Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Poster for 2013 sci-fi film Star Trek Into Darkness

Genre: Sci-Fi
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 9th May 2013
Runtime: 132 minutes
Director: JJ Abrams
Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Karl Urban, Alice Eve
Synopsis: The crew of the USS Enterprise must deal with a shadowy new threat that appears to come from within Starfleet.


Arriving in a blast of lens flare and rave reviews, 2009’s Star Trek was a baffling success. Despite suffering from zero character development and a bland plot, it brought the niche universe of the Trekkies to a new, mass audience. Inevitably, the JJ Abrams franchise now has a sequel in the shape of the really quite brilliant Star Trek Into Darkness.

The action starts immediately as a bit of a cock up from the Enterprise crew on an uncivilised planet results in near death for Spock (Zachary Quinto). There’s an awful lot of running through nice landscapes and some stunning shots of the Enterprise rising out water. It doesn’t match the emotional heft of Stark Trek’s opening, but it certainly showcases Abrams’ directorial flair… or flare in most cases.

At the centre of the movie is an electrifying performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as the villainous John Harrison – a terrorist out to destroy Starfleet from within. Playing the icy character as an evil version of Sherlock Holmes, he displays a remarkable ability to go from steely calm to blind anger in a matter of seconds. It’s difficult to know which state is scarier. His character proves to be far more nuanced and interesting than expected and is one of the film’s most welcome surprises, along with a number of fan-pleasing references.

Star Trek Into Darkness is far more of a character piece than the first film. The script, written partly by Prometheus scribe Damon Lindelof, crackles with the wit and humanity that its predecessor lacked. Much like last year’s Avengers Assemble, it treads the border between comedy and drama perfectly.

Zachary Quinto especially produces a fine comic turn, balanced with a level of drama and nuance that makes the half Vulcan the most emotionally charged character in the entire film. Conversely, Chris Pine is utterly awful as Captain Kirk. He brings nothing to the role other than a performance as wooden as his name suggests.

Simon Pegg, however, steals every scene in which he appears. Star Trek Into Darkness gives the British comic actor a much bigger role than in the franchise opener, allowing him to flex his comedy muscles. Some of the physical gags are absolutely wonderful and Pegg’s natural charm is one of the movie’s highlights.

It wouldn’t be incorrect to suggest that Star Trek Into Darkness sometimes goes a bit too far into silliness in order to wink towards the Trekkies. However, this is only a minor blemish on what is a hugely entertaining summer sci-fi blockbuster that keeps this franchise ready to live long and prosper.

A sequel is only logical.


Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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