Kirk, Spock, and the crew of the Enterprise face their toughest foe while being pretty amongst lots of lens flare. Humour and heart ensue. Also shenanigans.
JJ Abrams, 2013
If you haven’t seen Into Darkness, don’t read the review!
I want to preface this by saying I love reboot Star Trek. I saw the original 6 times at the cinema – 7 times now, since I did the double feature and watched the first one again before my midnight screening of Into Darkness. I have never been a big fan of the series or the other movies – while I have seen a fair number of them, and will watch and enjoy them when they happen to be on, they don’t instill the kind of fannish glee in me that JJ Abrams’ lens flare-laden reboot ignited. It’s the kind of franchise a fangirl dreams of, and I’ve waited four years for a sequel. It’s safe to say I am not entering into this review entirely unbiased.
Having said that, holy cow, this was an amazing action movie. It was a rollicking ride with the same fun sense of humour that the first film had, but balanced with genuine heart and emotion. Themes of individual loyalty vs. orders and regulations run through the film, and the core of friendship between Kirk and Spock – both of whom go through a personal journey, individually and together, in this film – is still the heart of the reboot series. There are some emotional kicks to the gut, and, as in Star Trek, each of the characters gets their own moment of heroism (something I particularly love about these films – they really love the characters). Uhura gets more to do in this film, kicking butt and taking names.
Delightfully, pretty much everything in the trailer was a complete mislead. The movie you saw in the trailer? That’s about half as good as the movie you’re actually going to get, but almost nothing like it. Benedict Cumberbatch is terrific, chilling, brutal and smart, a more worthy villain for our heroes. Zachary Quinto continues to be a fantastic Spock, with an implicit understanding of who this man is. I have a well-documented fondness for Chris Pine and his beautiful, beautiful blue eyes, a fondness JJ Abrams’ camera seems to share, and his Kirk is still my favourite captain. He’s dynamic, flawed and heroic. The real magic comes when the characters work together, though – Bones, Kirk and Spock riffing off each other, Chekov stammering through his brilliance, Sulu being a calm river running deep, Scotty’s mechanical brilliance and unusual way with words, Uhura being the voice of reason. A new introduction to the cast proves to be unexpectedly cool as well.
The movie is beautiful, of course. The first movie was beautiful, and the colours in this one are an absolute delight. The CG and makeup are flawless and the editing continues to snap and fizz. Giacchino’s score is gorgeous, offering a moment of wonderful chills right at the end that left me on a high. I don’t want to post any plot spoilers, but I don’t think it’s a great secret that this film matches up to another one in the original timeline, and there are some neat correlations and role reversals that play out beautifully. I didn’t think that Into Darkness could live up to the standard Star Trek set, but not only did it match it, it surpassed it (though I can’t vouch for its rewatchability yet – I’ll let you know next Monday after I watch it again!).
Oh and trufax: I edited the IMDb page to include Aisha Hinds, aka Loomis from Dollhouse. I do right by my Whedon alumni.
Star Trek Into Darkness on IMDb