Stsr Trek Into Darkness (2013)
Directed by: JJ Abrams
Written by: Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci
Starring: Alice Eve, Anton Yelchin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brice Greenwood, Chris Pine, John Cho, Karl Urban, Leonard Nimoy, Peter Weller, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
(12A) Running time: 132 minutes
Director: JJ Abrams
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Alice Eve, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, Leonard Nimoy
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
JJ Abrams did something magical with his first Star Trek movie: he opened up the Star Trek universe to not only a new generation of fans, but also re-ignited casual Star Trek fans (like myself) to its wonderful world. More importantly, he met the approval of die hard Star Trek fans the world over, and gave them something special, and loaded with many “nudge nudge, wink wink” moments that allowed the ‘Trekkies’ to smile to themselves in cinemas, while non Star Trek fans could just sit back and enjoy the ride. Abrams re-invented Star Trek for a whole new generation, and made Star Trek cool and relevant to every sci-fi and action fan on the planet. Star Trek fans should be thankful for what Abrams achieved, and the rest of us should be kissing his feet for allowing us to join in the fun normally held back for Trek fans alone. Now, thanks to the genius that is JJ Abrams, we can all enjoy Star Trek again. However, the big question on everyone’s lips is, can he replicate that magic again with Star Trek Into Darkness?
The answer to that question is a big fat yes, but somehow Abrams has gone one step further and not only has he matched the sheer jaw-dropping brilliance of his first Star Trek film, but he has bettered it. Somehow Abrams has made a better Star Trek film, which somehow gives even more to the true fans, and yet gives just as much to the ‘casual’ fan. Star Trek Into Darkness brilliantly offers up tons and tons of good stuff for the casual fan, and offers moment after moment of pure Trekkie gold that should not only put a smile on the face of Star Trek fans the world over, but quite probably bring a tear to their eye too. This film is a rollicking, rolling, blistering ride from start to finish, but it also finds time for some seriously intense and powerful emotional moments which might have the passer by sniffling quietly, but have the dedicated crying their eyes out! This sequel is big, and it demands an emotional connection from the viewer that will gradually effect the less knowledgeable, but hit the initiated like a sledge hammer. Abrams has once again crafted the perfect sci-fi adventure that will give those on the outside of the Star Trek universe plenty to enjoy, and those on the inside plenty to love, respect and, most probably, give a warm approving nod to.
After the superb introduction and tick box for the fans brilliance of the first movie, Abrams heads into epic territory with his sequel. The film begins with a blistering, jaw-dropping opening sequence which serves as a terrific set-up to exactly where we are with the characters right now. On an un-named planet, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban) are running from white painted natives after stealing something they hold dear. Spock (Zachary Quinto) is heading to the planets volcano to set off some device that will put a stop to the lava spilling out, and destroying the planet. Naturally, things don’t go according to plan, and the stunning opening introduces our main cast in exactly the way fans would want them to be. Kirk is quick thinking and wild, and Spock is insistent on playing by the rules. All the while Spocks love interest Uhura (Saldana) is worried about him, Scotty (Simon Pegg) drops one-liners, Bones complains and the rest of the returning cast all deliver exactly what we were hoping they would. The frantic, fast paced opening not only welcomes us back to the Trek family, it also gives us quite possibly the best opening of a big budget film we are likely to see all year. It will put you on the edge of your seat as Abrams directs the action spectacle with ease, and the edge of your seat is where you will stay for the next two hours!
Without barely a minute to recuperate, suddenly Star Fleet is under attack, and a heartfelt cameo by British actor and director Noel Clarke sets up the films villain, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). A bomb is set off in the Star Fleet ‘archives’, Captains have a meeting, and suddenly Kirk finds himself on a sort of revenge mission to track down the mysterious Harrison, and bring him to justice. Kirk is on a revenge mission, and he takes his crew with him to track down this skilled, effective villain, but naturally there are lots of complications and plot twists. To say much more would be a crime to both Star Trek fans, and those who are just along for the ride. What I will say is that Star Trek Into Darkness delivers on every level, and I can’t imagine a more epic, thrilling, edge of your seat, fun filled sci-fi romp this year, or any year, or at least until Abrams delivers Star Wars.
Into Darkness is a stunning, staggering achievement that manages to be both action packed, and emotionally driven. The relationship between Kirk and Spock has never been better, and there are moments here that will make even grown men cry. The rest of Kirk’s crew are exceptional: Scotty providing many of the films hilarious highlights, Alice Eve’s Carol Marcus oozing sex appeal and family baggage, Zoe Saldana’s Uhura giving Spock some serious relationship teachings (their love will both annoy and flourish, and you will be left wanting more), Bones (Urban) is terrific with his constant “glass half empty” attitude, and Sulu (John Cho) gets to do what he has always wanted, and does it well. However, with such a vast array of characters, this is really the show of three men. Kirk and Spock are dazzling, their banter is hilarious and heartbreaking, their respect for each other beautiful, and their friendship is portrayed on a level rarely seen in a big budget, effects heavy sci-fi. Trekkie or not, it is impossible not to get sucked into the gorgeous friendship between these two, and it makes the forthcoming events all the more difficult to handle.
Then there is Cumberbatch’s villain John Harrison, a menacing, intelligent individual who will suddenly strike with violence when it is least expected. Cumberbatch portrays the villain with cold, calculated precision, and makes for a villain worthy of the name “bad guy”. He is delicate with his words, yet deadly with his actions, and Cumberbatch absolutely nails it. I really wish I could tell you more about him, but I can’t. Abrams has played his cards close to his chest about Harrison, and it is best you go into this film knowing as little as possible.
Abrams also sets up a third film with a chilling visit to another planet, and while it would be silly to discuss that here, when you see it, Star Trek fan or not, I am sure you will be applauding Abrams’ utter brilliance at not only setting up a third film, but also delivering yet another fan nod in perfect condition.
Star Trek Into Darkness is not only a film for the hardcore, it is a film for everyone. Abrams’ has once again proved that he is the master of all things big, epic and brilliant. This sequel plays as yet another homage to the fans, and again opens up the Star Trek universe to the outsider. Abrams’ again proves that he is truly the master of popcorn cinema: cheesy, but in a good way and never actually allowing himself to become actually cheesy, and epic in a way no other director can pull off. Abrams has a unique ability to be able to pull off a film which is bordering on crowd friendly, but still has that cool, masterful edge. In short, Abrams is quite probably the only director in the world today that can make enjoying the cinema experience not only a lot of fun, but cool as a cucumber. Star Trek Into Darkness is a fun, thrilling, fast paced, emotional, cool, menacing, jaw-dropping epic that is inspiring, amazing, and a modern classic and everything in between. Here is brilliance, and here is the best experience you are likely to have at the cinema all year!