Star Trek Into Darkness (3D) - First Pass / Spoiler-Free
Cert: 12A / 132 mins / Dir. JJ Abrams
Before I start, let me say now that I enjoyed this film. The central story and performances are solid, and a great foundation for what should be a great film for fans and civilians alike.
We good? Good.
• Oh yeah, I said "should be", didn't I? Well, for starters, the film's too damned long for the story that's in it. It's already a slow starter, and the first half has the air of an unfolding mystery and intrigue which wasn't quite pacy enough to keep my attention when it's interspersed with (admittedly fantastic) action sequences and internal politics of Starfleet. When the puzzles are resolved well before the final battle… it just seems like a wasted opportunity; almost like the film's trying to be too many things at once. Too ponderous for an action flick, too brash for a crime drama, surprisingly Earth-bound for a space adventure. Harrison's back-story (which should be the emotional key, here) feels drowned out by Spock and Uhura's teenage squabbling, indeed when Kirk interjects "whoa, don't drag me into this!" I was thinking much the same thing.
• The other thing that was constantly in the front of my mind was the number references/homages to existing ST. I'm aware that the in-universe setup is still the same, even though the timeline isn't, but the 2009 Trek made a fantastic job of restarting everything while losing nothing. This movie feels like it should be using that clean-slate for good, but can't let go of the past and is holding itself back. I can't go into it without wading into spoiler-territory, but there are very oblique references that even I found forced, and I think that these will divide the ST-fandom (certainly if my own experience with SW fandom is anything to go by).
I know that I'm essentially complaining that a Star Trek film feels too much like Star Trek, but that's the best way I can describe it.
• Thumbs up for the 3D! It's used effectively and adds a nice depth to the proceedings, which is unusual for live-action. It doesn't make-or-break the film, of course, but it's refreshing to see a film where it's worth having. If you're even vaguely interested in seeing Into Darkness, the cinema is going to give you the best results; it's made to be watched big.
• Speaking of visuals, what's with the fucking lens-flare in this film? By all means go wild with it when we've got a glory-shot of The Enterprise bursting through a planet's atmosphere, or for a Bay-eque sunrise, but most of the internal shots set on the ship's bridge have hazy blue streaks, often in front of character's faces. Often while they're speaking. Less is more, Abrams, less is more.
But, like I said, I did enjoy Into Darkness, it just didn't resonate with me as its predecessor did. And as visually/audibly stunning as it was, it left me thinking about the things I didn't like, rather than the ones I did. And that's not what a film's meant to do, is it?
Spock and Bones are being portrayed very similarly to their previous incarnations, both in looks and mannerisms, whereas Kirk and Uhura have more of their respective performers' style coming though. Which of these approaches sits better with you, and is that because you are/aren't a hardcore fan of ST?
Please think of others and avoid spoilers for the comments on this one ;)
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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