Star Trek: Into Darkness (dir. J.J. Abrams, 2013) – The Enterprise crew is mobilised to contain the destructive terror threat, coming from within.
J.J. Abrams strikes back with an entertaining space war, where a strong adversary outshines the neglected Starfleet crew.
It has been four long years since the fine reboot of Star Trek, and its follow-up boasts a villain with a cool leather-themed wardrobe better at everything. The one-man army at the centre of the Enterprise crew’s latest strife is none other than John Harrison. But wait, is this who we think he is?
As per tradition, Jar Jar Abrams goes to great length to ensure Harrison’s real identity remain a well-preserved secret. But his true name bears little importance for Benedict Cumberbatch pretty much made the character his own. His intense adversary is an outstanding and captivating presence, voice with unnerving deep timbre.
Following an almost-too-brief battle with the Klingons, Harrison falls into his enemy’s hands in an ever-popular ploy of deliberate capture. He quickly admits to orchestrating the terror attacks, then reveals his sympathetic motivation.
It is a powerful display of ambiguity that builds effective tension. Playing mind games with both Starfleet and the audience, Harrison has us each rooting for him one moment and questioning that trust the very next.
Defending against his dubious intent is the Enterprise crew, back along with more lens flares and better chemistry. While the newly anointed Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is still finding his footing as a leader, Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) continues to explore his human side in their deepening friendship.
The emotionally charged sequences let up for a few lighter moments, with the Vulcan and the Captain still quibbling every second they can. Bones (Karl Urban) adds to the good humour as his perfect cadence in his unwarranted grumpiness makes him a favourite. It was also fantastic to see Scotty (Simon Pegg) proffer more than just comic relief.
The rest of Starfleet however, are not given a lot to work with. On the rather disappointing end, Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) get pushed to the sidelines. Though assertive and spirited, Uhura (Zoe Saldana) plays a minimal role outside of her romantic relationship with Spock.
Even newcomer Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) makes a weak entrance that exploits her sexuality instead of personality. After appearing in lingerie and admonishing onlookers, she is relegated to the role of a mere plot device. Any hope of her development is entirely left to Part Three.
What little room left is packed tight with violent brawls and extensive chases in a spectacular space adventure. More action than science fiction spews in Abrams’ explosive, sleek nu-Trek universe that is unlikely to satisfy audiences seeking a more cerebral experience.
Into Darkness nevertheless remains an exciting expedition that promises a relentless blast, and reassures that the new Star Wars is in good hands indeed.