“Star Trek Into Darkness” arrived in theaters this weekend, and I reviewed it last week for IFC.
Here’s an excerpt from my review:
In some ways, “Into Darkness” is an improvement on its predecessor, taking the outer-space action and ambitious effects sequences of “Star Trek” to the next level and upping the visual ante. The spaceship battles are more intense, the stunts are more fantastic, and even the villain gets an upgrade with Sherlock star Cumberbatch.
Eric Bana’s villainous Romulan miner Nero served as a nice foil for Kirk and the Enterprise crew in the previous film, but his character never managed to stand out from the events unfolding around him. The opposite is true for Cumberbatch’s turn as Harrison, who commands your attention every moment he’s on the screen and also provides a nice distraction from some of the flaws in the film. In fact, the “Sherlock” actor is such a powerful presence in the film that it does him a disservice when his character’s true identity – a classic character from the original television series – is finally revealed.
Rather than letting the audience sit back and enjoy the fascinating character that Cumberbatch is crafting, the film’s big “surprise” removes any uncertainty regarding his motives and what his future holds. It’s all too bad, really, because in the run-up to the big reveal, Cumberbatch manages to give the rebooted “Star Trek” universe an original, memorable villain that differentiates it from everything that came before – much like The Borg did for “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
You can read the rest of my review at IFC.com. As you’ll probably get from my appraisal of the film, I enjoyed it, but it was definitely a very flawed movie – both technically and narratively. I liked the previous film quite a bit, and felt like J.J. Abrams had really done something magical with the franchise after seeing 2009’s “Star Trek.”
Sadly, “Into Darkness” made me think “Star Trek” was a bit of a fluke, and made me significantly less excited about the next installment of the franchise than I was for this one.