Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
The cult phenomenon that is Star Trek began on television back in 1966. Television producer Eugene Wesley “Gene” Roddenberry’s brain-child has become one of the most iconic franchises of not only science fiction, but of popular culture in general. The original series spawned 5 spin-off shows and 11 feature films, including J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot.
With such a concrete following, J.J. Abrams didn’t exactly have an easy task of pleasing the hardcore “trekkies” and attracting newcomers to something that, for the uninitiated, seemed pretty geeky. Who’s the man then?
The film opens with a humorous, exciting and relentless sequence that grabs you immediately. Once the opening is over and the title text appears on the screen, well, you know you’re in safe hands.
Since Abrams covered all his “establishing” duties in his first Star Trek film, he can get down to business here. Before we know it we’re following James T.Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise as they chase down John Harrison, a man that is set to bring destruction to everything they hold dear. I could explain a lot more, but the ride is much more enjoyable when your unaware of the twists and turns.
It’s a narrative that is nearly bursting at the seems with plenty going on at any given moment, but this doesn’t affect the overall pacing and joy of the story. There are surprises and twists at every corner and you may even find a heart-string or two being slightly tugged at.
The key to the film – and I’d say this franchise as a whole – is the characters. You care about this likeable crew and the film does a decent job in giving us some one on one time with them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give us enough. For example, Captain Kirk and Spock’s wonderfully realized love-hate relationship is often pushed to the side with yet another perilous situation. They have great scenes together, I only wished there were more. Also, there’s a romantic side-story that is teased at but is left mostly unattended. Action may be a very important aspect to the entertainment value of the film but it would be nice to get some further characterization, especially when the great cast encapsulate these characters so damn well.
Chris Pine is great as James T.Kirk, the captain of the starship Enterprise. His charming disregard for authority is always justified and never comes across as mal-intentioned. But it’s Zachary Quinto who once again shines here. He is down-right perfect as Spock, the Vulcan-Human hybrid that is the Yin to Kirk’s Yang. He delivers a magnetic, interesting character that manages to be quite complex in his simplicity.
Of course, this particular story would be nothing without the villain of the piece. Benedict Cumberbatch is straight up awesome as John Harrrison. He brings a scary level of malice under an emotionless exterior. My only complaint is that he isn’t in it for longer. In fact, many may have the same complaint since he doesn’t actually have that much to do. A lot of it is about him – not with him.
The action is slick and fast and the special effects are state-of-the-art. The 3D is awe-inspiring and never feels tacked on. Definitely watch this on the big screen. The whole thing is an audio/visual dream – even if you tire of J.J. Abrams’ signature lens flares. Yes, there are lens-flares-a-plenty here.
My main qualm with the film is the sudden ending. While I’m sure many will disagree, I thought the film was packed with so many exciting sequences – each bigger than the one before it – that the ending almost seems muted in comparison. Still, the screenplay rolls along at a great pace and ticks off most of the right boxes in terms of good story telling.
At the end of the day this is Abrams doing what he does best. Star Trek Into Darkness is a big-budget sci-fi flick that is determined to entertain and excite. It’s a pleasure to say that it does both in equal measure.
THE REEL SCORE: 8/10
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