Star Trek: Into Darkness

At the end of the first reboot movie, I commented that it felt like it just started a TV series that I’d watch religiously. So here I am back, 4 years later, and I really liked the second episode.

JJ Abrams knows how to make a spectacle (whether it’s appropriate within the storyline or not, as plot nit-pickers have pointed out), and Star Trek is almost entirely a continuous series of spectacles, even if it’s just zooming into the bridge from an exterior shot via the window. The movie is fast-paced and incredibly pretty – there’s always something happening, and it’s definitely a film rather than an extended episode (like some of the earlier movies).

Cumberbatch was predictably excellent (apparently now he’s up with Hiddleston in the pantheon for the female nerd audience), though I really wish he had a larger role; Peter Weller is an old hand and portrays the top Starfleet admiral admirably (haha).

Despite all the very pretty explosions, Star Trek Into Darkness manages to raise ethical conflicts – which is a wonderful and uncommon ambition – and has the main characters on different sides. Kudos to the writers.

There are some great twists (though the main one will be obvious to true Trek fans), an appearance by Nimoy that hurts the drama, and lots of role reversals to the original Star Trek 2. Not being a longtime Trek fan, most of that passed over my head (I expect Trekkers will get more out of it) but there were enough against-type actions to keep me engaged (eg Spock getting into a nasty physical confrontation).

I really enjoyed the movie; it’s a pity it was just a modest success at the box office rather than a huge smash. ($380m on a $190m budget, compare Iron Man 3’s $1.2b on a $200m budget.) I’m looking forward to what Abrams makes not just of the Star Trek property, but of the Star Wars one too. It must be a geek’s dream to direct both the biggest modern sci-fi franchises (and a heavy responsibility).

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