Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek Into Darkness

JJ Abrams’ follow-up to his 2009 reboot of Star Trek has knocked Iron Man 3 off the top spot in the UK box office charts.

It is a visually and aurally stunning film, but does it take advantage of the seemingly infinite night sky that is science fiction and go “Where no-one has gone before”?

Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness

Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness

Like the opening scene, in which Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is running flat out through brightly coloured fields of vegetation while trying to escape from aliens, the film starts at break-neck pace and barely slows down throughout.

Kirk’s actions land him both in deep trouble with his superiors and in conflict with the emotionally challenged Mr Spock (Zachary Quinto).

However, after it becomes apparent that a seemingly terrorist element has infiltrated their organisation from within, the crew of the USS Enterprise find themselves in pursuit of a seemingly unbeatable enemy.

The cast all play their roles superbly; Pine as Kirk is as charismatic as Shatner’s version, Quinto’s Spock is brilliant and Karl Urban as Dr “Bones” McCoy has all of the quips and metaphors that DeForest Kelly’s Dr had all those years ago.

The comical trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy is very good and drew several laughs from the audience.

The “Darkness” element of the title is delivered expertly by Benedict Cumberbatch as the most bland-sounding bad guy ever, John Harrison.

His mystery-shrouded demeanour, measured responses and calculated speeches are perfectly delivered as one would expect from someone of his calibre.

The glorious effects seen in the first movie are even more apparent here; sometimes they look so good you may wonder if they can be bettered.

There are amazing space battles and some lovely fine-tuning of the warp speed effects.

The score, once again orchestrated by the impressive Michael Giacchino, is wonderful; it fulfils every requirement asked of it and is up there with the best of previous Star Trek film composers Goldsmith and Horner.

A key element to the success of the original Star Trek was the fact that the on-screen effects and those superbly crafted scores by Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner were supported by an original story.

For someone who doesn’t have a reasonable knowledge of the older Star Trek films this movie will give nothing but what you’d expect of a sci-fi action film.

However, those who are quite well versed with the originality of the pre-Abrams’ films will feel let down, I think.

In his first Star Trek adventure, Abrams acknowledged the previous Star Trek universe of William Shatner’s Kirk and, to a much larger degree, Leonard Nimoy’s Spock.

The acknowledgement was a major part of the story and I thought it was well written and paid respect to what had gone before.

Unfortunately, he feels the need to carry on with this acknowledgement throughout the second film.

Don’t get me wrong, a nod and a wink is fine and is nice to see, but when the nods became more like head butts, I felt the film was being spoilt.

I won’t go into to details and spoil the film but it seems to me that in terms of references, instead of offering the fans one or two “chocolates,” Abrams insists they have the whole box.

As such some may become sick of the taste.

Abrams is lined up to make the next Star Wars film, but I would like him to have a third attempt at making his best Star Trek film.

The first film was slower than Into Darkness and so gave you time to think about what was happening.

If he can combine a slightly slower pace, together with those great visuals, score and a totally original yarn, it could be one of the best Star Trek films ever.

I saw it in 3D but this didn’t do much for the film. It is worth seeing at the cinema though, as at home the impact of the effects will be lost to a certain degree and they are vital to fully enjoy this film.

So, to answer my question: Does it go where no-one has gone before?

It looks and sounds very good while it goes on its journey, but ultimately when it arrives at its destination it’s a shame that something seems too familiar.