Illness delayed me longer than I would have liked, but I finally went to see “Star Trek Into Darkness” last Tuesday night.
The second adventure for J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” crew, “Into Darkness” gave every impression prior to release of following the post-Christopher Nolan trend for imbuing summer popcorn blockbusters with a darker edge, investing these typically lighter-than-air, high octane thrill-rides with more realistic, disquieting underpinnings. If you think that the adventures of the Enterprise crew could be improved greatly by some chin-stroking about terrorism, then you’ve picked the right movie.
A terrorist attack on London waged by rogue Star Fleet operative John Harrison (an impressively reptilian Benedict Cumberbatch) pits James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise into a dangerous journey across the stars battling against enemies within and without. Into the mix comes a new science officer, Carol Wallace (Alice Eve) with her own agenda and Peter Weller’s Donald Rumsfeld-esque Star Fleet high-up, Admiral Marcus.
To say anything more about the overarching plot is to get into spoiler territory – writers Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci and Bob Kurtzman have borrowed from one of ” Trek”s most sacred texts to create this sequel, playing with chronology a little and switching around events to tell a story which is part theirs, redolent of the Roddenberry/classic “Trek” era and somehow familiar and new at the same time.
Neat trick if you can do it.
Overall, this is a neat sequel which doesn’t quite hit the heights of the 2009 original – it probably can’t achieve that goal as this continuation of Abrams “Star Trek” doesn’t enjoy the shock of the new which the first film had (in theory, that should mean that the fans who were mortally affronted by the first J.J. flick can avoid this one as they know they won’t like it. Yeah, good luck getting that idea to work…).
There’s a ton of brilliantly-staged, shot and edited action, wonderfully seamless special effects, great performances from the Enterprise crew and the new arrivals (it was nice to see one-man British film industrialist Noel Clarke pop up at the beginning of the film) really integrate well into the mix.
I might need another viewing to see if the break-neck plot contrivances hang together or – as I sort of suspect – Abrams’ command of cinematic sleight-of-hand means that you find yourself accepting events and motivations which don’t quite stack up when you’ve got room to breathe.
When the worst that you can say for a film is that it’s really exciting and that the shortcomings don’t really matter that much whilst you’re watching it, I would say that constitutes that it’s a success.
Is it perfect? No. Is it definitely worth paying the ludicrous price of a cinema ticket for? Absolutely.