Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
(Relatively Spoiler Free)
Warning: I was always a Star Wars kid. I was aware of Star Trek growing up, but the concept didn’t really appeal to me until 2009, when the reboot shot into theaters. Fast paced with a great plot and cast, it was everything that I wanted from the Star Wars prequels but didn’t get. Once the credits rolled, I was so eager for another adventure that I went back and watched a handful of the films and a large chunk of the original series and Next Generation (thank you Netflix). But that still wasn’t enough. I was dying to see what else J.J. Abrams had planned for Kirk and his crew. After four long years, the wait is finally over.
Star Trek Into Darkness wastes no time getting back into the groove of its predecessor. From the opening moments we see the entire Enterprise crew on a mission to study a developing race on a jungle planet. Of course, things go awry when they interfere with the planet’s volcano, exposing their ship to the native inhabitants, who mistake the spacecraft for a god after witnessing it rise from the ocean. This break from the “prime directive” puts James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Quinto) into hot water with Starfleet yet again, demoting one and stationing the other on a separate vessel. However, after an attack from within from the mysterious John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), Kirk and Spock are placed back on board the Enterprise with one mission: find Harrison and blast him out of existence.
Yes, this mission goes against Starfleet protocols, and many of the crew have varying feelings about the mission. Simon Pegg’s Scotty has an excellent scene where he argues with his captain over the morals of their mission, and the always logical Spock is at odds with his best bro many times throughout the film. The overlying not so subtle message behind the film is “how far should one be willing to go for justice?”, and leads to some great moments in the film, of which there are plenty. The action scenes, while probably infuriating for Trek purists, are a blast, and easily upstage the ones we saw last time with Kirk and Co.
The cast is in top form here, even if some of them get the short end of the stick screen appearance wise. Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) have maybe twenty minutes of screen time combined, and I really wanted more of Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), my favorite of the crew. Even though he only gets to spout off a few one liners, they’re still great and some of the best parts of the film. Uhura’s (Zoe Saldana) profile has risen since the past film, and she gets to kick some ass in the finale of the film too.
Our newcomers to the cast are Alice Eve as Carol Markus, Peter Weller as Admiral Marcus, and Benedict Cumberbatch as our mystery villain, John Harrison. Of the three, Cumberbatch is easily the stand out. His performance exceeded my expectations, which were already high. My hopes that the Sherlock star will gain a higher following after this film will most likely be realized, as I’m sure his agent is fielding calls for villainous roles to keep him busy for the next few years. Cumberbatch is calm, cool, and extremely menacing in a performance that will stay with you for quite awhile after the credits roll. No one can do righteous fury as well as he does.
Into Darkness does have a few problems, specifically when it comes to balancing the amount of characters it has. I mentioned it before, but there were some that get pushed aside for the sake of the story, including Alice Eve’s character. The conclusion to the film is a little rushed, but the moments leading up to it are fantastic. Abrams’ makes some nods to a very well-known installment in the franchise which is causing a lot of debate amongst viewers. I, for one, thought it was a cool acknowledgement of the past of the franchise that put an interesting twist on this new, alternate reality. Some things may play out similarly, out of sequence, or not at all.
Longtime Trek fans are pretty split on their opinions with this film (just like the previous one). Many feel that this doesn’t feel like the Star Trek they’ve followed for much of their lives. While I can certainly see where they’re coming from, I’ve loved this new take on the franchise, and it’s done the impossible: gotten me to care about Star Trek in all of its forms. My views on the film are coming from the place of a Trek newbie, one who has only a base understanding of the world and characters. While purists may scoff at Abrams turning the franchise into “just another Sci-Fi action flick”, I admire him for taking something that many had written off and turned in not one, but two stellar films.
Star Trek Into Darkness is bittersweet. J.J. Abrams has jumped ship to his preferred Star franchise,(the one ends with Wars), and the future of the franchise is up in the air. While I’m in the same position as I was four years ago, I’m now more cautious about the third installment.
But at least I know that Episode 7 is in good hands.
Verdict: 5 proton torpedoes out of 5