Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Star Trek" (2009), "Star Trek" in general
Right from the start, "Star Trek Into Darkness" grabs hold of you and plunges off a cliff (in this case, Kirk and Bones do literally plunge off a cliff in the first 5 minutes). The film opens in a planet with garish scarlet floral where James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban) are being pursued by an angry tribe that could pass off for long-lost relatives of Johnny Depp from upcoming "The Lone Ranger". In between their perilous run, we cut to scenes of Spock (Zachary Quinto) being lowered into a volcano, in an effort to keep the planet's volcano from erupting. Unfortunately, Spock's lifeline snaps in the process, and while the crew manages to save him, Kirk is severely reprimanded for his impetuousness and irresponsibility. This sets the premise for the rest of the film, much like "Star Trek", where Kirk has to learn that being a captain means more than relying on dumb luck.
Unlike the recent "Iron Man 3", Kirk's lesson in taking responsibility never stops sprinting. Mere minutes after the crew disembarks after their initial mission, they are thrown into an explosive manhunt for war criminal John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). The intensity of the film is almost Michael Bay-manic, and the aforementioned life lesson is left in the dust jogging along, together with character exposition. It is clear that J. J. Abrams expects his audience to have watched his 2009 "Star Trek" before "Into Darkness" because at this point, it is all about Kirk and Spock's ever-growing bromance, Bones's constant fussing over Kirk's irrational decisions being a running gag and Hikaru Sulu's (John Cho) turn to sit in the chair. There are some key moments that testify to Abrams and his group of screenwriters Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof's ability to shift between moods, such as how Uhura and Spock's comedic argument turn into a revelatory reflection on fear but Abrams is all about making sure his audiences have fun instead of dwelling on issues best left to psychiatrists. In other words, the film feels like a two-hour episode of the "Star Trek" TV series, with lots of polish and flare, sorry, I meant flair.
As not much has changed with and between the crew of the USS Enterprise, it is up to the two newcomers of the film, Cumberbatch's Harrison and Alice Eve's Dr. Carol Marcus, to ramp up the excitement. While Eve does not bring much to the fray other than giving the audience a real blonde bombshell damsel-in-distress (Zoe Saldana's Nyota Uhura hands men's asses back to them) that is not irritating to care for, Cumberbatch steals the show as the menacing and suave or menacingly suave Harrison. Not only does he have an impeccable dress sense and a Clint Eastwood way of talking, Harrison is a one-man army who can waste Klingons and Federations soldiers without so much as batting an eyelid and at the same time, shed a tear when he needs to. In the hands of lesser actors Harrison would have been a cliche or campy villain, but for the actor who could portray characters like Sherlock Holmes, Stephen Hawking and Frankenstein, Harrison easily takes his place as a new generation's villain, alongside Loki and Raoul Silva.
Diehard Trekkies may be disappointed by the direction that the movie's retelling of one of the older "Star Trek" films, but there are plenty of Easter eggs to be found to make up for it. Be it the importance of the Prime Directive is stressed on, Klingons and their language making an appearance or Leonard Nimoy; Abrams simultaneously shows his respect for Trekkies and his personal style in the film.
In between the onslaught of action, there are glimpses of the "Star Trek" universe, which is breath-taking and more than justifies the admission price for a 3-D ticket. Much like "Oblivion", there is a lot to see in the film, from the hurtling waves of lava in the opening to the wastelands of Kronos to the floating debris in space. The last mano-a-mano scene where Harrison jumps from one flying vehicle to another even manages to induce a sense of vertigo. It feels real, partly due to Abrams' preference for proper sets rather than green screen. In addition to the stellar set-pieces, the rousing theme song of the USS Enterprise will give fans something to remember among iconic movie themes from films such as "Jurassic Park" and "James Bond", to name a few.
In conclusion, Abrams has again created a film that lives up to its hype that successfully escapes the sequel curse that too many films have encountered. "Star Trek Into Darkness" is a blast to watch, literally and figuratively; viewers and fans will not remember it for its fun, humourous or heart-tugging moments, but its tenacity in firing up the Kirk-Spock ship, Cumberbatch's portrayal of a well-known villain and the spectacular visuals. Whether Abrams returns for a third instalment or not, the "Star Trek" film franchise is left in a good place.Cinema Online, 09 May 2013