Star Trek Into Darkness
- Director:JJ Abrams
- Cast:Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana
- Release Date:May 09, 2013
- Running time:132 minutes
- Film Worth:$17.00
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A thematically rich and visually thrilling instalment that delivers the perfect blend of originality and nostalgia.
When you look back at the cinematic excursions of J.J. Abrams, the 46-year-old producer, writer and director presents an intriguing conundrum with each film in his repertoire, offering an original yet familiar experience. From his unique take on the found-footage monster-meets-city genre in Cloverfield to his suburban sci-fi excursion Super 8, which harnessed the magic of Spielberg at his prime. Abrams’ strange mantra even managed to breathe life into the saccharine working-girl romance of Morning Glory and revitalise the flailing Mission Impossible franchise by reigniting the sparks that made the original series so iconic.
That brings us to his latest big budget sci-fi adventure – Star Trek Into Darkness, the follow-up to his mega successful 2009 reboot of the original 1979 film franchise. Reuniting his original cast, led by Chris Pine as James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock and New Zealand’s Karl Urban as Doctor Leonard McCoy, Abrams has spent the past twelve months holding the film’s various twists and turns close to his chest. In fact, Abrams’ quest for secrecy in the internet age even saw the director construct huge walls around his exterior shooting locations to keep out prying eyes. In addition, drawing from his avant-garde online marketing campaign that helped Cloverfield reach its pinnacle, Star Trek Into Darkness has crafted an effective, if misleading series of advertising and trailers, specifically designed to manipulate audience perceptions, albeit unknowingly until they find themselves seated in front of the big screen.
And so, after all the hype, the secrecy and the manipulations of the marketing machine, the final question remains; is the film any good? Thankfully the answer, for the most part, is a resounding yes.
Through no fault of its own, Star Trek Into Darkness serves two audiences: the legions of Trekkies spawned from the various TV incarnations, and the new wave of Abrams fans who flock beneath the Bad Robot banner, Abrams’ production mantle that encompasses cult shows such as Fringe, Lost and Person of Interest. And while Abrams delivers an exciting, action infused visual playground in the Trek sequel, it's the script penned by long time cohorts Robert Orci, Damon Lindelof and Alex Kurtzman that drives the film’s most exciting moments. Note: Spoilers ahead…
Star Trek Into Darkness is at its core a man-hunt, with Kirk hell-bent on capturing a bomber who decimates Starfleet’s London Archives and then single handedly wipes out a good portion of Starfleet’s high command, including Kirk’s mentor and friend.
Sanctioned by Admiral Marcus, played by the brilliantly malicious Peter Weller, Kirk is sent after the fugitive John Harrison, (Benedict Cumberbatch in an inspired piece of casting), who has fled to an abandoned city on the xenophobic Klingon Homeworld of Qo’noS, with orders to nuke the site from space.
After some soul searching and classic Trek morality, Kirk instead apprehends Harrison with the intent of having him stand trial for his crimes. A decision that unleashes a tidal wave of conspiracy, betrayal and death… without giving too much away.
Visually, Star Trek Into Darkness is stunning, from soul rattling space battles to the sweeping cityscapes of London and San Francisco and the beautifully realised technical designs that make up the Star Trek universe. And yes, J.J.’s trademark lens flare runs rampant once again, which occasionally plays havoc with the film’s otherwise impressive 3D transfer.
As for the cast, Abrams and team nailed the casting in the first film and each of the principle cast seem comfortable returning in their Starfleet personas. One concern, which also plagued the original film franchise, is that some of the second tier cast, namely Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Scotty (Simon Pegg), and unfortunately Bones (Urban), are relegated to the background as the story pulls focus on Kirk, Spock and surprisingly, Uhura (Zoe Saldana). Also joining the cast this time round is Alice Eve as the sassy Carol Marcus whose presence should raise a few eyebrows for those familiar with Trek lore.
Star Trek Into Darkness is a big film, building on the foundations of its predecessor and holding true to the nature of the franchise. Combining humour, action and drama, Abrams once again delivers an original experience that feels nostalgic without any hint of being either stagnant nor stale. It’s an impressive feat, and one worth catching on the big screen.