FILM REVIEW: Star Trek: Into Darkness
Star Trek Into Darkness
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg.
The critical acclaim that lavished the 2009 re-launch of the Star Trek was something that could not have easily been predicted. For JJ Abrams had taken on the not so easy mission not only of appeasing the widely known critical trekkies but of winning over a new generation of fans too. The 2009 film was respectful of the original series and its subsequent films. Some smart casting, action and special FX and a better than average script ensured that galactic balance was entertainingly established between old school and new. Four years have passed since then and the next instalment goes to show you how quickly things can go from promising to underwhelming.
Star Trek Into Darkness is definitely not a terrible movie– it has too much showmanship on its side for that. Abrams understands what it takes to create a credible blockbuster, that ability to merge the awe and spectacle with the intimate; he even has the same writing team (Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, plus newcomer Damon Lindelof) to keep the momentum going. Once again, the conflict is scaled at a human level, with Kirk and Spock debating whether it’s right to simply follow orders or make your own decisions. It’s just all too familiar and I was expecting something much more than just a continuation of the same old argument from the previous film.
As if to answer the immediacy of expectation, the film plunges us head first into a set-piece of chaotic urgency. Spock (Zachary Quinto) is beamed down into the lava filled heart of a volcano that will destroy the planet unless he can set off an implausible device. The desperate situation develops when Spock cannot be rescued without Kirk breaking Starfleet regulations. Spock accepts his fate but of course Kirk will not let him die. It’s a no brainer moment in the film and one that provides no real suspense because it’s way too obvious what Kirk will decide to do. That’s one of the main faults of the film. The tension and suspense we should be feeling just isn’t there and it essentially failed to pull me in to the danger of the moment. With this Kirk is disgraced and the enterprise taken away and Spock is transferred to another ship. Never in mind was I worried this would be permanent.
In truth, the relationship between Kirk and Spock is the heart and soul of Star Trek and in turn what is one of the saving graces of this film too, being an ambiguous cocktail of rivalry, warmth and interspecies misunderstanding. As played by Pine, Kirk is a hothead, young and eager to impress who relies largely on his instincts. Spock, of course, is the logical thinker who believes that emotion can cloud people’s judgement. Quinto has just the right expression of intellectual confusion when faced with human emotion. The relationship is amazingly written and it plays out in terrific fashion and it encapsulates what the fans love about the duo. The pair plays them to a tee yet spreading their wings and putting their own mark on the roles. To be honest they had pretty big shoes to fill and they fill them awesomely.
With the set up complete news arrives from London of a major terrorist attack that has devastated its towered skyline. The man responsible is John Harrison, played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch. He really is the main reason you should watch this film. His demeanour is menacing and collected. You even begin to sympathise with him to a certain extent.
The rest of the performances are what you are to expect from Kirk’s faithful crew. Simon Pegg (Scotty) stands out and delivers a pleasing comic performance. Zoe Saldana (Uhura) provides the film with the empowered female role and kicks as much ass as the guys. The ever-moaning Karl Urban (Bones) is one of the highlights and is just as surly and entertaining to watch as he was in 2009 film. While Alice Eve freshens up the cast as a weapons expert and a possible love interest for Kirk. There is also an absolutely pointless cameo from Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime).
The performances however get rather a little lost amid all the special FX, the explosions, collapsing set pieces and space debris. It’s just all what we have already seen before and all too predictable. There’s not a great deal of suspense here. This may seem like an overly negative review but the film has the elements of a great blockbuster. The action is well choreographed and just what you would expect from a big budget Hollywood film. The special FX however over the top they are, is pleasing on the eye. The plot is too predictable as well and borrows too much from a previous entry in the series.
To conclude Star Trek Into Darkness gets the job done. It’s thoroughly professional entertainment. But it never attempts to push the envelope and tread new ground. I know the film will do well at the box office and another sequel will be made. I just hope that the next instalment goes boldly where this one failed to go this time around. The film is out now!