When we think of the big science fiction franchises out there we think of Doctor Who, Star Wars and Star Trek. And while Doctor Who is off celebrating 50 years of being in existence and Star Wars is enjoying it’s 30th year since Jedi was released and now Star Trek is enjoying a nice quiet rejuvenation. Back in 2009 an ambitious director took the helm of rebooting a franchise and marketing it towards a new generation (no pun intended). And while growing up I wasn’t into Star Trek after hearing the rave reviews of the first film and being a fan of science fiction I had to check it out. And yes it was pretty damn good.
Fast forward four years and Abrams has been given the key to the franchise he has always wanted, Star Wars. Abrams admitted that he wasn’t a huge Trekkie all those years ago, stating it was too smart for him so he wanted to make it more for people like him and he was successful. His action packed Trek film was a hit but after a week into it’s release the second Trek film hasn’t done as good box office wise, but hey when Iron Man 3 opens a few weeks earlier and Hangover 3 and Fast 6 all open in the same month it’s kind of hard to think that the second film would do so good. Four years between sequels is a long time but how is Abrams possible final Trek film though?
As I had previously mentioned it has been four years since we first were introduced to the new versions of Kirk and Spock. But this film picks up relatively not long after the last film left off. We have Kirk and the Enterprise crew on an uncharted world, beautiful, setting and impressive makeup and effects litter the scene. Kirk risks the mission to save Spock and this is where the true plot kicks off. Going back to earth Kirk is stripped of his Captaincy and we meet a mysterious man who is launching a one man war against Star Fleet. From there we are treated to a roller coaster of a ride that is a summer blockbuster.
I won’t go too far into the story depth for the reveals and other fun twists that come with an intelligent summer flick. So instead of delving into the film’s plot let’s look at the film as a whole. In terms of writing the film is well written and at times cheesy, but to be quite honest that’s a good thing, it’s based off of an old sci-fi show that in itself was tacky, so those tacky moments sort of redeem it in that sense. You have to be true to the source material but not all the time. Story wise it was relatively simple but that’s alright for these kind of movies, it’s about the journey.
Visually it’s stunning. Scenes on other worlds are breathtaking, and desolate (see Kronos). The starships are gorgeous and have that sleek sexy feel to them. Everything just looks all natural and doesn’t seem too fake like most sci-fi flicks. Everything just felt right and not out of place. Scenes aboard the Enterprise, while either green screened or just a set seem like it’s real, it’s textures and lighting make it look like it is actually a spaceship.
One of the small things that I loved that Abrams did, which after I point it out realize that it takes balls to pull off, is that there was no sound in a majority of the space scenes. When they are out in space the shots have no sound, which is what space truly is, there is no sound out there, the only other franchise to ever truly do it is Joss Whedon’s Firefly. They don’t do that in Star Wars. Doctor Who as well. This struck me as a gutsy move seeing as it seems so boring, a space gun fight without any sound. So lame.
But I have jumped around a bit in this review so far and I apologize. I know it’s a bit on the short side so let’s get to the final few points here. Abrams’ directing is fantastic. It seems as though not only does Abrams get respect from his cast and crew but they respect him as well if not equally enough to put out the best performances they can give. Very few films can boast the talent that STID throws out there even in smaller roles. Chris Pine certainly looks the role of Kirk but he also plays the cocky arrogant smug commander who as the film progresses learns valuable lessons and matures, which is what I am talking about when I mention the journey. While Pine isn’t the big selling point for the movie, he has the charm that the main character and icon like Kirk would have. Zachary Quinto plays Spock and he nails it to a tee again. He does a fantastic job mastering the way Leonard Nimoy spoke with the lack of emotion, and that is the best part, his failure to understand concepts and emotions make it more believable.
Zoe Saldana’s Uhura felt underused and in what scenes she was in she displayed a vast array of emotions, this is most likely the best role I have seen her in and to be fair I haven’t seen her in much. I believed that she legitimately was trying to have a relationship with Spock, that it was falling apart and it was breaking her heart. She’s a legit actress who was just slightly underused but not as much as the rest of the supporting cast. Simon Pegg played Scotty exceedingly well. Throw in his Scottish accent and his humor and Pegg, the king of the nerds, nails it just right. I found myself cheering Pegg on not just because I am a fan of his acting but because his character, while being a slight caricature was still a positive figure. Anton Yelchin’s very stereotypey Checkov was another piece of humorous character who carried a very thick accent from the Motherland.
Karl Urban’s Bones was one that was overused compared to the others and while Urban isn’t terrible there were other characters that I would have liked to see have more screen time but his scenes were quite entertaining nonetheless. John Cho’s Sulu was another underused but when used he was fantastic. From playing roles in Harold and Kumar to Star Trek, Cho shows off his wide range of talent and the scene in which Sulu threatens Harrison is one of the more lighthearted and entertaining moments in the film.
One role I didn’t get was Alice Eve playing the daughter to Peter Weller. Yes a Brit was Robo-Cop’s daughter. Which makes no sense seeing as she didn’t hide the accent at all and Weller was well no spoilers but he reminded me of Red from That ’70’s Show at points. Her role was vastly underused but with a huge supporting cast to go along with the main cast it’s kind of hard to utilize everyone and that one underwear scene was blown out of proportion.
The real star of the show is the show stealer that is Benedict Cumberbatch. If there ever was a British sounding name then we have found it. He was fantastic. His voice alone makes a very evil character and well I just can’t say anything else other than when he is on the screen he dominates and steals it from all the other actors. The Sherlock star not only embraces the role of hero and villain but he walks the line ever so carefully and cleverly. It makes me want to see more films with him in it.
But to sum it all up Star Trek Into Darkness is a fun romp that while underuses some characters is definitely worth the price of admission in theaters or on Blu Ray. I have to hand this film a nice solid 90 out of a possible 100.