Review: “Into Darkness” great, but further twists Star Trek lore

May 16th, 2013 at 11:31 pm by under Entertainment

“Star Trek Into Darkness” may not be as great as the 2009 movie, but director J.J. Abrams continues to prove he knows how to put on an exciting adventure movie.

"Star Trek Into Darkness" poster courtesy Paramount

“Star Trek Into Darkness” poster courtesy Paramount

(My spoiler-free review)

Strengths

“Into Darkness” is a whole new twist on “Star Trek” lore – like it or not, Abram’s franchise is paving its own cinematic history… if you thought the Spock and Uhura relationship was a change in what you know about Star Trek, this new movies takes the rebooted franchise a giant leap forward.  It caters to new and old fans, despite big twists on previous Trek plot/lines of dialogue.  Since I’m not a die hard fan of Star Trek, I was okay with the changes in the 2009 “Star Trek” movie, and these changes don’t bother me either, and although the Trekkie that screened the movie with me enjoyed it too, others may disagree.

“Into Darkness” features many of the most important foundations of an action/adventure you need to impress the modern sci-fi audience: great action, good story, good characters, great effects (actually top notch effects), great sets, good flow (cliffhanger, cliffhanger, cliffhanger) and great technology… and of course, a great villain.

The Starfleet cast new and old: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban,
Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, and Alice Eve all work well together with good chemistry…. but its how the mysterious character of “John Harrison”, played superbly by Benedict Cumberbatch captivates the audience as a cold and calculating terrorist and one man wrecking crew – the kind of bad guy that the Enterprise crew has never seen before.

But “Into Darkness” is missing one of the foundations of great sci-fi… more on that in a second.

It didn’t feel like 2 hours and 12 minutes long, even when you think the movie is coming to an end … there was another climatic scene.  The movie also looked great, excellent production values and special effects, including great looking tracking shots – bringing us through environment into character close-ups.

“Into Darkness” is also filled with lots of witty and comedic moments, including lots of Kirk’s jokes about Spock, Kirk telling Bones “enough with the metaphors”, and moments like Scotty calling Kirk “James Tiberius perfect hair”.  But its not all fun and games, its a growing up movie for Pine’s Kirk – learning humility with leadership, his command crew is in turmoil, and learning to earn the title of Starfleet captain.

Weaknesses

The one foundation of a good sci-fi movie missing here: being smarter than the audience.   Many plot points were predictable based on previous Star Trek and sci-fi movies before it.  The first one – “Star Trek” (2009) – was so fresh, so different, with things we hadn’t seen before.  But this second one borrowed so much from previous Star Trek movies plus visually from Star Wars and the Avengers it’s hard to like it as much as the first.

Some “chase”/”running” sequences in this one go on way too long, there a few over-the-top moments, and definitely one-too-many nods to the original series.  Its okay to be connected to the past incarnations of Star Trek, but the new movie also needs to step out on its own, like the first one did.

The first two thirds the movie are very gripping, very strong, very solid, but the last third of the movie seems to unravel a bit – taking too long on some scenes and moving too quickly and others… keeping it from being one of the best sci-fi movies.

Other points of interest

The 3-D does add some to the depth of space and CGI locations, but not a must for total enjoyment.

The movie ends with: “…5 year mission, to seek out new life, and new civilizations”, leading forward to at least one more movie, which has already been announced.

The screening I attended did not have any extra scenes in the credits.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The trailers and clips in the marketing campaign did a good job of concealing the major reveals and twists from the original “Star Trek” franchise and the 1982 movie… although if you like changes to the hallowed story of Star Trek, then you’ll probably be okay with this.  I give it 8.0 out of 10 … its not nearly as good as the first in this series, “Star Trek” (2009), which I gave 8.9.

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Chris Pine in "Star Trek Into Darkness" photo courtesy Paramount

Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Chris Pine in “Star Trek Into Darkness” photo courtesy Paramount

“Star Trek Into Darkness”

(2013) (rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence)
(2 hrs, 12 min)

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, Alice Eve

Director: J.J. Abrams
["Star Trek" (2009), "Super 8" (2011), "Mission: Impossible III" (2006)]

Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

The Plot: After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

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“Star Trek Into Darkness” poster and photo courtesy Paramount

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