Film review by Jason Day of the second instalment in the J.J. Abrams rebooting of the Star Trek franchise, starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Director: J.J. Abrams. Paramount/Skydance/Bad Robot
Cast & credits
Producers: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci.
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof.
Camera: Daniel Mindel.
Music: Michael Giacchino.
Sets: Scott Chambliss.
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, Alice Eve, Noel Clarke, Leonard Nimoy.
(From IMDb). After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction.
Review, by Jason Day
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Occasionally I go boldly and make a cinematic admission, either about my movie moans or filmic fervour. Today sees one that could at certain conventions around the world see me hung from the nearest ‘Starfleet yardarm’: I really don’t care much for Star Trek TV series or films.
My lackadaisical leaning about a sci-fi franchise worshipped by many is such that I’ve never seen one in a cinema, so I admit I lack (big screen) perspective on their impact. I’m content to tune in when I stumble across one on the TV, passively watching the action, whooping intermittently at the visual spectacle on show, ignoring how sci-fi scripts such as this merrily get tied in knots on their own ever ridiculous conceits and ignorance of basic principles of physics (I actually don’t know what I said there or if it even makes sense. I could probably write one of these films myself).
Therefore I type my review for this second film in the new reboot of the old Star Trek franchise (and how many iterations have there been now? Answers not on a postcard please) from the comfort of my front room sofa, via the wonder that is Google Play.
My main issues with viewing the film, which could be rooted in the fact that I’m at home and prone to distraction, but I cannot sit still. I’m constantly fidgeting, looking at my phone, grabbing drinks and snacks. So I muse on this for a while…
Have I unconsciously replicated a multiplex at home, indulging in the things other movie patrons do and which usually annoy me at the cinema (like eating, drinking, or just being there and ruining my blissful solitude)?
Have I accidentally engaged my dilithium crystal-fuelled warp drive, engines on max and unable to stop myself moving?
Or am I just looking for a different, more engaging kind of stimulus and fulfilment?
I’ll park the philosophical wittering there for now as I’m straying from discussing Into the Darkness but suffice to say, with sci-fi, I give it all I have, captain! I cannae take no more!
Despite my usually dulled stance toward sci-fi, this is still an efficient and well crafted film. In spite of my own prejudices, I consider the Google Play rental fee money constructively spent.
There is topicality of to story, but with an accent on weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and a perpetrator who is called Khan, are the writers teetering on intergalactic Islamophobia?
Co-producer/director Abrams’ adult re-imagining allows the writers to show Kirk waking up after a threesome with two tailed beauties and there are little flourishes throughout of the ingenuity of sci-fi (the cellophane cell Khan is imprisoned in, can be opened up with a small device so he put only his arm through).
I also love how the hot new cast have settled fully into taking on the mantle of actors and characters whom many consider to be almost sacrosanct.
Pine’s impulsive Kirk is the renegade with a short-fuse and the looks of a catwalk model, all cute, straight little nose, good cheekbones and skin and electric blue eyes giving him a basilisk like stare.
Quinto gives a spot-on impersonation of Leonard Nimoy’s unemotional Vulcan/human Spock. To help him check his impressive impression skills, Nimoy himself appears briefly, as the adult Spock contacting his younger self from the future (I’d hate to be paying that mobile charge). This is not to discredit Quinto as he gives the best performance in the film and there is genuine emotion during Kirk’s death scene.
Cumberbatch is on commendably oily, hissingly-best villainous form, but this sort of English accented baddie has been done to death in such films. Perhaps he needed to be steered toward giving a less icy turn; for someone intent on destroying so much and killing so many, there must be some feeling within him.
The cast leap admirably at what comedy there is in the writing, so no surprises that the handsome and urbane Urban as the sarcastic Dr McCoy and Briton Pegg as ‘Scottie’ help lift the film during the moments they appear on screen.
There are the usual daft points to such films. Spock, out to pour cold water on an angry volcano during the opening sequence, is in a super rush to save the planet and will risk his and his colleagues lives, but not before he has time to pause and announce: “I am, surprisingly, still alive”. Pull a finger out, Vulcan!
Abrams keeps up a ferocious pace for the 2 hour duration, with a pulse-racing action scene inserted roughly every 25 minutes, waking non-Trekkies up from any intra-Star Trek somnambulism.
Of course, saying the special effects are top-notch goes without saying. This is where sci-fi can really step up to the plate and Star Trek movies rarely fail here. Hats off to the Industrial Light & Magic team for putting in overtime here. One of the stand out moments includes a dizzying chase through the innards of the Enterprise as it revolves toward the Earth.
In conjunction with production designer Chambliss, they also ensure that worlds far off into the galaxy and a futuristic London (with tiny St Paul’s squished in amongst massive skyscrapers) are all captivatingly realised.
Don’t forget Chambliss’ Enterprise too: as Kirk clambers through the intestines of the ship in the final moments, the camera wends around the pipes and tubes making them appear like animated tendrils trying to ensare the hero.
See the official trailer on Youtube.