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Star Trek: Into Darkness IMAX Review: To Boldly Blow Your Mind?

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As a spectacle of lights, sounds, 3D graphics and amazing IMAX-customised visuals, Star Trek: Into Darkness is an absolute blast.

As a movie, it's sort of a mild let down.

But before we get there, and since we're coming at this mini-review from a Tech angle anyway, let's linger a little on the audiovisual meta-nerdery involved in how the movie feels to watch and experience, rather than the Trekkie-nerdery that makes up the script and plot.

Lucky cadets that we are, HuffPost was treated to a 3D IMAX screening of the film. And the first thing to report is that it looks absolutely stunning. More than 30 minutes of the film was recorded specifically with high-resolution IMAX cameras, and three action sequences were specifically made to fill even more of the screen than usual.

star trek into darkness

And it shows. The movie looks almost ridiculously crisp and clear. Take the establishing shot of Future London just before Benedict Cumberbatch blows it up, for instance. The IMAX screen makes it possible not just to get the gist of the skyscrapers surrounding tiny, overwhelmed St Paul's. You can actually see the rolling water of the Thames, and chart the routes of the new streets over old London's chaotic pathways.

In the bigger, flashier action sequences - of which there are many - the experience transports you into the movie in a way we haven't really seen before - not even with last year's Avengers and Dark Knight Rises. It's hard to describe without resorting to purple prose, but you have to see it to believe it.

That said, the 3D effects aren't going to be to everyone's taste. The movie was post-converted to 3D rather than being shot with 3D cameras, and while the effect is still impressive, it's not always convincing - and for this reviewer, still gave me a headache. If you can catch it in 2D, you won't miss anything that major - and for many it will be an improvement.

Fortunately, the other half of the IMAX equation - the sound - makes up for it. Into Darkness is insanely loud and bombastic, with an incredibly tangible array of brilliantly realised zips, crunches, whirrs and crashes pounding out from behind the screen.

All that said, as an actual movie 'Into Darkness' falls a little short.

The cast, are all excellent. And the film is also well-paced and occasionally funny. But while the plot is intriguing in a classically portentous, Trekkie sort of way, it's not actually very broad. In short - you don't actually get to Trek very far.

A brief introductory foray on an alien planet leads to a lot of talking and hailing other ships, interspersed only briefly with a sojourn to another familiar world where the action is restricted to the inside of one warehouse. It's all a bit claustrophobic, more like a nautical movie than a space adventure - and you don't get the sense that any real distance is being covered.

The central plot line will delight hardcore fans with an eye to nostalgia, but it's also full of logic holes and unclear motivations, beyond the central core of heroes and their quest for passion, or logic, or both. There isn't the same sense of adventure, wonder and exhilaration as in the first entry in the rebooted series. This is a darker, gloomier film, and one which is hard to genuinely love.

That aside, it's also a very solid Star Trek film, and it's hard not to find it endearing.

In one early scene, an establishing shot lingers on a line of models detailing the history of flight - from the Wright brothers plane to Apollo 11, the yet-to-launch Space Launch System and then a series of imagined landmarks, all the way to the Enterprise. It's a nice touch, and for any space or tech nerd it's inspiring.

But while the film convinces you we're still on our way to ever more impressive feats of audio and visual excellence, and maybe even space exploration itself, whether or not we're any closer to an honestly brilliant recipe for modern Star Trek fried gold is not quite as clear.

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