Synopsis: After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.
Release Date: May 15, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Science Fiction
When it comes to science fiction, there are generally two types of fans: Star Trek people and Star Wars people. A person is allowed to like both franchises, but not equally; everyone likes one more than the other. As the director of 2009’s Star Trek reboot and the announced director of the newest upcoming Star Wars films, J.J. Abrams (of “Lost” and lSuper 8 fame) seems to have a foot planted equally in both camps. Before beginning work on the Star Wars era of his career, Abrams brings audiences another Kirk-and-Spock film with Star Trek Into Darkness.
The beginning of Star Trek Into Darkness finds James T. Kirk (Chris Pine from This Means War) stripped of his command of the U.S.S. Enterprise due to his breaching protocol to save the life of his first officer and best friend, Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto from “American Horror Story”). The Enterprise is handed back to Kirk’s mentor, Christopher Pike (I, Robot‘s Bruce Greenwood), while Kirk is assigned as the Enterprise’s first officer and Spock is sent to another starship. While Starfleet Command is sorting out the mess, they are hit by a series of terrorist attacks by a man named John Harrison (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy‘s Benedict Cumberbatch), one of which kills Pike. Harrison flees to the Klingon planet of Kronos and Kirk is given his ship and crew back in order to track the fugitive down with orders to destroy him. On the way, Spock appeals to Kirk’s reasonable side and convinces him to capture Harrison and bring him back to Earth to stand trial. On Kronos, Kirk and his crew encounter a hostile patrol of Klingons. Harrison appears, saving Kirk and the others by single-handedly slaughtering all of the Klingons. He then abruptly surrenders to Kirk. While in custody, Harrison reveals his true identity – he is a genetically modified being named Khan who possesses extreme strength and super-intelligence, and he tells Kirk that the Starfleet is not what they appear to be. Seeing that Khan has knowledge and motives that will not be revealed, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise find themselves in the midst of a struggle where the right and wrong sides are not completely black and white.
Star Trek Into Darkness should please Trekkies. The screenplay, written by Abrams’ “Lost” partner, Damon Lindelof (who is no stranger to sci-fi, having also penned Prometheus and Cowboys & Aliens) along with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (the pair behind Transformers), is a cleverly written albeit straight-forward action story with plenty of winks and nods to the original “Star Trek” mythology. Although definitely modernized for a new generation, Star Trek Into Darkness pays immense respect to its source material, and fans of the original sixties show and subsequent series of films will smile and laugh to themselves at some of the references.
There is not a whole lot to the plot of Star Trek Into Darkness; it’s a fairly shortest-distance-between-two-points story arc. There are a handful of unexpected twists, but the most interesting aspect of the narrative is the ambiguity of Khan. He has his own singular agenda and, consequently, is alternately a friend and a foe to Kirk. As a hyper-intelligent being, his arguments against Starfleet Command are valid and convincing, and it’s fun to watch him manipulate people, only to double-cross them later. The character of Khan does not change, but the other character’s impressions of him do, and those changes are fascinating.
As much fun as Star Trek Into Darkness is, it does get bogged down by itself in a few places. The action scenes are pure adrenaline, but when the film stops to take a breath it loses momentum. When Kirk and Spock stop to discuss the philosophical value and significance of their friendship, the audience just taps its collective foot waiting for the next bit of excitement. Luckily, the wait never feels eternal but, clocking in at over two hours, Star Trek Into Darkness could have been shaved quite a bit without losing any of its appeal.
Long gone are the model rocket ships on a string days of sci-fi effects. These days, computer generated effects are the norm. Star Trek Into Darkness is chock-full of CG effects, to the point where viewers begin to wonder what is real and what is not. The effects are slick and well done, but there’s nothing about them that really stands out; they are par for the course in today’s tech-savvy environment of green screens and heavy compositing. The CG effects combined with Abrams’ penchant for lens flare and severe backlighting cause sensory overload in many places, distracting from what is happening onscreen. Of course, a Star Trek movie needs visual effects to be successful, but not this many; the effects turn the film into just another generic summer blockbuster instead of the sci-fi classic that it could be. If the effects use in Star Trek Into Darkness are any indication of what Abrams has planned for his Star Wars movies, fans of the force are in for a pretty standard experience.
The entire core cast of Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek is back and, because of that fact, the film has a very seamless and organic feel to it. Not only are the individual actors and actresses perfectly cast, but their chemistry is undeniable. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are a very convincing Kirk and Spock, and Pine has a similar rapport with Karl Urban (Doom), who plays Dr. McCoy. These characters have known each other for years, and the actors make the relationships believable. Zoe Saldana (Avatar) and John Cho (Harold from the Harold & Kumar movies) bring a modern authenticity to their roles as Uhuru and Sulu, respectively. Comic relief is provided by Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) as Scotty and Anton Yelchin (The Beaver) as Chekov, and both are great. Benedict Cumberbatch is a wonderful addition to the cast as Khan, bringing civility to what could have otherwise been a savage role. In a movie like Star Trek Into Darkness, it’s unlikely that any of the actors will be praised for their art, but all of them turn in convincing and inspired performances.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): J.J. Abrams
- Screenwriter(s): Roberto OrciDamon LindelofAlex Kurtzman
- Cast: Chris Pine (Kirk)Zachary Quinto (Spock)Zoe Saldana (Uhura) Karl Urban (Bones)Simon Pegg (Scotty)John Cho (Sulu)Benedict Cumberbatch (Khan)Anton Yelchin (Chekov)Alice Eve (Carol)
- Cinematographer: Daniel Mindel
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Michael Giacchino
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA