JJ Abrams brilliantly rejuvenated Star Trek in 2009, and now he and his crew have returned, and are looking to expand on his reestablished universe, and continue their fun trek through the stars…
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS
Directed by- J.J. Abrams
Written by- Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Star Trek created by- Gene Roddenberry
James T. Kirk- Chris Pine
Spock- Zachary Quinto
Bones- Karl Urban
John Harrison- Benedict Cumberbatch
Scotty- Simon Pegg
Nyota Uhura- Zoe Saldana
Pavel Chekov- Anton Yelchin
Hikaru Sulu- John Cho
Dr. Carol Marcus- Alice Eve
Christopher Pike- Bruce Greenwood
Admiral Marcus- Peter Weller
There’s a story here, and it’s a good one too, but I’m not going to go in to it. Suffice to say, John Harrison has a gripe, and a plan, and has focused both of these on Starfleet. Then, following a few cool action sequences, Kirk and crew endevour to make Harrison pay for his actions, resulting in explosive and engaging space shenanigans.
Right from the very beginning, this movie is hugely enjoyable. The opening is reminiscent of Raiders Of The Lost Arc. We come in at the end of a daring and colorful adventure, one that feels like it could be an Original Series tale, with big action, thrilling heroics, and a tremendous sense of fun. It is a very good pre-credits sequence that sets the tone for the movie: fun; quite funny; bright, despite the titular Darkness; action packed; and with story and heart.
ENTERPRISE AND PRODUCTION CREWS ARE STELLAR
The crew of this movie operate like a well oiled machine, and I’m referring to both the Enterprise crew, and the production crew. I’ll deal with the cast first.
This cast are uniformly great, everyone seems to have really settled in to their respective iconic roles. Chris Pine has several great moments, two in particular with Bruce Greenwood‘s Pike where his silent expressions tell the tale perfectly. Zachary Quinto is also very great as Spock, bringing new depth to an iconic and difficult character. Benedict Cumberbatch is really good too, and a welcome addition to the series. He is a bit over the top and hammy in places, and he has some very cheesy Bad Guy shots, particularly at the beginning when they’re keeping Harrison shrouded in mystery, but it all works. He is compelling, is definitely a bad ass, and makes for an imposing threat for Kirk and his crew. His villain is a definite step up from Eric Bana’s forgettable Nero.
In fact, everybody gets their own moment, be it bad-ass heroic moments, or smaller character moments, or both, everyone gets their time to shine. The characters all get something to do, are challenged, and reveal new depths. There really isn’t a weak link in this crew…and this is probably due to J.J.’s crew.
The script from Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof is brilliant. It is charming, and captures the spirit of what came before, without sticking doggedly to the specifics of the lore. It’s funny too, but not in a way that undermines the gravity of what is going on. The story is solid, very well paced, has plenty of character moments, and is action packed.
The action really is cool, and plentiful. There’s a thrilling air-lock sequence, there’s an ingenious use of gravity, and there are shoot-outs a-plenty, too: be the guns fired from hand, from a helicopter type-ship, or from massive spaceships. The final fight is also not quite what you expect, which is refreshing. Thing is, while bits from a lot of the action scenes appear in the trailer, these are just snippets and don’t properly give the scale or context of what is going on.
J.J. ABRAMS: STAR MASTER
All of this is pulled together masterfully by J.J. Abrams. The movie looks great, with some nice camera work, which is a bit swirly in places, but not in an annoying shaky-cam kinda way. It is also quite bright and shiny. The world does look lived in, a “used universe” if you will, but it’s all incredibly well lit. Where is this Darkness they speak of?
There are traditional J.J. touches too, with lots of lens flare, effective yet unintrusive Michael Giacchino score, and the Lost font for any on screen writing. Plus, as we learned from the explodey planet Vulcan stuff from Star Trek, J.J. isn’t afraid to mess with our our expectations and make massive changes to lore. This may anger the more die hard Star Trek fans, but it is done well enough, and respectfully enough, that it works. It’s not change for the sake of change, rather it serves the story, and this new universe established so well in the last movie.
There are also some echoes of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, be it visual cues, throw-away line or whatever. Much as Khan was a strong sequel to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, this too stands as a great sequel to J.J.’s last Trek.
BOTTOM LINE: STAR TREK INTO AWESOME
So…This is a blast of a movie. It’s not the typical “dark” sequel you’d expect from the title. Instead, this is a big dose of fun, action, and funny. The story carries the characters and drama along well. It’s not deep, but there is more depth to it than you’d expect from a huge Hollywood movie. J.J., and his enterprising crew, have crafted a terrific movie.
I can’t wait to see what he does with his future adventures in the stars!
DID YOU SEE THIS MOVIE? RATE IT!