This 'Trek' isn't short on fun, thrills, wit, or solid performances, and every moment is entertaining, but the overall product is somewhat less than satisfying. Despite hamming it up a bit more than in the last outing, the actors are still in fine form. Chris Pine is reliably charismatic as Kirk, Zachary Quinto is oddly believable as Spock, and Benedict Cumberbatch is chilling as the Enterprise's latest adversary. Popcorn movie no-brainers are blended with genuinely surprising twists, and it's all presented with the same filmmaking expertise as the 2009 'Trek.' Kudos to J.J. Abrams, his editors, the cinematographer, the art directors, the effects team, and everyone who had a hand in bringing the polished, slick, and flawless final cut the the screen. Flawless is a good word to describe 'Into Darkness,' but that doesn't mean there couldn't have been a better movie to flaw; a lightning fast pace, despite inducing thrills, ultimately makes an over two hour film feel, well, too short. Almost as if the whole movie were one extended action sequence. The climax feels like a half way mark. The film might have even been more satisfying with a cliffhanger ending, the battle not yet won, rather than the abrupt, seemingly pasted on conclusion. And I honestly expected a broader scope with larger implications. As much as movies are shunned for this, this one could actually have afforded to be bigger, and it could have also felt like a bigger deal. John Harrison, despite being a truly entertaining villain, isn't quite the crafty, manipulative terrorist he's painted to be in the trailers. Instead of an impenetrable, intricate plot of vicious design, he leads more of a one-man rampage that even seems week and low-stakes compared to the threat of the Romulan mining crew in the previous film.All this aside, 'Into Darkness' is a very well done, entertaining film that deserves to be seen, even twice, at the theatres. It may fall short as the second chapter in an epic reboot, but suffices as a continuation of the new sort of legacy that started in 2009. The gang's all here, one big, energized, intergalactic family, and they're ready for more.
It has its share of old movie flaws, including fade cuts and extra cheese acting, but the Shining is a lot of fun, atmospheric and suspenseful (even if the suspense hits a low at what should be its highest point), and Nicholson is uber creepy (even if its also during the scenes when he isn't supposed to be). Just be prepared for a major let-down ending.
From its opening, Dark Shadows appears to be a pitch- perfect Burton slam-dunk. The visuals, style, and timing are marvelous, and the story is quite fascinating, but as the movie draws on, each scene feels longer than the last, the story becomes a jumble, and the tone seems to shift back and forth from a clever soap opera parody to an actual soap opera. There are a great deal of brilliant laughs and perfect moments, and the whole movie is well done, but by the time the film is over, it has become too tiresome to view as an overall success, and the climax is an absolute mess. Johnny Depp manages to be hilarious and enthralling at the same time. His character choices aren't exactly new, in fact, we've seen most of them before, but the performance is quite delicious, and you can manage to suck joy out of it even when the rest of the film falters. Eva Green is confusing as Angelique, and it's unclear what effect she was going for. Michelle Pfeiffer commits, perhaps a bit too much, to the melodramatic tones of the movie. Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, and Gulliver McGrath are amusing in small supporting roles.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has moments of brilliance, including a superb climax, but is also surprisingly boring a lot of the time. The production values and performances of the great 2009 Holmes are still intact (although all of the actors seem to be hamming it up just a bit more), but clever writing both story-wise and character-wise are amiss. The witty arguments between Holmes and Watson have been exchanged for a few blunt quips, there's hardly a shred of mystery in the whole movie, and, as sequels must, the whole thing is expanded in a failed attempt to be "epic." Why would having Holmes and crew travel from England to France to Germany to Switzerland be entertaining? It isn't, it's just exhausting. Other unneeded and confusing plot elements are added just to make things more "complex," and initial action sequences come close to educing yawns.
As scathing as this all sounds, there's still enough going for this movie to keep it from being a failure. Jared Harris shines as Professor Moriarty, the villain we all love to watch, and there's still a good amount of visual dazzle. The tone of good humor that it all plays out in makes it hard not to enjoy yourself at least a little bit.