There is something to be said about going to see a film with low expectations. I was persuaded to go and see Star Trek: Into Darkness recently and was pleasantly surprised. Not blown away, come on, let’s get real; you should know by now that it has to take something monumental for me to turn off the cynic formula-spotter inside my head, but I have to admit some of the special effects were outstanding and most of the acting was okay.
Unfortunately there was one weak performance from an unexpected source. The usually reliable Simon Pegg seemed to be struggling with his Scotty accent and his performance seemed a little flat in comparison to the excellent performances of Benedict Cumberbatch as the bad guy, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Karl Urban as Bones, and dare I say Chris Pine as Kirk (no really, he was pretty good). It was great to see all the cast members of 2009 franchise reload return for this installment and I had totally forgotten how good Quinto and Urban were. Cumberbatch was in a class of his own and seemed to be revelling in his super soldier role. I won’t say any more because for once I… actually no sod it I’ll say it – SPOILER ALERT!!
And we’re off into warp speed… yes, what was I saying? Hmm… Cumberbatch revelled in his role as Khan. Other good points – the fight on the PKD style aerial transporter near the end of the film and the crash of the dreadnought into the city prior to the fight featured some brilliant special effects. It has only just dawned on me that a lot of stuff was filmed with IMAX cameras and so the level of detail was immense in some scenes. I saw the 2D version and so did chuckle a couple of times when people dangled off railings and poked things down the camera, but it wasn’t as obvious as The Hobbit in pandering to the format, and did not detract from the story – no unnecessary flinging of plates in this one.
There were some good nods to the franchise with Old Spock popping up again for a bit of mentoring and a Tribble involved in a bit of clunky plotting. Various other references were scattered about, but were lost on me.
Bad points? Well I was comparing to the previous 2009 film, which I thought was a bit plop, and I am not a big fan of Star Trek anyway, so on that basis I find it difficult to think of many bad points. But of course, who am I kidding, here’s a quick list:
- The Kirk / Spock friend thing has already been done to a death and the live long and prosper hand touch on either side of the glass trope had my Corn-meter on overload. “If I give her any more (corn) cap’n she’ll blow” etc. Blow chunks maybe.
- The ultimate sacrifice involving radiation was done in The Dark Knight Rises and Avengers recently and is becoming a little tiresome.
- As are fights on moving platforms (Total Recall, Star Wars to name just a couple). Even though I liked the scene I think it was a bit lazy.
- Ditto on the done before point for the ‘resurrection scene’ – just way too many to list here. But it is a tried and tested formula and without it, well… we’ll never know because no Hollywood screenwriter or script ‘yes man’ is going to diverge from the formula anytime soon. Even films that at first don’t appear to follow the 12 points, 3 Act template, do.
- Don’t have a tribble and then not have it reproduce! That’s like having a mogwai and not dipping it in water or feeding it at night… sheez..
Enough with the bad points already. Let me leave you with this uplifting thought – J. J. Abrams is PERFECT to bring us the next Star Wars film. Everything that worked in this film (and other films featuring established characters i.e. I’m thinking Avengers here) will work in Star Wars, and who cares about character development when we already know the characters. The only thing that will spoil Star Wars will be lame dialogue and lack of imagination. Abrams has a keen sense of balance between humour and action and this is something that has always been at the heart of Star Wars – it is not something that takes itself too seriously. On the flip side I think that there may be plenty of Trekkies out there that are really pissed off with Abrams turning their beloved characters into… actually you know what? I take it back. If Abrams puts any character like Jar Jar Binks into the new Star Wars films I will be very upset. Something I have in common with Simon Pegg (or at least one of his old characters), apart from not being able to do a convincing Scottish accent, is that I need to forget Episode 1.
Actually I have just realised that perhaps you need two Tribbles for the magic to happen. I can’t remember… I just know they can be trouble.