Reel Review – Star Trek Into Darkness

Eric Lepage / September 24, 2013 - 6:50pm

The second installment of the rebooted ‘Star Trek’ movie franchise boldly goes where its predecessors haven’t gone before. Well, not really. This was a Star Trek classic turned on its head and presented with modern flare.

At its core, Into Darkness accomplishes two things. First, it pulls us further into the relationship of the films central protagonists, James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto). Second, it acts as intermediary for numerous plots lines to develop in future films. And all wrapped up in an outlaw’s message: rules they are also made to be broken.

The films bad guy, “John Harrison” (Benedict Cumberbatch) is eerily captivating. Harrison is just a fake handle. His true identity, another re-hash from Treks extensive past, is that of the U.S.S. Enterprises’ toughest adversaries, Star Trek 2 anyone? When he bombs the Federation’s London archive, Kirk and crew embark on a grand manhunt. From here it’s a rollercoaster of turmoil for the remaining minutes. Roughly 110 surprisingly short minutes.

Kirk, a rogue who plays by his own rules, is eloquently balanced by Spock, the ultimate stickler, in a relationship that evolves on-screen. For the first time we see Kirks vulnerability and the growth of Spock’s emotions. This culminates to an emotional crescendo, where Abrams undeniably provoked Trekkies by inverting a classic Trek scene. It prompted me, though I wasn’t sure if I should well up with tears or laugh aloud.

This film was at its best when the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise put their high-tech toys away and simply talked. Like a large dysfunctional family, their squabbling and banter provide ample laughs. Just enough, even a casual fan will receive great entertainment value.

For all the good this movie has to offer, it did have its drawbacks.

Written and directed (J.J. Abrams) by the same crew who reprised the franchise with 2009’s Star Trek, the film provides the same feel but with a resounding difference, a bigger budget. The abundant action sequences produce spectacular displays of special effects, but like a concerned mom would say, sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad. And don’t get me started on the lens flares, anyone up for a dinking game? These would all be excusable if it wasn’t for the giant plot holes they warp through.

At one point we discover that the ‘ancient technology’ of cryogenic freezing was mastered 300 years ago. Are we to assume based on the opening scenes year of 2295 this ‘ancient technology’ was mastered before the Internet was?

Plot holes aside, Abrams did well at the con of the Star Trek franchise. This will be the last instalment from Abrams and his team of writers, as he has signed on for the upcoming Star Wars VII.

After the credits, a note appears on the screen stating this film was dedicated to 9/11 veterans. A kind gesture, but in the final act when half of San Francisco is obliterated in one fell swoop for a ‘Michael Bay’ effect and the movie fails to make note of the fallen, it felt a little insensitive to this writer.

The Verdict: This movie delivered where not all big budget films can. Sure it was bursting with action, explosions and special effects, but it was accompanied by good acting and comic relief. Cumberbatch steals scenes and Chris Pine is starting to grow on me as Kirk. I’m curious to see where the franchise goes from here. With Abrams jumping ship from Enterprise to Millennium Falcon, perhaps the next deep space voyage will be less blinding from those damn lens flares!  This is worthy of a viewing and was certainly one of the better films I saw this year. I give this movie a 7.5/10.