Phasers are set to dazzle in the latest ‘Star…’ movie from director J.J. Abrams, a man who seemingly doesn’t tire of scrutiny from the sort of people who queue up in tents at Comic-Con, unwilling to go to sleep in case a fellow fanboy might sneak up with a lightsaber, slaughtering the last hope for the rebellion. Admittedly, I’m not a million galaxies away from being one of those sorts of people.
But like J.J., I don’t share nearly the same obsession with Star Trek. As a child, I remember catching bits during its teatime slot on BBC 2 and wondering when the man with the funny ears would do some Jedi-ish stuff. Of course, this changed to an extent in 2009 when Abrams brought out his own Star Trek, a quasi-reboot, heavy on stunning action and effects, adept at character, but light in its tone of exploration and expansion and the philosophical subtext that really makes Trekkies beam.
Star Trek Into Darkness follows a pretty much identical path in tone and scope but without the need for the character introductions, bringing us immediately into a breathless and vibrant action sequence, which couldn’t possibly live up to the one which opened the first movie, still the highlight of both films. The sequel follows Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock’s (Zachary Quinto) struggle to capture rogue Starfleet agent John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a sort of superhuman with unknown intentions. Cumberbatch is deliciously malevolent and volatile and the relationship between Kirk and Spock continues to hold the films together, more so than any particular grand idea or thesis.
The action is electric, with Abrams’s lens flare fetish again forming a dreamy sheen to the proceedings. The fast pace doesn’t yield. It’s the pacing and energy which goes more boldly than any attempt at substantial political subtext to mirror that of the 60s original, terrorist attacks notwithstanding, hardly feeling like a fresh or meaningful element to throw into a sci fi/action film nowadays. The film is strongest in its shimmering aesthetic and breakneck storytelling, anchored honorably with its characters to produce a film with a lighter touch than its dark title suggests, gluing eyes to screens with so much more ease than its contemporaries. As lenses flare, eyes twinkle. With a script and director this proficient at action and galaxies, how can Spock not sparkle?
Review by David Rank
Star Trek: Into the Darkness is out now in the UK and released on 17th May in the US. Running time 132 mins. Certificate 12A (UK).
Comments and feedback are always welcome or just give the film a rating by using the stars at the top.