Film review: Star Trek Into Darkness

In Star Trek Into Darkness, the beloved Enterprise boldly goes where no man has gone before, both literally and figuratively.

The sequel to J.J. Abram’s 2010 film Star Trek, Into Darkness follows the further adventures of James Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the Enterprise crew. Kirk has already sort of earned his place as a captain, but as the opening sequence of the movie shows, he’s not exactly the most conventional in his judgment.

The opening follows Bones and Kirk on the planet Nibiru, a planet whose inhabitants know little about “advanced” Earth technology. Apparently the Enterprise‘s sole mission was exploration, but the crew decided to also save the planet from being destroyed by a super-active volcano.

The recklessness with which Kirk commands his ship doesn’t bode well with Starfleet, who, without spoiling anything, feel the need to admonish Kirk for ignoring his mission parameters.

Pretty soon, though, the “arrival” of a John Harrison (Benedict Cumberpatch) makes things more complicated. Soon, Kirk goes after the man who causes a huge swath of destruction on Earth.

J.J. Abrams recently said in an interview with Jon Stewart not too long ago that he (Abrams) never liked Star Trek as a kid, as he found it too philosophical and hard to get into. That ethos is certainly apparent in the movie, which Abrams said was made to appeal to both the average moviegoer and the Trekkie alike.

My first exposure to the Star Trek universe was through Abrams’ 2010 film, so being introduced to the original characters was fine by me. I have Trek fan friends, though, who were not thrilled with the new universe that Abrams created.

Whatever one might think, at the end of the day Into Darkness shines a spotlight on the various cast and crew of the Enterprise. In particular, if I had to name one lesser member of the Enterprise whose movie this would be, it would be Scott (Simon Pegg) who manages to put on a wonderfully intense but comedic performance.

In terms of characters who suffer a bit due to lack of exposure, that would probably be Uhura (Zoe Saldana) who isn’t given much to do this movie, although she does manage to get some ass-kicking done later on.

Oh, and of course, Benedict Cumberpatch is absolutely chilling in his role. His icy and deep-voiced manor make him a perfect villain for the movie, even though his role is largely seen as whitewashing.

As far as the action sequences go, there are lots of explosions and close calls, which seems to be par for course when it comes to Hollywood blockbusters. But I found the best part of the various confrontations in the movie come in the intense moments before all of the battles take place. There’s a lot of tension as the audience holds it breath, hoping things will turn out for the better, even though they know it won’t.

I’m not much of a film expert myself, but apparently J.J. Abrams uses a lot of lens flares, which is something I don’t yet recognize when I see them, so I think I’ll probably go and figure out what those are on YouTube.

In the end, I enjoyed Into Darkness, which managed to develop some real character moments, particularly for the unfeeling Spock, mixed with some breathtaking action. There will probably inevitably be a third movie, and the ending of the second movie leaves the possibilities for the next entry very wide open.


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