It’s been 4 long years since Star Trek was rebooted. How does the sequel hold up? Does it still keep the excitement and fun of the 2009 movie or is it as bland as Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture?
Before starting my review of Into Darkness, let me say that, while I had my issues with JJ Abram’s first Star Trek movie, I think he finally made Star Trek accessible to normal people. I wouldn’t dare take anything away from the various TV series’ (except maybe DS9), but the movies have been very inconsistent. There are a few good ones (The Wrath of Khan, First Contact) but Star Trek films have been spotty at best. JJ Abrams took a boring, yet familiar, story and made it enjoyable. Star Trek (2009) wasn’t a great movie with all of its red matter, time travel plot holes, and a villain with a uninteresting agenda. But it was a good movie that showed potential.
Star Trek Into Darkness takes that potential and nearly capitalizes on it.
If you haven’t seen Star Trek (2009), don’t worry, you can walk right into this movie without missing a beat. This movie relies more on winks, nods and outright shoves to the original series.
As Into Darkness begins, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) leads the Enterprise and its crew on various missions of exploration. He tends to lead with his heart rather than his head and is reprimanded and relieved of his post on the Enterprise. Meanwhile, a former Starfleet officer, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) instigates several terrorist attacks in retaliation for his treatment from the Federation. After a game-changing attack, Kirk and his crew are sent on a military mission to find Harrison and immediately kill him. It doesn’t take long for Kirk to realize that he may be a pawn in an uncertain game that could cost him the lives of those he serves with.
Chris Pine is finally able to command the screen in his second outing as Captain James T. Kirk. He isn’t just the cocky wannabe who tries to prove his dominance, he is now a cocky leader who wants to do the right thing and will put himself into danger for the safety of his crew.
His bromance with Spock (Zachary Quinto) is still filled with great one-liners and guy-love tension. Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) unfortunately deal with a unnecessary troubled relationship angle that was wasted. If nothing else, it gave Saldana more screen time.
Benedict Cumberbatch has the acting range and prowess to command the screen. My only wish is that he was established as a stronger villain. Don’t get me wrong, he was good, but he didn’t get hardly enough time to monologue or give us reasons to hate him.
The problem with these Star Trek movies is that the supporting cast is so good and you want to see more of them, instead of the typical Kirk and Spock show. Bones had some great one-liners in this movie but Karl Urban captures the role so perfectly that I wanted to see more drama involving him. Even Anton Yelchin, who plays the Chekhov, can act circles around the leads, doesn’t get a chance to and I wouldn’t mind seeing it. Simon Pegg gets plenty of screen time and none of it is wasted. I think he’ll be moving on with JJ Abrams to the next Star Wars movie.
JJ Abrams knows how to cast a movie, so I don’t think he’ll have an issue when he directs Star Wars. But that’s another article for another time.
Abrams nails the pacing. Siting at just over 2 hours, you’d think it should drag at parts, but it had my complete attention. I may not have guffawed as much as I did in Iron Man 3, but that rested solely on Robert Downey Jr’s efforts. Star Trek shares the humor among the characters equally.
This is a great Summer movie. Many Trek fans will hate it because it’s just that…a Summer Blockbuster. Granted there are plot holes, but what sci-fi movie doesn’t have them. Star Trek Into Darkness is meant to be a fun ride that keeps the characters you love relatable and relevant. And it succeeds.
My hope for the future of this series is that a new director comes in and doesn’t try to mimic Abram’s look. Also, there have been enough references to the old series and it should move on and show us something that we’ve never seen before. Enough with the retread, I want to see them “boldly go where no one has before.”