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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Chris Pine
Zachary Quinto
Simon Pegg
Zoe Saldana
John Cho
Anton Yelchin
Karl Urban
Benedict Cumberbatch
Alice Eve.
Directors
J. J. Abrams.
Screenwriters
Damon Lindelof
Roberto Orci
Alex Kurtzman.
Running Time
131 minutes

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Star Trek Into Darkness
Stardate: Zero Dark Thirty


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Plot
Starfleet is under attack from cold, calculating terrorist John Harrison (Cumberbatch). James T. Kirk (Pine) leads a Federation mission to apprehend the criminal — with vengeance on his mind.


Review
Star Trek Into Darkness
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The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Few understand the meaning behind this Star Trek (or more accurately, Charles Dickens) sentiment better than J. J. Abrams. Rebooting Gene Roddenberry’s seminal ’60s TV show following years of variable movies, Abrams’ first voyage on the USS Enterprise rescued the franchise from its increasingly niche fan base, the kind of people who endlessly debate Sisko versus Janeway (answer: Picard), and made it cool for everyone. Star Trek 2.0 (or XI) eschewed the speechifying, arthritic cast and bad hair of the previous flicks, upped the energy, vibrancy and spectacle, but still managed to respect Roddenberry’s dramatis personae, if not his spirit. Into Darkness follows exactly the same principles. Only more so.

Tearing a page out of the Raiders Of The Lost Ark Blockbuster Playbook, we start at the shattering climax of a Trek adventure we’ll never fully see. Looking down on a planet rich in garish scarlet fauna, a shaky camera picks out Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban) legging it for their lives, away from an angry pack of white-faced, yellow-hooded natives but towards a sheer drop that spells certain death. If that’s not enough, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is being parachuted into a volcano to calcify the lava and save an entire planet. It’s a ludicrously enjoyable piece of action cinema with a gloriously cheeky ending. We’ll be lucky to see a more exciting, breathless set-piece all summer.

Yet rather than pausing for breath, Star Trek Into Darkness punches it and immediately turns into a manhunt movie. A bomb goes off in a Starfleet archive in London — 23rd century England will boast a skyline of Gherkin buildings apparently — and the race is on to track down the terrorist, well-coutured renegade John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). Abrams’ first Trek movie was criticised for not following the Roddenberry tenet of holding up a mirror to real-world issues. Into Darkness couldn’t be more prescient. Just weeks after the events in Boston, this keys into a hunt for a bomber, with Kirk given orders to forgo a fair trial (“I’m gonna run this bastard down”) and terminate Harrison with Star Trek’s version of extreme prejudice — undetectable photon torpedoes. There will soon be students getting 2:2s for dissertations with titles like “7 of 9/11: Bin Laden, Star Trek And America Into Darkness”.

Cumberbatch’s Harrison may be dressed for a GQ cover but he is, in essence, a one-man army — watch him waste a garrison of helmeted marauders or take a vicious beating from Kirk with barely a flinch, or brutally batter some Federation flunkies. Yet, as you might expect from an actor who can comfortably portray Sherlock Holmes and Stephen Hawking, Harrison is as cerebral as he is muscular. His overall master plan may share some of the bonkers logic of Silva’s cockamamie Skyfall schemes, but Cumberbatch’s detached quality staves off hokeyness. It is a testament to the power of his performance that, although his early appearances are greeted with the most over-the-top Evil Musical Motifs imaginable, he manages to make Harrison ambiguous and chilling throughout.

If the first film was about the coming together of the Enterprise crew, then Harrison’s threat means they have to divide to conquer. The strong ensemble — rejoice in the growing Kirk-Spock bromance, or Bones’ bad aphorisms, or a collector’s moment of Sulu steeliness without his sword — have etched likable sketches of the nascent TV icons, but you’d like time to hang with them a bit more. Similarly, you pine for a sustained Hannibal Lecter-Clarice Starling duel of wits between Kirk and Harrison, but it never quite happens. Abrams has real skill at dropping character beats in the heat of battle — Kirk and Spock get slivers of interesting arcs; the former is learning to become a captain, the latter is learning to be a friend — yet the film doesn’t give the emotions space to resonate and take hold.

