Star Trek Into Darkness

30 May


I feel the need to insert a little disclaimer here. Until five days before seeing this film, I had never seen a Star Trek movie in my life. My knowledge of the franchise was as follows;

  • I knew names of key characters (Kirk, Spock and Scotty, basically)
  • There was something called an Enterprise

Then, just before seeing the new movie, I thought I should catch up with the 2009 reboot. I found that to be ok but didn’t love it. The point I am trying to get across here is that I am in no way able to judge this movie against the franchise as a whole. Whilst this may mean I miss some nods to the earlier movies, I am happy that I can judge this movie on it’s own merits.

Right then, enough of that blather…

Star Trek Into Darkness (obviously) follows the exploits of Captain Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew, this time as they battle a one-man destruction machine from within their own organisation. When the man makes a direct attack on Starfleet Command, disaster follows. This forces Kirk into action. After he finds out the man, initially named as John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), but who is hiding an identity is hiding out on another planet, Kirk takes his crew there and risks starting an all out space-war.

I’ll keep the summary of the plot brief as to say more would let slip some things that will mean more to long-time Star Trek fans than it did to me. There are some big reveals that, even with my limited knowledge, felt huge and were very well handled.


First then, the positives. There are lots of things that this film does right. Principally, the cast is perfect for this kind of film. If you saw Star Trek, the 2009 reboot, then you’ll already know the majority of the actors here. All the main roles are reprised.

When I say the cast are perfect ‘for this kind of film’, I realise I am in danger of being condescending. My point here is that this franchise is clearly not one that required subtlety from it’s actors, nor it’s script. So when Kirk and Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) are sharing some tender ‘bro-mance’ moments on screen, the dialogue ensures that they say exactly what they are thinking. No subtext or reading between the lines – it’s all just blurted out.

In moments where the cast aren’t speaking, they instead are left to signal their emotions as the camera lingers on them for an eternity and some supposedly hard hitting music tells us exactly what it wants us to feel. All of these actors are perfectly well suited to this style. That is not to be dismissive of their performances, just don’t expect any Oscar bait here.


Cumberbatch is an excellent addition to the cast here. I haven’t seen much of his previous work but in this film, as the bad guy, he is terrific. He is full of brooding menace and plays his super-terrorist role well. This could prove to be a fantastic move for him in furthering his career as well.

Although I won’t pretend I felt too emotionally involved in this film, there was one poignant scene that forced a bit of a lump into my throat. I can’t reveal it here but it’s worth mentioning that for it’s all grand scenery and special effects, the film can still get to you on an emotional level occasionally.

That moves us nicely onto the most attention-grabbing facet of the picture; the look of it. To be quite frank, the movie looks spectacular. From the first second to the last, you will never be bored. Regardless of the story or anything else going on, you will always have something impressive to look at. There are explosions and crashes and all manner of things that just look so spectacular that, at times, I could feel my jaw dropping ever so slightly. The visual effects were handled by Industrial Light and Magic, for which they deserve immense credit, as does director J. J. Abrams.

So, are there any bad things? Well, unfortunately, yes there are. The story at times feels a little weak. It is by no means a bad story but it is hugely predictable throughout. The main drive of the film is often the visual effects and as I’ve said, they’re good enough to make this decision work, but I’m always interested in a good story.


Abrams and his writers also have no problem with throwing massive action movie clichés at us. They’re handled well enough but there’s certainly a lack of originality that is hard to escape and, at times, left me frustrated. You would have to have never seen a movie in your life to not see a couple of plot twists coming.

My other main problem is one that I alluded to earlier. I am not a fan of in-your-face scripts that let you know exactly what you should be thinking; I prefer subtlety and to be able to work it out for myself. In the movie’s defence though, it never tries to kid itself into being anything different, it knows exactly where it’s strengths lie and what its target audience wants. I am probably not the audience this film is aiming for, but I enjoyed it all-the-same.

Overall, I found that I preferred this movie to the first one in the rebooted franchise. I can’t imagine anybody could be bored at any point, just because you’ll always have something magnificent to focus your peepers on (although it would be nice if just occasionally, Abrams toned down a little on the lens flare – there is far too much of that going on). The cast are all fine, Cumberbatch stands out as an intriguing bad-guy and Pine is entertaining as the young, brash, cocksure Captain Kirk. Despite it’s problems, the film sticks to it’s strengths and ends up being a largely entertaining action movie, if not a great one.



3 Responses to “Star Trek Into Darkness”

  1. CMrok93 May 31, 2013 at 15:57 #

    Nice review. Abrams is a guy who knows how to make a scene still interesting when it’s a quiet, dialogue-driven scene.

  2. andrean20 May 31, 2013 at 17:36 #

    Reblogged this on Welcome to Filmtube!.

  3. biggreenjelly June 1, 2013 at 20:55 #

    Show some guts Burns!

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