The second in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot is a reassuring return to the characters so well re-established in the first film.
In it we see the Enterprise come up against former starfleet agent John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) who has carried out a terrorist attack on earth before feeling to the Klingon homeworld of Kronos. The Enterprise must then try and hunt him down without starting a war with the notoriously tetchy Klingons in the process.
What Star Trek Into Darkness does it does well. The interactions between the characters, in particular Kirk and Spock continue to be expertly handled; the action sequences are all top-notch, in particular the opening scene; and the villain of the piece is well introduced and developed.
What it does suffer from, which the first film could be forgiven for, is that it does not feel original enough. In Star Trek we were promised that the path our re-booted heroes would be following would be separate to the ones of the same characters in the original series.
However, it is becoming clear that while the details might be different, the writers are intent to include as many of the same stories as in the original series and films as possible.
This is a mistake and I shall try and explain why.
Science Fiction and Fantasy are genres primarily of the imagination. They allow us to ask “What if” questions. “What if there was a mysterious force in a galaxy far far away?”; “What if there was an alien time traveller with a soft spot for earth?”; “What if there was a spaceship trying to discover new worlds?”
Star Trek: The Original Series had a mission. Its mission was “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” This is one of the simplest and best premises a science fiction show can have. It gave the writers almost unlimited scope to think of new stories, new aliens and new problems for its characters to overcome.
“To boldly go where no man has gone before.” It is a phrase worth remembering not just in this context but in the context of any creative enterprise. Star Trek Into Darkness is an enjoyable film that is a nice, safe way to spend a few hours. It’s just a shame it lacks boldness.