JJ Abram’s ‘Star Trek into Darkness’

Never have I so eagerly awaited the release of a motion picture, as I have this one.

CONTAINS SPOILERS

SYNOPSIS

The film begins on a pre-warp planet, where Kirk and McCoy are being chased by the planets inhabitants, while Spock is getting ready to detonate a fusion bomb inside a volcano, which is threatening to destroy the planet. Kirk and McCoy, finding the path in front of them disappearing, jump out over a cliff and plummet to the sea below. With the volcano getting ready to blow, Spock is trapped inside and warns Kirk not to attempt a rescue as, if the inhabitants see the USS Enterprise, it will break Starfleet General Order #1 (The Prime Directive). Kirk decides to hell with it and orders the USS Enterprise be brought out of hiding, from beneath the waves, to rescue Spock.

Back on Earth a Starfleet officer, in London, is offered a procedure that will save his daughter’s life, but it will come at a cost. The man accepts and detonates a bomb in the offices of Section 31.

With the USS Enterprise arriving back at Earth, Kirk is reprimanded, by Admiral Pike, for breaking the Prime Directive and Spock is transferred to another ship. As the news comes in about the London bombing, Admiral Marcus calls an emergency meeting of Starfleet’s top brass, which includes Pike, Kirk and Spock. As the meeting gets underway, Admiral Marcus tells the assembled about a rogue Starfleet operative from Section 31, named John Harrison. As if on cue, John Harrison appears in a one-man craft outside the conference and opens fire. Admiral Pike is fatally wounded, while John Harrison ‘beams’ out of the craft before Kirk can destroy it.

Admiral Marcus orders Kirk to hunt down and kill John Harrison. With Kirk back in charge of the USS Enterprise and Spock back aboard, 72 experimental weapons are brought aboard. Scotty is unhappy with the new weapons and resigns. With Scotty on shore leave, they track John Harrison to Qo’nos (the Klingon Home world). On arrival, the warp core is damaged, so a shuttlecraft is sent to the planet surface to continue the search. With Uhura in the away team, her linguistic skills come to the fore, when they encounter Klingons.

The battle doesn’t last long as John Harrison surrenders willingly. With John Harrison in the brig, Kirk informs him that he is to be taken back to Earth, where he will stand trial for his crimes. John Harrison gives Kirk a set of coordinates and says there are 72 reasons why he gave himself up. Kirk contacts Scotty and tasks him with finding out what as at the coordinates, given to him by John Harrison. Scotty obliges and discovers a massive starship being constructed near Jupiter.

Meanwhile, McCoy and Marcus are attempting to open one of the experimental weapons, to see what it is. On opening one, they find a cryogenically frozen Human male. As Kirk demands to know who John Harrison really is, John Harrison replies, “My name is… Khan.” The USS Enterprise then detects another ship and the USS Vengeance, captained by Admiral Marcus, appears before them. The USS Vengeance is a massive ship, nearly four times bigger than the US Enterprise. With Kirk refusing to hand over John Harrison, Admiral Marcus beams his daughter to the USS Vengeance and then opens fire. The USS Enterprise jumps to warp and heads home. Unfortunately, the USS Vengeance catches up to them and inflicts severe damage onto the USS Enterprise. Scotty, who has snuck aboard the USS vengeance, sabotages the ships weapons and then contacts Kirk. With his ship dead in space, Kirk and Khan use ‘rocket suits’ to fly over to the USS Vengeance.

Entering the USS Vengeance through an airlock, Kirk and Khan meet up with Scotty. Swiftly overpowering the skeleton crew, they make their way to the bridge. Admiral Marcus is killed and Khan knocks out Scotty, Marcus and Kirk. He then contacts Spock and demands that the ‘weapons’ be beamed over immediately, in return for Kirk and his comrades.

With Kirk and crew back on the USS Enterprise, Khan opens fire again and the USS Enterprise begins to freefall towards the Earth, as her warp core goes out of alignment.

Having removed the cryogenically frozen individuals from the torpedoes, before beaming them to the USS vengeance, Spock detonates them. As the USS enterprise falls further towards Earth’s atmosphere, the USS vengeance streaks passed, entering the atmosphere and skimming Alcatraz Island, before skimming across San Francisco Bay and coming to rest in San Francisco proper.

With the USS Enterprise still freefalling, Kirk enters the warp core to manually realign the core, despite Scotty’s best efforts to stop him. Kirk is successful and, with the mains power back online, the USS Enterprise stops her descent. Spock learns of his Captain’s sacrifice and on seeing Kirk through the glass partition, screams. Spock, who believes that Khan has survived the crash of the USS vengeance, beams down to Earth and a relentless, adrenaline fueled chase ensues. Meanwhile, McCoy realises that Kirk can be saved by Khan’s enhanced blood, so Uhura beams down to stop Spock killing Khan. With Khan in custody, McCoy performs a transfusion and Kirk slowly recovers after a few weeks. Khan is then cryogenically frozen.

After a year the fully refitted USS Enterprise embarks on her first five year mission.

REVIEW

This has to be one of the most spectacular, non-stop, adrenaline-fueled Star Trek movies… ever!

However, it is could also be classed as a remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

JJ Abrams had a lot to live up to after his 2009 reboot and I think that he kept the pace up but just lacked an original story. There is nothing in this film to keep the purists happy and there is no need to have seen any of the series or previous films to understand this movie, for the new audience, as he has changed things so much that it could just be an ordinary sci-fi film, rather than Star Trek. Chris Pine made Kirk his own in the first movie, but seems to have lost his way, here. Zachary Quinto has become Spock and appears to understand his role in the franchise. Karl Urban, who was brilliant in the 2009 movie, is sadly just cast to rehash the original McCoy and is woefully underused. Simon Pegg, as Scotty, appears to be there just to bring humour to the crew. On the plus side, the effects are top-notch and the 3D actually works for this film. There’s enough dialogue quoted from the original films and series to keep fans happy, but this does not a good movie make.

My main issue with this film is the complete disregard for continuity. John Harrison has developed a transporter that came beam him anywhere, including to other planets. This, therefore, negates the need for Starships. But Kirk still needs his ship to get to Qo’nos. On the approach to Qo’nos there is a semi-destroyed moon, presumably Praxis (The Klingon moon that exploded in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country), which should still be in one piece, at this time.  The Klingons, obviously, make their first appearance in the series (having been cut from the 2009 film) and are different from what we have come to know. They are almost hybrids of every type of screen Klingon, ever seen. Plus, the Klingons are overwhelmed and beaten far too easily, by Kirk and company. The revelation that John Harrison, woodenly played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is in fact none other than Khan Noonien Singh, is nonsensical as Khan has suddenly been changed from an Indian to an Englishman. Some scenes were directly lifted from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but were given a JJ Abrams twist. And, to make matters worse, Spock contacts Spock Prime to find out how to beat Khan, rather than finding the answer himself. This, to me, seemed like a bit of a cop-out, as now he can just contact Spock Prime at the first sign of trouble.

As a science fiction movie, I would give this film 8/10.

But, as a Star Trek film, I would give it 5/10.

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