More reviews for Star Trek Into Darkness are popping up. While the majority of US reviewers haven’t yet weighed in, there continues to be a positive pattern although there are also some dissenters. Once again TrekMovie takes a look at the buzz for the movie with a summary overview and some extracts (spoiler free).
Reviews for Into Darkness Remain Generally Positive
The review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes is tracking 37 Star Trek Into Darkness reviews with a 87% Fresh rating (and an average of 7.6 out of 10 rating). But it is still early, RT aggregated 296 reviews for the 2009 Star Trek film (at 95% Fresh/8.1 avg). The Metacritic aggregation site is tracking 8 reviews of Into Darkness for an average score of 74/out of 100 (the 2009 movie had an 83 based on 37 reviews).
Below is an overview of some of the main reviews .
Enjoyable Summer Movie For Fans and non-fans alike
As more reviews become available a pattern is emerging regarding the things that work and don’t work in the film. Drew McWeeny writing for Hitfix put his finger on the issues most concerning long-time Trek fans:
"I feel badly for the hardcore “Star Trek” fans who don’t like this new version, because I know what it’s been like for them in the years where there were no new “Trek” movies in the works, now that it’s finally become part of the Nerd World Order in this new age of the Geek, the most devoted of the “Trek” fans seem irritated by the whole thing."
As to his opinion of Star Trek into Darkness, McWeeny says,
"What lies ahead for “Star Trek” is unwritten and exciting, and this cast is primed to do amazing things if the material is there. I want more of these movies. I want more of these characters. “Star Trek Into Darkness” is a sober, aggressively-entertaining exploration of some of the richest characters in all of pop science-fiction, and it should cement this as one of the most potentially thrilling series running."
The characters have been largely extolled by critics. For instance, Craig Mathieson writing for The Sydney Morning Herald in his 4-star review says:
"Revered characters, especially in a film concerned with accepting your mortality, rarely get such enjoyable second lives. â€˜I’m expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously,’ declares Mr Spock, and J. J. Abrams knows exactly what he means."
– Sydney Morning Herald (review contains some spoilers)
The Hollywood News agrees, at least as far as the characters go. Reviewer Emma Thrower awards Into Darkness 4-stars and says,
"Though its strong ensemble work keeps it afloat until the concluding near perfect assault that will set audiences to stun, it is fun, but rarely thrilling. Cumberbatch may provide a villain for the ages, but we’ve not quite reached big summer blockbuster territory just yet."
– HollywoodNews (mild spoilers)
Variety agrees, saying
"The film builds particularly well on the burgeoning Kirk-Spock friendship, with Pine showing reserves of vulnerability and doubt beneath his cocksure exterior, while Quinto adds gravitas to Spock’s eternal inner conflict â€” and his deepening romance with Lt. Uhura (Zoe Saldana). But make no mistake: The action, when it comes, is superbly executed, whether it’s giant vessels making mincemeat of one another, or the simpler excitements of old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat and foot chases through crowded promenades."
Reviewer Scott Foundass concludes:
"J.J. Abrams sets his filmmaking to ‘stun’ with a sequel in every respect equal or even superior to its splendid 2009 predecessor."
Incidentally, Variety’s offers a poll asking viewers to vote what summer movie they most want to see. In a choice between Earth, Elysium, Pacific Rim and Star Trek into Darkness, the Trek film has currently won 81.54% of the votes.
In addition to the returning characters, the films villain has also won approval with Benedict Cumberbatch receiving almost universal praise. Most effusive is Scott Davis of Flickering Myth who (in his 4-stars review) proclaims…
"Benedict Cumberbatch arrives as John Harrison, ex-Starfleet member with a grudge, and the true baton-receiver of Heath Ledger’s mould-breaking Joker; as cunning, conniving and controlled as said King of the Clowns, but with the same combat brilliance as any of our super heroes. He’s a thunderbolt of both energy and malevolence, and like the film’s thunderous story, he is simply breathtaking. So breathtaking that it wouldn’t be too much of stretch to predict big things come awards season, as he is that astounding here. Ably supported by the superb double-act of Pine and Quinto and the comic brilliance of Simon Pegg (accent spot on this time), Star Trek Into Darkness is a blockbuster that has acting of the highest level."
