Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness photo starrating-4andahalfstars.jpgCould this be the end of Spock? Captain James Kirk and Dr. “Bones” McCoy are running through a blood red forest on the planet Nibiru. They’re trying to leave while being chased by its inhabitants. They jump off a cliff and dive into the water below where the Starship Enterprise is hiding deep on the ocean floor out of sight. Meanwhile Spock has been lowered into a volcano with a cold fusion device. He intends to stave off a volcanic eruption there in an effort to preserve the planet and it’s denizens. But now Spock has jeopardized his own life. Kirk wants to save him but to do so he would have to break the Prime Directive and expose their technologically advanced ship to this primitive civilization. This would alter history, a definite no-no. The alternative is to remain hidden and allow Spock to die, something Spock himself is advocating.

That‘s an incredibly heart pounding cliffhanger for the climax of a film. But that‘s merely the opening prologue. It’s but one of many set pieces in a relatively uncomplicated saga that concerns a terrorist that must be stopped. 2009’s Star Trek director J. J. Abrams is back along with producer Damon Lindelof (TV’s Lost) who also contributes to the screenplay this time. The producers have continued their gentle re-invention of the series much in a similar vein as the previous entry. The script doesn’t attempt to appease purists of the series. Chances are if you liked the last one, you’ll enjoy this. If you didn’t, then I’d stay clear away. The key players are back. Captain Kirk and Spock’s bromance seems to be even closer this time around as embodied by Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine. They have palatable chemistry. Plus, there are a couple of pivotal additions to the cast. I dare say that the already attractive ensemble gets just a little bit sexier. Hello Alice Eve! It’s got a spectacular villain in Benedict Cumberbatch. My goodness this man has a voice! The British thespian’s intonations resonate with all the power of a great orator. The plot works because the filmmakers start with good characterizations first and then build interesting situations from that.

Star Trek Into Darkness is a model of how to create excitement. Abrams has wisely fashioned this adventure in the grand tradition of Hollywood blockbusters of yesteryear. That means it’s more concerned with classic narrative elements and character development than it is with lots of noisy action set pieces. Although there are some satisfying ones that take place in London and San Francisco. The chronicle is gripping. I was never bored, always captivated by what would happen next. There’s plenty of action, but it’s never at the expense of a coherent account that you generally care about. The script is quick and witty with a clear eye toward creating dramatic tension with pauses for the audience to catch their breath and delight in the repartee between these people. Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Bones (Karl Urban) have the funniest temperaments. It’s also a very pretty movie. It’s got plenty of attention grabbing cinematography with affected lighting techniques. Lens flares abound! Yes there are some admittedly cheesy (and familiar) story ideas: someone unexpectedly cries, people tenderly touch hands on either side of a glass wall and automatic seat belts looks like black square-shaped bugs crawling over the actors. But more often than not, the emotional connections to these well known personalities push this actioner into the realm of a drama that is extremely engaging. At one point, Spock selflessly commands the crew to teleport out of the ship to safety. When Sulu responds “With all due respect, sir, we’re not going anywhere!” I think I kind of shed a tear.

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42 Responses to “Star Trek Into Darkness”

  1. Good Review Mark! This is how a good sci-fi is done.

  2. Totally agree with Benedict Cumberbatch making for a particularly compelling villain – he almost stole the entire film in my opinion. Unfortunately I was surprisingly not as taken by this film as most others have been. To me, there was something epic missing from the piece. Maybe it didn’t need to be more dramatic, but I was rather letdown when the credits rolled.

    “The script doesn’t attempt to appease purists of the series.”

    I like how you touched on that idea; I certainly am not a huge follower of Star Trek but it’s definitely important to keep this aspect in mind. I enjoyed how Abrams made it more readily available to newcomers, and the humor enhanced my enjoyment further. Maybe, just maybe….for the first time ever, I might claim this movie had too much action.

    • I really liked the entire ensemble. After Benedict Cumberbatch, I think the script gave Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana a lot to work with. Their characters had life. I think Karl Urban and Simon Pegg had smaller parts this time around, but they still made them memorable

      I like that this can be enjoyed by people who aren’t necessarily fans of Star Trek. To me, it was simply a good movie. In that respect it was in keeping with the spirit of the last film.

  3. Looks like you enjoyed it as much as I did. Nice review.

  4. Good review, I obviously loved it too and can’t wait for Star Wars and hopefully Star Trek 3 😀

  5. When will they stop chasing after “The Wrath of Khan”? This is now the third ‘Star Trek’ movie in a row to rip off the 1982 film. Ugh!!!

