Even Mr Spock gets to defy the prime directive, mess up his signature Vulcan hairdo, and have a savage brawl in the high-octane sequel of the rebooted Star Trek franchise. Not to mention the hotshot James Tiberius Kirk, who drives the starship Enterprise as if he was auditioning for the next Fast And Furious movie.
Zachary Quinto as Spock in Star Trek Into Darkness.
Science fiction? Maybe, but more likely this is science action, with little emphasis on the former, that hurtles into deep space and back to Earth as breathlessly as warp speed would allow. Hot on the trail blazed by Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness floors the gas and kicks the Hollywood blockbuster season into top gear.
Brisk and bold, J.J. Abrams' movie also has moments when their young characters toy with transformative possibilities. The maverick Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), proud breaker of rules, learns how leadership sometimes requires logic besides temerity. Spock (Zachary Quinto) _ genetically, robotically self-righteous _ gets a taste of animal impulse and perhaps learns how human civilisation relies more on fists than on brains. Those few seconds when these young crew members of the voyaging starship feel uncertain about what they are gives the film elements of surprise. Just enough.
Because soon the torpedoes start firing again and Benedict Cumberbatch turns up as the charismatic super-brute and threatens to steal the whole show. British actor Cumberbatch, impressive as the homosexual spy in Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy and the television series Sherlock Holmes, brings a taste of cool babarity to the film as the series' old nemesis, Khan.
Unfrozen from his long sleep, Khan plots a terrorist attack in London then sprays futuristic bullets at the meeting of Starfleet's executives. Kirk and his multiracial and multi-species crew _ including Spock, Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Bones (Karl Urban) and the rest _ are dispatched from Earth to assassinate Khan in his Klingon hideout, but the increasing militarism of Starfleet's boss portends a darker scheme hidden from the crew.
Abrams keeps things moving fast; the 130-minute film sucks us into its warp zone, sprinkling 3D space dust in our faces. The geeky, bookish old days of Trekkies deciphering every single clue and riddle may remain, but the new Star Trek is more interested in spectacle and digital pageantry, and no one could deny that that is Abrams' strength.
The old, proud description of "space opera" has lost its lustre somewhat _ to the gains of highly choreographed battles and the rejuvenated, varsity-like atmosphere on the deck of the Enterprise. You could long for the good old days, but the new ones are fuelled by such brash energy that it's likely to stay with us for at least a few more sequels.
About the author
- Writer: Kong Rithdee
Position: Deputy Life Editor