Star Trek Into Darkness Review

J.J. Abrams' Sci-Fi Sequel Stuns and Kills

May 17, 2013 by

I grew up as a Star Wars fan with very little interest in Star Trek. A few years ago, J.J. Abrams’ Oscar-winning revival of Star Trek, a sci-fi blockbuster masterpiece, changed all that. Not only did Abrams’ vision exceed the expectations of multiple generations of Trekkies, it created a new legion of fans for the next generation. And after an awesome marketing campaign that included an extended sneak peek of the tantalizing opening sequence with select IMAX prints of The Hobbit back in December, we’ve since felt like that rambling little girl from those AT&T ads, i.e. “We want MORE! We want MORE!”

Logically, we honored Star Trek Into Darkness as THE most anticipated movie of the year; fortunately, the sequel lives up to the hype. The twelfth film of the iconic sci-fi series falls a bit short of its predecessor, but Star Trek Into Darkness is still a summer blast that stuns and kills. I know that it was less than a week ago when I proclaimed that the dazzling 3D in The Great Gatsby was among the best that I had ever seen in a live action movie, but I definitely have to repeat myself here regarding the immersive extra dimension of Into Darkness. From the very beginning in the explosive prologue, the 3D carries on strikingly at a high caliber, especially during the fantastic action sequences, along with the consistently engaging story and even into the credits. Like in The Avengers last year, the Star Trek sequel’s post-converted 3D shows off how much more advanced the improved technology has become.

Into Darkness continues to explore the characters of and the friendship between the reckless I-do-what-I-want Kirk and the logical by-the-book Spock, played well by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, respectively. Their performances stand out above those of the rest of the Enterprise crew, which includes supporting turns by Karl Urban, John Cho, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, and Anton Yelchin. Saldana is probably given the most opportunity to make an impact with her screen time, but for the most part, the focus of Into Darkness is clearly away from the crew, resulting in a considerable decrease in their development and Pegg’s quips. Alice Eve and original Robocop Peter Weller also co-star as Starfleet members.

Alfred Hitchcock’s assertion that “the more successful the villain, the more successful the picture” sums up one of my biggest problems with Abrams’ previous movie, Super 8 (and its contrived conclusion), and one of my biggest praises with Abrams’ current film. As one of the most memorable and conniving villains in recent cinema, Benedict Cumberbatch outshines both Pine and Quinto. His delightfully devilish display as an ex-Starfleeter-turned-terrorist may not be at Heath Ledger’s Joker level, but it’s reminiscent of Javier Bardem’s performance in Skyfall. We want MORE! We want MORE!

The only gripe I have with Star Trek Into Darkness is that the trailers have already included much of the key dialogue, dramatic moments, high-flying stunts, and action thrills. Thankfully, despite this very minor grievance, the biggest secrets remain unrevealed, and the film itself remains immensely entertaining. Director J.J. Abrams’ previous project was lauded as our Best Sci-Fi Movie of 2011 and one of the year’s best overall, and Star Trek Into Darkness certainly warp speeds into similar consideration for 2013 (your move, Elysium).

The big question is now that it’s revisited excellence after a flawless maiden voyage, where does the franchise go now? Or more precisely, when? The possibilities are both infinite and intriguing, but how involved will Abrams be in future Star Trek adventures as he’s off to direct the the first episode of the Mouse House’s Star Wars trilogy? Any way he’ll orchestrate a crazier collision of universes and galaxies? Probably not, as millions of nerds would riot and/or implode, but in the meantime, the only logical thing to do is to check out Star Trek Into Darkness in theaters with 3D and in IMAX if possible. Star Trek Into Darkness gets 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Our Rating4.5

Amazing

by / Staff

User Rating 4.6

GD Star Rating
loading...

Amazing

based on 5 votes cast

Our Rating4.5

Amazing

by / Staff

User Rating4.6

GD Star Rating
loading...

Amazing

based on 5 votes cast

  • BK

    Hitchcock’s quote is pretty spot-on. Abrams did a great job creating a feeling of despair and hopelessness for the protagonist in this film, before lifting our heroes up and giving the audience exactly what they want: a happy ending. This is what primarily what kept me drawn to this movie. Cumberbatch is simply amazing, and I expected him to be after watching his work on Sherlock (you should check it out if you haven’t yet, Vinnie).

    The only other movie I’ve seen in the past few years that had me drawn like this was The Dark Knight Rises, and in so many ways the two films are very similar (i.e fight scene between Cumberbatch and Pine similar to Batman vs Bane). I hope Abrams continues with this franchise and we get to see more of Cumberbatch in the future.

  • http://MediaStinger.com/ Paul Curtin

    Film was stunning on IMAX, seeing my girlfriend jump right from the start as the spears were flying out of the screen right at you was worth the extra ticket price alone. Very good job on the 3D conversion. I was hoping that the film’s plot would be a little bit darker like The Dark Knight because of the subtitle, but still really loved it.

    Also, looking back on R2D2 in the first one is starting to make more sense now… Crazy that Abram’s is now the man behind the two biggest sci-fi series of all time. After Into Darkness I’m even more excited to see where he takes the Star Wars series since I too was never a fan of Star Trek until he revitalized the franchise, so Star Wars should become even better. And give ‘em another 10-20 years and we’ll have the worlds colliding like The Avengers. ;)

    • http://moviestinger.com Vinnie Leduc

      I absolutely agree with everything here. Abrams admitted that he’s more
      of a Star Wars fan, so it’ll be realllllllly interesting to see what he
      has in store for Episode VII.

  • John Connor

    Phenomenal film.

    MAJOR SPOILERS – DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS FILM YET (AND YOU SHOULD)

    I would have changed one thing though. Kirk should have died (stayed dead). The film would have been more poignant and that ending wouldn’t have felt like a copout. I hate when they bring back someone who supposedly dies just to have a happy ending and make more sequels. Or at the least, they could have done it better. Watching them look at Kirk’s body, with that stupid music that indicates that this really isn’t that serious and they will soon find a way to bring him back, totally ruined it.

    This film is so damn good that I really don’t care to see anymore. It should have ended here. Either way, Kirk should have died since not dying robs the whole film and the most dramatic of moments. It was perfect up until that cheesy revival.

    If they wanted Kirk for the third film, it should have been done through flashbacks/memories of Spock. We see Kirk and Spock starting a mission that isn’t resolved and now years later, Spock is Captain and is finishing what he and Kirk started. Kirk would be a sort of Obi-Wan in Spock’s mind, guiding him, remembering what Kirk would do.

    I just think they really pussied out at the end.

    • http://moviestinger.com Vinnie Leduc

      I had very similar feelings about Kirk here. If they had killed him off with that perfect end to his character arc, that truly would have been “INTO DARKNESS”, and it would have been a better fit to the “go boldly where no man has before” saying that’s attached to the franchise. Something that crazy would probably have boosted my rating to 5 stars. It also would’ve been a pretty funny/awesome/dbag way for Abrams to leave Star Trek for Star Wars like that haha… like… “Good luck with the sequels! … PEACE!”