Benedict Cumberbatch

Star Trek Into Darkness

After four years of waiting and anticipation, geek honcho J.J. Abrams has finally given us the sequel to his 2009 box office and critical hit. And it is … serviceable. Abrams’ new movie is as sleek and shiny as his first Star Trek picture but lacking much of its charm. The novelty of seeing these characters coming together is gone, the villain is lackluster in bizarre ways, and the high-flying pacing is absent, making many of the film’s logic gaps even more head-scratching. And there are indeed some real head-scratchers. Choosing emotion and spectacle over logic can work, and it does in the last Trek outing and the first half of Star Trek Into Darkness, but this time around Abrams and his screenwriting team can’t gloss over all the leaps in logic and other narrative problems. What starts off as another thrilling Abrams movie ends up turning into a mess by the end. Here are some (spoiler-y) questions which arise out of that mess:

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stid 05

Please note, this piece is to be read by those who have either seen Star Trek Into Darkness or who don’t mind having its various plot points spoiled for them. It is a frank discussion of what works and what doesn’t work in the film and will include descriptions of all the major beats, including the ending. Let me start by saying that I quite like Star Trek Into Darkness. I have now seen the film three times and while I don’t quite love it like I love the 2009 Star Trek – director J.J. Abrams‘ first attempt at boldly going and so on — I did enjoy it. The first film certainly has problems of its own, but several things keep you from stopping to think about the film’s issues, mainly the breakneck pace, the incredibly charismatic cast, Michael Giacchino’s fantastic score and, yes, even Abrams’ direction. In fact, it’s most of those same things that help keep Star Trek In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida afloat. But the cracks in the hull are far more apparent this time around, and the whole thing could have easily been a disaster. After the jump I review the downsides and then move past them to highlight the upsides.

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review star trek into darkness

2009’s big screen Star Trek reboot was a success on just about all fronts thanks to director J.J. Abrams and friends’ delivery of an exciting and entertaining adventure that managed to overcome large script flaws with personality, fun and a real sense of energy. It was a hit with audiences and critics alike and left many people genuinely interested in a follow-up. Four years later and Star Trek Into Darkness is finally here, but instead of taking that time to strengthen the area of their first film’s biggest weakness (the script) they’ve actually made things worse. Fresh faces, dazzling lens flares and witty one-liners were enough to distract before, but this time the script’s egregious efforts to pillage the past for story ideas and even lift whole scenes has resulted in a hollow shell of a film that thinks ticking recognizable boxes is a valid substitute for earned emotion and engaging narrative. After a brief pre-title card scene on a primitive alien planet where the Prime Directive is seemingly redefined, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his pointy-eared second in command Spock (Zachary Quinto) are called before Admiral Pike for punishment. Kirk is demoted, but when a terrorist attack in London leads to a deadly assault on Starfleet headquarters he’s quickly de-demoted and sent after the suspect, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). Himself a member of Starfleet, Harrison has gone rogue for reasons unknown, but when the Enterprise follows him to a Klingon planet the truth is revealed and endangers everyone aboard.

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cumberbatch trek 01

It’s a great week for Benedict Cumberbatch. Moviegoers around the world (though not yet in the U.S.) are currently flocking to see Star Trek Into Darkness, in which he plays the villain. And another film he’s set to star in has already become a humongous success thanks to a quick crowdfunding drive at Indiegogo. The newer project is a short titled Little Favour and will feature the Sherlock Holmes star as a PTSD-suffering man enlisted by an old friend (Harry Potter actor Nick Moran) to “help with a deal gone wrong.” With six days still remaining in the effort, Little Favour has already greatly surpassed its goal of £25,000 ($38,385) and looks to possibly triple that amount. This is a pretty remarkable achievement for a campaign that has nothing illustrating its potential, not a video nor storyboards nor any other sort of proof of concept. We don’t even know how long it’ll be. And the film is written and will be directed by newcomer Patrick Viktor Monroe, who is otherwise best known as Tom Hardy’s personal trainer and assistant (he also beefed up Cumberbatch for Star Trek). Producers on the project are also relative unknowns, Adam Ackland (second AD on The Killing Gene) and Ben Dillon, whose usual job is coordinating vehicles for movies including the upcoming Kick-Ass 2.

