Reviews

Star Trek Into Darkness

4

Kirk’s on a mission to dish some frontier justice

Two men hot-footing across an alien landscape as if they’ve got Usain Bolt at their  heels. Someone yelling “If the volcano erupts, the planet dies!” A desperate plunge off a cliff. Last-second deliverance and then away into the night… Star Trek Into Darkness opens with thrusters on maximum – and then it puts its foot down.

With the origin-story, world-building, slightly tortuous parallel-universe-establishing stuff out of the way, J.J. Abrams embraces the chance to slip the leash in part two of his mission to make Trek viable, vibrant, cool again. Part one, a $385m hit in 2009, blew great clouds of dust off the decades-old franchise.

Still, it wasn’t perfect: despite efforts to widen appeal beyond the sci-fi hardcore, the dialogue often gave into gobbledegook. Then there was the underdeveloped villain, the hurried climax and an odd compulsion to leave Kirk dangling from ledges.

Into Darkness papers over many of the cracks. There’s a whole lot less trans-warp theorising for one thing. A more intriguing baddie than Eric Bana’s raving revenge-seeker for another. True, our new nemesis, John Harrison (a menacing, mystery-cloaked Benedict Cumberbatch) also has payback on his devilish mind, but it’s… complicated.

There are surprises dotted all over the spacescape, so we’ll keep the synopsis vague. Harrison, a former Starfleet high-ranker, does a Very Bad Thing. Kirk (Chris Pine) and the Enterprise crew go gunning for him.

They travel to hostile places, encounter faces new, old and new-old and do an awful lot of running, fighting and bickering. There’s less of the dangling this time out, but cliffhangers abound. The script feels structured around them; we hop from emergency to crisis to catastrophe and back again (and again).

Mostly, this is fantastic fun: a two-hours-plus blockbuster that doesn’t bog down in exposition or sag in the middle. There are reversals and rug-pulls galore, most of them executed with whiplash skill. Trouble is, at a certain point peril-fatigue starts to creep in, putting the story (like the overtaxed Enterprise) at the risk of burning out.

What’s more, this wild, plot-driven ride has a tendency to leave character moments on the back seat. Often, minor figures first time out remain minor figures, some of them left out in the rain until the narrative calls for them to make a reappearance.

Meanwhile, one emotional thunderbolt is undercut by an arguably too-cute wink to the franchise faithful.

Rewardingly, though, this isn’t Star Trek Into Vastness, a sequel that aims bigger but ends up bloated. True, there’s the sense of an expanded universe, and how it might determine the direction of future installments.

On the other hand, most of the drama is confined to the Enterprise, and all the better for it (if it’s expanse you’re after, judicious use of 3D brings added depth to those sleek corridors).

As for darkness, it’s there literally (firefights in the gloomiest corners of the galaxy) and figuratively, Abrams dragging his heroes over sticky ethical terrain (debates over whether to put villains on trial or on the chopping block; a scene where a good guy pummels a bad guy after they’ve surrendered).

But this is no hopeless dystopian vision; not when there’s Simon Pegg (back in a bigger, funnier role as engineer Scotty, complete with a cabbage-headed sidekick) dropping exasperated one-liners, or Karl Urban (medical man Bones) chipping in with colourful metaphors (“You don’t rob a bank when the getaway car has a flat tyre!”).

Shame that a romance teased in the first film only makes minimal progress here, but then it’s always been the Kirk-Spock, captain-first officer, love-hate thing that’s at the fore in Trek.

The prickly, tickly dynamic is alive and well here, a central thread running from get-go to wrap-up. If the cool, commanding Zachary Quinto already had a sure sense of Spock in the first film, it’s Pine who comes into his own here, essaying a more likeable, vulnerable, humble take on Kirk. Although he’s still a bit leery with the ladies.

