While many were blown away by J.J. Abrams’ first revival of the Star Trek film series I was underwhelmed. Going into the second one I adjusted by expectations accordingly and was surprised by the quality of Star Trek: Into Darkness. It is more like the original Star Trek with more of a reliance on exploration and interpersonal relationships rather than special effects and space battles. There is some of the latter, but Into Darkness certainly places an emphasis on the story rather than CGI.
After a mission on a planet that involves saving it from total destruction due to an exploding volcano that goes not totally according to plan, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine – Unstoppable, People Like Us) and his crew return to Earth. He and Spock (Zachary Quinto – from television’s Heroes) are summoned to Admiral Pike’s (Bruce Greenwood – The Place Beyond the Pines, Flight) office. Kirk believes they will be getting a prestigious new assignment, but is brought back down to Earth when Pike tells him that due to Spock’s report he knows what went on with the last mission and that the Enterprise is being taken away from him and that he is to go back to Starfleet Academy.
Things go from dark to light back to dark again over the span of a short period. Kirk’s ship is taken away from him, but Pike, who has been made captain of the Enterprise, asks him to be his first officer and then at a meeting called to decide what to do about the attack on the Star Fleet archive building the highest ranked officers come under attack. The man behind the attack is the same one responsible for the attack in London, former Starfleet officer John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch – Atonement, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).
Admiral Pike is killed during the attack. Kirk and Spock survive. John Harrison is waging a one man war against Starfleet. Scotty (Simon Pegg – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Hot Fuzz) discovers that Harrison has transported off of Earth to Kronos, the Klingon home world. Kirk wants the Enterprise back and permission got go after the man who killed his mentor.
Kirk is allowed to take the Enterprise, with Spock once again as his first officer, park on the edge of Kronos and lock in on Harrison using long range photon torpedoes to kill him. Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller – Robocop, Naked Lunch) also assigns Dr. Carol Wallace (Alice Eve – She’s Out of My League, Men in Black 3) to the Enterprise.
Once Kirk decides to capture Harrison to return him to Earth to stand trial and takes an away team comprised of himself, Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana – Avatar, Colombiana) things begin to unravel and the crew of the Star Trek and all of Starfleet is in jeopardy as everything and everyone is not as they seem to be.
The focus on character development and inter character relations really should be applauded. There is plenty of repartee between characters and even a hint of Spock embracing his human side. Abrams allowed the film to return to its much more philosophical (rather than just brawn) side. Friendship, family and humanity are larger and more universal subjects broached upon.
Bottom line is that the story is strong and that holds up everything else that J.J. Abrams is trying to do. Yes several of the twists are quite predictable, but I do not expect perfection from films. It left me wanting more and looking forward to the next film in the series.
Another point that has to be mentioned is the quality of the villain. Benedict Cumberbatch is finally getting the recognition he deserves from Hollywood. That man is one talented son of a gun. He is a chilling and note perfect villain.
This is a film that uses modern filmmaking techniques but really uses the established style of Star Trek from back in the day. J.J. Abrams juggles everything beautifully making it an action packed film that will not alienate long time Star Trek fans.
-Trailers for The Mission Continues, Jack Reacher, Anchorman: The Legend Continues, World War Z, G.I. Joe: Retaliation
-Creating the Red Planet
-Attack on Starfleet
-The Klingon Home World
-The Enemy of My Enemy
-Ship to Ship
-Brawl By the Bay
-Continuing the Mission
-The Mission Continues