As with the first movie, there are some callbacks to Trek history, both TV and film; some are smart and subtle, others feel blatant and misjudged, and might send the hardcore seeking kolinahr. Yet more than the first outing, this engages with Trek’s long-held thematic ideals, be it the importance of the Prime Directive (don’t interfere with alien cultures) or the dynamics between instinct versus logic, pacifism versus savagery. Still, Abrams never lets respect for Trekkiness poop the party. Keep your ears peeled for a fabulous joke at the behest of an iconic sound effect.

Happily, this sense of play is all over Into Darkness. It’s sexy, both literally (Kirk in a three-way with alien chicks with tails) and figuratively: cinematographer Dan Mindel gives everything a sleek sci-fi yet somehow still warm look. Abrams directs with lots of flare (forget 3D glasses, take Ray-Bans), but, more importantly, flair. His style is somewhere between the machine-tooled work of Cameron and the manic intensity of Bay, efficient but still loose and seemingly improvised.

Working with screenwriters Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof, Abrams can flip between different tones in a heartbeat — a comedic lovers’ tiff in the midst of battle turns into an affecting meditation on fear — and will leave no stone unturned in trying to entertain: tense bomb disposal, intense inter-race negotiations, big ship-little ship cat and mousery, Simon Pegg comic relief, a chase at warp speed, disaster movie mayhem and Alice Eve in black skimpies just skims the surface of it. Not all of it works — compared to the opener, the last-reel action is enjoyable rather than jaw-dropping — but there is the sense of a true showman at work. Like Lucas, Abrams doesn’t care about science-fiction, cold fusion thingamys and transwarp doodahs. He just wants you to have as much as fun as humanly possible.

Of course, Abrams will next tackle Star Wars, and it is tempting to overanalyse Into Darkness for clues to Episode VII. Abrams clearly prefers proper sets to green-screens, doesn’t shy from men in suits and old-school in-camera trickery, fosters lovely grace-notes to stellar ILM work — look out for the new trails of space dust that follow warp speed — and gives good running down corridors. If he just takes his time and lets his patent skill with characters breathe, he’ll make The Empire Strikes Back. At one point, Kirk has to perform a space jump, fast becoming the series’ signature action lick. Midway through the perilous leap, his targeting computer fails. It’s all you can do not to shout, “Use the Force, Jim.” Given the evidence here, 2015 can’t come soon enough.


Verdict
If this is Abrams’ final frontier, he has left Star Trek in a good place, both in the fictional universe and as a franchise. In some sense, the title is misleading. Into Darkness is a blast, fun, funny, spectacular and exhilarating. The rule of great even-numbered Trek movies continues.


Reviewed by Ian Freer

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Star Trek Into Darkness
Empire Star Rating

Fun filled non stop action

Abbram's new vision of the long running Sci fi franchise may not please the most hardcore fans but never the less Star Trek Into Darkness brings plenty of entertainment and thrilling action. The Starship Enterprise must capture a terrorist after he blows a strike on Section 31 on Earth. They find out he is located on the planet Kronos but must take great caution to avoid starting a war with the Klingons. Kirk and Spock's friendship is strained as Spock is trying balance his out right honest... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tombiddy87 at 19:49, 10 October 2013 | Report This Post


A true beauty.

J.J Abrams…you’ve done it again. Star Trek into Darkness not only thrives on stunning action sequences but they are mixed with moments of pure emotional turmoil, you’d be mad to miss it! The sequel, I feel, possesses a more complex plot line that its predecessor. This is because of the arrival of a new menacing, highly intelligent villain, John Harrison. He is portrayed by the outstanding Benedict Cumberbatch; who brings a sinister edge to an already troubled character. The ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gem_1995 at 15:04, 10 October 2013 | Report This Post


"I am, surprisingly, alive... stand by."

Smart writing, fast-paced action, exhilarating effects, pitch-perfect humor, and slick direction on behalf of Abrams conspire to make Star Trek Into Darkness one wicked fun movie. And there's plenty of humanity thrown in for good measure. In short, everything a summer popcorn flick should be. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 11:51, 28 September 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Star Trek: Incoherence

There's a lot of great spectacle, action set pieces, character moments and performances ... but this is a thin layer on a weak script that fails to hold together for the length of the story. Roberto Orci recently lashed out at Trek fans for naming it the worst of the film series - perhaps not quite true but even as a sci-fi action film this is incredibly weak with not enough focus and far too much of a mess in the writing department. 2 stars. ... More

Posted by rich at 21:48, 09 September 2013 | Report This Post


Star Trek: Incoherence

x ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rich at 20:05, 07 September 2013 | Report This Post


Star treking through out the universe...

