"Star Trek Into Darkness" (2013)- Movie Review

Directed by J.J. Abrams
Written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and  Damon Lindelof
Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch

‘A Distinct Blockbuster’

Characters are important assets of stories. Present in books, as well as movies, they are the people that an audience gets accustomed to. While not every character is significant in a piece of entertainment, there are always two or three that stand out amongst others. In the case of filmmaking, actors define the characters through their performances.

However, over the course of many years, it has become quite difficult to find movies that are deeply focused on characters. Of course there is the occasional serious drama with a message, yet films of other genres have been nearly devoid of character development. Take the Blockbuster genre as an example. Although some movies place emphasis on characters, it still seems as though filmmakers are more interested in loud explosions, violence and the visual elements instead.

J.J. Abrams, a talented director, has arrived with a spectacular film to invigorate this genre. One that blends both storytelling and action to produce a highly satisfying blockbuster. The sequel to 2009’s reboot of the popular television series, “Star Trek Into Darkness” is visually breathtaking and action-packed but what really makes it stand out in the midst of similar movies, is the fact that it cares about each of it’s characters. Surprisingly, each character in the film is given his/her moment to shine and this gives the otherwise typical blockbuster an edge that takes it to another level.

Building off an already great movie, J.J. Abrams nearly outdoes himself with a sequel that is almost up to the level of it’s predecessor. Its better in several ways with a notably menacing villain, sharp dialogue, and fine attention to character development. Also worth mentioning are top-notch performances from a cast so superior that it lights up every scene. It’s clear that execution tremendously pays off when the pacing is pitch-perfect without a dull moment in a thoroughly entertaining film like this.

Like a teacher enlightening a group of students, the writing guides the movie in an unexpected but rewarding way. Scenes flourish due to magnificent interactions between characters that consist of sharp, witty dialogue. At times, the dialogue is so fresh that it’s memorable and even quotable. Humor isn’t something that regularly comes out of  movies of this type, yet it is quite prevalent in “Star Trek Into Darkness”. It ends up making the film a very unique blockbuster.

The characters are handled with affection and care. Not since last year’s “Avengers” has any movie paid so much attention to balancing characters. There are numerous people in this movie, so making each one have their ‘moment’ seems like a risky approach. Yet surprisingly it works very well on screen. And all credit must go towards the screenwriters because they manage to get even minor characters to stand out. Apart from the main characters in the movie, most of the crew of the Starship Enterprise has at least one shining moment in the film. Particularly notable people are Leonard “Bones” McCoy (played by Karl Urban) as well as Scotty (played by Simon Pegg).

One of the things that makes this movie superior to it’s predecessor, and many other blockbusters is the way in which it shows relationships. The central relationship in this case is between the two leading characters: Spock and Kirk. Although they are starkly different people, they share a strong friendship that causes the film to be emotionally resonant. This film doesn’t have a very strong emotional pull, but what’s present is sufficient enough to make it very distinct or different from your average movie.

Every performer is at the top of their game. Having grasped their characters’ intentions/personality in the predecessor to this film, some actors excel since they have total control over their roles now. Notable mentions are Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, who completely immerse themselves into the roles of the two main characters: Kirk and Spock. Pine and Quinto have electric chemistry, consisting of humor and delightful wit that explodes like fireworks when they converse between each other. It carries the movie, and makes their characters highly memorable. Without these two devoted performances, it seems almost unlikely that “Star Trek Into Darkness” would be as admirable.

Then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch, relentlessly stealing every scene he appears in. In the role of a menacing yet sympathetic villain, the British actor provides one of the main reasons to see the movie: his star-making performance. From haunting and intimidating expressions to a despairing monologue, he leaves his mark on the film much more forcefully than the other stars. It’s energetic acting that appears to be the perfect way to become well-known in an industry like Hollywood.

Overall, “Star Trek Into Darkness” is everything that a blockbuster should be: entertaining and thrilling but also emotionally enthralling. Although it suffers from a rather abrupt conclusion and an incomplete character arc, the film manages to kick off 2013 on a high note. Instead of being the dark and solemn movie that advertisements have shown it to be, it’s fun pop-corn entertainment which blockbuster fans won’t be able to resist.

4/5 stars

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