Star Trek Into Darkness, 2013.
Directed by J.J. Abrams.
Starring Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, and Peter Weller.
A terrorist attack on Starfleet HQ leads the crew of the USS Enterprise on to a dangerous and personal mission.
To avoid giving away even the slightest of spoilers, this review will give the basic of plot descriptions: a mysterious character by the name of John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) commits a terrorist attack on London, and Captain James Kirk requests that the normally peace keeping Starfleet allow him to take his crew and the USS Enterprise to chase him down and bring him back to Earth to face justice. Which doesn’t go well for anybody.
Having delivered one of the finest science fiction movies in memory, J.J. Abrams had a lot to live up to with this sequel and, in part, he does; however Star Trek Into Darkess is not without its problems. Arriving four years after the 2009 reboot of the Star Trek franchise, one would assume that with the extended period of time in between films the script would have been reworked and rewritten until perfection. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as the gap in quality between Star Trek 2009 and Into Darkness wouldn’t require the use of warp speed to navigate, but it certainly would have to use teleportation.
The film has, it must be said, many positives and is a highly entertaining time at the movies. Great action and good humour make this sequel more ‘Into Light’ than ‘Into Darkness’. The emotional core of the film is, like the 2009 film, Kirk and Spock. When Leonard Nimoy’s Spock met Zachary Quinto’s Spock in the first outing, he alluded to the great friendship between them that existed in the previous timeline, and this film shows us just exactly what he meant as that friendship is explored and tested. This is absolutely the strength of Into Darkness, as the character dynamic between these two very different people who share a deep friendship provides both great emotion and humour. And, it would be most illogical, if one were not to experience emotion themselves at various times throughout due to this bond.
Whilst Star Trek and Into Darkness‘ strengths have been undoubtedly the humerous camaraderie between Kirk and Spock, and also Kirk and Bones – which again is brilliant here – one of the failings and biggest annoyances of Into Darkess is unfortunately the humour that constantly irradiates out of Scotty. Irradiates being a fitting word as the film gives you plenty of serious heart warming and heart breaking moments to deal with, however many of those are infected with the poisonous radiation of humour that ebbs from Scotty’s mouth. So many serious or flat out emotional moments are ruined when they are immediately followed by a comedic comment from Simon Pegg’s Scotty. It’s a major failing in a film that actually does well to match its more serious elements with the fun spectacle that is at its core.
One of the most intriguing characters of the film is Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison: a Starfleet member gone rogue. Cumberbatch excells in this villainous role and makes for a highly engrossing villain. That being said, the part is underwritten, and is not as strong as it could, nor should, have been – and I can’t help but feel that many hardcore Star Trek fans will be left disappointed. What was most enjoyable about ST 2009 was its cast, and again Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban all deliver. Pine is the quintessential Hollywood leading man, and if he works the systems and chooses his roles carefully, he will end up having a wonderful career. Whilst Cumberbatch will get the plaudits, the unsung performance of Into Darkness is Zachary Quinto, who is given a multitude of emotions to convey, which he does exceptionally. Exceptional because; portraying fear, sadness and anger is one thing, but when your character is from a species that suppresses emotion, the nuances required to accurately convey the emotion and the reserved nature of your species takes great acting, and Quinto rises to the challenge.
At times, Star Trek Into Darkness is breathtaking, as it contains visual effects that make you feel as if you are right there within the naked eyes viewing distance of a stellar nebula. It’s fine work again from ILM, and coupled with Abrams action scenes, make for an enthralling experience. Whilst the visual effects might make you feel like you are there on the Enterprise looking out, Michael Giacchino’s score makes you feel as though you are one of the crew members looking in, experiencing every emotion from the most joyous to the most gut wrenching. Whilst his work on Lost remains his opus, his work on Star Trek is the fun yet deep summer blockbuster score you’ll be humming in your head for days and weeks, as it combines perfectly with the visual effects to take you on a galaxy hopping ride you feel you’re strapped in to.
Star Trek Into Darkness isn’t without its faults, but it is exactly what one wants from a summer blockbuster. Abrams is taking some of the hits on this, however his direction is outstanding, and it is the writers – which include Damon Lindelof remember – who should be taking the bulk of the criticism, not Abrams. But, whilst there are problems with the script, Into Darkness does deliver and, much like The Dark Knight Rises last year, when looking at the negative reaction the film is getting in some quarters, you just have to ask yourself: have people forgotten how to just enjoy movies?
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★