Ahhhhhhhh a star trek reboot, I believe a short and sweet review is in order. An inspiring film that takes you back to the future... wait wrong film, I mean to the final frontier where a very angry Karn shows himself aboard the USS Enterprise asking for help from its bold and brave crew. Our usual Sherlock Holmes becomes an amazing villian showing us the evil side of Mr.Cumberbatch who shows a real adversary for the daring crew and our wannabe villian Admiral Marcus. This film is a tad worse tha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by silence1 at 13:14, 02 July 2013 | Report This Post


Star treking through out the universe...

Ahhhhhhhh a star trek reboot, I believe a short and sweet review is in order. An inspiring film that takes you back to the future... wait wrong film, I mean to the final frontier where a very angry Karn shows himself aboard the USS Enterprise asking for help from its bold and brave crew. Our usual Sherlock Holmes becomes an amazing villian showing us the evil side of Mr.Cumberbatch who shows a real adversary for the daring crew and our wannabe villian Admiral Marcus. This film is a tad worse tha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by silence1 at 13:14, 02 July 2013 | Report This Post


star trek into greatness

Finally saw this yesterday in the theatre, i have been looking forward to it and i wasn't dissapointed. This movie was just a lot of fun, nice action set-pieces and good acting from the regular cast. But the real stand-out was ofcourse Benedict Cumberbatch, an actor i have been following since the amazing Sherlock series hit the screens. Benedict is an amazing actor and a worthy replacement for Ricardo Montalban, not that this movie will ever make me forget Star Trek 2: the Wrath of Kahn, but al... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tombaker at 08:48, 10 June 2013 | Report This Post


Star Trek Into Darkness

This movie has a very simple driving force. How can we top what came before? Already Ironman has produced some sensational visceral action and now Star Trek shot in IMAX 3D delivers a non-stop juggernaut of wall to wall action. JJ Abrams new film is a lot of fun, an all-out assault on the senses. It fulfils the intent to do “Star Trek like Star Wars.” But it doesn’t get everything right, for all its technical wizardry Abrams seems content to present a story short on anything ne... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Conboy at 14:43, 08 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Will Smith, in his fresher princier days, once said “I think I’ve seen your picture somewhere. Oh yeah that’s right it was in the dictionary next to KERBLAM!!!” Well sorry Will, it seems one of your finest pick-up lines was actually way off the mark. If you pick up a dictionary and search for the aforementioned adjective, the entry will more likely read: Kerblam: ar Trek Into Darkness’his is how it’s done. If you want to know how to construct large-scale entertainment which satisfies the s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Biggus at 18:44, 31 May 2013 | Report This Post


Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Star Trek Into Darkness ... More

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Posted by BJORNtheBLU at 13:30, 31 May 2013 | Report This Post


Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Star Trek Into Darkness reminds us that Star Trek isn't just 60s science fiction television show that was only good in the day, followed by a load of poorly scripted and directed feature films (one even directed by Leonard Nimoy). JJ Abrams' take on Gene Roddenberry's classic seminal 60s show is something more than anything Trekkies have ever witnessed before. This film was something quite special. Following up from the big hit 'Star Trek' in 2009 which got Star Trek back on its feet, this film... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BJORNtheBLU at 13:29, 31 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Star Trek Into Darkness

Who else spent the next few days shouting 'KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN' Just me? ... More

Posted by galvatron at 11:38, 31 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Star Trek Into Darkness

It must be useful for you =http://www.okrunescape.com/]RS Gold=http://www.mmotank.com/]WOW Gold ... More

Posted by topdiablo3 at 04:28, 31 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: star trek into darkness

Saw it again tonight and enjoyed it even more than the first time.One of the best summer blockbusters i have seen in years.Action packed,funny,terrific characters and outstanding special effects. A few details i noticed this time round.The vessel that Kirk,Spock, and Uhura take down to Kronos was confiscated from Harry Mudd! Kirk references the '' Mudd incident last month ''.Seems in this timeline the character is an arms dealer. Also when Admiral Marcus is giving Kirk his mission to ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 00:01, 30 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: star trek into darkness

L: BelfastBoy L: Cool Breeze L: BelfastBoy L: FoximusPrime L: empsdirector Just saw it.. Kahn is in it. There are two major problems with this film 1) It takes place before the 1960's TV episode Space Seed, where Kahn is introduced. The Wrath of Kahn was a sequal to Space seed, and the Search for Spock was a sequal to The Wrath of Kahn. The problem: Kirk and crew meet Khan and "Into Darkness". But in Space Seed, which I watch last night, they... More

