Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

I did something very similar to my The Expendables experience to accommodate this blockbuster release; I only watched the first Star Trek film the night before seeing its sequel.

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Starring:
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch
Director: JJ Abrams (Mission: Impossible 3, Super 8)
Rating: M
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At the start of this week I held the same position on Star Trek as I always had: I couldn’t care less. I had always been a Star Wars fan first and foremost and anything that Trek did was in my mind vastly inferior. It couldn’t possibly hope to match the excitement and grand operatic scale of George Lucas‘ brainchild franchise, and no matter how iconic the characters of Trek had become over time, they didn’t hold a candle to the likes of Darth Vader, Yoda and the like. But, like many other Star Wars fans the world over, my attention was forcibly grabbed recently by the news that JJ Abrams, the director of the Star Trek reboot of 2009, would be in charge of Disney’s upcoming Star Wars trilogy. So I watched the 2009 movie on Blu-Ray, was promptly stunned by its quality, then went to see its freshly released sequel in theatres the very next day. And boy, do I think Star Wars is in good hands now.

Star Trek Into Darkness is, first and foremost, a thoroughly entertaining romp. From its opening shot it is unapologetically packed with action and offbeat humour. It wears the camp overtones of its source material with pride and then throws some truly jaw-dropping set pieces at the audience, most involving deep space shenanigans. With no more introductions to deal with following the first movie’s clever treatment of them, Abrams and his crew are free to focus on all the reasons why sci-fi became so popular in the first place. It does mean some of the ballsy ideas that made the first film stand out are absent, and sure, there are a bunch of callbacks and references that went straight over my head, but its hard to care when you’re watching two people hurtling through a debris field in only their spacesuits, narrowly avoiding countless deadly collisions.

To talk about the story of Star Trek Into Darkness would be both slightly spoiler-y and largely pointless. All you need to know is that after the first movie, captain James T Kirk (Chris Pine) has assembled a team willing to go to the ends of the universe with him. Adventures ensue and every principle member of the crew is given his or her chance to shine. This isn’t just the Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) show; it is, rather, an ensemble piece and is all the better for it. More screen time for the likes of Simon Pegg‘s hilarious Scotty and Karl Urban‘s scenery-chewing Bones McCoy is always a good thing, and even if the crew’s main newcomer Carol (Alice Eve) is a bit hit-and-miss at times the movie doesn’t really suffer all that much.

All of the vastly enjoyable performances are eclipsed by the sheer bone-chilling menace that Benedict Cumberbatch injects into the film’s new villain John Harrison, however. The man with the best name in Hollywood makes a case for having one of its most imposing voices, with a deep and reverberating lower register that demands attention and respect the way actors outside Alan Rickman haven’t done in a long time. Michael Giacchino‘s epic score swells and fades appropriately throughout proceedings with some very John Williams-like flourishes, noticeable without being overbearing. The special effects work of Industrial Light and Magic has rarely been better.

This is one of the easiest reviews I have ever written on this site. Star Trek Into Darkness is quite simply ticket money well spent. It’s my favourite movie of the year so far not only because it makes the Star Wars geek inside me all too excited at what JJ Abrams can do with the upcoming trilogy, but because he’s honestly going to have a tough time topping it when he does.

THE VERDICT

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Good:
Relentlessly entertaining, Cumberbatch is superb, lovely score
Bad:
Lacks the daring of the first film
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4.5 VsI N C R E D I B L E

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