Thursday, 9 May 2013

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness (spoiler-free)

World of Blackout Film Review

Star Trek Into Darkness (3D) Poster

Star Trek Into Darkness (3D) - First Pass / Spoiler-Free
Cert: 12A / 132 mins / Dir. JJ Abrams

Before I start, let me say now that I enjoyed this film. The central story and performances are solid, and a great foundation for what should be a great film for fans and civilians alike.
We good? Good.

• Oh yeah, I said "should be", didn't I? Well, for starters, the film's too damned long for the story that's in it. It's already a slow starter, and the first half has the air of an unfolding mystery and intrigue which wasn't quite pacy enough to keep my attention when it's interspersed with (admittedly fantastic) action sequences and internal politics of Starfleet. When the puzzles are resolved well before the final battle… it just seems like a wasted opportunity; almost like the film's trying to be too many things at once. Too ponderous for an action flick, too brash for a crime drama, surprisingly Earth-bound for a space adventure. Harrison's back-story (which should be the emotional key, here) feels drowned out by Spock and Uhura's teenage squabbling, indeed when Kirk interjects "whoa, don't drag me into this!" I was thinking much the same thing.

• The other thing that was constantly in the front of my mind was the number references/homages to existing ST. I'm aware that the in-universe setup is still the same, even though the timeline isn't, but the 2009 Trek made a fantastic job of restarting everything while losing nothing. This movie feels like it should be using that clean-slate for good, but can't let go of the past and is holding itself back. I can't go into it without wading into spoiler-territory, but there are very oblique references that even I found forced, and I think that these will divide the ST-fandom (certainly if my own experience with SW fandom is anything to go by).
I know that I'm essentially complaining that a Star Trek film feels too much like Star Trek, but that's the best way I can describe it.

• Thumbs up for the 3D! It's used effectively and adds a nice depth to the proceedings, which is unusual for live-action. It doesn't make-or-break the film, of course, but it's refreshing to see a film where it's worth having. If you're even vaguely interested in seeing Into Darkness, the cinema is going to give you the best results; it's made to be watched big.

• Speaking of visuals, what's with the fucking lens-flare in this film? By all means go wild with it when we've got a glory-shot of The Enterprise bursting through a planet's atmosphere, or for a Bay-eque sunrise, but most of the internal shots set on the ship's bridge have hazy blue streaks, often in front of character's faces. Often while they're speaking. Less is more, Abrams, less is more.

But, like I said, I did enjoy Into Darkness, it just didn't resonate with me as its predecessor did. And as visually/audibly stunning as it was, it left me thinking about the things I didn't like, rather than the ones I did. And that's not what a film's meant to do, is it?

Is the trailer representative of the film?

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
Spock and Bones are being portrayed very similarly to their previous incarnations, both in looks and mannerisms, whereas Kirk and Uhura have more of their respective performers' style coming though. Which of these approaches sits better with you, and is that because you are/aren't a hardcore fan of ST?

Please think of others and avoid spoilers for the comments on this one ;)

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.


  1. Fantastic movie. Leaves you "awe". The storyline, a twist of the first Star Trek movie is simply brilliant. After the Batman reboot ( Batman begins & The Dark Knight) , this is good reboot of the old franchise. JJA knows his job. The casting is perfect especially Cummerbatch . He fits in superbly. Anther feather in his cap after playing Sherlock Holmes in "Sherlock" TV series. Worth staying upto 0100 in the morning capping off a satisfying day brilliantly.

  2. Saw it last night and was much impressed. I have to agree with your niggles about continuity and it didn't take Sherlock Holmes to guess who John Harrison really was. The wholesale borrowing of lines from previous films felt like a missed opportunity though I can see what they were trying to do. It's hard to say any more without spoiling it.

    Performances overall were good. Pine and Quinto get a lot to do and the rest all get their moments, but it's Kirk and Spocks movie really. Cumberbatch was ace and you does a great job of building empathy for a man who appears at first to be a terrorist. The fight scenes on Quo'nos were superb! His fate was very interesting and rather ambiguous for a mainstream Hollywood film.

    The only real problem I have with these films is how quick they seem to get from place to place. In the old series, even at high warp speeds it took days to get to Vulcan or Quo'nos or wherever. In the reboot it's a matter of hours. I know it's a plot device and I'm being stupid but it does jar somewhat. Their 5 year mission is probably going to take about 5 weeks maximum, assuming they stop to stretch their legs every few million lightyears. Also, why does the Enterprise always have to get shot to bits in seemingly every film? There is no way I would sign on with starfleet if there was a slim chance I was going to get assigned to the Enterprise..