So, the time has come for Grand Lord Abrams, Master of the Known Sci-Fi Universe, to bring us the second instalment of his first major movie franchise with this week’s release of Star Trek Into Darkness. His very successful reboot of the original five year mission brought a whole new generation of fans along for the ride, and the sequel looks set to continue that journey, boldly going where no one etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!
So here’s what you can expect from the movie, with no more spoilers than you would have seen in the trailer.
1. So, what’s it all about then?
The whole crew of the Enterprise are back – Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura – and we start with them on an away mission to a primitive planet (the one with the red foliage from the trailer). After those events have unfolded, we’re back on Earth and we meet our bad guy – the always excellent Benedict Cumberbatch – who seems very keen on blowing up parts of London. From here the film takes a very un-Star-Fleet turn into revenge and personal vendettas.
2. Will I like it?
If you liked the first one, then certainly you will. There’s plenty of action, solid performances, great little nods to the Trek universe and a lot more humour than I was expecting. The story is well paced and the dialogue is snappy, although is does lean a bit too heavily on what has gone before at times. It plays with the tropes and clichés of the Trek-lore with often amusing results – Kirk berating Bones for his over-use of metaphors being a favorite.
3. Will my kids like it?
See 2. above…
It’s a PG13 and it gets that rating partly for a few mentions of children that were born out of wedlock and other words for poop, but I think mostly for the amount of hand-to-hand fighting – which gets quite violent at times, especially as one of the protagonists doesn’t even fight back at one point. There’s also a brief lady-in-underwear shot and scene the morning after an alien threesome – both of which serve to enhance Kirk’s character, but do little for the advancement of the females in the film.
4. How are the cast?
Personally I wasn’t that impressed with Chris Pine’s performance the first time around, but he seems to have settled into the role now and behaves much more like Shatner’s Kirk, rather than someone pretending to be Shatner’s Kirk if you know what I mean. Quinto is excellent as the emotionless Spock, and has some great action scenes this time around, as well as some more “human” moments with Uhura. I came out of the movie feeling like there was less of Bones, Sulu and Chekov than before – John Cho proved his worth in one scene in particular which made it seem more of a shame there wasn’t more of him. Simon Pegg’s Scotty has much more screentime and proves very important to plot, but his accent hasn’t improved much (then again, James Doohan’s wasn’t great either!)
Benedict Cumberbatch blows them all away though. His cool delivery of his lines steals every scene he is in and for someone more associated with characters who use their brains more than their brawn, he shows that he can duke it out with the best of them.
5. C’mon, Cumberbatch is playing Khan isn’t he?
No, his character is called John Harrison…
6. What’s the geek appeal?
Err, it’s Star Trek! There’s a nice scene in the Admiral’s office with a line up of all the ships called Enterprise from over the decades (similar to the one in Picard’s ready room). It’s nice to see Peter “Robocop” Weller in something big again and there’s a nice little cameo from Noel Clarke – better know as Mickey from Doctor Who!
7. How are the effects?
Abrams is known for keeping the CGI count as low as possible, and you can really see it in scenes on the Enterprise. The bridge is one huge set, with real corridors linking off to other areas of physical set, so it helps sell the whole experience as being an actual place. The ships look great, especially the larger one glimpsed briefly in the trailer, and it’s nice to see them in the atmosphere (and in the water) for a change. It’s also nice to see a good bit of the future San Francisco and London, complete with groovy hovercars and crazy transport systems – all very utopian until things start to blow up!
8. Do I need to bother with the 3D or IMAX?
I’m lucky in that I don’t seem to suffer from the headaches many complain of when viewing 3D movies, and so I wasn’t disappointed than my local cinema was only showing the 3D version. I think its recent refurbishment, adding comfy armchairs with plenty of legroom and tables for your beers helped a lot too.
Having said that, it is a post conversion job, but it’s been done very well. My favourite part has to be the jump to warp speed – instead of just stretching out into the distance before speeding off, the nacelles now come out of the screen at you before the boom and leave a twinkling trail of particles hovering around after they’ve gone.
Of course, cheesy lens flare is even more cheesy in 3D, and I can only imagine how it would look on an IMAX screen – but as it was filmed in the large format, I bet it’s amazing.
9. When’s the best time for a bathroom break?
The film is just over two hours long and about an hour in, we meet some classic Trek baddies and there’s some proper fisticuffs between Kirk and Cumberbatch’s John Harrison. After that has been resolved is the best time to pop out – you know where it’s leading and you’ll only miss a bit of a brooding stare-off.
10. Any mid/end of credits action?
I can confirm that Star Trek Into Darkness has no shawarma, so you’re good to go after the fancy flight around the galaxy finding the names of all the cast (which does look rather groovy in 3D).