"Star Trek Into Darkness" may not be out until next weekend, but the first reviews are out and they're overwhelmingly positive.
Director J.J. Abrams' sequel to his 2009 reboot doesn't receive much praise for creativity, but Benedict Cumberbatch's villainous performance makes up for shortcomings.
The film follows the return of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the U.S.S. Enterprise crew as they square off with the mysterious John Harrison (Cumberbatch).
Currently, BoxOffice.com is tracking "Star Trek" to debut to a strong $93 million opening weekend.
With studio competition steep this month, Paramount just bumped the release date up a day to Thursday, May 16, so projections may run higher.
(To sweeten its box-office opening, "Star Trek" also has more expensive IMAX select showings Wednesday night which are selling out.)
Before seeing "Star Trek," here's what you need to know.
As in any Abram's movie, there will be lens flare:
"Abrams directs with lots of flare (forget 3D glasses, take Ray-Bans), but, more importantly, flair. His style is somewhere between the machine-tooled work of Cameron and the manic intensity of Bay, efficient but still loose and seemingly improvised."
While some say the film is visually pleasing:
“Into Darkness” is a beautifully modulated and sustained piece of work across the board, with visual effects that seamlessly meld live-action and computer-animated elements, given further texture by old-fashioned celluloid lensing."
One review suggests the sequel feels a bit mechanic:
The Hollywood Reporter (THR):
"The production gives the impression of a massive machine cranked up for two hours of full output; it efficiently delivers what it's built to do, but without style or personality."
Benedict Cumberbatch is amazing.
"Cumberbatch himself has never been better. While he's proven his ability at volatile emotional-detachment with his role in Sherlock, he is, here, a true snake; an expressionless, sliver of a man whose mask only slips when he lunges for his prey. The Enterprise crew look trivial against him, their uniforms retro and goofy against his men's magazine sleekness.
"Whatever Cumberbatch is playing, he’s wonderful to watch, infusing the movie with the kind of exotic grandeur Eric Bana’s wan Romulan henchman (arguably the weakest link in the 2009 film) largely lacked.
"He is genuinely terrifying, quasi-reptilian, combining visceral physical threat with a knack for emotional manipulation that wrong-foots Kirk in much the same way it does us."
But his villanous role doesn't live up to the hype.
"Frankly, the part's underwritten and undermotivated, the writers hoping that fans will fill in the blanks from earlier movies and only loosely sketching out his backstory, at least for newcomers to the franchise, and never making it especially clear what he actually wants to achieve."
"The revelation of his [Cumberbatch] true identity will come as no surprise to fanboys who live to unearth this sort of information."
Zoe Saldana's talent is wasted this time around.
"Other sub-plots suffer a far worse fate, with Zoe Saldana's Uhura demoted to whining comic-relief."
It's not better than the original:
"People are unlikely to charge out of the cinema with quite the same level of glee as they did in 2009; but this is certainly an astute, exhilarating concoction."
"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."
"Into Darkness proves that J.J.'s original reboot was no fluke. But let's hope that the next movie can build a bit further upon its simplistic foundations."
Overall, it's a bit cheesy and silly:
"All of the narrative cracks are papered over with references to old Star Trek characters and episodes."
"The film looks surprisingly flat, bordering on cheesy; the images are pale, thin and bleached out, makeup and facial blemishes are magnified, and the very shallow depth-of-field in many shots (not the CGI but real photography) works against the point of the format. After a steady progression in the brilliant visual quality of big-budget, effects-heavy major releases during the past couple of years, this one takes a few steps backward.
But it's a lot of fun anyway.
"'Into Darkness' may not boldly go where no 'Trek' adventure has gone before, but getting there is such a well-crafted, immensely pleasurable ride that it would be positively Vulcan to nitpick."
"If this is Abrams’ final frontier, he has left Star Trek in a good place, both in the fictional universe and as a franchise. In some sense, the title is misleading. Into Darkness is a blast, fun, funny, spectacular and exhilarating. The rule of great even-numbered Trek movies continues."
"The action sequences (barring the climax) are thrilling, especially an 'Inception'-indebted freefall sequence that sees the crew negotiating gravity-shifting practical sets."
Overall Consensus: See it.
Though the majority of reviews says the film isn't breaking new ground or isn't necessarily a triumph over 2009's reboot, J.J. Abrams takes fans on a thrill ride with a menacing—if predictable—villain in Cumberbatch. We'd see it just for him.
"Star Trek Into Darkness" is in theaters May 16.
Watch the trailer below:
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