Monday, 13 May 2013

RespawningCouch Podcast: Audio Review: Star Trek Into Darkness (Spoiler Free)

This week I review J.J. Abrams' sequel to the successful Star Trek (2009) reboot. Does it continue to do justice to the long-standing and much beloved franchise? Or is it blinded by the lens flare?


  1. We are definitely coming from a similar position – though I was more of a Next Gen man myself.

    I had pretty massive expectations – most excited I’d been for a while going to a cinema. I liked Star Trek a lot as a kid, really enjoyed the 1st one and Cumberbatch is up there with Hardy/Gosling as my favourite actors at the moment (though I do agree he is similar, pretty sure I have never seen him play a character who isn’t touching onto the autism spectrum before). But my logic: good 1st film + quality villain = something special.

    Star Wars probably ruins this film. I can’t help but feel that Abrams attachment to that means he couldn’t/wouldn’t commit to a third. I feel this contributes massively to the films major flaws. He tries to cram so much into this as he ‘has’ to cover certain events/characters into this film, as he may never get a chance to come back and do them. This overambitious attempt at plot development means that character development goes out the window. The problem is when you introduce Cumberbatch’s character, and all the huge nostalgia/importance that he comes brings, he becomes your focal point and has to really – imagine the outcry if they had undercooked/not focused on his character. Nearly all of Kirk’s attention and the relationship focus moves directly from Spock, and the rest of the crew, to ‘Harrison’. Whilst this is understandable, imagine if he was nailed on for another film – this would allow the JH relationship to be built without leaving it so that Spock/Bones/Uhura et al are glossed over – nevermind reducing Alice Eve to a total non-part: what purpose does she really serve in the film bar being in underwear? Instead, Abrams rests on the strong character development of the 2009 film. Half the fun of that was watching the crew come together, especially knowing that they would, but you were interested as to how they would. In this, they basically just stay together.

    This time scale/lack of sequel forces them into the deus ex machina. As a result this robs all the emotional significance of the huge event, which was actually poignantly done in the mirror event in TOS film and I feel could have been done here. Imagine leaving it with JH escaping, the event un deus-‘ed’. Not only would this set up a pretty awesome third film, but it would open time for genuine character development of the crew as they respond to a serious emotional event, which would resonate with the audience as well. JH’s escape would also make Robocop’s stance much more understandable, as we could actually see his fears properly lived out. This could transform his character from a one dimensional evil authority figure to a nicely rounded antagonist who acts with genuine best interests at heart. You would understand where he was coming from, so would be hard pressed to blame/label his character. Hell, you’d probably empathise and some may side with him. This is what made Bana’s Nero work so well.

    Instead, it basically ends with the TV series – the expedition starts. This ending would work just as well at the end of a third film. It would work really well if they had to overcome the huge stuff that would have been left to deal with in a third film.

    The visuals, sound and set pieces are spectacular, and I have actually come to love the lens flare despite all the shit it gets on the internet. I don’t know how or why, but it just seems to work for me. I must totally agree the set pieces do overtake the film, though this does unfortunately seem to be the general trend of modern big-budget films and seems more attributable to me to the truncated timetable. The difficulty with Star Trek films has always been that it does tend to shift away from the actual core of the series and towards action shoot-em ups: look at First Contact (which I do really enjoy) etc. The danger is I think people fear the concept of a full feature on meeting random planets, with the more action focus being a safer bet.

    (actually have to 2 post this - major rant)

  2. Acting wise – everyone is decent, though I feel only Cumberbatch is really given the chance to do anything with his character as everyone else seems fairly set in stone and put to aside so this iconic character can be developed. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked his version of it and the potential overacting did kind of work for me – the scene where he gets battered does somehow work, plus the brooding intellect/power/sinister mix works for how I always imagined his character. Everyone else: decent, but didn’t really have much to do (especially Yelchin). Actually, scratch that – Pegg’s Scotty doesn’t work for me. I don’t know why: it’s not just Pegg, and it’s not that the accent is shit. Probably that he has been written down to mere comic relief.

    I was disappointed leaving the cinema – hindsight less so. Probably more that I just had very high expectations

    FYI - the text verification I just had to enter was Harrison. How beautifully fitting

    1. I don't need to do a written review now mate. Just Ctrl+C.

    2. Lol - got a a bit carried away, work gets you down eventually.

      Also had a big listen to your 2 reviews on Pines. Similar thoughts, though I don't agree that it is that unrealistic for Gosling's son to flip. But that said, the point where they were just getting blazed in the field would have been a cool ending, leaving it open ended as to what they would do when they found out.