Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Director: JJ Abrams
Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof 
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch
Running time: 132 minutes
Year: 2013
This review first appeared on Derby QUAD Blog

JJ Abrams’ sci-fi sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness from the outset has quite the reputation to live up to. Most sequels only have to contend with bettering the original so as to satiate fans and attract new audiences. Into Darkness is lumbered with satisfying two criteria; paying tribute to the original Star Trek TV series, and the world created in Abrams’ first big screen Star Trek feature.

With the benchmark so high it’d give you a gusher of a nosebleed, Abrams  and co have recaptured what made the 2009 flick so damn successful. With the story picking up after the events of the first outing, Into Darkness sets Kirk and his comrades venturing further into space. Sent out on a rescue mission, the crew of the Enterprise are under orders to capture one John Harrison; the man responsible for an assassination attempt on the leaders of Starfleet.

A story that’s hardly battling Looper for cerebral brain scratcher of the last twelve months, the outline could fit on the back of a stamp. A Hobbit’s stamp. The question is, does the simple storyline detract from the film’s goals? Not at all. With audiences continually demanding films remain loyal to all canonical elements, there are rarely fanboy properties that aren’t under scrutiny from zealots. Admittedly, Into Darkness is selective with its emphasis on particular plot points.

Abrams brushes over areas which could have been further investigated, painting a rounder clearer picture. For a big blockbuster with a running time clocking in at just over two hours, who wants slow burning exposition dragged out over the first act?

star trek into darkness benedict cumberbatch
“I really should have reconsidered shoplifting that KitKat.”

Into Darkness of course would not be an Abrams film without pitching its cast into…err…darkness for the duration of his many, many lens flares. Emerging from the shadows are the standouts of the film; Benedict Cumberbatch and Zachary Quinto. What is frankly baffling to note is the critical panning of the lack of humour this time around.

Quinto, clearly having taken note from his last performance as Spock, delivers his deadpan retorts to Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk with a knowing smile. Those two riffing off each other like the USS Enterprise’s Odd Couple lending weight to later twists in the story. The ripe villainous role snagged by Cumberbatch is when Into Darkness truly grips. Without giving the game away, he nails Harrison. Emerging as a terrifying manipulator, Harrison channels Hannibal Lecter. On steroids.

Writer Damon Lindelof, who worked with Abrams on Lost, has recently apologised on Twitter for the film’s biggest letdown: a moment of pointless misogyny. A gratuitous shot featuring Alice Eve’s Carol Marcus in her underwear has been addressed by Lindelof, who apologised for its addition. The one shot you see in the feature is the same edited into the film’s trailer. No more, no less. Still, it’s a cheap attempt at an audience grab.

Of course, there are a million other things Lindelof should have rewritten according to fans. If those die hards let go they might have a fun time with this lighthearted sci-fi romp. Spock’s fringe flapping against his forehead when he runs is worth the admission alone.

Who said Star Trek Into Darkness wasn’t a comedy?

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gem seddon freelance blogger freelance film journalist freelance writer

About the author

Gem is a freelance writer with 11 years of experience in entertainment journalism and movie blogging. She's written for outlets including Digital Spy, TechRadar, Vulture, Total Film, GamesRadar+, Certified Forgotten, and more.