Abrams delivers another blockbuster, but does this latest Star Trek film live up to the last?

Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine return

WITH THE much-awaited upcoming DVD release of ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ (hitting shelves tomorrow!), Andrew Simpson and Sam Halford take another look at the film… and come to some rather varied conclusions!

Andrew’s praise:  

Earlier this year, the universe that is Star Trek returned to our screens. J. J. Abrams (who I now term the new god of sci-fi) once again achieves success in what is a must-own (if not, at least must-see) film for this year. The energetic young cast return to our screens and once again deliver the enjoyment that we received in Star Trek (2009), bringing again to life the much loved characters in a compelling story, with some outstanding action scenes and top notch special effects, completed, of course, by that spectacular soundtrack. I think it’s fair to say that because of all these elements, Star Trek: Into Darkness really stands out. Humour also plays a large part in this film, bringing much more wit than some of the previous Trek films, and the way that it is crafted into the script is probably one of most exceptional parts of the film.

The stars of the film; Chris Pine as James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock return once again, filling their roles with ease. The relationship between the two really keeps the film on track, but Quinto brings something special as he seems to become more like Nimoy with every scene. John Cho as Sulu, Anton Yelchin as Chekov and Zoe Saldana as Uhura fill more of the superb crew and create some spectacular scenes (Cho’s stint in ‘The Chair’ one of the most under-appreciated scenes in the film which I feel should be seen as one of the best). It would be nice to have seen more from these three, as they have a lot of potential to develop. And of course, rounding off the crew, Simon Pegg as Scotty and Karl Urban as McCoy, who return to these familiar characters in the role of engineer-come-comic relief and irritable doctor respectively. The whole cast together really does well to emulate that of previous Star Trek films, having a dynamic chemistry that shows off the franchise so well.

Cumberbatch takes center stage

Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison

Another rising star, Benedict Cumberbatch, joins the cast as the new villain, John Harrison. His delivery is captivating, stealing much of the limelight and sees Cumberbatch take on a new type of role, away from his normal typecast as an innocent intellectual (Sherlock and Parade’s End). The role he plays is really impressive, showing both malice of a villain but also keeping so much hidden, we don’t know what his next move will be. Cumberbatch really shows off his range of talent here. The plot does have a few weak points however, with parts quite difficult to understand. Although this does not detract too much from the film, it would have made the film seem more polished.

Tribute to fans

The film is also a tribute to Trekkie fans, with many classic references to the old, particularly playing on parts of Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan. The wrath of Khan is portrayed within the film, but with considerable twists that make it all that more intriguing to us, as we see the story unfold. However, some of the references made would be lost on many who have not seen Wrath and the other films in the franchise.

That being said you don’t need to have watched any Star Trek movies before to enjoy this film, the story and pace of the film is kept at a level that you can understand and you are well introduced back into the Star Trek world for those not so familiar with the series. Themes of respect, loyalty and for the greater good, as well as betrayal and tension come through in the film and do well to carry us through the journey, as we see the relationship between Kirk and Spock develop and mature.

A must see

This is a must see for all; Trek fan or not, you will not be disappointed. This is an entertainment film and it does not fail to entertain as we explore the Trek universe once again this summer. The final scenes of the film, return us to the classic Star Trek feel, with once again that masterful soundtrack standing out. Now all we need to do is wait for that next journey, which I’m sure Abram’s will deliver just as well, as they boldly go.. into the unknown.


Sam’s disappointment;

Part of Kirk’s team

Four years ago J.J.Adrams did something very impressive: he made Star Trek cool. He escaped the franchise from its niche fanbase and brought it back into mainstream society. Audiences were getting excited to see the latest expedition of Captain Kirk and, once again, it is now socially acceptable to wear that Star Trek shirt you have hidden in the back of your closet or break open those Starfleet shot glasses.

After exposing the Enterprise to a tribe of what are essentially alien cavemen in order to save Spock, Kirk is relieved of his captaincy after it becomes apparent that the majority of his missions are run purely on blind luck instead of actual skill. This causes tensions between Kirk and Spock which is forgotten just as soon as it’s picked up. Luckily for Kirk and no-body else, John Harrison (played by Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch) begins his terror attacks on Starfleet and it’s left to the newly reappointed captain Kirk and his crew to go after him.

Stunning effects

The release poster

The movie is okay, but leaves something to be desired. The effects, actions and stunts are well… stunning. The movie opens a beautifully rendered crimson forest, which really sets the tone for the kind of effects you can expect to see in this movie. Benedict brings a lot to his role, he makes a great villain with a constant malicious expression. As with the 2009 movie Karl Urban and Simon Pegg give a superlative performance as Bones and Scotty, easily the most enjoyable part of the whole movie to which they’ve thankfully been awarded with a lot more screen time.

However, both Chris Pine and the scriptwriting fail in capturing what was great about the original James T Kirk. Kirk was a brilliant strategist and didn’t believe in the no-win situation, while Chris Pine’s Kirk is just basically running on pure luck; he doesn’t really bring much to the table, although in one scene I think I saw him use an emotion.

Over the top villain

John Harrison’s backstory turns out to be more complex than the first act would have you believe, in order to gain empathy for his story the movie introduces a secondary villain who is so over-the-top and may as well be twirling a long thin moustache. The second villain surprisingly isn’t a Klingon, despite going straight to their home planet and being used as a giant plot point, the Klingons make an incredibly small appearance in the movie.

This movie works well as a sci-fi movie, but not so great as a Star Trek movie. There’s plenty of twists, most of which are completely obvious including a not so subtle stab at the Middle East war and *minor spoiler alert* somehow Khan was transformed from an Indian Sikh into a white Englishman. The movie draws a lot of comparisons to Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan including just straight up copying a couple of the scenes (but with a twist), so I would recommend watching that before Star Trek: Into Darkness (or instead!).

Star Trek: Into Darkness is released tomorrow (2nd September) in stores and online.