Star Trek Into Darkness Directed by: J.J. Abrams Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana Running Time: 2 hrs 12 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 16, 2013
PLOT: After the Federation is attacked by one man (Cumberbatch), the crew of the Enterprise set out on a manhunt, which could lead to all out war.
WHO'S IT FOR? I think action fans will be happier than science fiction or Star Trek fans. It's a big, fun ride.
EXPECTATIONS: I loved Star Trek (2009), and all I kept doing was trying to avoid news of this film. That was very difficult since Abrams wanted secrecy, and that meant movie nerds were all the more determined to spread any news via Twitter that they could find. Luckily, I was able to go in fresh.
Chris Pine as Kirk: Thank goodness Pike (Bruce Greenwood) is still there. He's able to point out all of Kirk's obvious flaws (risk-taker, arrogant), even if those flaws are the reasons we love him. Kirk needs to figure out how to act responsibly, and maybe even have the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Pine's swagger is better than any individual moment or character arc that Kirk goes through here, and luckily it's a pretty great swagger. Score: 7
Zachary Quinto as Spock: He's the perfect Vulcan. That's all that needs to be said, but I'll write a little more. The dry comedic banter between Spock and Kirk hasn't gotten old yet, and that's mainly due to Quinto. His Vulcan ways of being honest and logically move the overall internal struggles of Kirk forward. There is also moment when Spock talks about his feelings with Uhura and Kirk that really works. Score: 8
Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison: Cumberbatch is a great villain. Harrison sounds generic as a terrorist, who may know more than originally thought, but it's really fun to watch. His confidence is a different breed compared to Kirk. Cumberbatch is able to be a generic evil genius and the true back story of this character doesn't seem to really be necessary. Score: 8
Rest of Cast: Uhura only has one moment that doesn't involve being Spock's girlfriend, thought I have to admit I like the relationship banter. Bones (Karl Urban) gets forgotten except for zingers, which almost always land. It appeared like Scotty (Simon Pegg) was going to disappear in this film, but ultimately finds a place. It seems like they selected Scotty instead of Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) who really are forgotten, save for a few minutes. The addition of Peter Weller as Marcus was a nice surprise, but I can't think of how Alice Eve as Carol truly fits within the importance of this story, except for Star Trek history, and adding a beautiful blonde to the cast. Score: 6
TALKING: Kirk is arrogant, Spock is logical. Repeat that and I'm happy. The motivation of Harrison isn't as defined, except for the use of Star Trek lore. The joy with the dialogue here is having the actors say it, not what they are saying. They all fit so well in these characters, that you want one more wisecrack from Bones, or another raised eyebrow from Kirk. Score: 6
SIGHTS: Quinto looks good running, but Spock's hair doesn't. That's all I'll say as an obsessed analyst of movie running. It's another great looking film, even though I feel like the lens flares are finally getting to a comical pitch for me. There is one moment where Eve actually has a lens flare going through her neck, across the entire screen. I didn't say Carol (the character she plays), because it removes me from the moment. I hope Abrams and lens flares can find a happy balance before he gets a hold of lightsabers. With that said, the ship crashes, chase sequences, the opening action, and especially boarding the Dreadnought all look fantastic. Plus, Abrams adds so many quick seconds of alien races, that you always want to look around the screen to make sure you're catching everything. Score: 9
SOUNDS: It's a very classic adventure musical score with villains getting introduction music, and familiar sounds coming back at key moments. The phasers and beaming still sound great, just like the punches that Kirk lands (with little affect) to Harrison's face. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: Boarding the Dreadnought. I let out a gasp of nervousness during the sequence with Kirk and Khan being shot out of the Enterprise.
ENDING: It's a foot chase on Earth, and then a speech from Kirk telling us to all be wary when reacting to the evil in the universe. I do like that it just ends, without a clear direction of where it is going. Though I have to feel like the Klingons are ready to be involved, especially after getting attacked by Khan, Kirk, Uhura and Spock.
QUESTIONS: Is it really necessary for Harrison to be Khan? I think I need a second viewing to dissect this. They could have achieved Harrison's super strength and intelligence in another way, other than making it Khan. I don't hold Ricardo Montalban's Khan as an untouchable evil icon, but it seems excessive for this universe to duplicate it. With that said, I really felt that way when radiation, Kirk and Spock have a role reversal from The Wrath of Khan. Why borrow when you don't have to? Especially when you aren't able to pack the same emotional punch. I really disliked the cameo by Leonard Nimoy. Why have him in it? It didn't move the plot forward.
REWATCHABILITY: Since I was able to go in fresh, not knowing Harrison was Khan, then I wonder what a second viewing will be like, and if it will seem even more pointless. Because it's so action driven, it will definitely be an easy film to rewatch.
While Star Trek Into Darkness tries to get into right, wrong and immoral issues, which surround our real life moments such as 9/11, that's not what the film does best.
I loved how Star Trek was able to create an alternate universe four years ago, and I was ready to accept this new Trek and its path. It doesn't feel like Abrams and his crew fully were. Every time the film reminds me of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, I thought it was nice for a moment, but just for that moment. The more I think about it, the more I wish the film would have boldly gone in a new direction. I don't need to be reminded of what came before, and how things from the original films are almost doomed to repeat themselves in these updated movies. The reason I don't need that stuff is because Pine, Quinto and the rest of the USS Enterprise crew do such a great job taking over these roles.
Keeping the dialogue fun, and the action intense is where these Star Trek films seem to thrive. There are breath-taking big screen moments that actually had me tingling with excitement. With Star Trek Into Darkness Abrams wanted to have his cake and eat it too, but I'm starting to wonder if he should be trying to make everyone happy. On one hand, he's desperate to put in reference points only Trekkies will remembers, and on the other, he seems desperate just to move on. I'm ready for him to move on. This is a fun ride that doesn't pack the punch of Star Trek, but still makes to want Abrams' vision to continue.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10