The latest Star Trek hits the ground running with its marriage of action and comedy in an adventurous tone that keeps its pace throughout the film, punctuated with a few poignant moments. The special effects are seamless, the musical score is impressive and Hollywood’s golden child, Director/Producer J.J. Abrams lives up to his reputation at the helm of this summer sci/fi blockbuster. With a budget estimated at $185 million, a following of Trekkies that dates back before this critic’s time, and lens flares that are more distracting than Worf’s forehead, “epic” seems like a mild adjective. (Apologies to the purists for mixing the Trek generations.)
The second installment of this reboot brings back an old nemesis, harkening boldly – and successfully – on what is widely held to be the best movie of the original series. The Starfleet is faced with a betrayal that eventually pits Captain Kirk, Spock and the crew against their own principles, either surrender the vision that ties them together, or surrender to the enemy. The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise have to decide what they are willing to sacrifice to keep to their moral standards, and in the process discover what distinguishes their vision from that of their enemies’.
Into Darkness doesn’t hit all the notes concerning moral conundrums and introspection that I remember from the few episodes I saw of the television series. However, it does pick up where it left off with Spock’s choice not to feel or respond to emotion, a choice continually challenged by his captain, as Kirk’s bullheadedness continually makes possible the statistical improbabilities.
And here is where I think the spirit of the original Star Trek is upheld: when the characters’ opposing goals are challenged by their shared vision, their differences counter balance and become a focus on what is truly worth fighting, and dying for.
If the movie holds true to the spirit of the series, it does so through its characters. Each of the actors plays their part well and are very engaging, without struggling over one another for screen time.
Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy is particularly fun, relishing his over-the-top, near caricature of the doctor. The over-acting works because the movie has such nostalgia attached to it, also, Karl Urban already over-acts.
Another plus is Benedict Cumberbatch. You might recognize him as Major Jamie Stewart from Spielberg’s War Horse, or from the lesser-known Amazing Grace as William Pitt. He takes on a much different role this time, and plays it wonderfully.
Into Darkness continues the segue into a revitalized Star Trek for a younger generation. Sadly, the moral of the story is recapped a little obviously in a speech after the two-hour run time had been expended on action. It serves more as a transition to the end credits than as a bridge into the next inevitable sequel. It’s a shame that the movie didn’t make a few minutes more for introspection, which would have strengthened the plot as well.
Having said that, I look forward to more like this from Abrams and company, as the final scene implies there is more to come in the vein of allegory.