*****PLEASE NOTE THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS – Continue at your peril******
So, better late than never….
Let me start by saying that despite all my relative geekiness, one fandom I’ve never really been interested in joining is Star Trek, or as their affectionately know ‘The Trekkies’. I recognise the faces of many of the characters and probably could even tell you some of the actor’s names but I’ve never sat and watched a full episode of any Star Trek series or any of the previous films.
This all changed when J.J. Abrams took the director’s chair and rebooted the franchise, seemingly taking the Star Trek franchise from nerdy to sexy and cool all in one fell swoop. True I actually only saw the first movie that came out in 2009, the night before going to see Into Darkness, but that’s beside the point – I was still full of anticipation!
So as I walked in the cinema feeling the excitement and the adrenaline that most fans had experienced over an 18 month period, it’s fair to say I didn’t want to be disappointed – I wasn’t. If the first film was about how Kirk got to be the Captain, this film was certainly about how he kept it and actually earned the right to sit in the chair. The relationship between Captain Kirk and our favourite Vulcan, Spock, is again at the heart of the film and this film certainly cements it even further. The chemistry between Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto is lovely to watch on screen and they brilliantly capture the opposite natures of their respective characters.
The film opens with drama, as Zulu and Kirk racing through an alien planet and Spock being lowered into a ready to erupt Volcano. From this point onwards the story moves along quickly, with the attack on Starfleet by John Harrison (later revealed to be old nemesis Khan, played deliciously by Benedict Cumberbatch) the real catalyst in the movie, with the death of Admiral Pike a result of the attack. I really loved Admiral Pike –he was certainly like a surrogate father figure to Kirk, discovering him in that bar and giving him the opportunity to join Starfleet. As soon as the film started really, I knew he has to die but I so wish it didn’t have to happen. However, Pine did an excellent job conveying the hurt and anguish of losing him, and certainly justified Kirk’s revenge-fuelled mission to go after Cumberbatch’s character across the stars.
Now, speaking of Benedict Cumberbatch – where do I start? Benedict Cumberbatch – where do I start with him! He is simply excellent at playing the villain of the piece; cool, calculating, sinister, and manipulative. He does it with a style and swagger and with a voice that is beginning to be iconic. At times in the movie, you begin to wonder whether he is a evil guy at all. His reveal as Khan is not over-done, as it easily could have been, especially when it had been rumoured for so long. For me, he stole the show with bucket loads of self assurance and a stillness that at times was frightening even without dialogue.
However it isn’t just Cumberbatch – the entire cast put in stellar performances, making it a fantastic ensemble piece. Chris Pine develops Kirk into a Captain – a man of leadership and strength, making hard decisions and being smart about them. Zach Quinto also grows into his role as Spock even more, showing facets of his character that we hadn’t seen before. The scene where he is explaining to Uhura why he chooses not to feel emotion and the moment where he undoubtedly feels emotion when Kirk is trapped in the radiation unit are emotionally stunning and certainly brought a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat. Again the comedic aspects are brought by Scotty and Bones played by Simon Pegg and Karl Urban respectively, with Zoe Saldana, Antonio Yelchin and John Cho also back and at their best. With an ensemble cast it’s easy for characters to be lost, however that doesn’t happen here – it’s full of individual personalities and there’s a sense of care and love that definitely signifies that they are a family on the ship.
Now even though I was daft enough to semi-fall for the fact they had killed Kirk, I quickly snapped out of it because even J.J Abrams wouldn’t kill of the main protagonist of a huge franchise such as Star Trek (but there was a tear). The ending certainly left it open with Khan literally chilling in his freeze chamber. And the end warp also left the series to have another film although it did leave me smiling as it seemed all was content with the Enterprise crew. However the niggling that the end of this movie was very much like the end of the first one made it feel very repetitive to me, especially as I had seen the first literally 24 hours earlier. I also think it could have done with an extra 10 minutes, as the end felt a little rushed to me.
All in all, this film was a fantastic follow-up to Abrams re-boot and is a good end chapter note for the beginnings of the Enterprise crew….for now.
With J.J. Abrahams moving on to fry bigger fish (well the franchise at least has the word “Star” included) there’s no telling what his involvement will be with Star Trek 3, rumoured to be coming out around 2016. Whether it’ll be him at the helm (unlikely due to Star Wars VII) or whether someone else will take over the reins is something that will be interesting to hear.
However it isn’t just his schedule that is a headache and a half – Chris Pine’s turn as Jack Ryan is set to come out this year and if that does well at the box office they may choose to do a sequel, which will only make him more in-demand than ever. Add to that if they choose to bring back Khan, Cumberbatch is fast becoming hot property within the business and so may well be a busy beaver himself. Who knows and only time can tell – for now live long and prosper:
Kirk: Let me explain what’s happening here. YOU are a criminal! I watched you murder innocent men and women, I was authorised to END you. And the ONLY reason why you are still alive is because I am allowing it. So, shut your mouth! (Star Trek Into Darkness)