By J.T. Johnson
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bruce Greenwood, Alice Eve, Peter Weller
There is nothing more exciting than when a movie lives up to the expectations that it has been given. “Star Trek Into Darkness” is thankfully one of those films. As the sequel to the successful 2009 reboot, this is one movie that the filmmakers needed to get right.
Morality is the name of the game this time around. After a thrilling opening sequence, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is reprimanded for saving Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) and thus revealing himself to a primitive organization. This violates Starfleet’s Prime Directive of non-interference with primitive organizations. Kirk doesn’t think that the rules apply to him because he thinks he sometimes knows what’s morally right, the rules be damned.
Kirk loses command of the Enterprise to Admiral Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), but Pike still believes in Kirk and makes him his First Officer. Both Kirk and Pike attend a secret meeting at Starfleet Command. Starfleet’s greatest officers are then attacked by the villainous terrorist named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Pike ends up as one of the casualties.
After discovering that Harrison has fled to Kronos, the Klingon homeworld, Kirk is given his command back and sent on a secret manhunt to kill Harrison. This is the dilemma that Kirk and his crew find themselves in because Kirk has essentially been assigned to assassinate a human being. While Kirk seems to have no problem with this, it is his fellow crew members such as Spock, Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) and even Chief Engineer Scotty (Simon Pegg) who challenge the morality of what they are being sent to do.
The story featured in this film features elements that make “Star Trek” what it is when it is at its strongest. It’s sociopolitical commentary at its best. What is morality? What is the right decision? Does Kirk really deserve that special chair on the bridge? Ultimately, as the ship’s captain, it is Kirk’s choices that will answer these questions. The true challenge is whether or not Kirk can overcome his own inner darkness and it is an intriguing story to say the least.
Still, this is a space opera with big ships that have big guns, so the action is also a vital part of the film. Thankfully, there are plenty of great action sequences to enjoy such as a massive gun fight on Kronos and fantastic battles with the film’s primary villain. With the action sequences being so good, no one should doubt that J.J. Abrams will be able to direct a thrilling “Star Wars” movie.
The performances are also strong as well. Pine, Quinto, Urban and Pegg have fallen comfortably into their characters this time around. They also prove once again that they have great chemistry with one another. This especially includes Pine and Quinto as Kirk and Spock.
Since the last film, Kirk and Spock have become even closer friends, but Kirk still finds Spock’s devotion to logic and seeming lack of emotions frustrating at times. This leads to both great comical relief and genuine drama. It was great to see the actors develop more of the same dynamic that worked so well with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in the past films.
Then there is Cumberbatch as Harrison. If there is anyone out there who does not know who this man is, then they need to watch BBC’s “Sherlock” where he plays the title character. Here, he adds another iconic performance to his resume.
Cumberbatch is great at portraying Harrison’s insanity, but he also gives him some more relatable qualities. For example, even Kirk finds himself relating to Harrison when the mass murderer talks about his devotion to his own crew members and how they are his family. This element to the story with Cumberbatch’s performance makes Harrison more of a three dimensional villain rather than just a cardboard cutout.
Finally, there are plenty of wink-wink moments for any devoted “Trek” fans in the audience. While there is one pretty obvious twist in the movie, there are still plenty of surprises up the writers’ sleeves. A couple of these nods to the franchise could make one cringe a little, but this is such a nitpicking complaint when compared to the rest of the movie.
This movie contains all of the excitement that was found in “Star Trek” and more. With great performances, a pretty solid story, a great villain and superb action, “Star Trek Into Darkness” is one film that no one should miss this Summer at the box-office.
- The actors, especially Pine, Quinto and Cumberbatch, turn in great performances with returning actors fitting comfortably in their roles.
- The story is pretty solid with a few tricks up the writers’ sleeves and several nods to established “Star Trek” lore.
- With a great story also comes great action as the crew of the Enterprise dukes it out with Harrison.
- There are a few small moments that I could have done without, but trust me when I say that I’m just nitpicking a great film at this point.