Star Trek: Into Darkness

star trek enterpriseLast Monday I wrote about the 5 writing lessons I had learnt through reading Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden.  One of those lessons was to ‘keep it simple’.  I believe that the best stories evolve out of a simple premise; a basic idea with layers of complexity added to it.
Star Trek Into Darkness can be summed up as being a film about a captain and his crew.  Well, yes, of course.  Isn’t that what Star Trek is about?  Yes, it’s exactly what Star Trek is about and that is what makes the franchise and this particular film so heart warmingly amazing.

Star Trek Into Darkness follows Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew as they face a terrorist who is threatening Starfleet.  When someone Kirk is close to is killed, it becomes personal and Kirk takes his crew on a mission to find the person responsible.

I’ll admit that I found this review quite hard to write, despite this being such a good film when it boils down to acting, writing and direction.  I think that’s because its success goes down to a deeper level.  The reason this film and its predecessor are so good is not just because of the talent behind it.  It’s because it is so truthful to the original series and films.  Yes, it may be predictable in places, but that only adds to its charm.

The talent behind this film actually have a much harder job than most.  They are dealing with concepts and characters that are already loved and known, by some very unforgiving people.  One step wrong and the film would be a failure, no matter how good the writing, acting or direction.

These new Star Trek films focus on the original crew but are set in a parallel universe.  Something that is exquisitely simple yet so effective.  It basically gives the writers complete freedom to do what they will with the characters while using the original series as a basis.  For example, Spock and Uhura’s relationship, something that didn’t exist and wouldn’t have worked in the original but is refreshing and, somehow, works in the new films.

star trek spock and uhuraWhat makes us so attached to Star Trek?  It’s the morality, the idea of honourable adventurers who are good and kind.  They are the knights of the future.  They are not just a little community on a star ship, they are a family.  They live and die for one another and for the oath that they took.

At the head of that family is the captain and Kirk makes for a wonderful captain.  He is quick thinking, brave and would give up his own life to save his crew.  In these new films he is also young, adding a little naivety into the mix which only helps to make him more approachable and loveable.  You can almost feel the whole audience urging him on when he hesitates or stumbles; we know what he is capable of.

star trek spock and kirkAnother key to Star Trek’s success is the difference between Captain Kirk and Commander Spock.  Spock (Zachary Quinto) is intelligent and rarely lets emotion get in the way.  Kirk is intelligent but always lets emotion get in the way.  Kirk lives by his instinct while Spock lives by logic.  Spock and Kirk’s differences allow them to bounce off and learn from one another.  It also allows for a lot of comedy which is something that Into Darkness did very well.

While naturally there is a focus on Kirk and Spock, the other fan favourites have not been forgotten.  Scotty, Bones, Sulu, Uhura and Chekov are all brilliantly done.  They are each played, as with Kirk and Spock, loyally but with a little edge of originality.  Bones is still downright miserable, even when flirting.  Actually, if I’m honest I felt that Karl Urban was a little wooden at times.  My only criticism of the whole film but even then, I can remember thinking the same of the original Bones.
Scotty is still a stubborn miracle worker, and he follows on from the 2009 film by being fairly central to the heroics and standing by his captain.

star trek scottySpeaking of which, I think it’s wonderful that if one officer moves away from the consoles, they are quickly replaced.  I have an impression of a queue of people crouched, like ball boys, ready to take over as soon as Chekov is called down to engineering.

Star Trek Into Darkness is quite similar to the 2009 Star Trek film.  Both films have excellent writing and direction and the acting and effects are brilliant.
But Star Trek Into Darkness has Benedict Cumberbatch.

star trek khanI have never watched Sherlock so this was the first time I’d really seen Cumberbatch and boy, can he act!  He was flawless, creating a character multi-layered so that at no point did you know whether to trust him or not (this being a parallel universe and all).  What an amazing voice he has!  I am now doubley excited for the second Hobbit film coming our way this Christmas and of hearing Smaug speak.

Star Trek Into Darkness is a must see for any Trekkie fan.  I’m sure I missed a lot of nods to the original series and films and probably many inside jokes, and I still adored this film.  The rest of the audience seemed of the same mind.  We all laughed at the same moments and one woman in front of me even applauded.
I walked out beaming (no pun intended) and wanting more.  I have subsequently re-homed my dad’s copy of the 2009 film for the time being and I sincerely hope that a Star Trek 3 is in the works.

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One response to “Star Trek: Into Darkness

  1. Pingback: My top three films of 2013 | J E Nice·

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