J.J. Abrams’ newest “Star Trek” film, which opens stateside May 17 and just premiered in the UK, has already generated critical praise. The film is currently 88% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles as James T. Kirk and Spock, respectively, with regulars Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and Anton Yelchin also returning and gravelly-voiced new villain Benedict Cumberbatch rounding out the cast.
Our interview with producer Bryan Burk is here.
As with Abrams’ first “Star Trek” film, “Into Darkness” is not without its detractors, particularly Todd McCarthy of THR. Read some review highlights below.
“Into Darkness” is a beautifully modulated and sustained piece of work across the board, with visual effects that seamlessly meld live-action and computer-animated elements, given further texture by old-fashioned celluloid lensing (with 65mm Imax used for key action scenes). Post-production 3D conversion by Stereo D ranks among the best of its kind. The Enterprise has rarely looked sleeker than it does on production designer Scott Chambliss’ sets.
Where the film works at its very best – and this is set alongside the simple fact that it is spectacular entertainment – is with the character development. Yes, Kirk and Spock are the characters around which the film spirals, and their developing friendship is the core of the story, with both actors excellent and at ease in their roles, but at the same time all of the support characters have moments to shine and great moments of dialogue that help refine and define their parts.
“Star Trek Into Darkness,” J.J. Abrams’s second entry in his reboot of the eternal franchise, has been engineered rather than directed, calibrated to deliver sensation on cue and stocked with just enough new character twists to keep fans rapt. At its core an intergalactic manhunt tale about a traitor to the cause, the production gives the impression of a massive machine cranked up for two hours of full output; it efficiently delivers what it’s built to do, but without style or personality.
The most striking scenes come without doubt at the start as Kirk (Chris Pine) struggles to rescue Spock (Zachary Quinto) from a volcano on a distant planet. We witness a primitive race – carefully colour-coded all white, yellow and red – as they first lay eyes on a spaceship. It’s a powerful moment, and nothing later matches up to it, even if two episodes of city-bashing (first London, then San Francisco) offer their fair share of wide-eyed 3D viewing.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” begins with Kirk chafing at the role that he’s expected to play, and Chris Pine once again owns the character of Kirk completely from the opening scene to the finish. It is downright miraculous that he ended up with the role, because what he does with it is not something I can imagine any of the other likely candidates for the part even trying to do. Pine is an original, and he plays this combination of arrogance and anger and comedy in such a way that it’s all sort of jumbled up together.
There’s consequently a palpable air of world-weariness about this Star Trek; it’s as if Abrams and his writers concluded they couldn’t replicate the cockiness and bounce of the first film, and opted instead to allow their characters to grow up a little… Everyone is a little more battered, a little less dewy-eyed. People are unlikely to charge out of the cinema with quite the same level of glee as they did in 2009; but this is certainly an astute, exhilarating concoction.