Sunday, 2 June 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness Review (2013) Is It Just For Geeks?

Star Trek. Two words that have struck joy into the hearts of geeks everywhere since the mid 1960s. Loving Star Trek openly used to be a cause for embarrassment but these days? I know loads of people who can tell the difference between their Spocks and their Kirks, even though half of them don't even like science fiction. So what's changed? 

Well Kirk has definitely got hotter but the real reason is JJ Abrams. The director's 2009 reboot of the failing franchise became a huge smash that appealed to the action hungry mainstream while still satisfying the hardcore Trekkie audience. No easy feat. But what about the new sequel 'Star Trek: Into Darkness'?

The title 'Into Darkness' implies a follow-up that is... well darker and the basic plot seems to fit the bill. After returning home from a tricky mission, the crew of the Enterprise are confronted with a terrorist threat that seems to have originated within Starfleet. Kirk and his crew go against orders and search for the man responsible, determined to bring him to justice for his crimes but as is often the case, not everything is as it seems...

Real-world parallels between this manhunt and America's own war on terror prove that the best of today's popcorn movies have more substance than your average blockbuster, but this doesn't mean that 'Into Darkness' isn't enjoyable. From the moment the credits roll, the new 'Star Trek' is packed with action from start to finish. Exploding volcanoes, fist fights, chase scenes, ship battles... the whole thing just looks spectacular. JJ Abrams and his team strive to make their movies as cinematic as possible and the special effects are as cutting edge as you would expect. However, if you're getting a bit tired of Abrams obsession with lens flares, check out this parody below. 

Another huge factor in the success of these films has been the cast. Chris Pine has really come into his own as Captain Kirk, retaining the charm of William Shatner's original portrayal without making it too silly. Zachary Quinto also continues to impress as a younger Spock, who somehow manages to keep the role both serious and funny at the same time. God knows what Zoe Saldana's Uhura sees in him though. The guys seem more interested in each other than female company! You've got to love a good bromance. 

Bringing more humour to the proceedings is the ship's doctor Bones McCoy, played by the always underrated Karl Urban. I genuinely thought his take on the role was hilarious and I couldn't get enough of his cantankerous demeanor and those ridiculous metaphors. 

"Jim, you don't rob a bank when the getaway car has a flat tyre."

With such a large cast to play with, Abrams has to constantly juggle each of the roles so inevitably, some less important characters fall by the wayside. John Cho receives very little air time as Sulu and Simon Pegg's Scotty is sidelined for the majority of the movie, but Chris Hemsworth proved in the last film that you can still make an impact within even one brief scene.

To be fair to these guys though, they also had to compete with the new villain of the piece, played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch. The sheer malevolence of the character and those furrowed brows make his every appearance seriously intense. I wasn't sure at first whether 'Sherlock' could pull off a role like John Harrison but in reality, the British actor steals every scene he's in. Harrison is the perfect adversary for Kirk and it's a credit to Cumberbatch that his presence is felt throughout the film, even when he's off screen. That's how you do it Eric Bana!  

'Into Darkness' improves upon the last film in every way and JJ Abrams should be basking in the positive critical response but instead, the director has recently had to dodge accusations of misogyny, following a scene which features bland new addition Alice Eve in her underwear. In the interest of fairness, watch the clip below to hear more of the controversy and to see both Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch getting stripped down for the movie.

Gratuitous nudity aside, 'Star Trek: Into Darkness' isn't a perfect film; it's perhaps a tad too long and some plot contrivances towards the end are somewhat predictable but as summer blockbusters go, this is currently the one to beat. Geeky references are scattered throughout but if you're not a hardcore Trekkie, then these will fly right over your head like sexual innuendos in a kids cartoon. Whatever your previous experience with tribbles and phasers may be, you must go see 'Star Trek: Into Darkness' and judge the film on its own merits.

If you've already seen the movie, what did you think? Who's your favourite character? How many lens flares did you spot? And should Spock end up with Uhura or Kirk? Let me know what you think by commenting, liking and sharing below. Thanks again!

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