Star Trek Into Darkness
by Michael Walters
The Cantankerous Critic
Even if you’re not steeped in Star Trek lore, there’s only one thing you need to know about “Star Trek Into Darkness.” The old adage about even numbered Star Trek films being superior to the odd ones still holds true. This sequel to director J.J. Abrams 2009 reboot is part homage, part thrill ride, and part morality play. It’s much like the best episodes of the TV series that inspired it, only with much much better special effects.
The film starts at warp speed and rarely pauses to let the audience catch its breath, or point out some highly illogical holes in the plot. After a dynamite opening which involves Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) saving Spock (Zachary Quinto), but violating Starfleet regulations in the process, the crew gets down to business.
They are sent to track down a Starfleet turncoat — played by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch — who is responsible for the bombing of a Starfleet command center. There’s also a Starfleet admiral who’s itching to make a preemptive strike and bring about full-blown war with the old adversaries the Klingons.
The biggest pleasures of the 2009 film came from watching a new crew breathe new life into the beloved characters and the series conventions. Star Trek is a bit like the James Bond series, in that it has a number of tried and true familiar hallmarks that fans look forward to.
Kirk is still a hothead and Spock is still trying to talk some Vulcan sense into him. Pine and Quinto have developed a breezy chemistry, but the antagonistic touches have been rubbed off, replaced by genuine friendship. Karl Urban’s cranky Bones remains a delight, and he gets some of the film’s best lines, while John Cho’s Sulu and Simon Pegg’s hilarious Scotty are fun as always.
And this one does one better by adding a hiss-worthy villain, while advancing a plot that references some of the greatest adventures in the Star Trek canon.
If anything, the movie is maybe a little too reverential to the Star Trek universe, sprinkling in more and more outright callbacks. Some work, others most decidedly do not. But the movie never seems old and tired.
It’s true this is a bit of a retread, but it’s entertaining all the same. And with more installments like this, the series is sure to live long and prosper.