There are certain things that are part of Star Trek lore, and the most important is what’s known as the Prime Directive. The Directive states that the crew of the Enterprise is not allowed to meddle in the affairs/politics/conflicts of other alien cultures during its five year mission to explore deep space.
Director J.J Abrams, who is just as important as his films these days, spends the first ten minutes of the film giving the Prime Directive the flick, all the better to set Captain Kirk on a course to butt heads with superiors back at the Academy. This sequence also gives the audience the full effect of all its 3D Imax glory as an audience we get to experience running through a scarlet red forest chased by angry natives and then jump off a mile-high precipice. The camera nauseatingly follows Bones and Kirk through this wild ride and is the most intense action sequence you will probably see this year at the cinema.
So sets up the sequel to Abrams wildly successful reboot of the Star Trek franchise. Four years ago Abrams rewrote the origin story and launched Chris Pine as Captain James Tiberious Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock. Roles they have stepped into admirably by recalling William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy’s performances, no small feat for the legions of fans of the franchise. Into Darkness provides the actors the opportunity to capitalise and deepen the interplay that began with the first movie.
The whole crew of the newly minted Enterprise has become a collection of alpha personalities: Zoe Saldana’s Uhura is nobodies flunky, getting in on the action and in the middle of a lover’s quarrel with Spock; John Cho as the calm and cook Sulu; Simon Pegg’s frantically funny and resourceful Scotty and Karl Urban as Bones, always quick with the witty one liner. The characters all pop with a new dynamism.
Add to this new movie a villain who is even more of a force to be reckoned with than Eric Bana in the first movie and you have one very intelligent action film.
This dastardly dude is a boyish-looking terrorist named John Harrison, who starts off by striking a note of urban chaos which is tricky given the recent Boston bombings. But it’s not long before he’s revealed to be a foe familiar to Trekkies, with a concealed agenda and 70 of his comrades cryogenically frozen in photon-torpedo capsules.
Played by rising British star Benedict Cumberbatch his calm demeanor and disguises his vengeful mission. Once Harrison’s been captured and placed in a cell, Kirk has to listen to his own hunches about who this man is and what he wants and what he represents to the Federation.
The real “darkness” the film is referring to is the place where you’re no longer certain what the right thing to do is, the area between right and wrong where those in your care are threatened with extinction.
It’s these moral dilemma’s, the uniformly excellent performances and the genuinely thrilling action sequences which make this film a must see, particularly in 3D if you get the chance.
Into Darkness is a sleek, thrilling epic that’s also a triumphantly witty popcorn morality play.
It’s everything you could want in an action movie, let alone a sci-fi blockbuster like Star Trek.
Adrian Drayton is the Director of Reel Dialogue. A film buff and critic for 20 years, he believes in the power of cinema and the power of God to start conversations.
He is also a massive Star Wars nerd.