Film review: Star Trek Into Darkness (12A)
It's science fiction, but not as we know it
Friday 10 May 2013
JJ Abrams's second Star Trek film gets off to an exciting start during an all-action prologue on a colourful planet called Nibiru, overflowing with scarlet flora and volcanic larva.
It's just the kind of thing you would have seen in Gene Roddenberry's original series – had it had recourse to multi-million-dollar budgets and a digital paintbox. But upon returning to Starfleet Command, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is reprimanded for having begun a cargo cult on Nibiru, and told not to expect any more such interplanetary jaunts.
Whereupon the film unfortunately retreats into a backwards-looking reworking of one of the earlier films in the series. What's more, a terrorist attack by a baddie calling himself John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) causes Starfleet to forget its mission statement and turn into gung-ho neo-conservatives.
Perhaps every generation gets the Star Trek it deserves, but are such unsubtle parables about US militarism really all we can ask of our sci-fi cinema these days? Some deepening of the odd-couple bromance between hot-headed Kirk and the even-tempered Mr Spock (Zachary Quinto) provides a little human interest. Or half-human, at least.
But this remnant of the dynamics of the original series only serves to remind us what we have lost: space-age utopianism has given way to post-9/11 insecurity; the science-fiction of ideas has been supplanted by mere bombast and digital spectacle. We're not boldly going anywhere.
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