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Movie review: Star Trek Into Darkness
Captain's log: stardate 2013 – after a successful re-boot of the series, it seems that director wunderkind J.J. Abrams is steering this most loved of franchises into highly lucrative territory. But does this sequel boldly go where no Star Trek film has gone before?
After a mission that doesn't quite go to plan, Starfleet calls Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) in for a meeting. After a stern chat from his friend Rear Admiral Pike (Chris Greenwood), Kirk finds himself demoted and having the Enterprise taken away from him. Pike explains that it could have been a lot worse and that he's lucky still to have a job.
Just as he's preparing to embark on a mission under Pike's command, an explosion takes place in London, on a Starfleet archive facility, causing mass mayhem and destruction.
When a meeting is called by Starfleet Command, data arrives that the bombing was caused by one of their own, a top agent known as John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). Whilst in the meeting Kirk gets a feeling that something isn't right, and that perhaps Harrison's biggest target is yet to come. And Kirk's not wrong: within seconds of reaching this conclusion, they're all under attack.
With Starfleet licking their wounds, they decide to send Kirk and the rest of his crew aboard the Enterprise on a mission with one singular outcome: to kill Harrison. But when they learn that he's headed for Cronos – a planet part of the Klingon territory – their mission gets that little bit trickier.
With the reboot Star Trek - which acted as a prequel as such, catching up with the Kirk at the academy and re-introducing all of the crew of the Enterprise – doing such a swell job of (re)setting the Star Trek world, it allows this sequel to jump off and get straight into the thick of it, and doing what the Enterprise and her crew do best, boldly going about their business in deep space.
The story, which involves well-to-do British actor Cumberbatch – who is no stranger to reboots, playing the modern day Sherlock, reinvented for the recent BBC drama - playing a convincing baddie, is written with just the right amount of sparkle and zing. It's a pacey little blighter too, that hits the ground running from its pre-titles sequence, and keeps up an encouraging head of steam right up to the end. There are also one or two twists and turns that certainly keep things interesting too.
But what's most impressive is Abram's clear love for his source material and the Star Trek universe as a whole. The actors may have changed, but Abram's has stayed true to the original characters; in particular the friendship between Kirk and his crew in general, and his relationship with Spock (Zachary Quinto) in particular. It's a bromance that has traversed time and space, and Pine and Quinto do a terrific job of keeping those fires burning. It's certainly the heart of the film, with everything else happening around them feeding off of it.
But Abram's isn't afraid to stray outside the world of Starfleet Command and its many galactic foes. The opening sequence is nothing more than a rip off of the original opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but if you're going to steal ,you may as well steal from the best. Other heavy influences littered throughout include the likes of Blade Runner and Star Wars; the latter certainly bodes well as Abrams is down to direct Star Wars: Ep VII for new owners Disney. But the director uses them with real flair and even makes them his own in a weird kind of way.
Perhaps there are one or two many nods back to the original actors and their own personal mannerisms, but the fact is, they're part and parcel of the film's (and the franchise as a whole) many charms.
This next generation (no not that generation, this one) of Enterprise crew members (including the return of Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Karl Urban as Bones, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Anton Yelchin as Chekov and John Cho as Sulu), although clearly pay their TV counterparts a high level of respect, they're still allowed to have a little fun with them and have a great opportunity to make a lasting impression on a new generation of viewers.
The formula is certainly there for the crew to have many more voyages aboard the star ship Enterprise for light years to come, and if they're half as entertaining as this one, with Captain J.J. Abrams at the helm in some capacity, there may well be some warp drive adventures ahead for one and all.
But as a standalone film, the impressive mission embarked on by Star Trek Into Darkness has to be deemed an overwhelming success for all concerned and will be a hard one to follow.
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