Star Trek Into Darkness (3D) (M)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner9/05/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 132 mins

Hugely enjoyable, pacily directed sequel with a witty script, superb special effects and terrific performances, though some of the nods to the previous films and TV shows badly backfire.

What's it all about?
Directed by JJ Abrams (who has just been handed the keys to the Star Wars universe), Star Trek Into Darkness begins with Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the crew of the Enterprise – Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Chekhov (Anton Yelchin) and Sulu (John Cho) – boldly disobeying the Prime Directive once again in order to save an endangered civilisation. Their recklessness sees Kirk stripped of his Captaincy and Spock reassigned, but they're brought together again when space terrorist John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) mounts an all-out attack on Starfleet HQ.

When Harrison is discovered to be hiding out on the Klingon planet Kronos, Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) tasks Kirk with tracking him down and assassinating him. There's just one problem: their presence on Kronos would constitute an act of war if they were to be discovered by the Klingons.

The Good
Once again, the actors are exceptional, with Pine, Quinto and Urban in particular somehow managing to inject strong notes of Shatner, Nimoy and DeForest Kelley into their performances, while still making the parts their own. Similarly, Cumberbatch is terrific, delivering a satisfyingly complex turn as Harrison and there's strong support from Pegg, Saldana and Weller, while Alice Eve makes a welcome new addition to the crew as Doctor Carol Marcus.

The witty script pays homage to the original TV series, with lots of funny lines and several moments designed to elicit whoops and cheers from Trekkies everywhere; Bones even gets a ‘Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a nuclear technician!’ More importantly, the screenplay gets strong emotional currency out of the relationships and friendships between the Enterprise crew members, particularly Kirk, Spock, Bones and Uhura.

The Bad
Abrams keeps things moving at a brisk pace, ensuring the film never drags, despite its 130 minute running time. That said, though the effects are excellent throughout, the film is curiously short on big action set-pieces and some of the smaller fight scenes are poorly staged.

The film's biggest problem, however, is the risky game it plays with redoing key sequences from the previous films and TV shows; what they gain in cleverness, they lose in emotional impact, as it's impossible to watch them without thinking, 'Hmmm...this was a lot more moving when they did it the first time round'. There's also a key This Will Be Important For Later moment that's so badly and obviously telegraphed that it's actually laughable.

Worth seeing?

Fan-pandering issues aside, Star Trek Into Darkness is enormous fun, thanks to an engaging script, superb special effects and terrific performances from a note-perfect cast. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 15/12/2019 11:30

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