Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

A visual feast with depth to boot

By Mark HadleyWednesday 15 May 2013Movies

Rating: M
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: May 8

Star Trek is back, and with it the positive modeling of passionate male friendships that don’t have to have anything to do with homosexuality.

Mark Hadley reviews Star Trek Into DarknessDirector J.J. Abrams achieved the impossible in 2009 with a reboot of the aging Gene Roddenbury franchise that inspired both die-hard fans and newcomers alike. Four years later he’s returned with a part two that again draws on the best of this epic science fiction genre while adding new twists no-one saw coming. 

Chris Pine, the new Captain Kirk, finds himself bereft of the Enterprise when his decision to save an alien race and his friend Spock’s life (Zachary Quinto) run afoul of Starfleet protocol. Into Darkness quickly emerges as a morality tale about the intrinsic link between privilege and responsibility, heroism and sacrifice. Kirk rails against the system for kicking him out of the captain’s chair, but his mentor Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) castigates the brash officer for hiding behind success as an excuse for ignoring his duty:

“You think the rules don’t apply to you because you don’t agree with them. Worse, you’ve used dumb luck to justify playing God. You’re not ready for the chair because you don’t respect it.”

When a genetically enhanced enemy emerges in the form of the warrior Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), Kirk finds himself facing the same moral question over again: will he operate outside the rules or respect that he has a greater responsibility to uphold?

Into Darkness is set to be another epic crowd-pleaser. Its action is relentless and its effects spectacular, without any required knowledge to bog down the newcomer. But for the Star Trek aficionado it also offers a selection of well-known characters in new situations and unexpected twists on legendary plot lines. Seen Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan recently? Let the reader understand…

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As you’ve probably picked up, I’m more than a little interested in the Star Trek franchise. But, honestly, the most exciting thing to emerge from this film is not a new ‘Dreadnought’ class starship nor the definitive answer to the shape of Vulcan ears. It’s the continuing affirmation that Kirk and Spock give to a particular type of male friendship.

One of the sad consequences of attempting to legitimize the homosexual lifestyle has been the determination to recast intense male bonds in the light of subdued or subverted same-sex attraction. The gay lobby has done everything it can to own King David and Jonathan, Alexander the Great and Hephaestion, even Jesus and the Apostle John. In attempting to gather evidence for its cause the gay lobby undermine a heroic, non-sexual male bond that has been valued across cultures for thousands of years. Yet Kirk and Spock are doing their bit to bring it back. Clearly heterosexual, they just as clearly love each other with an intensity that will drive them to fight, weep and finally bask in each other’s company. This is the unclouded ‘best friendship’ that Jesus offers those who come to him.

As a Christian I’m also pleased with the moral direction of the film. Without giving away the plot, both Kirk and Spock learn that wisdom begins with the acknowledgement that they are responsible to standards higher than themselves. Spock accepts that real care requires full commitment; Kirk, that revenge takes second place to justice, and success to the safety of his crew. In each case there is a standard they end up looking to that sits above individual desires and cultural backgrounds. Of course no-one is going to point to God – in fact the only appearance of worship is a decidedly primitive one – but it’s encouraging to see a hero whose morals rise higher than ‘whatever floats your boat’. Reflecting on Admiral Pike’s words, it’s clear that just because we think we’re ‘god’ doesn’t make it so. That captain’s chair is already taken.