Film Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness (USA, 2013)

JJ Abrams helms an explosive larger than life sequel in Star Trek: Into Darkness but does it live up to the hype and fanfare? And furthermore, can it survive the nitpicky Trekkies? As somebody who is definitely NOT a Trekkie and unfamiliar with the universe aside from a very basic knowledge of who Kirk and Spock are and seeing Abrams’ first Star Trek, I’ll attempt to provide a spoiler-free review of one of 2013’s big blockbusters.

I’ll start things off with some of the positive things I enjoyed about this film. The scenery, landscapes and in particular the colouring of this film is mind-blowing. From the opening scenes on the alien planet Nibirius that are bright and invigorating colours to the progression “into darkness” as the colours become literally darker, more muted and almost depressing; the visual feel of the film mirrors the storyline.

The bromance development between Kirk and Spock is at the forefront of the film and it’s hilarious. Zachary Quinto’s deadpan Spock delivery is both awkward but endearing, and this wall of dry meets the frenetic and sometimes enraged energy of Christopher Pine’s Kirk. The tension levels between the two leads isn’t as edgy as the first film, there is a sense of familiarity between the two as they have now begun to understand each other more. Quinto is a perfect morally balanced Spock and Pine is the rebellious and rule-breaking Kirk, they’re a balanced see-saw that needs each other in order to function to their best.

Benedict Cumberbatch, sinister, malevolent and manages to embody the villain of John Harrison completely. He is utterly convincing as a man who is set to destroy everybody and everything and will stop at nothing to do so.

On the flipside though, the supporting cast are a little disappointing, not in their delivery but in their scripts. On several instances we’re treated to classic one-liners and punchlines that are directly or paraphrased from the original Star Trek series or films. I can’t tell whether this is the writers trying to pay homage in a tongue in cheek way or whether this is to legitimately appease the Trekkies? I loved Simon Pegg’s Scotty and Karl Urban’s Bones in the first film but this time around they just seemed a little too cheesy and only had screentime when their characters could provide vital plotpoints, and they didn’t receive any real character development or backstory which I feel would’ve helped to ground the “family” theme a bit better.

The action sequences in this movie are rapid and intense, this is both a great way to keep the momentum going but they can also be a little overwhelming and detract from the overall storyline. Whilst the biggest spoiler in the movie also is a blatantly obvious plotpoint that is the resolution to the problem (if that makes sense) so that of course means that the last 15 minutes of the film are a little “we saw that one coming” groan-worthy.
I suspect that Star Trek fans might be a little harsh in their critique of this film as the expectations are higher but for somebody who just enjoys a great action packed big budget science fiction film I enjoyed it a lot.

Review Score: 7.5 out of 10

This film was reviewed at the Sydney premiere at Event Cinemas George Street on 23 April 2013.
Star Trek: Into Darkness opens nationally on 9 May 2013.