As rousing action-adventure, popcorn-munching movies go, “Star Trek Into Darkness” has set the standard for summer 2013. “Iron Man 3” will make more money but it wasn’t as crazy entertaining.
And this is coming from someone who isn’t much of a Trek fan. I’ve seen all the movies and maybe half of the television shows but more out of nerd obligation than love and awe.
Director J.J. Abrams continues at warp speed the scorched-Vulcan reboot of the venerable ’60s sci-fi series that began with 2009’s “Star Trek.” The film begins with the first of many mad action sequences as the crew of the USS Enterprise try to stop a planet from blowing up without being seen. It’s a great mix of special effects, character bits and action but I have problems with the whole scene as it relates to The Prime Directive and I really don’t want to go full nerd on that in a movie review so let’s move on.
The main plot really kicks in when rogue Starfleet commander John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) blows up a Starfleet facility and follows that up by attacking a meeting of the high command and killing many important officials. Harrison runs off to find refuge on the Klingon homeworld.
Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller) sends Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) to kill Harrison using some special long-range photon torpedoes. First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto) doesn’t approve of assassination and convinces Kirk to bring Harrison in alive to stand trial.
A quick chat between Harrison and Kirk leads to the standard all-you-believe-is-wrong revelations and soon the Enterprise, and probably the entire universe, is in grave danger.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” is the most fun I’ve had at a Star Trek movie in, well, forever (although I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the one where they go back in time for whales). The action is exciting and practically nonstop. The special effects and set designs are first-rate. The movie references many classic Trek bits and moments in clever ways.
Of course, if your love of “Star Trek” centers on the crew sitting around a long table and discussing things, this will be a disappointment.
The cast breathe new life into familiar characters and all the popular characters are given at least one moment in the spotlight. As for the newcomers, Weller makes a nice addition to Starfleet command but it’s Cumberbatch who really shines. He gives a chilling performance that’s so compelling you may find yourself rooting for him.
As to the film’s flaws, well, there’s still too much damn lens flare. But that’s obviously something Abrams really likes so we’re just going to have to live with it. I also felt the villain’s idea of putting a secret surprise inside the torpedoes was ridiculous as villain plans go. If I was going to hide something dear to me I wouldn’t stick it inside an exploding weapon.