While I may get a lot of flack from the Trekkies for this, I believe it’s safe to say that J.J. Abrams saved the Star Trek franchise with his 2008 reboot, making the storylines of a three-season television series from the 60’s look appealing to the mainstream. That is no easy feat, so it comes as no surprise the legion of newly recruited Trekkies clamored for a sequel.
Star Trek: Into Darkness has been suffering on the PR front as the news of Abrams directing the upcoming Star Wars film has been stealing the spotlight, much to the chagrin of Paramount. However, it has the advantage of being a completed movie when the news hit as opposed to only being in development like its counterpart.
Much of the cast from the previous film return to reprise their roles, including Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and even Bruce Greenwood, as the crew of the USS Enterprise returns to Earth after a mission on the planet of Nibiru. Upon their return, Starfleet HQ is attacked by double agent John Harrisson, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who then flees to the Klingon homeworld of Chronos.
Seeking revenge for Captian Pike and the other people killed in the attack, Captain James T. Kirk and his crew set off in the Enterprise in pursuit, running the risk of instigating full scale war between the Galactic Federation and the Klingon Empire.
The film retains the fast paced action of its predecessor, starting in the middle of the action of the mission on Nibiru and foreshadowing the events in a creative way. It also manages to incorporate other elements of the Star Trek mythos without making a grand show of it.
The story also manages to establish a thematic connection to another Star Trek film sequel, Wrath of Kahn. While the connections are a pretty cool thing to consider, it also works to the film’s detriment, as some of the elements to create that connection feel forced and out of place, almost breaking the suspension of disbelief for me.
It’s especially noticeable in the third act as it suffers from what I like to call a “Frieza Saga Fake-out.”
This means that we’re led to believe that the villain is defeated, only to find out that there’s still more film to go. It’s not helped by the fact that when you think about the events that occur in that part of the story, aspects of those events don’t make a whole lot of sense.
From a technical standpoint, the film surpasses its predecessor in terms of scale and intensity. The visuals give the classic Star Trek imagery a grittier, realistic edge, while still keeping them recognizable, allowing the Enterprise to act as a nice visual counterpoint to some of the more menacing ships. Surprisingly enough, there aren’t as many lens flares in this film as one might expect.
The acting in this film is really good, with Cumberbatch practically stealing the scenes he’s in with his sheer presence. On the downside, it’s in the acting where some of the goofiness sets in towards the end. Although they give it their all in the performance, I found myself laughing at some of the action scenes as some of the over the top grunts and growls were a little too much.
Overall, Star Trek is still an enjoyable sci-fi adventure that’s been well worth the wait. While it does have a few flaws from a filmmaking standpoint, as someone who isn’t a die-hard follower of the franchise, I found it enjoyable. I only wish they didn’t try to emphasize the connection to Wrath of Kahn so that the forced elements could’ve been excised.
As a summer movie, I highly recommend it. Just be sure to watch it in 2D, as this was a post-production conversion to 3D. (Save the $2.00 surcharge.) On my personal scale, I give Star Trek: Into Darkness a 4/5.