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STID Pine

Turns out, all of that Khan mumbo jumbo has just been some super-clever misdirection on the part of Paramount and J.J. Abrams, as this new series of Star Trek Into Darkness character posters reveals the film’s true nemesis – wind! Big, gusty, blowing wind! Somebody, put a goddamn helmet on! We are, of course, kidding (or are we?), but this batch of posters certainly puts wind power front and center, and with the highly anticipated sequel just about a month away from release, there’s little else to talk about beyond the silly stuff and our excitement over the new feature. Check out the rest of the new Star Trek Into Darkness character posters, including Benedict Cumberbatch as whoever, Zachary Quinto as Spock, and Zoe Saldana as Uhura.

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Benedict Cumberbatch

What is Casting Couch? A big list of casting news. Today we’ve got word on who’s going to play the new Hercules. And no, we’re not talking about Dwayne Johnson. The other new Hercules. The new new one. Big things are happening over on Guillermo del Toro’s haunted house project, Crimson Peak. Plot details are still being kept under wraps, but we do know that Emma Stone and Charlie Hunnam are already on board to co-star, and we do know that del Toro is approaching the film as a throwback to the classic haunted house movies of yesteryear. And now, thanks to Variety, we also know that star-on-the-rise Benedict Cumberbatch has been brought on board in a lead role. As if starring in Sherlock, the new Star Trek, and The Hobbit wasn’t already enough to make him a geek icon, now he has to go and work with del Toro. If he keeps this up he could soon find himself at the center of one of those trusty geek backlashes.

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Star Trek Into Darkness

Oh, man, things are looking rough on the Starship Enterprise. At this point, we may not know exactly who Benedict Cumberbatch is going to be playing in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, but we do know that he’s a formidable villain who is going to toss some of our most beloved characters into a universe-threatening tailspin. Of course, this is an Abrams film, so that means lens flares and sparkling lights and a galaxy-sized serving of concernface. Or, at least, that’s what we’ve gotten so far and that’s what some brand new pictures, over at EW, are showing us. These exclusive new shots aren’t exactly anything new – Cumberbatch is the lone composed wolf, even Zoe Saldana‘s Lt. Uhura is looking mighty put out, lens flare – it’s still nice to see the old crew back together and ready to battle a common (maybe?) enemy. The outlet also reports just a touch more about Cumberbatch’s character, in saying that the feature focuses on “the headstrong Kirk [who] violates Starfleet orders and jeopardizes his command in order to take the Enterprise on the trail of a terrorist who launches spirit-crushing attacks on London and San Francisco. Sherlock star ­Benedict Cumberbatch plays the bad guy in question, a man called John Harrison who’s described by co-writer Alex Kurtzman as a ”member of Starfleet who turns on Starfleet.”” Spirit-crushing, eh? Check out five new, sparkly, concern-laden pictures from Star Trek Into Darkness after the break.

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Jeremy Renner

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news round-up that’s for some reason talking a lot about suicide today. Um…enjoy your weekend, everybody! Tired of Jeremy Renner playing the angry little tough guy in all his movies? Then maybe his next project, Kill The Messenger, is what you’ve been waiting for. Deadline confirms that Renner will be starring in this Michael Cuesta-directed feature that tells the true story of Gary Webb, a journalist who was the victim of a CIA smear campaign after he wrote articles accusing the organization of arming rebels in Nicaragua and aiding with the smuggling of cocaine into California. The mounting pressure of said smear campaign eventually got to the point where Webb took his own life, so don’t expect Renner to go into a rage and shoot his way out of this one. Instead, expect to see yourself leaving the theater puffy-faced and pretending that you’re not crying.