  6. That Sulu retort was really cool. 😀

    I liked it quite a bit too, and right now it probably is film of the year (though 2013 has been really weak to this point 😦 ) The action set pieces here were impressive, no doubt, and Abrams lets them breathe a bit better than he did the first time out.

    Not without its flaws, but for a big summer blockbuster, this is good stuff!

    • 2013 has been weak, but Star Trek into Darkness stands out even against poor competition. As far as big summer blockbusters, we’ve had Iron Man 3 & Star Trek Into Darkness thus far. We’ve still got Man of Steel which is expected to make a ton of money too. Whether it will, remains to be seen.

  7. Nice review. I hope to see this soon.

  8. Great review, Mark! I had a lot of fun with this one and it just flew vy so fast. I wanna see it all over again!

    Agree on the attractive cast. It’s like “Models in Space” or something! haha

    And Cumberbatch’s voice is so awesome. But I think he had a little help there, don’t you? Like it was magnified or something.

  9. “That means it’s more concerned with classic narrative elements and character development than it is with lots of noisy action set pieces.”

    Mark, I felt the opposite! I didn’t think it had enough character arc to warrant the emotions post-climax. (The glass scene.) And not just between Kirk and Spock. I wanted more development between Uhura and Spock, Kirk and Pike, and Kirk and Harrison.

    As expected, though, the visuals are incredible. I liked the action scenes even though only one or two have their own stamp.

  10. GaryLee828 Says:

    Mark, I haven’t read the review yet, but saw how high you rated it. I have not seen part one and I don’t really want to; would I have to see the first one to enjoy this sequel? Or could I go in cold and still like it? And I’m not big on science-fiction. I’ve never seen a Star Wars or a Star Trek film b/c I typically hate those kinds of films and are just bored out of my mind…but I have seen nothing but GREAT reviews for this Star Trek sequel, and so may consider giving it a try – but since you now know how I don’t typically like sci-fi do you think I may like this one?

  11. Sounds like Into Darkness has already made your top ten list haha. Great review Mark, even if I wasn’t nearly as emotionally connected to what Abrams was selling as you were.

  12. Nice review Mark. There’s a really good foundation here for plenty more films. Hopefully they’ll keep on the straight and narrow! 🙂

    • I obviously enjoyed this but I kind of hope they write a completely new story for the next one. They should push themselves and not do another re-imagining of a previous work.

  13. I saw this yesterday night in IMAX 3-D. By far the most crowded showing I’d ever been to. I enjoyed the movie, and I agree with most of your points. My only complaint is that there was so much story to follow, and the pacing went numb near the end.

  14. As a die hard Trekkie me and my friend were disappointed and downright annoyed that it wasn’t a new story but a major borrowing from classic Trek. Yes as I said on Facebook the expansiveness of the ships and space was a marvel to look at and I loved the interplay between the main cast especially Karl Urban but a new story was left at dry dock so it didn’t boldly go where a script should go. Sadly I give it on 3 stars.

    • It’s been so long that I didn’t realize it was a remake until the moment when Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison made that announcement. He didn’t have much in common with the character we knew from the past.

      And what about Admiral Alexander Marcus, the high-ranking Starfleet officer? He was a villain too. I think Abrams sufficiently altered the mythology to create a new reality in the Star Trek universe.

  15. I know it’s a little early to say, but this is by far my favorite movie of the year. We’ll see how the rest of the year plays out. I loved the action, humor, special effects and acting. It has it all. It’s great when you can capture the emotions of the characters and follow the story.
    I too want to mention Benedict Cumberbatch. He had an awesome and effective voice. I just loved it all.

    • You’re not the first to name this as best of the year. I like a few movies more, but as far as blockbusters go, it was about as good as it gets.

  16. martin250 Says:

    great review. i have decided to see this tomorrow. plan on seeing it in 3D because that’s the only showing that will best fit my schedule. hope the 3D doesn’t negatively change the experience.

    Btw, i checked the settings on my blog and everything seems normal. am not sure why you’re not receiving the emails. i post on mondays, or i can let you know as well thru comments on your reviews of the same movie.

  17. Awesome review. Really glad you liked this.
    The real star of the show is Benedict Cumberbatch, making a perfect villain. He made for a much more fleshed-out and memorable villain than Eric Bana’s Nero. He is intimidating in individual ways and managed to surprise me throughout. I also loved the way he executed his plan, it showed more cutting edge creativity than most modern blockbusters.

    • I enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch, He definitely is superior to Eric Bana’s villain of the previous film, but perhaps a better comparison would be the original Khan, Ricardo Montalbán. His memorable portrayal is hard to forget.

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