Star Trek Into Darkness Director: J.J. Abrams
Screenwriter(s): Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Alice Eve, John Cho Paramount Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 133 Minutes
Release Date: May 16, 2013
“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
With Star Trek Into Darkness, the 12th motion picture in the Star Trek franchise, director J.J. Abrams stays true to the main themes of Gene Roddenberry‘s classic television series while meeting all the requisite components of an action-packed summer blockbuster.
Roddenberry’s 1966 series highlighted the camaraderie of the USS Enterprise crew and the bonds of friendship between Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy, but Star Trek is remembered most for using science-fiction allegories to explore present-day dilemmas.
In Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams and writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof introduce post-9/11 anxieties into a futuristic utopia, examining how a universe built on peaceful intergalactic diplomacy deals with acts of terrorism and, as a result, the increasing militarization of the United Federation of Planets.
Commander John Harrison (Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch) carries out a series of terrorist attacks, bombing a secret Starfleet installation in London before attacking Starfleet headquarters in San Francisco. When the saboteur escapes, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) leads a mission to the Klingon homeworld of Kronos to hunt down the most wanted man in the universe.
The film’s revenge-driven narrative is merely a vehicle for exhilarating sci-fi action sequences and dead on character moments. Plot has always been the most disposable element in the Star Trek universe, and Abrams does well to focus on the personalities aboard the Enterprise and the connections between them.
Chris Pine’s Kirk has the swagger and heroism of William Shatner’s original Kirk, while Zachary Quinto finds the necessary balance of logic and emotion that Leonard Nimoy mastered decades ago. Karl Urban, who plays Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, offers a near-perfect imitation of DeForest Kelley’s sharp-tongued wit and emotive humanism.
As for the rest of the cast, Zoe Saldana takes a more active role as Lieutenant Uhura while Simon Pegg carries much of the film’s comedic weight as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. It’s Benedict Cumberbatch, however, who propels Star Trek Into Darkness into new, exciting territory.
John Harrison is a one-man weapon of mass destruction, a superhuman Benedict Arnold waging war against the Federation. Charismatic, menacing, intriguing; Cumberbatch’s venomous antagonist is everything Abrams’ first villain, Eric Bana’s Romulan time-traveler Nero, lacked.
Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reignited a classic franchise with action, humor, spectacular visuals, and a well-conceived origin story. While it isn’t as fine-tuned as its predecessor, Star Trek Into Darkness is a solid, easily accessible summer blockbuster with great performances and sumptuous sci-fi imagery.
I suppose this is the part of the review where I reveal a terrible truth: I am not a Trekkie. Like director J.J. Abrams, I grew up as an ardent disciple of George Lucas’ Star Wars universe. I really enjoy Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek because it captures the adventurous spirit of space-fantasy and dares to be [gasp!] entertaining – something the detached, static Trek series hasn’t been in years.
Star Trek Into Darkness will have its share of detractors; die-hard bellyachers will use their TI-83 scientific calculators to formulate all the ways Abrams has ruined their favorite franchise by making it fun, fast-paced, and watchable. The heartfelt humor and excitement of Abrams’ film will no doubt alienate those who like their Trek served like their Klingon proverbs for revenge: cold.