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‘Fail at your own peril’ adopts a whole new meaning in the opening set-piece of Star Trek Into Darkness, which brings a mix-and-match eye-candy bag of jeopardy to the Enterprise crew latest party. J.J Abrams’ newest adventure starts with a blood-pumping climax that finds Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban) running for their lives through a magnificent alien planet landscape. The threat? An angry native tribe on their heels, a volcano bubbling up to cook the planet, a survival-proof abyss lying ahead. Take your pick! Not perilous enough for your taste? How about parachuting Spock (Zachary Quinto) to land on a tiny cliff amidst the roaring lava of the aforementioned volcano? It’s a ridiculously entertaining and breathless cinematic treats galore to kick-start a summer of promising spectacular blockbusters.

Yet, what follows after the prominent Star Trek Into Darkness title taking up the entire width and depth of the screen is not always that wide…or deep. For one thing, the potentially strong Cumberbatch asset is underutilized with sometimes cumbersome outcomes (Pun intended!). A GQ-cover-styled, well-coiffed, buffed up Benedict Cumberbatch starts off with over-articulated menacing one-liners taken from the Too Obvious of a Villain Handbook (“I will walk over your dead corpses!”), but eases into an enigmatic and truly chilling baddie John Harrison. You would expect as much from an actor who seems to effortlessly capture the complexity of a character such as Sherlock Holmes on a regular basis. Still, despite his best efforts, Star Trek Into Darkness, much like its predecessor, battles with an underdeveloped villain, who doesn’t get the necessary screen time to unleash his true potential.

This is a problem faced by the rest of the characters in this sequel. Despite as-elaborately-as-possible introducing us to the Star Trek universe and its main players in the first movie, J.J. Abrams doesn’t appear to have taken the next step to character building or relationship exploration this time around. Fair enough, there are hints of Kirk learning how to be more responsible, and of Spock how to be more…uh…human, as well as ‘aww’ inducing moments of the ever more sparkled Kirk-Spock bromance. Still, on the overall, most characters remain shunned in the corner until the action-driven storyline requires their reappearance.

On the upside, though, the action is as epic and impressive as can only be fostered by intergalactic surroundings; the visuals shine with distinctive flare and, more importantly, flair; Simon Pegg works tirelessly to deliver the prerequisite for his roles comic relief; and the plot twists, may they not be completely unexpected, serve the dual function of entertaining as well as resisting the threat-fatigue that starts creeping in at certain points of the film.

Final words…

Although boasting some top-notch set-pieces, actors settling more comfortably into their characters’ shoes (especially Chris Pine), and needless to say, full-on-thrusters action, Star Trek Into Darkness feels more like it is setting the scene for a third Enterprise mission, rather than establishing itself as a stand-alone film. Fortunately, it is still a visually entertaining and somewhat plot engaging installment to the franchise, which however, misses the point of the Star Trek quest ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before.’

Verdict

3/5 Marvelous points

3 stars

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About mformariya

I love films and everything that has something to do with them. I read a lot on cinema in my spare time. I actually wrote my dissertation in Business and Management on film marketing, and I am currently doing an MA in Cultural and Creative Industries with a focus on Film/TV. So basically I am interested in anything that can bring me closer to movies, regardless of the perspective. The main reason for me to start this blog is that I watch too many movies which leads to too many opinions (more than my friends can bear), so I decided to use my passion for constructive purposes :)

8 responses »

  1. gregory moss says:

    Nice write-up ‘M’. And it’s great to see you back posting regularly. 🙂

  2. Agree with everything you wrote. Lets get the Enterprise our exploring new worlds not rehashing old plots. I like that opening scene better when I watched it the first time in Temple of Doom.

    • mformariya says:

      Haha me too, but then again I have always been a huge Indie fan, and not much of a Trekkie. Still, when Star Trek came out in 2009, I was like “wow, this is actually amazing”, and I was hoping that this one would be too, especially since Benedcit Cumberbatch is in it…so I was a bit bummed when I watched it :/

  3. Søren Hough says:

    Cool review, Mariya! I really enjoyed Into Darkness, but I agree that it (and, by extension, Star Trek 2009) are setting up the franchise so they can begin to “boldly go where no man has gone before.” I’ve really missed the discovery aspect of Trek in these films, but hopefully they can play with that a bit more in subsequent films.

    Also, better roles for the female characters would be nice.

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