Fanboy Flick Pick: Star Trek Into Darkness Needs More Undiscovered Countries

By Luke Y. Thompson in Movies, TV
Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 8:00 am

8-bit poster by Jesse Eisemann. Movie release date not final!

It can be a challenge to review something that so many people don't want to know anything about before they go in - save whether it's good or not. I'm not one who believes in giving away major revelations, and plan in the body of the review to dance around the big surprises as deftly as possible. For those who wish to be maximally protected, however, here's all you need to hear:

Star Trek Into Darkness is the most visually spectacular film in the franchise, thanks both to Imax 3D and Scott Chambliss' intricate production design, which brings us the most elaborate future Earth to date, another alien planet best left unnamed for now and lots of great space-debris fields. Narratively, however, it's more problematic - for a film series that attempted to so "boldly go" in a new direction last time around, its incessant references and cribs from predecessors are a disappointment, making many aspects of the tale all-too-sadly predictable.

I still liked it overall, but it has issues I cannot overlook.

Want to know more? I promise not to be too spoilery, but even hints of things may clue the savvy Trekker in. Click onward if you're sure...


Using Vulcan-style logic (because I do have the eyebrows to pull it off) I am 90 per cent certain that people who don't like the movie will accuse me of bending over backwards to make excuses for it because (a) I'm clearly on the take and/or don't want to piss off Paramount for some reason or (b) I'm not allowed to offend anyone buying ads or even (c) I'm doing/not doing the same/different thing than/as Rob would do; but mainly just (d) every time I give something a mixed review, that happens. But here's the thing - I genuinely like a lot of the movie, and that's largely because I think the new cast is great and captures the spirit of the old. Chris Pine has managed to incorporate more hand gestures and dramatic pauses into his repertoire without making them showy, forced or a direct impersonation. Zachary Quinto's voice still feels too un-gravelly, but his chemistry with Pine is stronger and their dynamic here more like the friendship we remember.

Karl Urban's Bones has lost some of the novelty, and is the closest to direct impersonation - I hope he gets more to do in the next one that develops him a bit further, but there are some funny lines to be had. Simon Pegg's Scotty - still with his tiny oyster-faced sidekick - has a nice character arc that intersects well with that of Anton Yelchin's Chekov, while Zoe Saldana's Uhura gets one great save-the day moment gone wrong to show off her skills. When it comes to John Cho's Sulu, however, I'll say this - he gamely delivers a ton of in-jokes about George Takei wanting Sulu to be a Captain. Non-diehards won't notice, but anyone who remembers the years Takei spent trying to pitch a Captain Sulu TV show will feel beaten over the head in every scene Cho has.


And then there's Benedict Cumberbatch. He makes a great adversary ("villain" seems like the wrong word to use, as it's more complicated than that) with his ice-cold stare and line deliveries...I'm just not sure he works as this particular adversary. Indeed, as we all suspected, "John Harrison" is but a pseudonym masking a name fans will find more recognizable, and honestly, the secrecy was needless. Nonetheless, I'll keep it, but the scene in which his true moniker is uttered is such an anticlimax, reasonably early in the film, that just about all of your recent speculations were superior. Why not just have him be a new villain called John Harrison, since he's so different from who he's supposed to be anyway? Well, therein lies the movie's biggest problem...

Okay, so here's how it goes: I'm with the movie, I'm liking the story, but I'm afraid they're gearing up to wrap things up too soon. Then something else happens. Then another thing. Then just when you're sure things are really done, there's a whole 'nother action sequence that's like something out of that PS4 demo of Killzone: Shadowfall. Cool enough, but somewhere around there, we get to...

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