But man of the match is, of course, Abrams. His aim with Into Darkness was to mint a standalone adventure, one that welcomed total Trek neophytes at the door. Mission accomplished – there’s buried treasure here for long-term fans, but this is a franchise flick that demands fanboy foreknowledge far less than it does slack jaws and high stamina.

Verdict:

After a confident take-off, Abrams keeps the franchise flying with a faster, faster, FASTER sequel that makes for the most thrilling Star Trek since First Contact.


Seen and loved Star Trek Into Darkness? Get involved with our spoiler-filled discussion video below, or watch the gang talk about the movie's key bromance - and the possibility of a Star Trek 3!

 

Film Details

User Reviews

    • alexrossignol

      Apr 25th 2013, 16:45

      1

      So, lot of explosion, lot of vfx, lot of punchlines but, the Spirit of Roddenberry? Where is it?? The 2009's Star Trek was a crappy scifi movie and this one is the same thing...

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    • garymakin69etc

      Apr 25th 2013, 17:11

      I bet alexrossignol hasn't actually seen the film.

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    • Hadouken76

      Apr 25th 2013, 18:05

      I bet Kirk ends up having to choose control, destroy or synth. NoOoOoOoo not again!

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    • kraut1701

      Apr 25th 2013, 19:11

      People haven't even seen the damn movie yet and they're already whining and complaining. As the Shat once said, "get a life!"

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    • GFoley83

      Apr 25th 2013, 23:22

      Great review. Informative critique without throwing in spoilers. If only everyone else at Total Film reviewed like this (I'm looking at you, whoever reviewed Iron Man 3).

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    • TheShamrock

      Apr 26th 2013, 10:36

      GFoley83 - you've hit the nail on the head. I had to stop reading the Iron Man 3 review as I wouldnt need to see the film if I carried on. This is a good review and I enjoyed the first film and I've got a feeling I'll be enjoying this too.

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    • dholleyuk

      Apr 26th 2013, 11:21

      Great review thank you for avoiding spoilers and I agree with garymakin69etc please stop bashing something that you probably can't correctly pass judgement on. Lets leave that to the under 4 year olds and have constructive comments

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    • tommyvogt

      Apr 26th 2013, 19:52

      We don't have to see the movie to know that the whole story is total c**p! This review even confirms it, "Meanwhile, one emotional thunderbolt is undercut by an arguably too-cute wink to the franchise faithful." There is the proof that the online spoilers are true... This movie totally misses the freaking mark and it is so annoying and frustrating that it is a POS remake of the BEST Star Trek film, something that never needed to be remade. And that ending..FUUUUU!!!

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    • piffle

      Apr 27th 2013, 10:12

      Seems like a fairly tepid review overall with the prose suggesting a score closer to the 3 star mark. In saying that the review is also overly critical of the strong first outing making me think the reviewer just isn't that into this series so I'll reserve judgement until I read a few more critics.

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    • Ali1748

      Apr 28th 2013, 9:59

      I can't wait to watch Into Darkness so it can erase the bad taste Iron Man 3 left in my mouth.

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    • Seedorf

      Apr 28th 2013, 11:56

      I agree when people say don't bash this film before it has been seen, but I can see where alexrossignol is coming from. You know what you're going to get with this, and if you didn't like the first outing, then the same will apply with this follow up. Not because it's a bad film per se, but more to do with the direction Abrams has taken ST. Some love what he has done with it, some don't.

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    • mediacritiquer

      Apr 30th 2013, 19:26

      The first JJ Trek was slick and well made - fast, furious and entertaining. Ultimately, it was hollow, having thrown out Trek canon. This second film looks the same - entertaining, but Earth-bound and without soul. To boldly go...nowhere (fast).

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    • rome270ad

      May 1st 2013, 9:15

      Yet another dumbed-down brainless, special effects piece of sh1t for the thick masses.

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    • mattburgess

      May 1st 2013, 18:31

      I'm amazed at the amount of anger out there. So much hate for films that are just supposed to be harmless fun. The only person who misses out by you not liking a film is you.

