When 2009’s Star Trek came out, I was in awe – I’ve never been a huge follower of Star Trek, but that movie converted me heart and soul. The plethora of series always seemed a little cheesy by comparison, but JJ. Abrams‘ take on the origin story gave me a totally different outlook. Plus with the movie being a little on the epic side, I was practically gripped by the balls.
Now 4 years later we have the much-anticipated sequel, with a full returning cast and a brand-spanking new villain in the form of Sherlock… I mean, Smaug… I mean… Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch.
Before I continue, I must point out that this review will be completely spoiler-free, so if you’ve not seen the movie yet don’t worry – I’m not going to ruin a damn thing about it.
The story centers around the crew of the USS Enterprise going on a manhunt for John Harrison (Cumberbatch), a top Starfleet agent that’s gone rogue and has his sights set on raining death and destruction down upon the organisation. With Starfleet’s Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller of Robocop fame) requesting Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) & co to go under the radar Kirk will have to utilise his particular brand of improvised rule-bending to get the job done.
Abrams has done stellar work – from the moment the movie starts you’re on the edge of your seat. You get dropped right into the action with Kirk, Bones (Karl Urban) & Spock all on an alien planet mid-mission. JJ’s directing and Orci, Kurtzman & Lindelof’s plot development means a near relentless onslaught of action & adventure.
The writing is such that the tempo of the movie is near perfect – there’s never a lull or dull moment, and with the several twists and turns interlaced through the story, you’re always teetering near the edge of nail-biting suspense.
Something I must mention though is that the trailer makes the movie out to be very sombre and foreboding – a lot of fans were worried that the film would be too dark. Thankfully the humour and camaraderie between the crew is all retained – in fact certain relationships exposed in the first movie are developed more in this sequel, and made me chuckle somewhat.
The action, be it space-orientated or on the surface of the many featured planets is beautifully shot, and the effects work is exemplary. Some of the choreographed fight scenes are really awesome stuff… particularly with Harrison taking out many many adversaries single-handed. Happily not all of the action sequences are left to Kirk and Spock – this time Zoe Saldana‘s Uhura gets her hands dirty and gets good use out of her phaser, and even Bones has to get a little out of breath for a change.
Unfortunately Mr Sulu (John Cho) and Mr Chekov (Anton Yelchin) don’t get as much screen time in this movie – I really enjoyed them in the first, especially Cho’s sword-fighting. However there are a couple of new additions to the bridge, one being what looks like a precursor to Next Generation‘s Data and science officer Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve).
Visually-speaking 2009’s Star Trek was amazing, and Into Darkness lives up to the benchmark and manages to push it further. Abrams’ almost patented lens flare is still present, but not nearly as much as the first movie – I think it’s much more appropriate, where as in 2009 he went a little overboard.
The scope of the movie helps to keep your jaw firmly stapled to the floor while you watch – Earth’s sprawling cityscapes are awesome, yet believable for the time period. Initially starting with 23rd century London, there’s a somewhat familiar feel with certain buildings looking like a more technologically-minded version of the existing ones.
[pullquote_right]John Harrison – he’s a total badass, he’s ridiculously smart… and that damn voice.[/pullquote_right]The space-sections are still awesome, with the always impressive panning shots of the Enterprise, and some great destruction when the inevitable battles ensue. Some of the alien worlds are also really awesome – the initial world has a bright red forest that looks great while Kirk and his crew are racing through it while being chased Raiders of the Lost Ark style.
When it comes down to the actors, everyone does a great job – Chris Pine is increasingly charismatic, and Zachary Quinto continues to prove why he was perfect for Spock. Simon Pegg is always awesome in my opinion, but his increased presence in Into Darkness is very welcome. However in my opinion, Benedict Cumberbatch steals the show as John Harrison – he’s a total badass, he’s ridiculously smart… and that damn voice. You can see why Peter Jackson wanted him for Smaug – his superior, snarling tone and line delivery is amazing. The line from the trailer where he says “I will walk over your cold corpses” is delivered with such malice and contempt you can’t help but believe he’s completely capable of slaughtering the entire Enterprise crew.
The other new cast members all do a great job – with Alice Eve looking like she’d initially be there just for eye candy, she’s actually a decent and likable character. Like is said before, the only thing about the movie that really disappointed me was that there needed to be more Sulu & Chekov.
To conclude, Star Trek: Into Darkness is well worth your time and hard-earned/scrounged cash. It improves on it’s 2009 predecessor, both in terms of story and scope. All the principal actors do a really good job, the movie is beautiful to watch and incites a plethora of emotions – you’ll be entertained, moved, saddened and thrilled all in the same 132 minute span that the film runs for.
Go and watch it. Now. I don’t care if you’re not a Trekkie – I’m not either, but both of Abrams’ movies are turning me into one.
In fact…. screw it. I’m going to go back to the cinema and watch it again. It’s definitely worth seeing once, and I’d even go as far to say it’s worth a second viewing. So far, this is my favourite movie of the year. It’s going to take something special to top this.