationship between Kirk and Spock, it wasn’t that big of a problem. This film, however, belongs to Benedict Cumberbatch, who just does a fantastic job as John Harrison, and he steals the spotlight whenever he’s on screen. Like ‘Iron Man 3’, this is another film that is full of spoilers, one of them being Harrison’s true identity. This is something that may have been spoiled already for some of you (for it was debated about who Cumberbatch was really playing ever since he was cast in the role) but I won’t mention it here along with any other major spoiler. All I can say is that the film itself pays much homage to a classic Star Trek film and it is a pretty unique new take on the ‘story’ of that film, despite the fact that there are certain elements of this new film that are sort of underdeveloped; namely the inclusion of another villain aside from Cumberbatch.
Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto do a fantastic job once again as Kirk and Spock. Like the last film, the relationship between the two is the most important aspect of the film and the two work great together. If it wasn’t, then a key scene near the end of the film wouldn’t have been as tear-jerking as it was. The returning cast is great as well, including Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Karl Urban as Bones, Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu, and Anton Yelchin as Chekov. It is true that the focus is still on Kirk and Spock, but like with the last film the writers do a good enough job at giving each of them enough to do in the film. As for the new additions to the cast (aside from Cumberbatch), they do fine jobs as well, but some of them don’t really play as big of a part in the film as you may think.
All in all, ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ is a satisfying follow-up to the last film. Having listed this film as my most anticipated film of the year, I’m happy to say that, for the most part, it did not disappoint. For some, this depends on whether or not you’ll like the homages towards an older Star Trek film; most importantly, the identity of the film’s main villain. In fact, you can pretty much call this film a ‘remake’ of that other Trek film. Still, the new take on this story does work pretty well, despite the fact that there are certain elements of the film that were rather underdeveloped. As for the main villain, Benedict Cumberbatch easily steals the show; a definite improvement over the last Star Trek villain. Of course, the acting is still top-notch all-around, the relationship between Kirk and Spock is one of the many highlights of the film, and the film is entertaining from beginning to end. It may not be as good as the last ‘Star Trek’ film, but that is one heck of a film to follow.
(Stay Tuned for a Spoiler Discussion Post on the film)