JJ Abrams had wisely declined to direct this film initially, having delivered a critically acclaimed blockbuster reboot of the hallowed franchise in 2009.He however relented and we have on our hands another edition of the series which already appears tired on its second outing.He will also be directing the Star Wars film as well as possible future Star Trek installments. The stars have indeed lined up behind Mr Abrams.
Star Trek in 2009 was a wild success, it looked at the crew of the USS Enterprise when they were ridiculously young and the humour and panache with which Mr Abrams went about his job won hearts of Trekkies and newcomers alike.Star Trek Into Darkness is bigger and more expensive but suffers considerably due to its lack of story and imagination.This film with a 185 million budget needs to gross 370 million just to break even and last time around two thirds of the gross of 385 million came from the US market alone.The global film business has changed considerably in four years and the Chinese market is a critical component of a films success and its a well known fact that Star Trek does not travel well.So the math dictates the script with indifferent results.
The USS Enterprise is sent to Planet Nibiru to observe a pre-warp civilization. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock(Zachary Quinto) attempt to save the inhabitants from an imminent volcano eruption. After Kirk breaks all the rules Spock holds sacred, as every Vulcan should, he is demoted to First Officer.In London, Starfleet agent John Harrison(Benedict Cumbercatch) bombs a secret installation. In San Francisco an emergency meeting of high ranking officers at Starfleet headquarters is attacked by a gunship piloted by Harrison, who kills Pike(Bruce Greenwood).
With Pike dead, Admiral Marcus(Peter Weller) authorizes Kirk to hunt down Harrison, who has fled to the Klingon homeworld of Kronos. After a daring capture, Harrison reveals his true identity: Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically engineered superhuman resurrected for the benefit of this film from Star Trek bad guy hall of fame.The rest of the film is a theme park intergalactic ride with big explosions and high decibel sound effects with a safe ending.
The compulsion to keep this a PG rated film renders a lot of the action sterile and the dialogue flat.Surely human beings are not likely to loose their colorful vocabulary in the near future.The presence of beautiful young ladies leads to no sparks at all among the characters although romance and attraction is implied. The legendary characters are all there, but after four year they have not grown up four days.
A film about space should try to fill us with wonder about its beauty and vastness but there is not a single shot here that would justify handing a multibillion dollar spaceship to these kids to play around with. There is neither science nor fiction here, just pretty young boys doing things way out of their league.The vision of the future we get is ugly looking skyscrapers.The spaceship itself offers some cool imagery but the film fails to build on them in any meaningful way.
If you are a Trekkie you may find enough to keep you occupied, engaged or worked up.If you are looking for a science fiction action thriller this film barely delivers the goods.There is a moment of genuine tension in the film when the Kilngons make a brief appearance, who the makers may be saving for future instalments. Cumberbatch is a clear highlight and his screen presence creates some credible moments of movie magic but his characters is clearly not well written. Peter Weller adds some sorely needed gravitas to the proceedings as the Admiral.
The use of very shallow depth of field when coupled with a 3D+IMAX format creates disturbingly out of focus images which detract from the viewing considerably.The film was shot in IMAX and it should have remained that way.The 3D is atrociously rendered and there are a zillion double images here, technically this film is a disaster.I advise you to watch this film, if you must, on good old 2D format and save on the IMAX money too while you are at it.The special effects are inherently solid but there is nothing special about them.They are used every few minutes to pump up the adrenalin as the uninspired dialogues create endless weariness.
This film is a bit of a slog, the Star Trek material deserves better treatment and more imagination to live up to its legend.