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Reel Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

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Star Trek Into Darkness is absolutely BRILLIANT. In fact, the brilliance already started more than a year ago when director JJ Abrams initiated his deceptive cloaking technology and shrouded the main villain in total mystery or erm…darkness. Heh. For months Trek fans and other people were simply adding on to the hype of identifying who Benedict Cumberbatch would be portraying. I saw this magic work with my own eyes when the identity of the villain was finally revealed, the entire cinema hall was filed with loud “Gasps” of shock and surprise!

When the Star Trek movie reboot in 2009 was so successful, many people (including myself) were anxiously waiting…not so much as to see what was the next adventure for the rebooted Kirk and his Enterprise, but also with question marks of how JJ Abrams could top his superb 2009 effort. Like a Vulcan would truthfully tell you…..Into Darkness did it!

The pace of Into Darkness is one frenetic ride that doesn’t let up right from the opening sequence, where Kirk and his crew try to save an entire planet from an erupting volcano, whilst managing to incorporate a chase in the jungles ala Indiana Jones, Enterprise hiding under the ocean and the suspenseful rescue mission of Spock from the volcano! What I loved about this 10-minute hook was that it beautifully illustrates the importance of the much revered Prime Directive to everyone.

The movie then seamlessly shifts to our mysterious villain, John Harrison, an agent of Starfleet, who calculatively plots a horrific bombing act in London and thus, officially declaring war on Starfleet. This solo act of terrorism sparks a manhunt at Starfleet’s highest level to apprehend this ‘one-man weapon of mass destruction’ which leads Kirk and his crew all the way to a deserted area of the Klingon homeworld, Qo’noS, which sets up some really good drama and action sets involving Klingons (yay!). The plot gets a little more complicated after that when John finally reveals his motives and real identity (YAY!). Suddenly the initial (and simple) ‘revenge’ episode plot is spiraled into something much, much bigger, which eventually threatens Earth itself!

One area with much improvement over the first installment was the chemistry between Chris Pine’s Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock, which was simply amazing. Their banter, insults and friendship is the type of space ‘bromance’ that lifts Into Darkness above the ‘ordinary flick’ level. Throw in the deadpan expressions, insults and colourful metaphors (eg. Jim, you don’t rob a bank when the getaway car has a flat tire..) from Karl Urban’s ‘Bones’ McCoy and this movie just comes to life with its witty dialogue.

“Brilliant…with the numerous plot twists like a Bajoran wormhole, dialogue as sharp as the Kahless blade, pacing as fast as Warp Factor 10, action sequences as explosive as an unstable warp core and bright, colourful character chemistry like Dilithium Crystals…”

Visually, Into Darkness is a feast for the eyes. The special effects of the Enterprise emerging from the ocean in the opening sequence, the fight scenes in space and all the destruction scenes were truly unbelievable and really sensational to marvel at! The action sequences would be another key highlight of the movie. Hand-to-hand combat, starship dogfights, space diving-slalom, gunfights, etc. Phew. As I said before, probably the only time the audience got to take a rest and move away from the edge of the seat was during the opening title sequence bit. Heh.

I also liked how the character of John Harrison was developed. Personally, I thought he was somewhat of an anti-villian-type where there were times in the movie that we could actually feel for him and there were times where we would really despise him. I have to admit there were times that I felt as though John was playing with our minds as well…. manipulating us to cheer for him too, perhaps? Hmmmm. That being said, Benedict Cumberbatch was perfectly cast here as his voice, height and facial intensity makes this mysterious villain very, very menacing indeed.

Another thing that JJ Abrams did well in Star Trek 2009, which he also replicated in Into Darkness was the lace the movie with ‘easter eggs’ of Trek lore – be it the type of costumes, the classic one-liners, references to future trek, etc. – which I feel would really connect well with all Trek fans. Yes! Tribbles are in this movie too! (Yay!) Last but not least, there were quite a number of welcomed twists in the plot that makes Into Darkness a truly rollicking space ride indeed!

If I could think of anything negative about the movie, it would be the lack of balanced character development amongst all main crew, with Sulu and Uhura getting pretty limited screen time this time around. Surprisingly Scotty had quite a big share of the limelight, and he did so with much comic relief. Ha. But I guess this is only natural considering the focus of the entire film very much centered on the explosive Kirk-John’s hero-villain stand-off. Another gripe is our local censors, which managed to snipped off certain parts of the movie which everyone had already seen in the trailers?!! C’mon!! There are also some very minor plotholes (eg. slowness of news after London bombing, etc.) which were not glaring enough to wreck the movie’s awesomeness. :-)

To sign off my review, I think I could summarise this movie as a magnificent Star Trek mesh up…with the numerous plot twists like a Bajoran wormhole, dialogue as sharp as the Kahless blade, pacing as fast as Warp Factor 10, action sequences as explosive as an unstable warp core and bright, colourful character chemistry like Dilithium Crystals…Into Darkness is certainly worth every single latinum you have to pay for to see it!

 

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You may also want to read my other blog postings leading up to Into Darkness:

My Star Trek 2009 review!

5 Thoughts on Into Darkness Teaser

5 Possible Villains of Into Darkness

Star Trek Quotes for Everyday Use

10 Things to do while waiting for Into Darkness