Posted by FoximusPrime at 09:15, 29 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Recycled pi$$

. . ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 23:32, 28 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: star trek into darkness

L: Cool Breeze L: BelfastBoy L: FoximusPrime L: empsdirector Just saw it.. Kahn is in it. There are two major problems with this film 1) It takes place before the 1960's TV episode Space Seed, where Kahn is introduced. The Wrath of Kahn was a sequal to Space seed, and the Search for Spock was a sequal to The Wrath of Kahn. The problem: Kirk and crew meet Khan and "Into Darkness". But in Space Seed, which I watch last night, they have never met Kahn be... More

Posted by BelfastBoy at 20:18, 28 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: star trek into darkness

L: BelfastBoy L: FoximusPrime L: empsdirector Just saw it.. Kahn is in it. There are two major problems with this film 1) It takes place before the 1960's TV episode Space Seed, where Kahn is introduced. The Wrath of Kahn was a sequal to Space seed, and the Search for Spock was a sequal to The Wrath of Kahn. The problem: Kirk and crew meet Khan and "Into Darkness". But in Space Seed, which I watch last night, they have never met Kahn before. They do not now w... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 19:47, 28 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: star trek into darkness

L: FoximusPrime L: empsdirector Just saw it.. Kahn is in it. There are two major problems with this film 1) It takes place before the 1960's TV episode Space Seed, where Kahn is introduced. The Wrath of Kahn was a sequal to Space seed, and the Search for Spock was a sequal to The Wrath of Kahn. The problem: Kirk and crew meet Khan and "Into Darkness". But in Space Seed, which I watch last night, they have never met Kahn before. They do not now who each other is. This... More

Posted by BelfastBoy at 15:27, 28 May 2013 | Report This Post


Recycled pi$$

I was willing to ignore the racism undertones in the beginning, and things were rolling along confidently until about halfway thru. Then things started falling apart quicker than a crack-ho forced on cold turkey. Lindelof took his maggot penis out and started pissing everywhere. Again. JJ Abrams (a McG anagram?) directed it at the screen. Maybe that was actually some of the lens flare. Out of a million things wrong with this piece of shit, I'll save time and highlight just one. If Cucumberbatch'... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Normal Control at 15:08, 28 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: No faith in JJ now

L: Private Hudson L: 3wonders Fun, but revived old scenerios killed it for me. Even Spock shouts 'Khan!!!' In a William Shatner stylie. oot the franchise only to duplicate it?e keep Daniel Lindelof away from huge sci-fi franchises - his scripts practically annihilates them. On this evidence, I'm worried for Star Wars. ep, I agree with that. I disagree that 'duplication' took place with this film. Khan appeared, but differently, in an alternative timeline with basicall... More

Posted by jobloffski at 08:09, 28 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: No faith in JJ now

L: 3wonders Fun, but revived old scenerios killed it for me. Even Spock shouts 'Khan!!!' In a William Shatner stylie. oot the franchise only to duplicate it?e keep Daniel Lindelof away from huge sci-fi franchises - his scripts practically annihilates them. On this evidence, I'm worried for Star Wars. ep, I agree with that. ... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 17:07, 27 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: (FULL OF SPOILERS) - A big disappointment ...

L: Nicky C Did I watch the same film as everyone else? I loved the 2009 film and was eager to see the next chapter, but there's so much not done with the available material that this is barely a continuation from where the last film left us in terms of character progression. Kirk is back to being impetuous again, so he learned nothing from the last story. Spock explains that 'he seems unemotional but that's because he's actually super emotional' ... which we already flippin' know becau... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 17:07, 27 May 2013 | Report This Post


RE: star trek into darkness

L: empsdirector Just saw it.. Kahn is in it. There are two major problems with this film 1) It takes place before the 1960's TV episode Space Seed, where Kahn is introduced. The Wrath of Kahn was a sequal to Space seed, and the Search for Spock was a sequal to The Wrath of Kahn. The problem: Kirk and crew meet Khan and "Into Darkness". But in Space Seed, which I watch last night, they have never met Kahn before. They do not now who each other is. This means Space Seed cannot ... More

Posted by FoximusPrime at 14:36, 27 May 2013 | Report This Post


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