Director: J.J Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Alice Eve, Anton Yelchin and Benedict Cumberbatch
Plot: When a Starfleet commander, John Harrison (Cumberbatch), launches an one-man war on Starfleet, Kirk (Pine) is tasked with going after him and executing him…
What made the original Star Trek so great as the fact that it appealed to both the fans of the original show and the newcomers (like me), so not only was it a reboot, but one of the most successful Sci-Fi movies in recent years. It was visually stunning, had a great cast with great dialogue to work with and a clever story that gave Abrams all the freedom he could desire when plotting out the sequel. So everyone had high hopes, when going to see this film.
Thankfully, the director didn’t fall under the pressure and gave us an all-out explosive sequel. The movie opens with a quick mission, recapping all of the little character quirks we have missed so much and reminding the audience how adept the crew are when it comes to action-packed Sci-Fi. There is even a pretty life-threatening moment, within the first five minutes with already gets emotions running at a high. The first one did this too with the death of Kirk’s father. This is one thing that I enjoyed about this film. When it comes to the good bits, there is no slow build-up – Abrams hits us with the good stuff, right from the starting point.
Usually, where the sequels fall for me is pointless exposition. The first movie always gets away with a slow start, because it has to recount an origin story (Spiderman, Batman Begins). The sequel always seems to mistake this for a winning formula and tries to copy it, unaware that the audience cannot be bothered to sit through lengthy scenes of character-building. Abrams understands this and after a quick expositional twenty minutes on Earth (that even has its own hectic battle scene and the first twist of many), we are back on the Enterprise and rushing off into battle with the enigmatic John Harrison.
Ah, John Harrison. Benedict Cumberbatch is the new face here and he is an excellent addition to the series. He plays the movie’s villain and internet rumour has exploded around who he actually was. Now, my guess turned out wrong (bearing in mind, my Trek knowledge is limited), but I know a lot of my friends were correct. All I wanted was a decent maniacal villain, yet Cumberbatch even brought some emotion into the role with a good backstory. Despite this, he was best suited when he was punching things, making the fight scenes seem effortless and ruthless at the same time. As much as I like Cumberbatch being a small-time actor, I want to see him in more blockbusters. Isn’t it his turn to star in a Marvel, for instance?
The other new face was Alice Eve, as the new Science Specialist on the crew. I think Eve’s character was on the back-foot, as the cast list is getting pretty hefty. I am glad that they didn’t do the obvious thing with her character, as the trailer suggested. It is pretty hard to introduce a female character to the film, when the lead is a woman-devouring sexist (no, not Spock!) I enjoyed by the end of the film there was a sense she was a part of this big family. As for the rest of the cast, they performed perfectly as normal. I can’t go into them all, as there are so many, but Abrams gives everyone an appropriate amount of screen time and action (I would maybe have liked to have seen more Uhura), which is a pretty difficult thing to do with a large ensemble like this.
At one point in the film I got worried that it was slightly slower than the last film. For a lot of the action, it is basically a sleek –looking game of battleships. The action is mostly the captain’s crew sitting on the bridge, shouting for the shields to be raised or a torpedo to be fired. At one point in the movie, I was worried that this would be the basis for the action in the movie. However, the film eventually gets to the punching and phasers and pretty much doesn’t let up on the action till the closing credits. That’s what I loved about this film. When it was on full speed, it didn’t hit the breaks, until it wanted to.
There are plenty of twists and turns weaving their way throughout the story and I liked the way that Abrams never did the obvious thing. For the first half of the film, you think you know what you are in for, but then Abrams changes the game up and you are left just observing, non-plussed, yet excited at the director’s cunning. The ending is done fantastically and if it was held a little longer, a tear may have been shed. The important thing to note here is: Star Wars is in safe hands!
Final verdict: I can’t see anywhere this film could have been improved. A strong contender for best film of 2013.
Friendly warning: Don’t go on the Star Trek Into Darkness IMBD page. Major spoilers.