Film Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

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J.J. Abrams is back for another trek into Star Trek and fans of his first entry will have little to complain about with Into Darkness.

The plot for this entry sees the return of all of the familiar faces of the Enterprise’s crew as they square off against one of there own. That man is John Harrison and he wages an attack against Starfleet before heading off to the Klingon home world of Kronos. A vengeful Kirk races off after Harrison with specific orders to eliminate him from Starfleet Adirmal Marcus, but Harrison’s hideaway on Kronos puts the whole human race at risk over insiting a potential war with the Klingons.

Abrams’ Star Trek films get criticized for being action first, character later, but I don’t think that is entirely fair. There is more action than your standard episode of the show, for sure, but the bonds and relationships among the crew of the Enterprise are incredibly strong; especially for only two films. They crew is the reason I enjoy these films as much as I do and the superb action by Abrams is just icing on the cake. Into Darkness is no different as the characters feel fully lived in and there is an easy report among them that is funny, sincere and often touching. The action also surpasses the first Abrams entry and they keep it coming at a relentless pace with set piece after set piece; not a lot to complain about here.

Any complaints with the film come from the film’s third act, which for some reason decides it needs to be overly beholden to a prime timeline Star Trek film. Besides putting its own spin on some history repeats itself events, I find it curious that they didn’t blaze their own path in this alternate timeline with the key characters to this story. There is also no sense of stakes, outside one hilariously red shirted individual, and the story rather predictably undoes a big character moment rather quickly. The motivations for Harrison are also well realized at first, but become rather brash and without motivation after a big moment in the third act. The film might have been better off ending a bit earlier than it did. An unnecessary trio of action scenes are extremely well executed late in the game, but I think the film had a more natural ending (that ends up in roughly the same place) before it tries to repeat Star Trek history. There was a real opportunity for Into Darkness to blaze its own path, especially since they reset the series in the last film to do whatever they want with these characters, but regardless I never found myself not entertained.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Harrison and he is terrific every time he pops up on screen. There isn’t enough of him. He convinces us, like he does Kirk, to trust him and I only wish they didn’t shoehorn him into an unneccesarily prescribed role. Still, I doubt this is the last we have seen of him and that is a good thing. Simon Pegg gets the most added screen time in this adventure and that was a wise move as he steals every scene he’s in. Karl Urban continues to be great as Dr. McCoy, a highlight of both films, and Zoe Saldana takes full advantage of her added screen time. Bruce Greenwood continues to be a welcome edition and I was excited to see his and Kirk’s relationship grow. Peter Weller and Alice Eve round out the newcomers and are both perfectly fine in their limited screen time. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto continue to excel as co-leads and their back and forth just gets better and better. These guys are one of the best on screen couples in a franchise right now and I hope we get at least a couple more adventures with them.

There isn’t a lot for me to say about Star Trek Into Darkness that will sway you one way or another on this. If you are a fan of Abrams’ Star Trek you will feel right at home here and possibly enjoy this picture better. I imagine the less you know about the inspirations for this film, the better, though I was never let down even if I wished they were doing something more original. Into Darkness is ultimately a whole lot of good looking fun and I will gladly sign up to travel with this crew of the Enterprise again and again. Kepp them coming.

Star Trek Into Darkness is a B+

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