‘Fail at your own peril’ adopts a whole new meaning in the opening set-piece of Star Trek Into Darkness, which brings a mix-and-match eye-candy bag of jeopardy to the Enterprise crew latest party. J.J Abrams’ newest adventure starts with a blood-pumping climax that finds Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban) running for their lives through a magnificent alien planet landscape. The threat? An angry native tribe on their heels, a volcano bubbling up to cook the planet, a survival-proof abyss lying ahead. Take your pick! Not perilous enough for your taste? How about parachuting Spock (Zachary Quinto) to land on a tiny cliff amidst the roaring lava of the aforementioned volcano? It’s a ridiculously entertaining and breathless cinematic treats galore to kick-start a summer of promising spectacular blockbusters.
Yet, what follows after the prominent Star Trek Into Darkness title taking up the entire width and depth of the screen is not always that wide…or deep. For one thing, the potentially strong Cumberbatch asset is underutilized with sometimes cumbersome outcomes (Pun intended!). A GQ-cover-styled, well-coiffed, buffed up Benedict Cumberbatch starts off with over-articulated menacing one-liners taken from the Too Obvious of a Villain Handbook (“I will walk over your dead corpses!”), but eases into an enigmatic and truly chilling baddie John Harrison. You would expect as much from an actor who seems to effortlessly capture the complexity of a character such as Sherlock Holmes on a regular basis. Still, despite his best efforts, Star Trek Into Darkness, much like its predecessor, battles with an underdeveloped villain, who doesn’t get the necessary screen time to unleash his true potential.
This is a problem faced by the rest of the characters in this sequel. Despite as-elaborately-as-possible introducing us to the Star Trek universe and its main players in the first movie, J.J. Abrams doesn’t appear to have taken the next step to character building or relationship exploration this time around. Fair enough, there are hints of Kirk learning how to be more responsible, and of Spock how to be more…uh…human, as well as ‘aww’ inducing moments of the ever more sparkled Kirk-Spock bromance. Still, on the overall, most characters remain shunned in the corner until the action-driven storyline requires their reappearance.
On the upside, though, the action is as epic and impressive as can only be fostered by intergalactic surroundings; the visuals shine with distinctive flare and, more importantly, flair; Simon Pegg works tirelessly to deliver the prerequisite for his roles comic relief; and the plot twists, may they not be completely unexpected, serve the dual function of entertaining as well as resisting the threat-fatigue that starts creeping in at certain points of the film.
Although boasting some top-notch set-pieces, actors settling more comfortably into their characters’ shoes (especially Chris Pine), and needless to say, full-on-thrusters action, Star Trek Into Darkness feels more like it is setting the scene for a third Enterprise mission, rather than establishing itself as a stand-alone film. Fortunately, it is still a visually entertaining and somewhat plot engaging installment to the franchise, which however, misses the point of the Star Trek quest ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before.’
3/5 Marvelous points