2009 saw a revamped action-oriented reboot of the Star Trek franchise helmed by J.J. Abrahams (of Lost fame). This year it is time for a sequel. Indeed, all the main characters of the 2009 film return, and of course: a new film calls for a new villain, one that will take us into darkness.
The movie opens with the young Kirk making a controversial decision to save his friend Spock stuck on a primitive alien planet. By doing so, he violates Starfleet’s important prime directive: one should never interfere with an alien civilization, especially not when they are technologically primitive. As a result of his actions Kirk is banned from commanding the enterprise. Lucky for him that ban will not last long in the wake of a terrorist attack on London.
The evil Khan, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is behind the attack. It turns out he has a much more elaborate agenda than one might initially expect. The contrast between Khan’s smooth execution of his plans and his torment with his own origins keep the movie interesting. Indeed, his story is even darker than his actions allude to.
Not every die hard Star Trek fan may like this film and its predecessor. Both are more action-oriented compared to previous Star Trek films and in a way more masculine and adolescent. There is not much focus on broad moral dilemma’s, which is one aspect that made previous Star Trek series and films both interesting and different from the other Star* franchises (Stargate, Star Wars). Instead there is more focus on the emotions of the main characters, which makes them easier to identify with, though less mysterious as well. On the other hand: the higher pace is a welcome change, the revamped visuals are more in line with what viewers expect today, and the new format as a whole appeals to a much broader audience.
Star Trek into Darkness is a worthy successor to the first film of the franchise reboot. It is at least as good, and perhaps even slightly better. The acting is well done, particularly by the lead actors: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch. The story is engaging enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. Recommended, for Star Trek fans open to a different format, and certainly for non-trekkies.