May 17, 2013 by Vinnie Leduc
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.