(It is almost impossible to give a review of this film without spreading spoilers. I will be careful: others may be less so… so I suggest you avoid reviews for a few days if you want to enjoy the film).
Star Trek: Into Darkness is the second film in the franchise reboot by the brilliant J.J. Abrams, and produced and co-written by one of his lead “Lost” writers Damon Lindelof.
Chris Pine’s Kirk is down on his luck and up against a formidable adversary in the form of our own Benedict Cumberbatch – a towering acting presence at the heart of the film. When tragedy strikes at the very top of Star Fleet, what follows is a rollercoaster ride of revenge, unexpected alliances and betrayal.
Special effects are largely pretty good, with some beautiful shots of a 26th century London, all glittering spires with St Paul’s still surviving in the heart of it all. However, Abrams signature lens-flare technique gets as tiresome (through over-use) in this film as it did in the first. It is particularly unfortunate that so many of the film’s money shots were ‘wasted’ on the trailers: this was a film where perhaps a teaser trailer – period – would have been far better.
As the series matures, the cast are getting into their roles more: Simon Pegg’s Scotty is always amusing and my personal favourite is Karl Urban’s Bones… progressively turning into the surly old medic we know and love, with his outbursts of frustration at Kirk delivering the best lines in the film – “I’m a doctor godammit, not a torpedo specialist” being a highpoint. Although I didn’t really warm much to Chris Pine’s Kirk in the first film, here his natural arrogance matures into the flawed hero that is much more likable. His taste in “women” though seems to border on the edge of bestiality: it can’t be long before the Youtube spoof with the blue Acturan Sheep arrives!
Where J.J. Abrams really scores with the chronology of these new films for Trek fans is that they allow the film makers to ‘historically’ place key moments in Trek lore, and this film is no exception. Part of the joy of the film are the frequent references to Trek creatures, locations and characters – some of whom we haven’t met yet. And as a particularly joyous twist for Trek fans, and about a quarter of the way into the film the story takes an unexpected and yet strangely familiar turn! (The rather fetching Alice Eve’s character name gives the game away for those who are up on their Star Trek Encyclopaedia).
Whilst this story line lacks originality, it is very well done although the sogginess of the nostalgia goes rather over the top in one particular scene between Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock.
J.J. Abrams long term collaborator, Michael Giacchino provides the stirring music: definitely a soundtrack album on the Christmas list.
In summary, a rollicking good adventure film and a first class experience for Trek fans to savour. This franchise will live long, and prosper. If Abrams has done this for Trek, what WILL he do with Star Wars Episode 7?
Fad rating (for non-Trek fans): FFFf
Fad rating (for Trek fans): FFFFf.