Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds
Director: J. J. Abrams
It’s a question that’s greatly divided opinion for decades and been the catalyst for many a geeky tirade on internet forums; Wars or Trek?
Myself, I’ve always been a lover of George Lucas’ brilliant if sometimes flawed sci-fi saga as it caught me in a way as a child that Star Trek, for whatever reason, just couldn’t. Into Darkness though, is making me think I should go back to the old films and maybe even the TV series with Shatner and co. in and if all goes well, maybe beyond that. Maybe now I’ll see something in them I didn’t see way back when. Where the first in J.J. Abrams’ reboot (2009’s Star Trek) got me into anything Trekky properly for the first time, Into Darkness has taken it to another level – now I’m gripped. You will see why.
My story, as ever, starts with a plot synopsis…
Headstrong Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk (Pine) and his crew are sent on a mission to save a planet from extinction which they do, but Kirk violates a lot of rules by having his intervention witnessed by the local populace. Consequently, he loses command of the U.S.S. Enterprise which is given to Admiral Pike (Greenwood). No sooner does this happen than a bombing is carried out on a secret military facility in London by one John Harrison (the phenomenal Benedict Cumberbatch). After a subsequent meeting of Starfleet Command (headed by Robocop himself, Peter Weller) to sort out what to do with this threat the council is rudely interrupted (shot to high hell by Harrison), Kirk is granted permission to lead a task group to find this mysterious attacker and destroy him.
The first twist of many is that Harrison is hiding out on the Klingon home-world; a race that is on the brink of all-out war with mankind and is in the Guinness Book of Records for having the most spoken fictional language in the world. It’s hard for me to go on whilst trying to avoid spoiling the shocking revelations this film has in store but let’s just say the crew of the Enterprise get a lot more than they bargain for once they catch up with Harrison and the remainder of the film is a continuously suspenseful and action-packed thrill-ride.
The regular cast returns with a couple of shake-ups and Simon Pegg’s “Scotty” playing a notably larger role in the events of the film, which is very welcome and lightens things up in a story with a darker tone than that of its predecessor, as the name implies.
Two welcome additions are Peter Weller as Admiral Marcus whom I’ve mentioned and Alice Eve, who rarely misses a chance to get at least half-naked in front of the camera (and Into Darkness is no exception I’m sure every heterosexual male will be pleased to know), as the ship’s second weapons expert.
The jewel in Darkness’glittering crown though, has to be Benedict Cumberbatch’s visceral and intense portrayal of the main antagonist John Harrison. The villain’s brutal savagery is a terrifying marvel to behold, as is his cool manner and cunning. It’s a rare thing for a villain to come along that’s so interesting and powerful in both character and barbarity that their mere presence steals a scene. A perfect casting choice to which Cumberbatch’s menacing voice and acting ability were uniquely suited.
I’m told by an acquaintance there are a lot of references to various episodes and films from Star Treks past so that’s something for the Trekkies who don’t hate the idea of this reboot series to enjoy. For the fan who loved the first in this series as I did there’s plenty more where that came from and if you’re no Klingon-speaking Trekky who debates whether Kirk’s better than Picard it doesn’t really matter as Abrams’ series is easily accessible to pretty much anyone. It’s filled with swashbuckling space adventure, humour, action and lessons on companionship and if you’ve not made up your mind whether you’ll like it or not as you’ve never been into sci-fi or Star trek, then I implore you to boldly go where you’ve never gone before. I’m confident it will be worth your while…