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Jackie Chan

What is Casting Couch? It’s a column that has a lot of new casting news today, so settle in. Even after only two movies, the number of aged action stars who have yet to appear in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables series has dwindled down to a select few. So, given his age, his lengthy resume, and the way he’s linked almost exclusively to the action genre, Jackie Chan has to be seen as one of the biggest fish out there that Stallone has yet to catch. It looks like that’s going to change in The Expendables 3, however, as Chan has told Cinema Online [via Coming Soon] that Stallone has invited him to join the cast of the film, and he has agreed to appear as long as it’s in a featured part and not just a cameo. Looks like we might finally get our chance to see Dolph Lundgren get beat up with a ladder.

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Star Trek Into Darkness

While the announcement trailer (which is something studios are doing now) was decidedly dark, there’s a shining kind of hope in this new look at Star Trek Into Darkness (via iTunes) even as the Tom Waits Lite voice of Benedict Cumberbatch issues threats and Bruce Greenwood tells Chris Pine‘s Captain Kirk that his arrogance is going to be his (and everyone around him’s) downfall. Maybe it’s because we’re given glimpses of those people, crew members that we’ve already come to know and care about from the first movie. Or maybe there’s cause for celebration with the scope of this film. Or maybe it’s just because it isn’t as dark as it could have been.

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Star Trek Into Darkness Poster

J.J. Abrams and friends are going to introduce Star Trek Into Darkness to the world in a big way when they show a 9-minute prologue to audiences salivating to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This is par for the course for giant films, and so is showing off the work to movie website runners before everyone else.  While we caught early footage of the first Abrams Trek and were lucky enough to sit next to Leonard Nimoy for the surprise Drafthouse premiere, we didn’t go early into the Darkness. Fortunately, we have eyeballs and internet browsers, so we collected a lot of the first responses. Granted, these come with a shovel-full of salt (just like insane trailer/poster speculation), but the overall message from pundits and fans? All is well. Calm down. Into Darkness is set up for greatness. Gird your loins for a few minor, opening scene details but not for who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing.

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Star Trek Into Darkness Poster

There has been plenty of speculation over whether Khan (Khan!!!!) will appear as Star Trek 2‘s villain. This trailer — which is packed with tons of footage for a teaser — almost feels like a confirmation that Khan is indeed the antagonist of Star Trek Into Darkness. While no character outright says his name, there is a specific shot and line which implies they Abrams and his team were heavily inspired by Wrath of Khan. Or, knowing Abrams, that’s just a game of misdirection Paramount is playing… Take a look at the domestic trailer for yourself and decide, courtesy of Apple:

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Tom Hardy Star Trek

Would it be cool if Chris Pine fistfights a sentient nuclear bomb named Fat Man in J.J. Abrams‘ Star Trek Into Darkness? Of course it would. Unfortunately, they’ve gone with a human villain which means that we’ll be deprived of that gift to humanity(unless the set footage was an elaborate rouse, and Benedict Cumberbatch is voicing the anthropomorphic atomic missile). What we won’t be deprived of, according to the plot synopsis, is the kind of second act tragedy that has to befall freshly minted heroes for a sequel to work well. If they can cut off Luke Skywalker’s hand while changing his entire self-identity, something terrible has got to happen to the farm boy who became king of the Enterprise. Also on the menu? The aforementioned “one man weapon of mass destruction.” Spoiler alert: it won’t be Tom Hardy playing a clone. It’s not hard to parse the tough parts out of the official synopsis for the film (even though it struggles with the basic rules of syntax). If you care to be enlightened, check it out for yourself:

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What is Casting Couch? Today it’s proof that if you star in something about sexy young vampires, you will continue to get more work. Warner Bros.’ Lego movie already had names like Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, and Morgan Freeman signed for its voice cast, thus making a stupid-sounding idea suddenly seem promising, but now they’ve really gone and made Lego into a movie that you can start looking forward to. Deadline reports that the film has just added Will Ferrell to its cast as the bad guy, President Business, Liam Neeson as the bad guy’s main henchman, Bad Cop, Parks and Rec’s mustachioed Nick Offerman as a revenge-obsessed pirate, and Community’s cheery-voiced Disney Princess Alison Brie as a member of the protagonist’s team who holds a powerful secret. That may just be the weirdest/most fun cast ever assembled, and it almost makes up for the fact that the movie is going to be in 3D.

