Better late than never! Josh and Violet review Star Trek: Into Darkness this week. Come see what they had to say on this action packed Sci-Fi thriller directed by J.J. Abrams, and based on the original Star Trek series from the 1960s.
Released officially May 16th, Star Trek: Into Darkness marks the second (or third if you count The Great Gatsby) blockbuster summer movie of 2013. Directed by J.J. Abrams, with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprising their roles as James T. Kirk and Spock respectively. Into Darkness attempts to recapture the success of the first movie, and does so with an excellent story, great action sequences, convincing performances by the cast, and for good measure, many Easter eggs for even the casual “Trekkie” to enjoy. It is unfortunate that it did not do as well at the box office as Paramount Pictures had planned.
Brought immediately to the forefront of the film, and a recurring theme through the movie are Kirk’s impulsive, “gut” decisions versus Spock’s methodical, logical ones. The movie begins on a primitive planet that Kirk has decided to save from a volcanic catastrophe, that puts Spock’s life in danger. To save Spock, Kirk would have to violate the “Prime Directive”(For non-trekkies this is the biggest no-no of Star Fleet). Spock refuses to allow this, however Kirk, being the rebel he is, feels it is worth the risk.
Back in London (the year is 2259), Kirk is unfortunately removed from the Enterprise due to his violation of the Prime Directive, but as events unfold, and the “terrorist” John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock Holmes) begins his destruction, Kirk is quickly put back into the driver seat of the Enterprise, and sent by Admiral Marcus (played by Peter Weller, Robocop) to kill the now escaped John Harrison.
Star Trek: Into Darkness has many surprises in store for the “Average Joe” or the hardcore “trekkie” that I don’t want to ruin, but safe to say, many actions scenes follow, as Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise pursue John Harrison. Zachary Quinto gives an excellent performance as Spock, even better than J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek movie, and Christopher Pine has the Kirk “swagger” down as well. Newcomer Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison steals the show with his commanding, deep British accent and diabolical action performance. I look forward to seeing him in future films (and should probably catch up on Sherlock).
Coming to the movie as less than a “trekkie” and more of a sci-fi love in general (I have seen some episodes of the original series, and none of the movies), I thought Into Darkness was enthralling. There were many throwbacks (yes the Vulcan nerve-pinch and “mind-meld” are back, and better than ever). As for the villain John Harrison, he was treacherous, yet charismatic, making him a very likable and hated villain at the same time. His storyline brushes that “morality” that Star Trek is known for, and his storyline is one that the audience can empathize with. Even the Enterprise becomes a “character” in a sense, that viewers can’t help but empathize with as it goes through the trials right along with Kirk and Spock.
The special effects, as expected from a J.J. Abrams movie, were breathtaking. Any time the ship jumps into Warp Speed, it is hard not to get a little giddy. The action scenes are great (despite Kirk still being unable to hold onto a phaser), and the humor provided (especially funny was Scotty, played by Simon Pegg) was great, and most importantly, didn’t detract from the movie.
That is not to say, that despite all my fanfare for Into Darkness, it is not without its flaws. Many of the events of Star Trek: Into Darkness, like the first movie just happen to provide some way of assisting the movie (think Kirk landing on the ice planet that just happens to have Spock and Scotty on it in the first one). Still, these “conveniences” are minor, and can be overlooked when considering the movie as a whole. Many “hardcore trekkies” may as find that the movie is not quite as philosophical as its predecessor, which may be a disappointment.
Overall, I would give Star Trek: Into Darkness a 8.5 out of 10, and the best movie of the summer so far. The summer has just begun, and contenders such as Man of Steel and Wolverine still have a hat to throw into the ring, but they have some great competition here with Star Trek. Hopefully we do not have to wait so long for another sequel, and if J.J Abrams doesn’t come back, hopefully a competent director comes on to finish off the trilogy.
You want action? You got it! Star Trek Into Darkness, J.J. Abrams’ follow up to his 2009 Star Trek, delivers not only action, but drama, suspense, adventure, humor, and did I mention action?
The beginning of the movie thrusts us into the middle of an action scene, with Captain Kirk (played by Chris Pine) and “Bones” (played by Karl Urban) running from the primitive natives on a distant planet, and Spock (played by Zachary Quinto) being dropped into the mouth of an erupting volcano in an attempt to use cold fusion to stop the eruption and save the natives, who also end up seeing the U.S.S. Enterprise. However, these actions violate Starfleet’s Prime Directive, which forbids interfering with the normal development of alien cultures, so upon his return to Earth, Kirk gets in trouble and the Enterprise is taken from him and returned to Captain Pike (played by Bruce Greenwood).
Pike and Kirk start to have a heart to heart, but it’s interrupted by a summons to an emergency meeting at Starfleet headquarters in London, triggered by a bomb that has exploded at a secret Starfleet location also in London. We then discover that the villain responsible for the bombing is named John Harrison (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). Without giving too much away, Kirk winds up getting the Enterprise back, as he and the crew chase down John Harrison deep into Klingon territory, a dangerous mission since the Klingons consider Starfleet their enemy and any false move could start a war. Throughout the remainder of the movie we find out who John Harrison really is and what he wants, as relationships between the crew members strengthen, especially the friendship between Kirk and Spock.
Whether you’re a Star Trek fan or not, the movie employs many elements that make it enjoyable for both fans and non-fans alike. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you, so I’ll just say that film has plenty of throwbacks and references to the original Star Trek television series and movies that have the potential to either please or appall the die-hard Trekkie. I consider myself a moderate Trekkie, not having ever really gotten into the original television series, although I remember liking the original series movies a lot when I was a kid, but I was a big fan of The Next Generation series and movies growing up. That being said, you can still greatly enjoy the movie even if you’re not a fan of the Star Trek franchise, much like Abrams’ 2009 film, because there’s so much going on that makes it a great sci-fi/action movie in general, even without the Star Trek label. However, this overabundance of action that would make the film appealing to non-fans is the very thing that may turn off some of the old school Star Trek fans, as they tend to be more interested in the characters than the action.
On the other hand, I feel like this film actually made an attempt at character development in several instances, more so than the 2009 film. Most notably was the development of a close friendship between Kirk and Spock. Unfortunately, it seems like every time there was a serious, heartfelt moment, it was always interrupted by an action scene, and never really reached a resolution. Additionally, at least one of these emotional scenes felt a little forced and awkward.
For the most part though, the acting was superb and spot on. I especially enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as a cool, calculating, and clever, yet sympathetic, villain.
Overall, Star Trek Into Darkness was a fun-filled ride, with surprises at every turn, and never a dull moment. However, I didn’t feel like it had quite the heart and soul, nor the epic feel that the 2009 film had. Also, despite the effort at character development, it was a cheap move to insert a new female character into the movie who really served no purpose other than to take her clothes off.
Regardless of my criticisms, I really enjoyed the film, and remained engaged in it throughout the entire 2.5+ hour run time.
My rating: 8.75/10. (Yeah, that’s right, a .75. Unconventional, I know, but 8.5 sounded a bit low, and 9 sounded a bit high, so I went in the middle!)