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    • txrl9

      May 2nd 2013, 1:21

      The Spock and Uhura relationship makes absolutely no sense. Abrams has taken this key element in Rodenberry's concept and turned Spock into an emotional 20 something. Then you get too much relationship drama. All of this to the Spock charachter would be "illogical."

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    • MikeyRix

      May 6th 2013, 12:00

      @txrl9 Pahahaha! Okay, first of all - you clearly missed the billing of "Star Trek XI" as a PREQUEL. We do not arrive into the film, as TOS did, in medias rest - it goes back to the origins of the Enterprise and how the crew was assembled, even if it was retconned a bit. Second of all, which human BEING is fully and completely in control of their emotions by the time they hit their twenties, let alone a half-human/ half-Vulcan? At the end of "XI", Spock seems to be more at peace with himself and his place in the universe - I can imagine his character will cement that in this and #3, and he grows. This is called character development. Whilst there are many unrealisitic elements - hence the genre, science FICTION - it would be unrealistic for Quinto's Spock to arrive on screen completely (and some might say, rigidly) in control of his emotions. Thankyou and have a good day.

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    • dregj

      May 6th 2013, 19:51

      Star trek re imagined for the stupid age.Using science fiction trappings to create ,of course, a big dumb worthless action film as pointless as it is boring.Im sure they make a fortune

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    • Igrayne

      May 7th 2013, 20:09

      Stop bloody b******g about spoilers, why are you reading a damn review of a film if you are planning to see it you idiots? Check the star rating and the final analysis if you are not confident enough to rely on your own opinion and require to be led and stop fing moaning, jees.

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    • dholleyuk

      May 9th 2013, 11:56

      5

      Just saw the midnit showing and all I will say is LEGEND!!!!!

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    • aeneuman

      May 10th 2013, 4:13

      this film was boring , derivative c**p with no surprises. three years and this was the best they could do ?

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    • aeneuman

      May 10th 2013, 4:13

      1

      oh yes.

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    • TheGreatWent

      May 10th 2013, 7:31

      Lens... Flare... Overload...Retinas...Burning...

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    • mattburgess

      May 10th 2013, 10:53

      4

      I didn't love it. I liked it. It was a good film, but it wasn't incredible. I think maybe my expectations were too high, and now I'm trying to appreciate it from a reasonable perspective (The same thing happened for me with Iron Man 3). An incredible number of hard-core Trek references (Section 31 for example - wow!). Good start, but the film seemed to lose it's way 30 minutes before the end, when the whole thing became a parody of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. Not enough effort put into some important moments, such as why Bones would randomly decide to inject a Tribble with blood (which was too obvious a set-up). Not enough room for all characters (poor Chekhov), but overall... yeah, I think it was a good film. I'd watch it again.

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    • mattburgess

      May 10th 2013, 11:00

      Oh, and additionally, moments that should have been really exciting were bizarrely devoid of any tension. That bit with Bones and Marcus opening a torpedo on a planet... no tension whatsoever - you knew noone would die, so why bother even going off-ship? Moments like this were just a bit too quick.

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    • englishmovies

      May 10th 2013, 12:31

      The star trek movie 1st part was a bit unrealistic even for being science fiction movie, the villein in the movie was created by the spark a hero and that's because he was unable to save his planet. That can be even understood, but I didn't get is If the star dies how can its planet be saved, even if the star disappears the darkness and cold will kill the planet anyway.

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    • spid2411

      May 10th 2013, 15:31

      2

      Just saw this - not a big trekkie but love sci-fi (more interested in seeing Elysium and Gravity this year) so went along. Like a lot of these films (Iron Man 3 being a recent example) despite your 4 star rave review it was merely.....ok. Not terrible but just utterly unremarkable. The usually formula was there - lots of running, explosions and panic but as there is never any real sense of threat its like they are running and shouting about f**k all. Killed a couple of hours but will never watch it again. And it was obvious from the trailer who Cumberbatch really was so when he revealed it I hardly fell off my chair.

