Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

J.J. Abrams is a brave dude, back in 2009 he risked annoying a world of Trekkies by rebooting the original line up with new actors in the iconic roles, luckily however he managed to pull it off rather well, creating an interesting spin which took likable, familiar characters and gave them a new spin and changed their universe slightly. I loved the first flick and so was keen to see if Abrams could expand on his success.

stid pos

The movie picks up Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) aboard the Enterprise, where he breaks the Prime Directive (a rule to stop interference in developing civilizations) to save a planet from a volcanic eruption and in the process reveals the presence of his ship to the locals in order to save the life of his first officer Spock (Zachary Quinto), who had told him to leave him behind, angering his partner Lt. Uhura (Zoe Saldana).

Spock’s report lands Kirk in hot water and he is stripped of his command, but old friend Pike (Bruce Greenwood), the Enterprise’s new commanding officer, sorts it that he will serve as his first officer.

Meanwhile, a mysterious figure orchestrates a bomb attack on a Starfleet facility in London, killing several. This leads Kirk, Pike and Spock to attend a meeting with Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller), where the culprit is revealed to be John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) a Starfleet agent gone rogue. Harrison attacks the meeting, killing Pike in the process before he flees to the Klingon home planet.

Kirk asks to pursue Harrison and is sent out with brand new long range torpedoes to destroy the uninhabited area that Harrison is hiding out in. The new payload causes a rift between Kirk and his chief engineer Scotty (Simon Pegg), who resigns his commission and leaves the ship. Kirk is also arguing with Spock, who believes that the mission is not morally right and Harrison should stand trial.

Kirk also meets a new science officer, Carol Wallace (Alice Eve), who he finds attractive, but whom Spock regards with suspicion.

Kirk changes the mission and leads a small team onto the planet, risking war, and after saving them from Klingons, Harrison surrenders and is taken aboard.

Harrison (Cumberbatch) imprisoned aboard the Enterprise.

Harrison (Cumberbatch) imprisoned aboard the Enterprise.

Once aboard Kirk orders an investigation into the new missiles and begins to realize that all might not be as it seems, and that Harrison might be more than just an agent. Can Kirk expose the conspiracy and safeguard the lives of his crew?

I came out of this movie with a big grin on my face, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m a massive fan of the original Star Trek and it’s characters, but I think Abrams has done a great job in rebooting them and it’s lots of fun for older fans to see the new spin on old features of the universe (the new Klingons are badass) and the cast are fantastic.

Chris Pine in particular is great as Kirk, capturing the swaggering, womanizing aspects of the character, but also allowing signs of weakness and uncertainty to creep in, making him a far more human and fallible. Pine ticks all the right boxes as the heroic lead and does a brilliant job of bringing new intensity to the vengeance seeking Kirk as well as showing a more fragile side as he battles a crisis of confidence.

Pine as Kirk- crisis of confidence

Pine as Kirk- crisis of confidence

It’s a more mature Kirk than in the previous film and while still fun and reckless, as the film progresses the captain is forced to make tough choices and deal with the less pleasant aspects of command.

He’s ably supported by Quinto’s Spock, who’s a delight, bringing a lot of deadpan humour to proceedings and it’s nice to see the friendship between the two develop. Quinto also manages to allow little flashes of emotion to emerge before Spock’s self control locks them down and conveys a lot in small fluctuations in facial features.

The rest of the crew do well, even if several feel underused, although it’s nice to see Simon Pegg’s Scotty get a bit more to do this time around and Zoe Saldana does well with what she gets, continuing to make Uhura a more strong willed and vital part of the ship’s crew. Her scenes with Quinto as they play out the characters’ romance are done well, with Spock’s logical exterior causing problems for them, and there’s an adorable moment where Uhura goes up on her tiptoes to kiss him.

Karl Urban’s Bones could still be used more, but he does very well in capturing the character’s sarky, world weary side and is used to good comedic effect.

But the big story is the villain, played by man of the moment Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch does a brilliant job, playing the villain with quiet intensity that then explodes into flashes of intense savagery. He manages to bring menace to the character and plays it with a cool, enigmatic touch and detached arrogance. He doesn’t steal the film by any stretch but he definitely succeeds in holding the audience’s attention and presenting a realistic threat to the goodies.

The plot is handled well and the film’s pacing is on point, and for once the current trend of “going darker” for a sequel works, with cracks starting to appear in Gene Roddenberry’s idyllic vision of the future and the sign that despite technological advantages, mankind’s greatest threat comes from human failings and weakness.

But the film never loses it’s sense of fun and the script has some great, funny dialogue. Abrams executes the explosive action sequences with great aplomb, and keeps it moving along nicely.

There are a few flaws in the movie, with a few plot points being telegraphed fairly early on, and a couple of the twists are easy to see, and as I mentioned, several of the characters are underused, but on balance it’s a massive success and I personally think that Abrams might be better served sticking with Trek over Wars.

Verdict: A great sci-fi blockbuster which expands on the first film and benefits from a great villain. The cast are all on fine form and there’s a real sense of humour to proceedings. Captures the spirit of the old series while delving a little deeper. The plot is solid if slightly predictable, but it’s fantastically fun.  8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


One Comment on “Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness”

  1. […] JJ Abrams’ reboot of the Star Trek franchise moves ahead with the second installment, and ups the tension. For newcomers there are plenty of thrills and for old fans like me a few nice riffs on the old universe. The big reveal of who Benedict Cumberbatch’s character wasn’t a massive surprise, but it’s still a great fun watch and expands the Kirk-Spock relationship, although I hope we get more of Karl Urban’s McCoy in later films. Review here. […]

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