Star Trek Into Darkness

Directed By: J.J. Abrams

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Peter Weller, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, and Anton Yelchin

Director J.J. Abrams appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this week and revealed that he was not originally a fan of the Star Trek television series.  After becoming involved with developing a new Star Trek movie series, he did revisit the television show and grew to love it.  Abrams indicated that his goal was to make a film that could be enjoyed by trekkies and non-trekkies alike—a film that could captivate all audiences.  With Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams has done just that.  With stunning visual effects, thrilling action sequences, and great characters, Star Trek Into Darkness has just kicked the summer movie season up a notch. 

Shall we begin?  Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is commander of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701).  He leads a talented team aboard the Enterprise, including Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto), Lieutenant Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Dr. McCoy a.k.a. Bones (Karl Urban), Lieutenant Sulu (John Cho), and Scotty (Simon Pegg), among others.  Kirk is somewhat of a rogue captain.  He does what he thinks is best, disregarding rules and regulations.  After breaking the Prime Directive during a mission, he is stripped of his captain’s status and demoted to First Officer.  His mentor, Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) is sorely disappointed with him and doesn’t think Kirk is ready for “the chair.”

Meanwhile, the mysterious Commander John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), launches a full out assault on the Starfleet. Commander Harrison inexplicably blows up one of the Starfleet’s archives, killing dozens of people.  Then, when the admirals and commanders gather to discuss how to respond to Harrison’s attack, he shoots into the Starfleet conference room, killing many.

After the attack, Scotty discovers that John Harrison is hiding out in a remote location on a Klingon planet.  In response, Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller) orders Captain Kirk to take a team out to the remote location and launch an untraceable torpedo at the planet to obliterate Harrison.  (They want it to be untraceable in an effort to avoid a full blown war with the Klingons).  But in true James T. Kirk fashion, Kirk disobeys the directive and decides to lead a small team onto the planet to capture Harrison and bring him back to Earth for justice.  But when Kirk and his crew land, they uncover more than they anticipated.

Star Trek Into Darkness is riveting from start to finish.  As an initial matter, the cast does an incredible job.  Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the best villains I have seen in quite some time (even though the name Benedict Cumberbatch makes me think he is a professor at Hogwarts). In the film, he delivers a menacing and compelling performance as Harrison.  Cumberbatch infuses his character with emotion, intelligence, power and pure evil.  He is coldly driven in a way that is disturbing, but also makes him incredibly formidable.

The film is also driven by the bromance between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.   While Kirk is spontaneous, emotive, and somewhat reckless, Spock is analytical and puts order and rules above his own personal wants and needs. Pine and Quinto deliver comedic, yet powerful performances and they have great onscreen chemistry.  The rest of the cast delivers as well, with Weller, Saldana and Pegg giving notable performances.

The action sequences and visual effects are also spectacular.  I viewed the film in IMAX 3D, and the extra price was worth it.  I am not a huge 3D fan as I believe it is overrated, designed to drive up ticket prices, and at times can be uncomfortable to watch with cheap plastic glasses.  Further, I was not expecting a great deal since the film was converted to 3D post production.  However, during some of the fight sequences, the spears and lasers actually appear to be coming right at viewers.  Moviegoers will feel like they are part of the action.  Honestly, Into Darkness made me confident that the next Star Wars movies will be in capable hands with J.J. Abrams at the helm, and we will not suffer through another Phantom Menace.

Star Trek Into Darkness earns a sober rating.  It is an outstanding film, and sets a high standard for the summer blockbuster season.