When last we saw them, the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise had finally gotten the gang back together, so to speak. We’re rocketed right into the action with what feels like a classic Star Trek episode, with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Dr. “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban) on the run through a vibrantly scarlet jungle forest, pursued by chalk-skinned indigenous people and Spock (Zachary Quinto) precariously trapped in the heart of an erupting volcano. Although Spock accepts his fate with his trademark cucumber cool demeanor and calculated logic, Kirk brazenly breaks Starfleet protocol to save his first officer. Kirk’s beloved Enterprise and crew are taken from him when Spock files a truthful report of the mission.
No sooner has Kirk been demoted and instantly reinstated when a terrorist named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) attacks Starfleet and flees to Kronos, the “out-of-bounds” planet of the volatile Klingons. Under Admiral Marcus’ (Peter Wellers) orders, Kirk takes his crew to capture the seemingly unstoppable Harrison.
To reveal more would be a disservice to anyone who plans to see this movie, especially fans of the original show and movies.
First things first. Star Trek Into Darkness looks fantastic with its gorgeous scenery, rollicking action, and decent 3D visuals (which I normally don’t notice or care about). In an effort to keep with Wrath of Khan lore (which I will definitely not spoil here), some bits of the plot seem chunkier than the smoother storyline of director Abram’s 2009 reboot. Perhaps that is the weakness here; the 2009 movie tried to set itself apart from the previous Star Trek storylines with an alternate reality for the characters, whereas Into Darkness constantly references past works in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
But despite the oft-wanting plotline, the characters are such fun to watch and listen to, even the members of the crew that don’t get much to do (Urban’s Bones was criminally underwritten, yet hilarious), that it hardly seems to matter. Fan favorites Spock and Kirk get the most to do here, each confronting major character weaknesses addressed in the last movie. Spock hides his feelings of comradeship and the pain of losing his home planet beneath his façade of logic and disregard for his own life, whereas we see that Kirk didn’t quite grow up at the end of the last movie, believes himself to be invincible, and still lets his emotions dictate his actions.
The villain in Into Darkness manages to be infinitely more menacing the Romulan Nero from the 2009 movie. For one thing, we actually see interactions between the heroes and the villain, and Harrison’s smooth baritone, icy gaze, and proclivity for manipulating the weaknesses of others makes him a formidable foe indeed.
I’m not sure if die hard Trekkies will raise their hackles upon the reveal of some of the plot twists, but I ultimately enjoyed some of the reimaginings of classic scenes and characters.
It’s hard to dislike something so self-aware, which is one element this movie definitely does not lack (“Chekhov, put on a red shirt,” Kirk promotes a member of his crew, whose face immediately goes white as a sheet).
Into Darkness ramps up the action and gives us more heart than your average run-of-the-mill summer movies.
Should you go? Yes, and boldly so.