Review: Star Trek Into Darkness
A new threat emerges for Starfleet, and Captain James T. Kirk leads his Enterprise crew into hostile territory to hunt a mysterious figure. Kirk’s judgment is tested, his lives and those of his colleagues are put at risk.
Who’s in It?
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, and the rest of the 2009 crew reprise their roles, all of which were surprisingly well-cast. Joining them this time around is a generic hot blonde girl with an accent, and the supremely entertaining Benedict Cumberbatch as the enigmatic Harrison.
Not so much Star Trek Into Darkness as ‘Star Trek Into Dim Lighting.’ J.J. Abrams fun and funny sequel to his more compelling 2009 reboot further solidifies the director as a Steven Spielberg incarnate. He is a visionary who knows how to wield a camera to create a gripping action-adventure filled with charm and wonder, winks and nods, and lots of conveniences in order to achieve that needed rush of adrenaline and swell of excitement.
Well, maybe Spielberg-light. Abrams’ 2011 film Super 8 reminiscent of E.T., was propelled by fascinating characters, honest dilemmas, witty dialogue, and youthful imagination, though lacked something as it concluded. You don’t quite feel it in your socks they way you do with Spielberg films.
The same applies with Star Trek Into Darkness, a film that is by no means particularly dark (and studios need to stop pretending that things these blockbusters, Iron Man included, are anything at all like The Dark Knight). It does start that way though it would seem.
Following a thrilling opening sequence that is perhaps the most entertaining part of the film, Kirk is reprimanded for his caviler spirit. In what should be a telling exchange between Kirk and Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood, awesome), Kirk is told he confuses simple dumb, blind luck for smarts and savvy. But then the blind luck just kind of continues in rather formulaic spurts, so as never to put anything or anyone in any real danger.
Shown to be expertly cast in the original, Pine, Quinto and company return lively and humorous; they allude to their acting predecessors and offer up some giddy dialogue. As Kirk and Spock, Pine and Quinto are two of three given range and growth, with their bond examined and tested, while Sulu, McCoy, and the rest simply keep on keeping on.
The third character of note is a former Starfleet officer turned enemy named John Harrison (of course it’s a man, the only two females in the movie are served to be either nagging or eye candy, but that’s another all-too-familiar story. Though I suppose there is something to be said about a big blockbuster that features an action sequence between an openly gay young actor and a British actor who portrays Sherlock Holmes as gay).
What starts as an epic, sprawling piece of action and adventure seems to tighten its reins moving forward, proceeding methodically towards a climax that simply seems lacking and almost small in scope. It should come as no surprise that a character emerges as an unlikely villain later on in the film, but even this antagonist lacks any sinister quality. All the tension of the open disappears as the film progresses, and strangely, it’s two-plus hour run time goes by quickly (good), but feels empty (bad).
Still, Abrams is delightful, keeping things moving (though not using that John Williams-esque score enough) propelling you through an exciting journey that keeps you smiling and occasionally eye-rolling. When the credits roll, the pleasantries wear off quickly; and while satisfying in the moment, you don’t have that desired overwhelming of emotion.
Should You See It?
Yes, and it’s fun, but it leaves you wanting just a bit more, and not in the good way.
Pike to Kirk: “You think that you can’t make mistakes, but there’s going to come a moment when you realize you’re wrong about that, and you’re going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed.”
Will his prophecy come true?! Eek!