sun 23/06/2024

Star Trek Into Darkness | reviews, news & interviews

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

Lightning doesn't quite strike twice as JJ Abrams returns to the Enterprise

Earthbound: Captain Kirk and his crew have only seconds to save the stricken Enterprise

If JJ Abrams's first shot at reinventing the Star Trek franchise in 2009 was a memorable coup de cinéma, blending a plausible back story with a fresh cast imbued with the spirit of the TV originals, this follow-up is more about consolidation. There's bags of vertiginous interstellar action, retina-scorching 3D effects and earth-in-peril terror, though by the time you totter from the multiplex 130 minutes older, you may be asking yourself where the big payoff went.

Still, to Abrams's credit, his cast is terrific and he wrings more genuine actorly mileage out of them than you might reasonably expect from a summer blockbuster.  Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek into DarknessBenedict Cumberbatch (pictured above), who's plastered moodily all over the posters, impresses as the sonorous super-villain and Starfleet renegade going by the name of John Harrison, though aficionados will know by now that his character rings some historic Trek-bells.

Back on the bridge of the Enterprise are Chris Pine as the brash, headstrong young Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as a wonderfully quizzical and contrary Spock. Karl Urban recaptures the mannerisms and the portentousness of "Bones" McCoy, Simon Pegg (given generous screen time) lends frenetic wit to Chief Engineer Scotty, and John Cho is the acme of the fledgling Sulu. Zoe Saldana's Uhura (pictured below) overdoes the emotional-empathy vibe, but perhaps she has to as the girlfriend of the glacial Spock.Zoe Saldana in Star Trek into DarknessThe main thrust of the plot concerns Harrison's campaign of bloody vengeance against Starfleet, kicking off with a colossally destructive detonation at a Starfleet facility in London, his motivations dating back to some sketchily-drawn events from Trek mythology. Harrison's onslaught is the cue for Admiral Marcus to dispatch the Enterprise to the Klingon planet of Kronos, where Harrison is hiding out, and terminate him with exceedingly destructive photon torpedoes. An added bonus for the lads is the Admiral's leggy daughter, Carol (Alice Eve).

Marcus, played by Mr RoboCop himself, Peter Weller, is an intriguing addition to the Trek universe, since he's an unregenerate hawkish neo-con. Ever since Gene Roddenberry created it, Star Trek has radiated an aura of touchy-feely space-hippiedom, in which all cultures, however grotesque, deserve respect and understanding. This theme is reprised in the film's opening set-piece, in which the Enterprise is saving the planet Nibiru and its picturesquely yellow-mud-painted tribespeople from being obliterated by a volcanic cataclysm. In rescuing Spock from the molten lava, Kirk breaches the "Prime Directive" whereby developing civilisations mustn't be freaked out by seeing futuristic technology in action. Kirk (pictured below with Spock) is temporarily relieved of his command for this gross indiscretion.Star Trek into DarknessMarcus, however, will have no truck with this intergalactic wishy-washiness and aims to make Starfleet ready for war, setting an example by buzzing around the universe in his customised giant black Starship bristling with state-of-the-art weaponry. Weller's performance has more than a touch of Richard Widmark at his most irascible.

As you may suspect, not everybody's motives are pure (no spoilers here, pal) and things (and the contents of things) are not what they seem, although connoisseurs of the Star Trek movie franchise may find themselves experiencing a frisson of deja vu before the final credits roll. Into Darkness is an enjoyably solid effort, but it suffers from a lack of the innovation and inspiration of its predecessor (or indeed of Abrams's best work on TV). Spreading yourself a little thin, JJ?

Benedict Cumberbatch impresses as the sonorous super-villain and Starfleet renegade going by the name of John Harrison


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters