Star Trek into Darkness (2013)

“Mr. Sulu, remind me never to piss you off.”

The expectation left in the wake of J. J. Abrams’ 2009 smash hit Star Trek, meant that its successor would need to be everything that is desired and more from a sequel to the reinvigorated franchise. Thankfully it does not disappoint, although some fans may be frustrated by the film’s close links to what is seen as possibly the best of all Star Trek films, Wrath of Khan.

The plot centres around the sinister Benedict Cumberbatch who plays the film’s contemporary terrorist, John Harrison (who later reveals himself as Khan), who gives himself over to fulfil his ulterior motive of saving his crew. This infiltration by exploiting the weaknesses in the moral policy, seems to be a modern film trope which began with The Joker’s intentional capture in The Dark Knight and continued with Silva from Skyfall and Loki in Avengers Assemble. Perhaps this will be looked back on as a sign of our times as Alien invasion acted as a metaphor for the cold war in US Science fiction. 

Although many will be pleased or perhaps even unaware of the carbon copied ideas and scenes from Wrath of Khan, I for one am left bewildered. Abrams did such a great job of creating a new avenue for the franchise to dive down, that I am perplexed by the somewhat backward step that this movie has taken in simply remodelling a previous attempt instead of remaining so fresh and exciting as in 2009.

Regardless of whether the above is deemed a genuine flaw or not, there is still so much about this movie to love. The tantalising and gritty encounter with Kirk’s arch enemies the Klingons, feels truly original and the infamous aliens are portrayed as both ruthless and dangerous. As the space battles become slightly repetitive, I became more engrossed by the closer and more intimate scenes, such as Pike’s debate with Kirk regarding the politics and morals of the Federation. I especially enjoyed the bridge encounters between Kirk and Marcus, played by the extremely convincing and talented Peter Weller, who starts to become the real villain in the movie.

This film sits alongside its predecessor like its darker half, and as Abrams moves on to direct Star wars, he can bask in the knowledge that a new generation of fans have been introduced to a truly global franchise. Star Wars fans can also look at Into Darkness and allow themselves a glimpse of what is to come from the director that seems to have monopolised mainstream science fiction. But of course this does bring us to a slightly disturbing conclusion. Surely, to all the science fiction fans these two franchises are so very different in ideals and history, then we should all be rightly concerned that these such distant cousins may soon end up looking the same.

Shapstik Verdict: With a more seasoned cast on the bridge and Abrams determined to start the action at warp speed there is little time to reflect on what is a slightly unoriginal plot in the scheme of things. But it is still one of the best Star Trek films to date and the myriad of locations and set pieces will linger long in the imagination. 8/10

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