We know that JJ Abrams is a well-known creator of visually stunning action/sci-fi blockbusters. From an alien trashing New York in Cloverfield to a high-speed train crash in Super-8, his movies make full use of the big screen. It follows that his take on Star Trek is to seize the potential of a space adventure to deliver a spectacular romp through Gene Roddenberry’s much celebrated universe. So how well does Star Trek work as a grand spectacle of the silver screen?
All the essential elements of a blockbuster are present in Star Trek. The action set pieces are amazing; the sequence involving the fight on ships flying through a recently devastated city is especially breath-taking. The space based action is a joy to behold, genuinely tense and realised with vivid CGI, these give a real sense of the scale on which space combat takes place.
The plot is unobtrusive enough for a sci-fi blockbuster. James T Kirk (Chris Pine) is a young maverick captain in Starfleet. He clashes with Spock (Zachary Quinto), his first officer, who sticks dogmatically to the rules. When Earth is attacked by an unknown terrorist, Kirk and his crew must pursue the mysterious villain to where he is hiding on the Klingon home world. The plot promises plenty of high stakes drama and delivers on most of it.
The relationship between the heroes is well developed as is the relationship between the heroes and the antagonist, played by Benedict Cumberbatch who delivers the film's standout performance. Cumberbatch puts his stage experience to good use and is wonderful as the larger than life villain. He draws your attention whenever he is on screen and when he is not you eagerly await his return.
Pine and Quinto are also very good in their respective roles and provide the emotional core around which our empathy rests. Their scenes together are subtle enough that we feel privy to the character's psychology whilst being sufficiently straight forward that they do not slow down the plot. One scene involving an emotional exchange through a glass door conveys the essence of the relationship between these two iconic characters with simple efficiency and touching sentiment.
This film is more than just another summer sci-fi action spectacle, there is plenty here for Star Trek fans. There are lots of nods to the 60s TV show in dialogue between the characters. All the favourites from the show get an important role to play from Bones (Karl Urban) to Uhura (Zoe Saldana). There are also lots of references to the Star Trek films of the 80s and clever reversals of famous scene that serious fans will love. A cameo appearance from the Tribbles will please the fans greatly.
Star Trek Into Darkness will satisfy both fans of Star Trek and cinema goers interested in an action spectacle as there are strong performances as well as an established franchise continuing in strong form. JJ Abrams has created another enjoyable film to add to his already strong filmography. Star Trek ticks all the boxes of an action/sci-fi blockbuster and will certainly be one of the big commercial hits of the year. This is one film that is certainly worth seeing on the big screen.