When the mysterious John Harris targets Star Fleet for terrorist attack the crew of the Enterprise are charged with running him down and exacting justice.
J.J. Abrams and his team made more than a few smart moves with the first Star Trek reboot, chief amongst them being to create a divergent timeline, meaning that his interpretation hasn’t overwritten the original series continuity but instead lives side by side with it, putting the tried and tested fans at ease while flinging the doors wide open for a generation of new fans.
For all intents and purposes Abrams has created a situation in which he can do whatever he damn pleases without angering anyone unduly. With this freedom one would expect entirely out there stories that change the very nature of the franchise (more so than it already has been), so it’s quite surprising to witness quite how often Into Darkness nods in the original’s direction.
Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s actually kind of fun, but as the film progresses it almost makes a sport of placing the audience (especially Trek’s major fan base) in a comfortable and familiar situation before promptly pulling the rug from under us.
Very few details can be revealed here without detracting from your enjoyment (hence the scant synopsis), the trailers doing a bang up job of giving away very little, so from here on we’re going to deal in generalities.
So, production wise, it’s at least equal to the first film. It looks fantastic; the design is dense (like a cleaned up Blade Runner), the CG is almost always seamless, the sets are colourful (and lens flare rich), and the action is fast paced, well thought out and occasionally a little brutal, however, it must be said that it takes until the third act for the action to really become gripping.
The cast look like they’re having a great time and though they might not be the grandest thespians on the planet they do pull off some touching scenes. Added to the cast are Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch and Peter Weller, which is pretty cool as it means Sherlock, Robocop, Judge Dredd and Kyle Reese all share the same film. It’s, predictably, Cumberbatch that steals the show though, not just with his big-time acting powers but by virtue of the fact that the writers have supplied him with one of the more badass characters in recent history. He really does kick ass.
As a whole it’s just great, solid, popcorn enjoyment, it’s two-hour ten running time flying by so swiftly that it barley feels like it’s been on as long as an average TV episode. If you’re a big fan of the franchise do your level best to avoid spoilers of any kind, come at it fresh, as, while perhaps not as surprising as the fist instalment it’s probably better.
B+ grade – for storytelling
A- grade – for direction
B+ grade – for action
A grade – for visual FX
Overall grade – B+