s t a r t r e k i n t o d a r k n e s s
9th May 2013
1st May 2013
Let's begin by saying I shouldn't really be reviewing this film but the Star Trek fan has swanned off on holiday so it's left to me. I only watched the first one last night (finger on the pulse people!) and was pleasantly surprised by how gratifyingly entertaining it was and this next episode certainly does not disappoint.
Abrams immediately gets our hearts beating with beautiful expansive shots rushing down to a lush colourful world where we see a robed man running for his life, pursued by others in similar robes. Even before he removes his face covering it's pretty easy to guess this is our cocky hero James Tiberius Kirk and, as usual, he's not playing by the rules. Meanwhile our erstwhile friend, the adorable Spock, is in a hot spot, literally, at the bottom of a volcano trying to 'detonate' it before it erupts and wipes out the entire planet – obviously a sore spot for Spock after last time. Things don't go well down in the boiling depths and Spock ends up stranded. Kirk has to make a decision to either take a huge risk which could have enormous repercussions or let his friend die. Can you guess what he does?
These actions get the boys hauled in front of Pike and given a dressing down, Kirk is chastised for his reckless, thoughtless acts regardless of their positive results and Spock still shows little emotions – he is half vulcan you know. They are separated and Kirk is suspended (he's not 'respecting the chair'.) Before he can get too morose and involved with a whiskey bottle Pike comes to see him and reinstates him as his first captain. What a guy, he's like a father to Kirk you know. Meanwhile in London, one man WMD, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is orchestrating some elaborate distraction techniques that result in a starfleet showdown and the enterprise zooming off on a morally dubious mission involving Klingons, torpedoes and....That's your lot I'm afraid. My lack of ability to be succinct means I WILL ruin the plot if I continue. That's enough to whet your appetite anyway, a lot of stuff happens, it's exciting. The end.
Now that we have the origins story out the way we can start getting under the skin of these much loved characters. The script is smart with great dialogue; the plot gets a little silly at times and I found some parts a tad confusing but it didn't detract from the sheer enjoyment I was getting from what was happening on the screen.There are some quite unusual plot choices made by Abrams for a summer blockbuster, it's not quite as simple as 'good' and 'bad' and Kirk and Spock have well developed character arcs. It's all helped tremendously by this fantastic cast put together the first time around and bolstered by a marvellous, if unsurprising, villainous role by Benedict Cumberbatch and Alice Eve who makes a valiant attempt at bringing to life what seems to be a completely pointless role. Oh, unless you count the ridiculous scene where she is in her underwear. The relationship between Spock and Kirk is really at the heart of this story and the lessons they must learn from each other. Chris Pine again manages to play the cocky American hero without going too far and remaining likeable. My one issue with this Kirk is that he needs someone else to love other than Spock, I'm not sure the loveable rogue will stretch to another film. Hang on, maybe that's the point of Alice Eve.
Onto Zachary Quinto. Well, he was just born to the role wasn't he? He's perfect. Spock's relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) is compelling and fun and is also a good device to help peel back some of the Vulcan layers. There is a 'lover's tiff' scene in a shuttle that is genius but the real romance here is between Spock and Kirk. Simon Pegg gives an immensely likeable performance, despite the Scottish accent, and reminds us what a good actor he is. John Cho also gets a bit more to play with and Karl Urban's Bones narrowly avoids being ridiculous with his super cheesy one liners. Anton Yelchin is cute as a button as Chekhov and Peter Weller is certainly having some fun as Admiral Marcus.
The film looks absolutely stunning, it is certainly the best looking blockbuster I think I have ever seen and...drum roll please....I liked the 3D. It worked really well, didn't feel annoying when it was redundant and actually added to the experience. The CGI is breathtaking in places, its a real class act visually Want to also mention the costume design in this one, the supremely talented Michael Kaplan won a Bafta for Blade Runner and you can really see the pedigree here. Managing to walk the thin line between keeping touches of the original and bringing up the film to date and making it look sexy.
Sexy. Well now. I never thought I'd see the day I say that about Star Trek. Well done JJ, mission accomplished.