Star Trek: Into Darkness Review - Good Film/Bad Film
J.J Abrams gave himself a tough act to follow with his 2009 reboot of Star Trek. He seemingly pulled of the impossible by winning over a whole new generation of fans, but satiating the hardcore fanatics.
With the addition of Benedict Cumberbatch, a great deal of secrecy over plot points and a whole load of hype, many expected Abram's sophomore effort, Into Darkness to at least match its predecessor. In many ways it did, but in many ways it fell way, way short.
Time to break it down with a spoiler free 'Good Film/Bad Film'
- Wow. The visuals. You can always expect incredible visual effects with Abrams, but Into Darkness was truly stunning. The sumptuous opening scene was a rare blast of color in what was a mainly monochrome effort. But, don't take this as a bad thing, there is plenty for the eyes to feast on. 2009's vision of a future Earth is expanded with views of 23rd century London and more of San Francisco. The internal shots of the Enterprise are as beautiful as ever. There's even a few epic space scenes thrown in for good measure and it is all executed wonderfully.
- Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are excellent in their development of the complex bond between Kirk and Spock. Quinto is especially entertaining, packing more character into a set of eyebrows than one ever imagined possible.
- Simon Pegg is brilliant. Really. He isn't on screen all that much, but his presence and the wit that comes with it totally rescues a number of scenes in this film. An honorable mention in this category should go to Karl Urban as Bones.
- Benedict Cumberbatch. The man is a rare talent and he absolutely delivers on his pre-release statement that his character is a one man weapon of mass destruction. Unfortunately, that is where it ends...
- Considering all the secrecy around Cumberbatch's character and considering he really was the focal point of all the pre-release material, it felt like John Harrison was a bit of an afterthought. There was so much potential to deliver a classic sci-fi villain, but instead, Cumberbatch was forced to play an almost robotic killing machine with barely a shred of complexity. His back-story and the people involved in it was so glossed over it almost derails the whole film.
- While the pace of the film is relentless, the composite pieces that build it seem, at best, cobbled together. It plays more like an all out action film rather than a well-thought out piece of science fiction. Add to this Abrams' insistence on shoe-horning in as many references to franchise history and it can all feel a little awkward at times.
- The female characters are reduced to overly emotional eye candy. Zoe Saldana's Uhura, so excellent in the first film, is reduced to a barrage of teary pouts directed towards Spock. Alice Eve, despite her character's background, seems to have been placed in the film purely for a one second shot of her in her skimpies. Hopefully she is given a more expanded role in the outing.
In summary, this is a film that struggles to please both sets of fans. Those looking for a more serious exploration of the Star Trek universe will no doubt be disappointed. However, those looking for 2 hours of all out action and entertainment will absolutely love this movie. Don't let the haters put you off, this really is a fun summer movie experience.