12 May 2013

Spork: A Love Story

When JJ Abrams' Star Trek reboot came out four years ago, I went to see it and, to my surprise, I really liked it. It was the first time I had ever seen a depiction of the Star Trek universe, on the big or small screen, but this didn't affect my enjoyment. Four years on and the sequel, Star Trek into Darkness, has been released. I don't remember very much of the storyline of the 2009 film, but luckily, this didn't matter at all.

I think I enjoy these Abrams visions of the Star Trek world for the same reason I like a lot of Iain M. Banks novels: they are set in space and there are some aliens and weird futuristic/alt-universe things going on, but you don't have to be a hardcore sci-fi buff to enjoy them, because the characters are pretty relatable.

And STID is, on many levels, a bromance between the handsome hothead, Kirk (Chris Pine), and the infuriating intellectual, Spock (Zachary Quinto): Spork, if you will. As the film opens, our heroes are off on a mission that requires Spock to be sent inside an about-to-erupt volcano, but when he gets into some difficulty, Kirk has to decide whether to rescue him and risk the Enterprise being spotted by an indigenous people who have "barely invented the wheel" or leave him to doom. He decides to save his friend, of course, and although he succeeds in this, on returning to the Starfleet HQ, his ship and his captaincy are duly confiscated from him, thanks, in part, to Spock's inability to lie.

This barely matters after a deadly strike on a Starfleet archive in London, followed by a fatal attack on the vessel leaders, who have been meeting to discuss the tragedy. Kirk is tasked with taking the Enterprise, armed with 72 torpedoes, on a mission to find and destroy the superhuman bad guy (played by a wonderfully sinister Benedict Cumberbatch) responsible for the attacks. Spock is concerned about a minor thing called the criminal justice system, and Scotty (Simon Pegg) also voices his concerns about the mission, but Kirk is keen to prove himself again, and so off they go.

The plot itself is almost incidental: a vehicle to put some characters into scenes together and display some flashy visuals (and did I mention the lens flare?). I didn't go to see the film for the action scenes but they were well executed. Somewhat à contre-cœur I saw the film in 3D and I found it a bit distracting, not least because the aforementioned lens flare is even more annoying when it feels like it's floating around the cinema. The film clocked in at over two hours, but I didn't think it was too long, thanks to the tightly edited script and the sharp dialogue. Cumberbatch and Quinto really excelled, although Pegg still managed to steal a few scenes; as for Pine, I still haven't forgiven him for This Means War.

STID isn't a perfect film but it's jolly good fun. We will have to wait another three years for the threequel, but that's probably about the right spacing; let's face it, it wasn't as though there were any cliffhangers or otherwise unresolved plot points that will leave us on the edge of our seats until then.

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