Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Allan Brown0
Star Trek Into Darkness Review
Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness 3D (2013)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Peter Weller
Plot: When Starfleet is faced with a new terror from within the federation, Captain Kirk must head to enemy territory in a bid to capture the new formidable threat.
The name Star Trek has been around since 1966 and has prospered well as a TV show, countless spin-offs and dozens of films, but in 2007 Hollywood decided it was time to drag the tired franchise kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and the man to do it, Mr JJ Abrams (Lost, Super 8). In 2009 Abrams delivered a neatly-woven reboot, which admirably established already iconic characters with a fresh perspective in a stylish, well written sci-fi, action, blockbuster.
Now after a five year wait, JJ Abrams second instalment to the franchise is finally here; star trek into darkness. The film is the visual spectacle we all hope and have come to expect in such blockbusters, however, it also boldly attempts to tackle the bigger more intriguing moral questions of the right and wrong during war, as well as attempting to delve deeper into some of the characters and their relationships, in particular, Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto).
This time Starfleet finds itself in crisis when a new terrorist threat by the name of John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) attacks HQ in London. Kirk eager to prove himself after a knock-back is tasked with tracking down and eliminating the new threat. His mission, now of personal importance, drives both kirk and his crew deep into klingon territory where they are propelled into an epic game of life and death through war torn planets, where friendships will be tested and sacrifices made.
Zoe Saldana’s presence is pushed into the background in her new found position as the whining girlfriend of Spock, which feels like a step backwards for her character.
The original 2009 cast of the USS Enterprise are all back in their respective roles with a few surprising yet welcomed additions. Benedict Cumberbatch our new foe gives a striking and wonderfully magnetic performance as the ambiguous John Harrison. He, here, is sleek, expressionless, brutal, ferocious and truly ruthless. Zachary Quinto reprises his role as Spock and while remaining charmingly clueless to human emotion he is the driving force in the films deeper central relationship arc. Chris Pine is of course back in the principal role of Captain James Tiberius Kirk and although he still exudes a boyish charm and roguish likeability, his presence here is somewhat more restrained than last time. The emotional angle the narrative forces Kirk down, unfortunately means losing some of his ‘Tony Stark’ appeal. The rest of the impressive cast sadly fade into the background, fulfilling generic roles of ‘nostalgic quip spouter’ and ‘audience-winker’ (Bones, Karl Urban) which ultimately cheapens the film. Simon Pegg returns as Scotty and as before offers some well timed and often laugh out loud comic relief. Zoe Saldana’s presence is pushed into the background in her new found position as the whining girlfriend of Spock, which feels like a step backwards for her character. With such a credible cast, it is a shame they weren’t used to better effect or given the material to breathe and grow.
The common trend with most blockbuster sequels is to go bigger and flashier than the previous and Star Trek into Darkness is no exception. However, whilst the film flashes its visual splendour and breathtaking action sequences (that will likely leave your jaw firmly on the floor), it’s the films bold attempts to explore the more interesting moral ambiguous grey zones and internal relationships that unfortunately fall short of the build-up. We are teased with the promise of intriguing mystery and the early whispers of deeper character complexities, offering a more personal side of the drama. However, just when these intriguing moments arise they are untidily tossed to one side as we again are propelled at breakneck speed through space into another elaborate action set piece.
It is true that 80% of the film is made up by explosions and people running around frantically. These countless moments of peril our characters face happen so frequently that they can leave you feeling jaded and disconnected, lacking any emotional empathy for the characters in crisis. This too is the unfortunate fate for the emotional core of the story, between Spock and Kirk. However, by the time you’ve half-formed any criticism to these moments you’re swept away by the next glorious action sequence.
Summary: With all that said, despite its shortcomings the film is great fun and offers one of the most spectacular cinematic visual treats so far this year. The cast nearly all deliver noteworthy performances despite the stiff and underwhelming narrative. The balance of tone in action and humour is close to perfection and the 3D, although retrofitted (film was shot in 2D and in post production manipulated with the use of computers into 3D. The results are normally always poor with this lazy and cost shy, cash 'n' grab approach to 3D) adds an extra element of visual awe, especially in the open space action sequences.