Thursday, 31 October 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness

The newest entry in the Star Trek series has made it to Blu-Ray and DVD, but is J.J Abrams' latest addition to the franchise worthy of what came before it?

In 2009 Abrams resurrected the ailing Star Trek franchise, a franchise that was brought to its knees by the largely awful film Star Trek: Nemesis and Star Trek: Enterprise, that last Trek TV show which was populated by terribly wooden actors (as well as Sam from Quantum Leap!). It was dead as a doornail and Abrams gave it a new, fresh leash of life. Star Trek: Into Darkness focuses on James T. Kirks first mission as a Starfleet Captain, a mission that makes for a sub-par Trek movie, yet a pretty fun action flick.

The crew of the Enterprise are sent out on a mission to eliminate terrorist and former Starfleet Officer John Harrison. Harrison, who has attacked a number of targets on Earth, has a beef with Starfleet that runs deep, and the reveal on who exactly he is and why he's doing what he's doing is the crux of the story. You won't find any spoilers here, but what I will say is that in many ways Into Darkness is a muddled re-thread of the 1982 Trek film, The Wrath of Khan. In fact, Into Darkness makes so many references to The Wrath of Khan, that you'll find yourself literally wanting to turn off Into Darkness in order to watch it.

That's the problem, Into Darkness is afraid to be its own movie, and to create a truly original story. Instead it uses Treks best film as an outline and basically ends up making a hugely inferior version than it. Non-Trek fans won't care about this, but for those hardcore Trek fans out there, it'll infuriate you on just how much they reference The Wrath of Khan. This comes to ahead with a very iconic Trek scream, which again was in The Wrath of Khan to a fantastic effect, but here it's just incredibly cringe worthy. Sorry Zachary, but you're no Shatner!

That said, Into Darkness isn't a bad film by any stretch of the imagination. It does contain some pretty kickass sequences, the best of which faces the Enterprise off against a gigantic Starfleet military grade ship, the USS Vengeance. It's fucking huge, absolutely dwarfs the Enterprise, and whereas most movies would make sure that the heroes come out of a fight unscathed, the Enterprise has its ass absolutely handed to it. Take that, red shirts!

The cast, much like the 2009 film, are all top-notch. Chris Pine absolutely nails Kirk in this one, and while everyone else is great, Simon Pegg's Scotty just doesn't do it for me. Once again he's played for laughs, and while it does inject a bit of goofy fun in between scenes of global terrorism, does kind of belittle the great character that Scotty should have been. The main addition to the cast is our favourite Englishman Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch plays John Harrison to great effect, in his usual welcoming yet menacing approach, and is the movies overall highlight. I could watch the guy for hours, particularly when atop a moving flying car while kicking seven shades of shit out of Spock!

It doesn't stack up against other, better Star Trek movies (In fact, I even enjoyed The Final Frontier more), but that's OK, It doesn't really need to. Like I said, it's not a fantastic Trek movie at all, just an OK one. Abrams just may be the perfect director for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, but he makes a pretty average Trek movie. However, it's a pretty good popcorn flick, and it's just about the only movie that there will ever be that features a scene in which Sherlock Holmes kills Robocop. And that, ladies and gentleman, is well worth the price of admission.

Star Trek: Into Darkness gets a modest 6.5/10

Denis Murphy

Star Trek: Into Darkness at CeX

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