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    • CossieNuttas

      May 10th 2013, 16:48

      5

      it was great. good popcorn flik go watch it

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    • simonpearson

      May 10th 2013, 20:53

      5

      I had high expectations and was worried that I would be disappointed as I was with Iron Man 3. WOW What a roller coaster ride of a film. I loved every second of it. It was slick, fun, dark, fast, with developed characters. I was not disappointed. Yes there was predictability, but Star Trek has always had that. Take no notice of the moaners here, go see it, immerse yourself in it, forget about the world outside and enjoy. A great piece of cinema entertainment.

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    • Criswarriner

      May 10th 2013, 21:47

      Best film I've seen this year, but the Trimble set up spoilt the whole thing and spoiled the whole thing. Now dreading Star Wars, where R2 is going to say, half way through, that guy with the long black cloak and the gravelly voice - sounds dodgy!

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    • Ali1748

      May 11th 2013, 16:10

      5

      What more does J.J need to do to deserve 5 stars ??? Into Darkness was amazing and it's by far the best and my favorite movie of the year so far. It blew Iron Man 3 out of the water.

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    • batt101

      May 12th 2013, 4:34

      4

      Personally I really enjoyed Into Darkness and would have to say probably the 2nd best Trek film after First Contact. The problem with anything 'Trek' related is people tend to take it all too personal and look back with rose tinted glasses. Lets not forget that some of the older Trek films (and series) were truly terrible. Lets also remind ourselves that this film is catering for a wide audience and we have all grown up since we first started watching Star Trek. I would also use this as a warning to anyone out there that thinks the next Star Wars film will be any different. If you want intelligent, thought provoking science fiction then you have bought the wrong ticket my friend, this is a summer blockbuster popcorn flick pure and simple.

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    • smellyhands

      May 12th 2013, 10:58

      2

      Well that was an underwhelming film. Bones was a tired joke of a character. Checkov was relegated to Jim'l Fix It. Scotty was just as annoying as the first one. Why there was a semi naked shot of one of the characters is beyond me. Zero peril throughout the film. A cameo that was completely unnecessary. No notable action set piece to get the blood pumping. Stun guns that will stun only when it serves the plot or action sequence. But there are positives. Cumberbatch was great. Sulu also great. Some witty moments between Spock and Kirk.

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    • jaykays hat

      May 13th 2013, 6:40

      Blew Iron Man 3 out of the water. Really enjoyed this film and so far its probably the best film of the year for me. I thought the cast were superb and seemed to gel with each other and the special effects were really good. I saw the 3D version but that was only because my local cinema was only showing it on two screens and the 2D version was in one of the smallest screens, which forced me to see it in 3D. I would say the 3D doesn't really do much and don't waste your money. I'm getting sick of these post production 3D versions now.

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    • ilikescifi

      May 14th 2013, 6:17

      Going to warp speed in 3D is worth the conversion. Super entertaining film, but, despite all those enormous set pieces the only sequence with any tension involves a small crack in a helmet shield.......for me anyway. The city scenes made me think of new Star Wars

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    • jasonoconnor

      May 14th 2013, 13:19

      5

      i don't know what some of you people are talking about not only did i love iron man 3, i loved in to darkness so all you haters get a life

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    • casaownerjacka7

      May 15th 2013, 12:16

      4

      Agree with 4 star rating. Very entertaining film, would like to have seen Benedict Cumberbatch have greater motivation than he did but, glad that he sleeps to fight another day/film. Lots of action, extremely well paced, the majority of the characters have a lot to do with the exception of Checkov I would like to have seen more from the Klingons, perhaps that is the set up for the next film?? A solid start to the summer blockbuster season overall

