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Is the new Star Trek any good? Here's the answer...

Benedict Cumberbatch obliterates futuristic San Francisco after a 300-year ice bath.

James T Kirk squares off against intergalactic spy John Harrison.
James T Kirk squares off against intergalactic spy John Harrison.
Image: Paramount

THE STAR TREK re-boot in 2009 was widely acclaimed as a success for director JJ Abrams and the fresh-faced crew of the USS Enterprise – the starship sci-fi fans have dreamed of for the past five decades.

The man who brought us Alias, Lost and Morning Glory — the Rachel McAdams-Harrison Ford’s comedy schlerp — breathed fresh life into a much-loved franchise that stalled with a TV series starring Scott ‘Quantum Leap’ Bakula. Casting young actors into the roles of James T Kirk, Spock, ‘Bones’, and the rest of the Starfleet crew, was never going to be easy but Abrams and his team got it spot on.

To avoid corny cameos, they even took the film and its characters into a fresh timeline without ever overcomplicating matters.

Did William Shatner ever rock a beard as cool as Chris Pine’s? Probably. (Ian West/PA Wire)

Star Trek: Into Darkness follows a similar story arc to the first movie with Kirk [Chris Pine] and his cadre of cadets going flat-out with alien rumblings, wise cracks and close calls from the first minute. Viewed with or without 3D glasses, the opening five minutes is freshly squeezed exhilaration, including an early brush with volcanic death for the unflappable Spock [Zachary Quinto].

Kirk returns from an away mission in buoyant form but all hope of a 5-year mission of space exploration implode before his steely blue eyes. He feels the wrath of high command and winds up nursing a bottle of whiskey and a fist-sized ice cube until hell breaks loose in London, England.

A Starfleet spy, John Harrison [Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock Holmes TV fame], goes rogue and takes some big scalps before zapping himself off to a desolate yet inhospitable hiding spot.

Kirk, salivating for revenge after losing a close ally, is given the go-ahead for a dangerous assassination attempt deep in enemy territory. However, once he comes face to face with Harrison, all that he thinks he knows is in danger of being jettisoned while heavily armed threats bear down on the Enterprise from all directions:

YouTube credit: ccastillo213

The verdict

An amazing opening sequence and pulsating final third more than compensate for a rushed story exposition as Kirk all too rapidly hits rock bottom before being immediately pitched back into battle.

Into Darkness does not have quite as many laughs as the 2009 vintage but the best lines are delivered by Spock and Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy [Karl Urban]. Spock does not disappoint when he, in a fit of unusual fury, gives it his best ‘Shatner’:

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In a film loaded with multi-million dollar special effects, gadgetry and grand scenes of cities and planets torn asunder, Into Darkness’ success rests on the performances of Pine and Cumberbatch.

Pine, once again, is perfect as Kirk and plays the legendary captain as a carefree soul who struggles to reach the potential so many envision for him. Cumberbatch, and his eerie, tremulous voice, dominates throughout. The timeline may be different but Kirk and his crew have found a menacing enemy for the ages.

Rating

9 Star Trek movies out of 12

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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