Film: "Star Trek Into Darkness"; Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Peter Weller, Anton Yelchin, and Leonard Nimoy; Director: JJ Abrams.
The "Star Trek" fans, be it of the comics, television serials or previous films, would simply love "Into Darkness" without distraction. Director JJ Abrams has intelligently and attractively structured the story of the sci-fi legend, making it so believable.
The film begins full throttle with octane packed action sci-fi drama. On Planet Nirbu, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his team on board Spaceship - Enterprise NCC 1701 - are docked on the floor of the ocean, exploring the planet and surveying its species.
On land, two of his men are being chased by the inhabitants of the planet. The chase ends with the two men diving into the ocean. Simultaneously, a volcano is beginning to erupt.
The planet and its inhabitants are in danger. In order to save the inhabitants, Spock (Zachary Quinto) trans-warps himself from the spaceship, into the volcano, against the wishes of his captain. In order to save Spook's life, Captain Kirk gives orders for the spaceship to take off in broad daylight, thereby exposing themselves to the inhabitants of the planet.
This lays the foundation of the story that follows.
"Into Darkness" is the story of "bonding like family", comradeship and self-sacrifice.
Apart from the action, whether it is the spaceship's collision or the hand to hand combat in mid-air and the chases, what makes the film intense is the emotional politics.
The story is not very original. It's a hero's journey with conflict between military regulation and personal loyalty.
The characters are humane and vibrant with sentiments and the relationship shared between every character is Trek viable.
The film develops the growing Kirk-Spock friendship, with Pine exhibiting reserves of defenseless weakness and doubt beneath his cocksure exterior, while Quinto adds seriousness to Spock's eternal inner conflict and his deepening romance with Lt. Uhura (Zoe Saldana).
It also introduces a new super-villain, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a slippery sort of guy who keeps the audience guessing as to who the actual villain is. It is wonderful to watch Cumberbatch with an inspiring performance infuse exotic grandeur to the character.
Equally impressive is new entrant Petter Weller as Admiral Marcus.
The rest of the cast also seem very confident in portraying their iconic roles. Karl Urban as Bones, Simon Pegg as Scott, John Chu as Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Chekov have their own hero moments. Alice Eve as the Admiral's daughter and a science office is the weakest link in the film.
On the production front, "Star Trek Into Darkness" is a stunningly assembled and uniformly maintained piece of work across board, with visual effects that seamlessly melt live-action and computer-animated elements on celluloid.
Production designer Scott Chambliss' sets are sleek and rich in splendour.
Composer Michael Giacchino's soaring score once again revives Alexander Courage's immortal Trek theme for the closing credits.
Director Abrams along with his script writers have skillfully chartered this over two-hour plot driven blockbuster that does not bog down in exposition or sag in the middle.
Unfortunately, it does get a bit tiring at the end and risks getting burnt out. Which is why the denouement is wrapped in flat three minutes and it also lays foundation for the next sequel promising a five year trip in space exploring new planets and civilizations.
A must watch film for every Star Trek fan.
Rating: *** 1/2