Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho
Running Length: 133 minutes
Synopsis: When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving their world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.
Review: With the series reboot in 2009, Star Trek is no longer a movie franchise that solely appeals to a niche “Trekkie” audience. J. J. Abrams had made Star Trek cool and mainstream, and many people will walk into Star Trek: Into Darkness, four years later, with raised expectations (myself included). The good news is that Into Darkness manages to outdo its predecessor(s), raising the bar yet again for the Star Trek franchise. Into Darkness has something for fans of many genres – sci-fi, action, even drama, and although it has once again taken liberties with the “established” Star Trek canon, there’s very little to complain about otherwise.
A caveat: now that it’s the second movie post reboot, audiences will need to have watched the first movie in order to make sense of the interpersonal relationships aboard the starship Enterprise, as there is very little exposition in the film to cast more light on the Enterprise crew list. That does free up the narrative of Into Darkness, and instead of cast introductions, the film kicks off straight in the deep of a really fun, slightly implausible action sequence that sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
The original cast are back for the sequel, and as a whole the performances are more than adequate, with even the usually subpar Chris Pine having a few memorable moments. However, all performances pale to Benedict Cumberbatch’s tour de force turn as the central villain of the movie, and a mid-movie reveal will leave Trekkies gasping for breath (either in horror or in appreciation of the way Abrams has paid homage to the Trek films of yore). The intensity of Cumberbatch’s performance is astounding, and manages to outdo Eric Bana’s banal villain (pun unintended) in the first film many times over.
Into Darkness is yet another post-processed 3D film, which means that there’s really very little reason to view it in 3D. Save for a couple of scenes which displays reasonable three dimensionality, there’s no significant value-add shelling out the extra money for a 3D screening.
The screenplay has almost everything in it save the kitchen sink, deftly switching from action to comedy to character drama, and managing to pull off most of it with aplomb. The only flaw is in the film’s final reel, which feels like an unnecessary addition after what was ostensibly a climactic finale. The film thus ends on a whisper instead of a bang, but even this irregularity doesn’t detract too much from the enjoyment of the movie as a whole. And that’s essentially the reason why Into Darkness is a successful film – it manages to consistently entertain, and yet boasts a depth that is not commonly seen in summer blockbusters.
Unfortunately, with directorial duties for Star Wars looming, it is unlikely that J. J. Abrams will be behind the camera for the next Star Trek installment. However, he has laid such excellent groundwork for the franchise to continue, that it would take a large amount of ineptitude for the next director to screw it up.
Rating: * * * ½ (out of four stars)
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