Film Review — ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

Zachary Quinto (left) and Chris Pine portray Spock and Kirk in the latest "Star Trek" movie. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Zachary Quinto (left) and Chris Pine portray Spock and Kirk in the latest “Star Trek” movie.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

By Amber M. Ward

Director J.J. Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek” movie was met with great relief by fans because he successfully rebooted a much-loved franchise. This next adventure delivers a better bonded crew with action-packed sequences and special effects that are sure to entertain, and an ending poised to set the future of the new series.

 In 2009 we left off with James Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) deciding that maybe they didn’t hate each other so much and beginning the development of one of the greatest friendships in television history — with some help from on older, wiser version of Spock (Leonard Nimoy). The crew has now had time to grow together on small survey missions commissioned by Starfleet.

“Into Darkness” begins with a bang, throwing movie goers straight into the action with a close cut chase through the red forest of an un-evolved planet by very unhappy inhabitants. Kirk breaks the rules, Spock reports him, the usual of course.  It then melts into a quiet, but deadly introduction of villain John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a one man weapon of mass destruction waging a war on Star Fleet for personal reasons yet unknown.

Cumberbatch is best known as the favorite high-functioning sociopathic sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, in the British series “Sherlock.” His powerful presence, hypnotic yet sinister baritone voice, and superb acting leave nothing to be desired. I couldn’t take my eyes off him as he terrorized London, Starfleet Headquarters, and the Enterprise crew.

Full of high-flying action, daring fight scenes and the powerful performances of a great cast, “Into Darkness” is a good example of the technical genius of Abrams and his fast-paced way of filming. The twists are creative and the performances are so well done that you don’t know if you should root for a seemingly human, but cold Harrison while catapulting our heroes into a downward spiral of conflicting darkness, or the crew and their desperation for both justice and understanding.

Kirk has to grow up fast, Spock has to face his half-human side and the emotional distress of relationships (both romantic and not), Sulu gets his chance as a calculating captain, Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) is introduced as a weapons specialist and possible love interest for Kirk and Harrison (if that’s his real name) will be given a new depth by actor Cumberbatch and reveal himself to be possibly the greatest adversary the Enterprise crew will ever encounter.

Kirk, Spock, Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Sulu (John Cho), Scotty (Simon Pegg), and Carol Marcus will face their  fears through every twist and turn as Harrison  leads them on a morally problematic chase of discovery and revenge; and to perhaps the death of one or more of their own.

Despite the immense action, some would say that Abrams cheated by making homages to the originals (uniforms, tribbles, Mudd and dialogue) and both incorporating and inversing iconic scenes from “Star Trek II Wrath of Khan,” while gearing the movie towards movie fans in general.  I see it more as allowing new generations to be immersed in a wonderful space adventure while keeping original “Star Trek” fans happy.

The movie teeters on the edge of the long-admired fandom one moment and then introduces something new in the next. However, we have to remember that due to the interference of the Romulan villain Nero in the 2009 movie, the “Star Trek” stories we know and love have been significantly altered. Not changed just a little or made to be completely different, but altered. The big inversed scene towards the end is a way to tie this movie with the old while seeing the growth of these characters and their adaptions to life and relationships in an alternate universe.

With the different homages to the original, fans get to see how exactly our young Enterprisers’ futures have changed, and yet still see how their paths touch something familiar.  Who knows, new fans might want to discover the originals due to these references.

Some may find the plot too unoriginal, but I see it as a perfect set-up for the future of the young Enterprise crew. I found myself enjoying the reminders of a series long beloved and find it fitting that Abrams is creating something new and desirable for a 21st century audience while still playing to the love of an older generation and the stories that will never be forgotten. Go see “Star Trek Into Darkness” and decide for yourself; I recommend the 3D version for the full effect.

“Star Trek Into Darkness” currently is playing in area theaters Driftwood 6 in Granbury and Cinema 6 theaters in Cleburne and Stephenville, as well as throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

Amber M. Ward is a San Angelo-based writer.

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