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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.09%
Worth A Look: 20%
Pretty Bad: 23.64%
Total Crap: 7.27%

5 reviews, 25 user ratings

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Star Trek Into Darkness
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by Jay Seaver

"A step down, but not enough of a mess to incur my Wrath."
3 stars

The opening of "Star Trek Into Darkness" is everything I want from this new incarnation of the franchise: An adventure on a faraway planet that could happily be dropped into the original series except for the big, movie-scale stunts and effects. And while the filmmakers eventually pile on too much of what the series doesn't need, it remains fairly exciting for a good while.

The way that opening plays out leaves Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) in hot water with Starfleet Command, but an attack on a Starfleet facility in London has Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quinto), McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and the rest of the crew headed into Klingon space to track down John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), the man responsible for the attack. Well, most of the crew - Scotty (Simon Pegg) was relieved after refusing to sign off on the new-model torpedoes that came on board with the new science officer (Alice Eve), and he's not the only one worried about just how far the mission Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) has sent them on appears to be from the Federation's principles.

An act of terrorism spurring a government into dangerous military action that may run counter to its laws and values, huh? Well, Star Trek did always pride itself on its stories holding a sci-fi mirror up to the real world back in the day, and it's nice to see Into Darkness giving some attention to that part of the legacy after its predecessor was so much about rebuilding the universe respectfully (important and fun in its way, but undeniably inward-looking). Into Darkness has a fair amount of that continuity maintenance stuff, but it's at least got a foundation of a story that could be interesting beyond what it says about the series itself.

It's not all political allegories and alternate-timeline easter eggs, though - it's a lot of high-energy fun, too. The opening gambit is like starting things off at another movie's climax, and the post-title gear-shifting is done quite well, too. There are a number of big, high-stakes action scenes, and despite the high stakes, director J.J. Abrams, the writers, and the cast keep things loose and entertaining. The special effects are spiffy, with 3D solidly implemented for those that like it (the use of large-format photography for some scenes wasn't immediately obvious at the Imax-branded multiplex theater where I watched the movie; I hope to see it in real 70mm Imax later in the summer). Once again, Michael Giacchino contributes a great score that will make longtime fans smile every time the old-school "fight music" manages to sneak in without sounding hokey.

The returning cast remains strong, too. Chris Pine's Kirk is still more overtly rakish and less thoughtful than William Shatner's, but he's good enough at mixing cockiness with fear of failure to create a character the audience can get behind. Quinto's dry wit makes a nice counterpoint - Spock is easily the franchise's funniest character, but it doesn't work unless he's played almost completely straight. Saldana and Urban are each entertaining playing off both, and Simon Pegg's energetic Scotty is a blast (John Cho and Anton Yelchin kind of draw the short straw with material). Alice Eve is a cheery as well as pretty addition, although Benedict Cumberbatch is maybe a bit of a letdown as Harrison; there are a lot of interesting ways to go with his character, but he doesn't offer up much more than a kind of generic intensity.

And that, for reasons that are nearly impossible to describe without giving away things meant to surprise, is a big part of the serious problems that the movie has trouble getting out from under as it heads toward the end. This guy needs to be more charismatic or individual, especially considering that his master plan doesn't make a lot of sense at all once you stand back and look at it as a whole. The references to pre-2009 Trek get more forced as the movie goes along, eventually moving from clever winks to necessary information. And the final action sequence, while it's got some good parts, also has both a "wait, weren't we done with that?" moment and a level of violence that's a notch or two more than has traditionally worked for this series and seems a little dishonest even before the final dedication to 9/11 first responders.

A lot of these problems are there early on, too, and just become apparent in the last act. Abrams has always been a guy good enough at communicating emotion that the story problems can be ignored, and he pulls it off for long enough here that "Star Trek Into Darkness" is certainly worth watching if you like this type of movie. Here's hoping the next one (likely scheduled for the series' 50th anniversary in 2016) will be more like the beginning and less like the end.

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originally posted: 05/19/13 13:19:58
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell killer sequel lots of fun purists stay away 5 stars
12/30/15 onix fiero fun and entertaining film. if you are looking for old trek this isn't it. but still fun. 4 stars
6/17/15 Bents Simply a straight-up action film - but a very good one 4 stars
3/21/14 Jack Star Trek into darkness: Idiots in outer space. 1 stars
1/28/14 Charles Tatum Great stuff, despite the naysayers! 5 stars
10/17/13 jeanne For 50 years, Kirk has been an immature jackass. My cat is a better captain. 1 stars
10/16/13 Carl Very enjoyable film. I have to knock off just a bit for not addressing Khan's heritage. 4 stars
8/31/13 Eggy Joe Repetitive, weak characters and unoriginal. Disapointed. 3 stars
7/23/13 TalynofTexas Exciting movie although it drags in parts and the ending is over the top. 4 stars
6/13/13 Marty Action was top-notch with great effects. Characters fun but shallow. 3 stars
6/08/13 Carol S Absolutely amazing! Both my husband and I enjoy it! 5 stars
6/05/13 gc A shot-for-shot remake of spocks death scene from ST 2, this is the best they can do? 2 stars
5/29/13 ThaDude Trek fans needs to get out of the 60's, the new films are what this franchise needed. 5 stars
5/27/13 jamiebraun Best star trek movie Ive seen in a decade 5 stars
5/27/13 Jeff Wilder Well-done Trek film. Best since First Contact. 4 stars
5/26/13 Philip Slick production that moves like lightning but ultimately hollow. 3 stars
5/21/13 kevin lause The villain makes this worth seeing. 4 stars
5/20/13 Koitus Good movie, especially if you are a Trek fan! 4 stars
5/20/13 THOMAS LEE Boring, inept, and irritiating. And that was just the cinema audience... 1 stars
5/19/13 Durwood Great effects and ok plot but a little wimpy with the don't go after terrorists message. 3 stars
5/17/13 Mishyana Original ST gets more credit than it warrants, this gets less. Both are good. 4 stars
5/17/13 Bob Dog Star Trite... 1 stars
5/17/13 mr.mike A few notches below the !st . still quite good. 4 stars
5/15/13 radium56 Fast paced & entertaining. 3D transfer unnecessary, occasionally awkward (seen in IMAX) 4 stars
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  15-May-2013 (PG-13)
  DVD: 10-Sep-2013


  DVD: 10-Sep-2013

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