I’ll admit I had never seen Star Trek before the 2009 film. My dad had a whole bunch of the DVDs, but any time he popped them in the DVD player it was an unfortunate coincidence – I was always studying, out, napping, washing my hair, sitting in another room waiting for it to be over, etc. He convinced me to see the 2009 and I absolutely loved it, so I had extremely high expectations for Star Trek: Into Darkness.
This film finds the eclectic crew of the Enterprise hunting a rogue Starfleet agent, played stunningly by Benedict Cumberbatch, who is waging a one man war on humanity. John Harrison (Cumberbatch) takes refuge in a deserted area of Qo’noS – the Klingons’ home planet. Humans and Klingons are on the brink of war, and when the Enterprise breaks down on the edge of Klingon territory they have to ask for help from the very man they were hunting.
The plot of the film is somewhat thin, though there’s enough to make you quite emotional. I love to see a bad guy with a bit of heart, and the bromance-triangle between Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Kirk continues to develop. I always empathise with villains who are facing a massive organisation on their own (a la Raoul Silva in Skyfall) – though I’m not sure if this is the director’s intention or I’m just a bit of a weirdo.
All the cast return, and we are introduced to Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) the newest (and slightly suspicious) crew member on the Enterprise. Benedict Cumberbatch is a wonderful villain, and as my (straight) roommate said, “his voice just gives me an instant boner”. Though the logical aspect of his character is very much in the vein of Sherlock, he is more human and in a way vulnerable than his BBC character. Karl Urban constantly overacts as Bones, though I like to hope that this is an intentional homage to the original series. Urban has long been a fan of Star Trek, and his pessimistic cheesiness works well with Kirk’s arrogance, Spock’s logic and Chekov’s enthusiasm. Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) take on more responsibilities in this film, which is good to see. I also adore Quinto as Spock: he brilliantly embodies the internal battle of logic versus emotion. Chris Pine as Kirk is as charming and arrogant as ever, but after the events of this film it is clear he will never be the same carefree Captain he was before. And Simon Pegg returns as everybody’s favourite engineer Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott, getting to prove how brave and loyal he is. But the main star of this film, however, is Chris Pine’s face. Seriously, what happened to it? Did he get another Malvaran Mud Flea vaccine?
The problem with movies with so many principle characters is that it’s hard to find them all something to do. It’s almost as if J. J. Abrams was going through a checklist of what the characters were good at. Uhura speaks some Klingon, Chekov does some engineering, Bones does some experiments, Sulu gets sassy – but Abrams seems to have aimed to get all the characters to play an important role, and this seems a bit forced. Maybe he needs to watch The Italian Job again to see how a real team works.
Overall, the film is very good and an excellent follow-up to the original. The characters are as charming as ever, but there is an added depth to them that we didn’t see in the previous film. Cumberbatch makes a formidable adversary, and it would be wonderful if he could return for future films. But seriously, Chris Pine’s face. What. Happened.