The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Star Trek: Into Darkness | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Star Trek: Into Darkness

The Enterprise is dispatched to eliminate a terrorist responsible for attacks on Starfleet.

Directed by: JJ Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Alice Eve, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, Leonard Nimoy, Noel Clarke

With his daughter lying terminally ill in a London hospital, a young father is approached by John Harrison (Cumberbatch), who claims to be able to cure her. In exchange for his child's salvation, the young man acts as a suicide bomber, destroying a Starfleet archive facility and killing 42 in the process. Hearing of this, an emergency meeting is conducted in Starfleet's San Francisco headquarters. During the meeting, Harrison attacks the building in a spacecraft and escapes to hide on the Klingon home-world of Kronos. Admiral Marcus (Weller) orders Captain Kirk (Pine) to take the Enterprise and kill Harrison.
With 2009's reboot of 'Star Trek', Abrams faced the considerable task of making the franchise relevant to the general public without alienating its fans, (who are arguably the most passionate in all of pop culture). For the most part, he succeeded. The first film in a new adaptation of a popular brand is always difficult as you have to spend so much time establishing the main characters, and their world, it leaves little room to inject a satisfying story into the mix. Thus, the first film featured a dull villain and not much of a story. We forgave this though as it set everything up for a potentially great sequel. A clever plot device meant Abrams' Trek was set in an alternate reality, allowing him to take things in his own direction. Strange then that the follow-up movie is, essentially, a remake, and a poor imitation, of a previous movie.
There's a mythical figure, let's call him 'Joe MidWest', who Hollywood execs have conjured up and consistently pander to, despite no real evidence he actually exists. Joe MidWest, we're led to believe, won't watch Judge Dredd unless he removes his helmet. He won't watch a 'Halloween' movie unless Michael Myers removes his mask. Now, it seems, he won't watch 'Star Trek' unless the guy with the pointy ears stops behaving like an alien and shows some emotion. What's done to Spock (Quinto) here is bizarre; turning him into a blubbering, emotional wreck which goes against everything that makes the character so fascinating. A huge part of the series' charm came from the interplay between the emotional Kirk, (and McCoy), and the logical Spock. Now that Spock is just as emotional as Kirk, this element is gone. The screenwriters seem intent on shooting themselves in the foot. (Considering the writers are responsible for such travesties as 'Transformers 2', 'Prometheus' and 'People Like Us', a wounded foot is the least they deserve, given the pain they've inflicted on audiences.)
Much of the marketing focuses on the casting of Cumberbatch, an actor who finds his star rising rapidly. Fans of the BBC 'Sherlock' reboot know what a great presence the actor is but he's sadly wasted here. His scenes with Kirk have none of the power of those seen in the older film this one references. The extent of his character amounts to a bit of poorly written exposition and an iconic name. As with the first film, McCoy (Urban) is pushed aside for Uhura (Saldana), seemingly for politically correct reasons. Scotty (the horribly miscast Pegg), by far the worst element of the previous installment, is, thankfully, less of a comedic presence here.
As a director, Abrams does some impressive work. The movie's highlight is a stunning pre-credits sequence set on a vivid red planet that recalls the opening of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. The FX work is equally impressive, particularly a glorious shot of the Enterprise falling through a thick blanket of clouds. The sets, costumes and production design are all spectacular too, as is Michael Giacchino's majestic score. Unfortunately, when it comes to narrative cinema, the most important element is the script. Hundreds of people did fantastic work on this film but three people did a terrible job. Those three wrote it.