The first of the new batch of ‘Star Trek’ made a very big benchmark for the second film, ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ to equal.
After violating several Starfleet directives and inadvertently reported by Spock (actor Zachery Quinto) being too honest, Kirk (Chris Pine) is demoted to first officer and the Vulcan to another starship. During this time, the London Starfleet Archive is destroyed and they and other ranking Starfleet officers are drawn to a conference by Admiral Alexander Marcus (actor Peter Weller) who tells them of the rebel Starfleet officer John Harrison (actor Benedict Cumberbatch) as the cause. Kirk points out that the Archive wasn’t the real target but themselves. A little too late when they are attacked. Although Kirk leads the attack back, it doesn’t stop many deaths.
Scott (actor Simon Pegg), after an examination of the debris, works out that Harrison had transported to Kronos, the Klingon homeworld. Under Marcus’ orders, Kirk is given back his command of the Enterprise and ordered to fire special photon torpedoes at Harrison’s position and kill him. Spock isn’t happy about no customary trial and Scott quits the Enterprise rather than let photon torpedoes on-board which he isn’t allowed to examine.
In the Neutral Zone, the Enterprise has an engine failure and while repairs are underway, Kirk, Spock, Uhura (actress Zoe Saldana) and a couple security guards in disguise take a shuttle to Kronos to capture Harrison only to nearly be captured by the Klingons. Against the odds in the fight, it is Harrison’s arrival and fighting that ensures none of them are killed. Hearing about the number of photon torpedoes, Harrison surrenders. Kirk takes his anger out on the man, finding he can’t hurt him but learns the torpedoes aren’t what they seem.
Back on the Enterprise, Kirk takes Harrison at his word and has one of the torpedoes examined and finds they contained people in suspended animation. Harrison explains his real name is Kahn and that he had been involved in a plot by Admiral Marcus to create a war between Starfleet and the Klingons until he saw himself being betrayed and initiated his attacks. Scott, in the meantime, has investigated co-ordinates given by Kahn and found a secret installation by Marcus and the USS Vengeance, a powerful battle starship and joins it as it goes to the Enterprise.
Kirk is still unsure that Marcus is planning war until the Vengeance attacks them. Taking Kahn with him, the two men jump between ships and meet up with Scott on-board the Vengeance and capture it. It is only then that Khan turns on them and kills Marcus. He orders Spock to return his people to him and he’ll return Kirk and his team back to the Enterprise. Kahn under-estimates Spock’s own conniving and well…you’ve had enough spoilers. Makes you wonder about the vulnerability of Starfleet vessels in this pocket universe, especially the fact there is no lock off to stop intruders taking control by just being on the bridge. Then again, Kahn has been around Starfleet long enough to get such things off screen.
Considering the carnage and death that Kahn inflicted on San Francisco when he crashed the starship into the city, it does seem odd that his only sentence was to be deep frozen again. Hardly a prison sentence for his actions, more a matter of leaving it to another generation to sort out, although it no doubt leaves an opening for resurrection at some point.
I would have doubted if ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ could have lived up to the first film, ‘Star Trek’, and I’m not sure if the sequel is that kind of film I would have expected or preferred. This has nothing to do with the performances of the actors which is outstanding but more to do with certain contrivances in the plot. The attack on the Starfleet officers in San Francisco is a repeat of an event from ‘Starfleet: Voyager’ season two episode ‘Alliances’. The death and resurrection of Kirk is a reverse of ‘Star Trek II: The Wraith Of Kahn’ and even beat them to the punch by not needing a third film. If Kahn’s blood can do so much, you would think Starfleet would be harvesting from him and his troops rather than just leave them in hibernation. It’s also problematic that the Starfleet communicators can reach across many light years and that because of Scott’s equation it is possible for the transporter signal to reach as far as Kronos, a place unlikely to have been visited by human personal before, let alone have precise co-ordinates when you consider all the variables like expanding universe and orbits. What’s the point of having a starship with that kind of capacity behind them and they haven’t even reached the 25th century yet? Even their Enterprise can do odd things like work inside an atmosphere, let alone stay underwater, making things too easy. Wouldn’t the inhabitants of Nibivu have seen it arrive as well as take-off? The way the Enterprise is thrown about later must have even the most hardened Trek fan thinking it needs a better design.
There were hints of stories not seen but it’s only going to raise speculation as to where they aren’t going to go with the death of Christopher Pike. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t never likely to go to Talos. Now the Enterprise is off on its five year mission, one has to ask did they do that to keep Kirk and company out of trouble on Earth. It does make me wonder how many more films are they going to make and keep the same actors. If they are only going to be made periodically, it must only be the wages that would be debated. I do wonder if one day someone is going to suggest making a TV series based off the films.
The extra DVD supplied with the Sainsbury’s exclusive edition has half an hour of extras filling in on the background of the film, two of which are on the main DVD. Seeing the Enterprise sets being put together in fast motion was fun and again, seeing Leonard Nimoy being made up as Spock. Most notable though was the set designer showing that various sections of the transporter room was acquired from Ikea. For those who want to build their own versions, this is likely to be seen as a godsend and I wouldn’t be surprised if these items will quickly sell both sides of the pond.
I can’t help but feel that with this film that the production team were trying too hard to cram everything in. Making everything greater than the original or do things budget and effects limited with the original series, let alone the films, makes this ‘Star Trek’ pocket universe rather too unlimited. They are far more likely to bring their weapons on-line than to out-wit anyone who opposes them. If there is any changes going to be made in their five year mission, I hope this is remembered and show solutions that do not require thumping the enemy as Kirk and Spock frequently did to Kahn because it didn’t hurt him. Doesn’t that send the wrong message to the audience? It’s always been said the 1960s show displayed an interpretation of the then current American policy. If the same is said about 2010s America, then this is a very worrying image of the USA.
In many respects, I suspect ‘Into Darkness’ is the transition film needed to show how Kirk captains the first Starfleet vessel into deep space and then off into a clean state with the third film. Whether they will be fresh adventures or will it be them than a next generation who will meet the Borg – you can see someone saying, ‘Our viewers expect this and see how Kirk handles them.’ – we’ll see in a couple years time. One has to hope that the Enterprise has left an Earth more capable of looking after itself in the meantime.
(region 2 DVD: pub: Paramount PHE 1855. 2 dvds 127 minute film with extras. Price: £ 9.99 (UK) although it’s now got up to £13.99. I should point out this extra dvd is an exclusive to the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain)
cast: Chris Pine, Zachery Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Simon Pegg and Benedict Cumberbatch