Looking back at STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

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Tom Pheby revisits the most recent Star Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness.



J.J. Abrams second Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness is a visually stunning, action packed outing that manages to brush aside the inevitable opening character building exercises of the first to become a full on ride in outer space. Abrams is amongst the new breed of exciting filmmakers who believe in giving the audience their monies worth, and if you measure movies on scale then this is every inch the blockbuster we've come to expect. Even if you are not a devotee of the Trek series, you'll appreciate the spectacle which is served up here.

Before we start, I'll admit that I had some misgivings about Zachary Quinto's interpretation of Spock, but on reassessment I think it would have been somewhat pointless just to stick doggedly to the original character outline just because of Nimoy's considerable contribution to the franchise and because he cast such a huge shadow over the part. Abrams obviously spent time trying to do something different with the role and has to be applauded for not taking the easy option in this case. I suspect that I'm becoming more comfortable with this radical character tweak although I initially found it difficult to get my head around. What it does manage is to open up the role and make the Vulcan a bit more intriguing whilst allowing Qunito to fashion his own interpretation - fascinating!


Anyway, enough of this preamble. We pick up the yarn shortly after the last with a confident, almost peacock like Kirk (Chris Pine) looking for new and wonderful ways to fall foul of the federation. This leads us to the opening scenes in a red jungle where our intrepid explorers are on a secret mission - shhh - to alter a worlds events by stopping a volcano erupting and wiping out a superstitious tribe allowing them to..., live long and prosper presumably.

This in theory could alter the way in which the tribe will evolve, but Kirk being Kirk decides to ignore all the repercussions and go ahead with the plan anyway. The Captain seems to thrive on ignoring any form of rules and regulations, it could be that Pine's Kirk might need a rejig in the next film as this anti establishment thing is wearing a little thin and in reality Star Fleet would have stripped him of his Captaincy and jettisoned his lycra pants in to the inky blackness of space.


After being rebuked again, Kirk springs into action when the Federation is attacked, he trundles off to find the aggressor and bring him to justice. This leads us on nicely to Benedict Cumberbatch who is a delight as Noonien Singh/Khan/John Harrison/quite enough names to be going on with for the moment thank you! Cumberbatch plays a terrorist who has a beef with Star Fleet for reasons that eventually become apparent, and like all good baddies he blows the hell out their headquarters to prove his dastardly intent. Cumberbatch grimaces, growls and even sheds a tear with menace whilst dispatching his lines with sharp and lasting brilliance. This installment certainly teases us into expecting another encounter with Khan, providing Cumberbatch can squeeze it into his hectic schedule, somewhere between the latest Hollywood blockbuster and the BBC's over hyped Sherlock shenanigans.

Star Trek Into Darkness is not the type of fodder that will thrill all traditional Trekkies/Trekkers, but it is solid entertainment for the new audience, and if you can get to grips with the revised reworking of the iconic series then you'll find it fairs extremely well. The movie avoids the multiple subplots and heavy cerebral stuff that has sometimes been to the detriment of the action in previous Star Trek flicks, and made them plod along at a snails pace.


The crew all get to play their part and expand on their opening performances of the first reboot, it seems as if they've been hailing, warp driving and pressing buttons forever. Each give us a glimpse of building works in progress although they are still glorious cameo's against Kirk, Spock and McCoy, those core three are by far and away the more necessary in proceedings. Karl Urban plays McCoy with such care and attention to detail, not so much an impression of DeForest Kelley but certainly taking the essence of what went before and delivering it in similar absorbing fashion. Running a close second to that performance is Simon Pegg who as always is trying to squeeze more out of the engines or stating that they "Canee take it" or "Canee do it", it's a Scottish Accent that is less Glaswegian and more Mel Gibson.

Star Trek Into Darkness has been described rather unfairly as a pop video or a wishy washy piece of popular culture, to those I say GET A LIFE. The franchise needed reworking to bring it up to date, this movie plays to its strengths and ticks a lot of boxes for me, not just as a film-goer but also as a Trekkie. Plot holes and such should be put aside, just enjoy it. It's not Star Trek as we knew it but I believe it's better for the change. We await what new director Roberto Orci has in store for us in the third new-Trek outing, but I expect it to be the beginning of the five year mission - Quinto himself has indicated this will be the next stage in the proceedings.

So if you prefer the older Star Trek films then watch them on DVD, they will always be there. But now it's all change, and you better get used to it because with a worldwide box office of almost $500 million Star Trek Into Darkness is the most successful Trek movie to date. "Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

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Previous Star Trek columns
An appreciation of Gene Roddenberry
10 things you might not know about Star Trek: TOS
Kirk & Spock - What could've been
10 things you might not know about Leonard Nimoy
The Trouble with Tribbles
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
10 things you might not know about Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Generations
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek (2009)


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