wogma rating: Watch when on TV/online (?) - Only the really, REALLY keen should give the big screen a shot
J J Abrams has certainly bitten off more than he can chew. Star Trek Into Darkness is a film that barely manages to be watchable, primarily because of Benedict Cumberbatch, who unfortunately appears for far less time on screen than he deserves. Fanboys apart, there is very little that this film has to offer to anyone else.Read more
If you’re a sci-fi fanboy, you almost definitely know who J. J. Abrams is. And depending on where you fall in the spectrum between optimism and cynicism, you either hate him or love him already. With the keys to both Star Trek as well as Star Wars, Abrams definitely had a lot to stand up to. Well, with Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams is already on strike one, at least in my book.
Taking off from the 2009 Star Trek, which had a convenient changes in the series time-line to enable modification of certain elements, Into Darkness is mostly an insipid, long-winded and often pointless film, perhaps the only highlight being a certain Mr. Benedict who seems quite adept at, shall I say, Batch-slapping humans and Klingons alike.
When a mysterious man carries out an attack on Starfleet headquarters and disappears into space, Captain James T. Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew are sent off on a mission to take him out. The mystery behind their new foe, however, deepens as Kirk and his crew are sucked further into a series of events they don’t understand.
While the film never transgresses into unwatchable territory because of some of the cast, the action scenes and a number of inside jokes and references, (some of which I’m sure I missed because I’m more of a Star Wars fanboy myself,) the film has long stretches where it pretends to be a bit of a human drama about friendship and morals. That isn’t a bad thing by itself, but it tends to weigh this film down, because neither does it play the role of raising the tension and the stakes, nor does it particularly touch your heart.
Bringing nothing new to the table in terms of plot or execution, the film continuously gives you a feeling of been-there-seen-that, which is so ironical considering the most recognizable line from the franchise is ‘boldly going where no man has gone before’. Even the so-called mystery in the plot is mostly predictable even if you have the bare minimum of knowledge about the series and haven’t read up much on this particular film.
Not surprisingly, the main reason people were looking forward to this film – the mouth-watering prospect of Benedict Cumberbatch as villain – is the only thing that remains continuously interesting in the film. He has a searing, enigmatic, fierce presence which largely manages to live up to the expectations people had from him. Unfortunately, his presence in terms of screen time is far lesser than one would have hoped. Chris Pine as Kirk is the same, although he does seem to have grown into the role of Captain far more. Zachary Quinto as Spock is exactly how he was the last time around. Karl Urban, split between his two Star Trek appearances as McCoy and his deadpan turn as Judge Dredd last year, seems to have found some renewed vigour this time round.
Abrams disappoints; there’s no two ways about that. Be it his control over craft or the narrative, he has quite clearly lost the plot. So much so that even great CG and decent 3D post-conversion doesn’t help the film rise above its heavily flawed and uninteresting screenplay. His usual love for lens flares, optical or digital, makes for a film that definitely looks good. But not good enough to justify spending all that time twiddling your thumbs, waiting for something to happen. J. J. Abrams has painted a big red target onto himself, and come 2015 when Star Wars Episode VII hits the silver screen, nearly every pair of eyes in the universe will be on him. And something tells me that no galaxy, however far away, will be safe for him if he messes up again!
This article is by guest author Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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