movie film review | chris tookey

Star Trek Into Darkness

© - all rights reserved
  Star Trek Into Darkness Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
Average Rating
7.50 /10
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch
Full Cast >

Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof

Released: 2013
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 132

This franchise will live long and prosper.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

Bookmark and Share

J. J. Abramsí second re-boot of the Star Trek franchise is an exciting action movie which Ė like Iron Man 3 Ė doesnít take itself too seriously. As in his previous two successes Ė Star Trek and Super 8 Ė Abrams approaches the subject-matter with the zest, imagination and humour of Steven Spielberg on top form.

There are futuristic cityscapes of London and San Francisco, space battles to rival Star Wars, and a script thatís much cleverer than the average summer blockbuster.

Even though itís set in a future where jumpsuits are the last word in fashion, Errol Flynn would recognize this immediately as an old-fashioned swashbuckler.

Reckless action-man Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and intellectual Spock (Zachary Quinto) are at loggerheads at the start of the film but pool their powers to fight off yet another threat to civilisation as we donít yet know it. All too topically, they are out to catch a bomber.

This time, itís Benedict Cumberbatch (pictured centre) attempting to take over the world Ė and why not? Heís already taken over British television. With this barnstorming performance, heís all set to take over the other nations on earth as well.

Hollywood loves sneery British villains. Cumberbatch is a worthy successor to some illustrious forebears Ė most obviously Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons in the Die Hard series Ė and delivers a silky, sinister baddie with commendable, if computer-enhanced, athleticism and an attitude that makes him one of the great movie villains.

Heís a renegade Star Fleet commander bent on vengeance against his former employers. And the first place to take a pounding is poor old London.

What is it about our capital that makes villains so determined to destroy it? Recently, itís been blown up in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Skyfall, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Fantastic Four 2 and Reign of Fire. Itís about to be incinerated again in Thor: The Dark World.

I suppose itís the downside of being a famous city that Americans might care about or even have visited. Itís hard to imagine the destruction of Kuala Lumpur or Berlin having the same impact.

There are plenty of in-jokes and references aimed at fanboys and addicts of the 80 original Star Trek adventures. Thereís even a guest appearance by Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock. But the film is shrewdly calculated to appeal to those who are too young Ė or uninterested Ė to have heard of the originals.

As in Abramsí first movie, there are elements of romance and hints of emotional depth that rarely surfaced in the TV series. Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) develop their spiky relationship. Further female interest is supplied by the lovely Alice Eve, who performs a wondrously gratuitous stripping-off scene that will please 12 year-old boys of all ages.

The central love story, however, remains the one between Kirk and Spock. The former represents the heart in humanity; the latter is the head. Whether working together or in conflict, theyíre comic and dramatic gold. All credit to the writers for never losing sight of this, however frenetic and thrilling the action.

Perhaps the pioneering spirit and the sense of exploring unknown worlds have dissipated from the franchise; but those elements have time to reappear in future movies.

The important thing in these first two Star Trek blockbusters after a long break was to get people to see this kind of space opera and care about the central characters. Both films have succeeded triumphantly in doing all that.

This is a pacy adventure that doesnít flag over nearly two and a half hours, and leaves room for humanity and humour. Simon Pegg is funny as the technician Scotty and even gets to perform some heroics.

For some, the film will be most worth seeing for the scintillating action sequences, but I particularly enjoyed the plot-twists that neatly reverse our expectations.

Thereís even an attempt by the good guys to come up with a non-violent denouement. You donít get that in Transformers movies.

This movie doesnít reinvent the blockbuster, nor does it have the sense of wonder that Star Trek had in its prime. I also found that the effects track drowned out too much of the dialogue Ė an increasingly common fault in modern action movies.

Thatís a pity, because much of the dialogue is actually worth hearing. This is highly imaginative entertainment with no expense spared and those summer blockbuster rarities, complex characters and an intelligible plot. That will be enough for most of us.

Key to Symbols