Martin Hoscik of Seen It (4-stars) adds
" the script offers Cumberbatch the opportunity to transcend the one-dimensional bad guy role which blighted the later Trek films and offer audiences possibly the franchise’s most sympathetic and multi-layered villain to date. The returning cast remain utterly watchable, deploying familiar traits of the original characters without ever straying into caricature, with Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) so assured in their roles that it’s almost possible to forget their legendary forerunners."
Michael Pell for MTV UK also awards the film 4/5 stars and says…
"From the volcanic opening to the devastating climax, Star Trek Into Darkness is as enjoyable and accessible for those new to the franchise as it delightful for die hard Trekkies."
FilmInk Australia has an unusual grading system: out of $20 how much is a film worth. In the case of "Star Trek into Darkness" they suggest $17 is fair. Writing for them, James Fletcher says…
"Star Trek Into Darkness is a big film, building on the foundations of its predecessor and holding true to the nature of the franchise. Combining humour, action and drama, Abrams once again delivers an original experience that feels nostalgic without any hint of being either stagnant nor stale. It’s an impressive feat, and one worth catching on the big screen."
– FilmInk (some spoiler)
The film’s most enthusiastic response comes from Ireland’s Movies.ie. Reviewer Paul Byrne gives the film its first 5-star review and says
"Star Trek into Darkness might just be one of the year’s finest films. J.J. Abrams once again sets his phaser to stun. And he does. Magnificently."
Siobhan Synnot for the Scotsman awarded the film 4 stars, and concludes…
"Star Trek Into Darkness remains great fun for non-fans, but especially the faithful, with nods to some of their favourite tropes, and a wholesale flip -revision of one particularly successful old storyline."
– Scotsman (This review contains spoilers)
However Synot did also echo something from other reviewers in noting that the shot of Alice Eve in her underwear was "astonishingly gratuitous" adding "It occurs to you that maybe things haven’t moved that far from the anodyne dolly nurses in Sickbay 50 years ago."
Not as good as Star Trek 2009?
The film has some negative (or at least less than positive reviews) with a number of reviewers feeling that the Into Darkness didn’t live up to the promise of the 2009 feature. For example Scott Munro of What Culture gave the film 3.5 stars, noting…
"A perfectly functional sequel that nevertheless falls rather short of 2009’s water-tight reboot."
Todd McCarthy of Hollywood Reporter (in a non-rating review) goes further, writing…
"after impressing well enough in his previous big-screen directorial outings, Abrams works in a narrower, less imaginative mode here; there’s little sense of style, no grace notes or flights of imagination."….
"professionally capable but creatively humdrum outing."
– HollywoodReporter (spoilers)
Indiewire agrees and finds the film lacking in depth. Critic Oliver Lyttleton awards a C+, noting…
"For the first hour or so, it’s just as enjoyable as the original, but by the time the credits roll, there’s a sense that you’re undernourished and unsatisfied; you’ve been on a decent ride, but not one that really adds up to anything by the time you’re done. Star Trek Into Darkness is a long, long way from a disaster, but it’s hard not to feel that Abrams’ mystery box turned out to be a bit empty this time out."
Some just don’t like it
One of the most negative reviews comes from Brad Brevit of Rope of Silicon. Giving the film a C- and finding virtually nothing in the film to like he says,
"Into Darkness is effective only as an amusement ride with truly awful 3D. I could have left 30 minutes in and returned for the final 15 and never missed a beat. Or I could have just watched a trailer and never shown up at all."
And the most scathing review of all came from Silas Lesnick of Coming Soon who awarded the film 4 out of 10, even comparing the film to one of Trek’s least admired films…
"Although the film is directed with the fervor and intensity of a tie-in theme park ride, the script, sadly, has precisely the same narrative aspirations. Offering a nonsensical mess of conspiracy theory, "Into Darkness" ends up becoming something stuck midway between a muddled Truther metaphor and a nearly beat-for-beat remake of the identically-plotted "Star Trek: Nemesis," widely regarded as the franchise’s worst entry."
TrekMovie will continue to monitor reviews for Into Darkness. Look for another update next week once the majority of US reviews get posted.