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Benedict Cumberbatch

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s a casting column that’s debunking a couple of rumors that will probably come true anyway. Absolutely Anything is a project that’s long been on comedy nerds’ radars, not only because it’s being directed by Monty Python member Terry Jones, but also because the film will see Jones re-teaming with the other members of his legendary comedy troupe to do voiceover work. According to The Wrap, filming is looking to get underway on this one soon, Gemma Arterton has joined the cast, and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) is currently negotiating to come on board, as well. The story is about a bumbling but magical school teacher, something that Cumberbatch would likely knock out of the park; which is one more positive that will help you forget Robin Williams is also going to be doing his voiceover thing here.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s where Hollywood moms come every day to find out if their actor kids have gotten a job. Remember that movie about the day JFK got shot that Tom Hanks was putting together because these days he’s such a history loving, lame dad? It’s called Parkland, and it just put together an awesome cast. According to Collider, director Vincent Bugliosi has signed the terrific trio of Paul Giamatti, Jackie Weaver, and Billy Boy Thornton to headline the cast. There’s no word on what characters they’ll be playing, but my guess is Giamatti will be JFK, Thornton will be Jackie O, and Weaver will be Lee Harvey Oswald. Makes sense, no?

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Star Trek 2 Teaser

Update: So, yes. This is a fan-made trailer. But it’s insanely good. And it must have taken a lot of effort. Apologies for posting it as official. The Klingon picture on the other hand, is definitely confirmed as real. Original Post: Benedict Cumberbatch appears to be stuck in a sci-fi beehive in the new teaser trailer for Star Trek 2. Or it might be some sort of rejuvenating bath. Either way, the trailer boasts an eerie, technologically ambitious voice over which promises to find the final solution for all of our problems. Usually when someone seeks that out, a bunch of people die. That’s probably why Chris Pine‘s Captain Kirk looks so concerned. This is Christmas in June for Trek fans, because this trailer is excellent, and because J.J. Abrams just sneaked an image of a Klingon into some recent footage. Check out both below:

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Benedict Cumberbatch

With an already insanely stellar cast, Variety is reporting that Steve McQueen‘s Twelve Years a Slave can now boast Benedict Cumberbatch. So let’s do the count. Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Paul Dano, Scoot McNairy, Ruth Negga, Adepero Oduye, Taran Killam, and now Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch will play one of the plantation owners who buys Ejiofor’s character. Normally, this is where all sorts of words would go, analyzing the news, but what else is there to say? The jaw is on the floor. This project is going to be profoundly good. At the very least, it has a stirring set of names attached to an indelible real-life story about a freed slave who is tricked and sold back into slavery. Could it possibly be too soon to celebrate?

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JJ Abrams Directing Star Trek

In typical fashion when it comes to J.J. Abrams films, Paramount has given fans of the director’s sequel to his smash hit Star Trek remake zero confirmation on just who will be Star Trek 2‘s villain. Yet, we all must have known that this “top secret!” information would get out sooner or later. Now, as expected, someone has reportedly blown J.J. Abrams’s mystery, meaning he won’t get to have a trailer or poster shock us with his villain’s true identity! What a shame… [Possible spoilers after the jump]

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Elizabeth Olsen

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of things you’ll enjoy. We promise. We begin tonight with the story of the evening. Or more to the point, the casting story of the evening. Elizabeth Olsen has been offered the lead role in Oldboy, the Spike Lee directed remake of the incredibly popular Korean revenge film. Heralded for her performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene, Olsen has burst onto the scene with her ability to act, something she has over her elder sisters, Mary Kate and Ashley. She’s a good choice for just about everything, even a movie that probably shouldn’t be attempted in the first place. Like this one.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.19.2014
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