Review: Star Trek Into Darkness
Let me qualify. I am not a Star Trek fan. Having never read the books, watched any of the TV shows, or seen any previous movies there may have been, I went in to the cinema today completely blind. I knew there was a man called Spock, there was a race called Klingon and a ship called The Enterprise, but that was the extent of my experience. So I present to you a review based purely on the entertainment value of “Into Darkness”.Wow. Blown away. Too many times we’ve been coaxed in to these huge films with promises of grandiose production and slick marketing campaigns, accompanied by explosive trailers that turn out to be a compilation of the only watchable parts of the movie. Projects like Prometheus, The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman, Quantum of Solace. Just a few examples of massive movies that fail to deliver on their promise. Not so “Into Darkness”. Not so at all!
Blasting in to the cinema, the opening scenes on planet Nibiru are explosive and dynamic. We’re introduced to all the major players, and immediately a distinct storyline develops around Captain Kirk and Spock, a thread that is handled delicately and expertly as the movie plays out. The introduction of the protagonist is gripping and decisive, Chris Pine stamps his authority upon the role immediately with a commanding presence and a strong skill set. The interplay with Spock (Zachary Quinto) is an interesting aside. The entire relationship between them is quite predictable, however it is the less emotive of the two who won me over and struck me as a more organic hero than Pine. Both prove themselves worthy of the tag throughout the film, Spock just approaches situations with a more fearless attitude, based solely on his well documented lack of emotion. Kirk eventually sacrifices himself for his crew, but you feel Spock would’ve taken the same path had he been in that situation.
There is a slightly tired relationship between Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) that, for an outsider like myself, appears entirely implausible. That a man such as him could maintain a functioning, loving relationship seems an oxymoron of sorts, and attempts to paint them as anything resembling average is flawed at best.
These are the only qualms. A stunning performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as the major bad guy is a true highlight. He displays this inhuman, other-worldly characteristic that allows him to transcend his appearance and nature when the script calls for it, and yet still display enough humanity to be entirely believable when tricking Pike in to trusting him. Simon Pegg provides the comic relief in another execution of his staggering range, my father was quite taken with his character, so much so \there were a couple of odd looks when he lost control of his laugh reflex on more than one occasion.
Enough about the characters. What you’re here for is the entertainment. Is it a movie you can walk in to blind and be fulfilled for 140 minutes? The production values are epic. You need to see it in 3D. In the opening sequence my dad was ducking and weaving as the Nibiru tribe threw spears at the audience. Such visual clarity and skilful execution is not rare in cinema nowadays, but it is usually at the expense of a well developed and thought out plot, or to cover a directors insecurities. Think the latest Die Hard for an example of that. In “Into Darkness”, all of the stunning visual effects serve to enhance the story, to remind us of the enormity of the task at hand or the complications of such an enormous situation. They never detract from the human element, which is a mammoth effort from Abrams considering the preposterously other-worldly nature of the film.
Is the storyline and the writing any good? Put simply, it’s staggeringly good for a contemporary film. As an impartial observer, huge budget films like The Avengers, Prometheus, Black Swan, and Iron Man have felt like rushed, sloppy affairs hiding behind either pretense or money. “Into Darkness” delivers a tightly wound script that doesn’t suffer from any extended lulls or confusing plot mistakes, and feels the perfect length. Enough fight scenes, enough character development, every loose end tied off, every string of storyline well explained and resolved. This is a fantastic film without a doubt, and one of the best of the year.