This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
The sequel to 2009’s unexpectedly great reboot sees Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) back on the good ship Enterprise, starting off with another boy’s own adventure rescuing a budding civilisation from being blown up by a volcano, then rescuing Spock (Zachary Quinto) from inside the same volcano, shattering the Prime Directive while doings so.
This is deemed so offensive to Starfleet Command that Kirk is demoted and removed from command of his ship, a plot point that lasts for at least three minutes before a terrorist attack wipes out Kirk’s father figure Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood), along with many other senior officers. Swearing vengeance, he convinces Admiral Robocop (Peter Weller) that he should get his ship back, and track down the renegade special ops Starfleet officer (Benedict Cumberbatch) that’s behind the attacks.
He tracks his nemesis to the homeworld of the Klingons, and as approaching in full Starfleet colours would risk a war with the galaxy’s most warlike aliens, they are sent off undercover to capture ol’ Benedict. This happens with surprising ease, although it turns out that all is not quite as it seems, and perhaps Robocop hasn’t been telling them the whole truth. Or is this another manipulation? And so on, and so forth.
In a great many respects, you can adequately sum up Star Trek Into Darkness by saying that it’s more of Star Trek, and that’s no bad thing in my book, and indeed I enjoyed my time with the film greatly. However, it’s not as good as its predecessor for a number of reasons.
The story has been, I think unfairly, criticised for being full of plot holes, largely by the tedious nerds that drove the Trek franchise into the ground. In a space opera so riddle with future-tech magic, what I’ve seen cited seems rather petty, although in the grand picture I take the point. This is a script that’s putting opportunities for emotion and action above making sense, and for the most part I’m on board it feels as though the first film wasn’t quite as compromised in this regard.
While the relationship between Kirk and Spock is as strong and well-realised as the first film, and Cumberbatch is an excellent third axis for the dynamic, the rest of the cast fares less well. In fact, I’d almost rather have seen them written out of this film rather than shoe-horned into their one scene, regardless of how little sense it makes. We need to disarm a bomb! Quick, fetch a medical doctor! That’s the best course of action, and not at all one determined by the fact that otherwise Bones McCoy (Karl Urban) would have one line in the whole film!
If you want an ensemble piece this is not the one for you, however to be fair it’s not presenting much of a barrier to enjoying it. In other regards, it’s doing rather well at balancing humour, drama and action, bombing along at a terrific pace and generally doing much the same things right that the 2009 vintage did.
Just not quite as well.