Sunday, June 2, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

Directed by J. J.Abrams.
2013. Rated PG-13, 132 minutes.
Benedict Cumberbatch
Peter Weller
Alice Eve

After an attack on a Federation building, all of the Fed’s captains and their first officers convene to discuss how to handle the situation. During this meeting, the same person responsible for the original attack strikes again, killing Cpt. Pike (Greenwood). None other than James T. Kirk (Pine) volunteers to take his prized ship, and its crew, to find this man and bring him to justice the Old Testament way: flooding his hind parts with torpedoes. Another voyage of the Star Ship Enterprise ensues.

In keeping with its immediate predecessor, 2009’s Star Trek, this one’s heavy on the action and the special fx that make it possible. Without question, it excels in these areas. The Enterprise goes through hell and looks good doing it. Stuff blows up real good and the stunts are exciting. This makes the whole movie feel big, brash, and lots of fun. As a result, the slightly over two hour run time goes by pretty quickly.

Also helping time fly by is the movie’s sense of humor. Most of this comes from Kirk and Scotty (Pegg). Their exchanges are fun, even when they’re supposed to be serious. This includes their conversations with other characters, as both actors play their roles with a wink and a nod. In Pine’s case it’s a nice mix of arrogance and the ability to not take himself too seriously that fits his character perfectly. In Pegg’s case, and in that of Karl Urban as Bones and Anton Yelchin as Chekov, what works are over the top impersonations of iconic figures. They seem to know the story isn't about them; that they’re there merely as stand-ins for the actors who once played them and, therefore, must behave as we remember them. For the most part, it works. To her credit, Zoe Saldana continues to make Uhura her own. Unfortunately, she isn't given anything to do this time around other than be pissed off at Spock (Quinto) for being an insensitive boyfriend.

Speaking of Spock, he seems to be the person this movie really hitches its wagon to. It spends much of the time between action sequences exploring the duality and complications of a man who is half-Vulcan and half-human. They play this right through to the end, even inverting the climax of its its most direct influence, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, to do so. Zachary Quinto is perfect all along the way. Even though Chris Pine continues to do very well as Kirk, there are still other actors I can see in the captain’s chair. Quinto has made it so that I can see no one else playing Spock. Exceptions, of course, to Leonard Nimoy who has a pointless cameo here.

With regards to the actual plot, there are some issues. Namely our heroes, who are supposed to be the best and brightest the Federation has to offer make a succession of dumb decisions which only serve to move the story forward, not solve their problems. I realize this is the case in lots of movies, but it seems too many times I asked ‘why would you do that?’ Other things are a bit predictable. Then again, that may hinge on whether or not you've seen Wrath of Khan so I can let that slide. In spite of these things Star Trek Into Darkness is a fun ride that continues to strip the franchise of much of its pretentiousness in favor of self-deprecating humor wrapped in a cooler veneer.


  1. Nice review Wendell. I just had a total blast with this movie, regardless of if I'm a Trekkie or not. I don't think all of that should matter when you see a movie, but that's just me.

  2. This is definitely one I don't think you have to be a Trekkie to enjoy, just pointing out some of the things people who are somewhat familiar with the ST universe (not necessarily Trekkies) might notice.