Welcome back, ProFans! Matthew again, here to bring you another review of Star Trek Into Darkness. I was fortunate to see it a couple of days early by going to a double feature with some of my close friends and a mostly empty theater. Yes, it helps to know the right people. That being said, after being treated to watching the first movie on the glorious silver screen, there was no time wasted in taking that plunge into the sequel.
I’d like to add this before we start getting into it; I’ve preferred the Original Series over The Next Generation because it’s what my dad showed me as a budding geek. So having seen the reboot and the sequel of my favorite Trek characters, there aren’t really any words to describe how much I liked both. Which is a problem when you’re reviewing said movie isn’t it? But let’s punch it into warp speed and get into it.
JJ Abrams is back at the helm for the sequel, starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Captain Kirk and Commander Spock, respectively. Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Bruce Greenwood, and John Cho also return to their respective posts. Now, last we left the Enterprise and her fine crew (in both looks and skill) they warped off into uncharted space. Where we start is in the thick red jungle of Nibiru with Kirk and Bones fleeing from a primitive race. As this is happening, Sulu, Uhura, and Spock are working against the clock to stop the planet’s volcano from wiping out all life. As we all know by now, even Kirk and the Enterprise are unable to escape from Murphy’s Law.
While Kirk and Bones succeed in drawing the natives away from the volcano, the intense heat from the volcano forces Sulu and Uhura to abandon the shuttle and leave Spock in the depths of the volcano. Kirk breaks the Prime Directive without a thought and beams Spock back up to the ship–but not before Spock says two of the most memorable lines in the Star Trek lore; “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few,” and my personal favorite; “It is better that one man suffer than an entire nation.”
Kirk is demoted to Commander for breaking protocol and the Enterprise is returned to Admiral Pike’s command. With his new commission with an old friend, they report to Starfleet headquarters to discuss the attack on London and preparing a strategy to protect Earth and catch the vigilante John Harrison (played by Benedict Cumberbatch of the Sherlock TV series). As if on cue, Harrison attacks the meeting and kills some of the high ranked officers, including Admiral Pike. The fight has become personal and Kirk is reinstated after convincing Admiral Alexander Marcus (played by Peter Weller) to let him go after the man who has declared war on Starfleet. They track him to an abandoned city on the Klingon home world, and Admiral Marcus sends him on his way with the only condition that he takes with him 72 experimental photon torpedoes, the contents of which are classified.
This is where the movie really brings the “darkness” to light. Spock recognizes that they’ve gone from a peacekeeping order to a military force with the pursuit of the fugitive. Kirk being human as he is notes his first officer’s observations and ignores it. The thread starts to unravel when they capture Harrison and he reveals that his real name is Khan Noonien Singh. He was revived from cryo-sleep to design warships for Admiral Marcus for what he believes to be an impending war with the Klingons.
Into Darkness takes everything and really punches everything we loved about the first film into warp speed. Under JJ’s watchful eyes and careful hands, the movie gives plenty of subtle nods to longtime fans of the Original Series while creating new memories for the newbie Trekkies that are only now getting into the Star Trek Universe. Much like Iron Man 3, this movie had my eyes glued to the screen and nailed to my seat. The eyes thing was pretty easy, given that we only had the option to see it in glorious 3D.
The characters in this movie become more than just fresh young faces in a familiar role. They, in fact, make it their own–in a way that doesn’t trample on the original. The first movie made a clean getaway by saying Nero’s arrival altered the timeline. So as they say; “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and it still works for this movie; especially for Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Khan. As Khan, he reflects the cold rage and aggression that is present in Kirk in the movie–and draws it to the surface to show that the character is still a force to be reckoned with. A force that Zachary Quinto with his portrayal of a (slightly) more emotionally driven Spock meets head on towards the film’s end. The geek-out moment for me was watching Spock and Khan slug it out in a good old-fashioned fist fight.
The summer blockbusters keep on rolling with Iron Man 3 at the start and Into Darkness keeps the momentum rolling. I’m in agreement with my colleague Joseph Seltzer and giving this movie an A+.