By now, most of us should know the story: A new threat has struck in the heart of the Federation, and James Kirk and his loyal crew of the Enterprise are charged with finding the individual responsible. As Kirk is in pursuit, he learns not all is so black and white. While the Federation sinks into despair, its darkest secrets now come to light.
Yes. That’s right. MORE LENS FLARES.
Without question, Star Trek Into Darkness is a visual treat. As is the case with most sequels, everything is bigger, brighter, and clogged with explosions. More exotic locales, bigger ships, greater battles, half naked women… Thankfully it all melds seamlessly more or less with J.J. Abrams’ take on this celebrated franchise. From the first minute, you’re immediately thrust into the oft-screened volcano scene (which is no less exciting than the first viewing) and from then on, it’s a mad dash to the end credits. Perhaps it’s a little too quick… the action is so intense it isn’t until a brief moment of exposition can one collect their thoughts and recall what happened in the previous scene. I wouldn’t claim it’s exhaustive, but you better prepare yourself for going full throttle throughout this 133-minute adventure.
For such a gap between films, both Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto dived into both Kirk and Spock, respectively, as if they never took off their uniforms. The snide quips, dry humor, and tense rapport is ever present and quite lively. So… Benedict Cumberbatch. Wow, man. Wow. The confidence he exudes playing the lead antagonist is so absolute, don’t be surprised if you wish he did succeed at smiting the Federation into ruins. His cadence, his tone, his posture while assuming the helm of villain, simply impressive. The inclusion of Cumberbatch definitely was a step up from Eric Bana’s Nero in Trek. No fault of the latter, as his character was painfully cliche and one-dimensional; Nero’s development was sacrificed almost justifiably for the re-introduction of the leads. Speaking of, don’t expect to see much of the crew in expanded roles. What screen time Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, and John Cho do have, however, is put into its greatest potential. Bruce Greenwood again provides the perfect foil for the brash and impulsive Kirk; Peter Weller and Alice Eve as the Marcuses do infuse another dimension that’s essential to the narrative. Yet, like the supporting cast, their presence is limited due to the rapid, grandiose progression of Cumberbatch’s tear through the galaxy.
That all being said, Into Darkness likely could have done itself greater service by removing itself further from the 47 years of source material at its disposal. When the 2009 reimagining was released, old-school Trekkies were up in arms that such a travesty was greenlit, and were doubly pissed with the ultimate result. Yet their vehemence was eventually quelled once they accepted these new adventures occurred in a parallel universe. The Abrams Trek is without question a whole other beast as he drastically altered the historical and physical landscape of a series viewed by millions and replayed repeatedly over generations. It was the start of something fresh and exciting; revitalizing a stagnant yet beloved franchise. Then, this happened. Once again, don’t be surprised if long-time fans rush to the internet to make their disapproval known. As a fan of Star Trek I can understand why the final act of the film does feel like a major cop-out. Nothing perfect should ever be improved upon or altered in any way. Additionally, the all too convenient plot device that’s miraculously employed during the last 10 minutes… THAT is what made me grumble in my seat more than anything. All was going so well and was moderately acceptable until THAT. I understand what writers Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman wanted to accomplish, but the use of deus ex machina in most films lessens the impact of the scene before it, as it did here as well. If you’re a person who’s new to Trek or doesn’t care for historical integrity of the shows and movies, the final act won’t be that big a deal at all.
Overall, you will be entertained. Star Trek Into Darkness pulls no punches and certainly provides an engaging ride into the cosmos that you’ve been craving since the first teaser. It’s another quality summer film that deserves your patronage. Yet you don’t need me to tell you that.