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    • Chufferstud

      May 16th 2013, 5:47

      2

      Saw it last night in 2D and thought I'd give my review. The first 30mins was really exciting, from the fun start and genuine threat of Spock dying to the awesome fight on the Klingon home world. But sadly as soon as Harrison was captured it went down hill. Why why why why the writers of the film thought "We know what fans want, they want a rehash of The Wrath of Khan". NO! No we don't! We want an original story. Cumberbatch was ok, but hardly menacing, Yeltsin must be happy to get a few $100,000 for 10mins screen time, Alice Eve was shocking and don't get me started on the tribble plot device. As normal it's just an opinion! Iron Man 3 made me want to see it again, sadly this didn't. I look forward to Star Trek 3 where they go back to 2013 to capture an elephant as it makes a sound that will stop an alien force attacking Earth....you know it's going to happen!

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    • 2Dglasses

      May 16th 2013, 14:46

      3

      ^ this. Ok but seriously unoriginal, hashing together elements of old ST3, 6 and of course 2. Just about good enough to cover it but they cant rely on old spock and old villains next time. Need to make their own mark, not just play off the old stuff. Watchable though.

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    • tomjulian

      May 19th 2013, 12:31

      Did anyone else feel that the action was a little too much? Imagine in Wrath of Khan that after Spock’s death, they chased Khan through a crowded 80’s shopping mall for 15 minutes?

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    • moviefreak

      May 22nd 2013, 11:35

      Hd copy is already out !! just found it at movies720phd . eu . tf (remove spaces) I tested and works great, sounds and video are awesome!

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    • dojj singh

      May 22nd 2013, 20:07

      2

      i wanted to enjoy this film so much, but there was something missing throughout the whole thing. Sherlock is a proper badass and he's chillingly good as a baddie, but, without wishing to spoil anything, there's just nothing to glue it together and there's not a plot twist you won't see coming a mile off, so untwisty it's not even there. There is cleavage though, and that's a winner in my book :) once you've seen the film you will understand why I felt cheated at the end. I'll generously give it 2 stars, because, like that other disappointment Oblivion, the background scenery and set pieces are outstandingly good value for money, worthy of the admission price.

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    • SussexUK

      May 24th 2013, 16:22

      4

      Great film, thoroughly entertaining. Definitely worth a viewing on the big screen. Son and his group of friends went to see it, all around 23yrs of age and they all enjoyed it and they know nothing about the original series or any of the other movies.

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    • cremt2013

      May 25th 2013, 21:15

      The new STID is a big disappointment to ST fans: no ST, no new exciting unexplored worlds, no new exciting aliens, flat ST characters, and an infantile script. In fact, most of the “action” is in office buildings and shopping malls on earth. It is a non-stop mindless mayhem and violence characteristic of today’s Hollywood garbage, with nothing of the nobility and uplifting spirit of ST and its characters, the feeling of a ST “family”, or the exciting, open minded culture or Rodenberry’s inspiring vision of the future. Instead, we have 2 hours of gratuitous killing, killing, and more killing, with lots of special effects substituting for plot or acting. I feel sorry for the talented ST actors who are debased in this cheap, worthless imitation of ST; while Mr. Abrams might make lots of money with it catering to the masses lowest common denominator, to the ST aficionados, INMHO it is an abomination. Don’t waste your time on it.

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    • Igrayne

      Sep 10th 2013, 22:44

      Poor effort, the same layout as the first but with a new shine, Kirk is in a bar with Pike, Spock is still having trouble in his unrealistic and nonsensical relationship with the poorly and lazily portrayed Uhura and again Kirk is in bed with Alien women and the Beastie Boys are referenced. This is lackadaisical film making . So much for the cheap cop out "new time line" theory eh this is just a bad remake of Wrath of Khan? As for the awful way they downplayed Spock's fantastic phrase and Kirk and Spock's touching scene from Wrath of Khan, shame on the people who made this and anyone who liked it. Oh and even Chris Pine did not bother his a**e to play Kirk well in this one after showing some faith to the character in the original.

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    • matthewbrady

      Sep 11th 2013, 21:45

      5

      best sci-fi movie of the year

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