Star Trek: Into Darkness.
I liked the 2009 reboot of Star Trek. I mean, it was good. It prompted me to start watching the old television shows and I managed to get probably three seasons through The Next Generation before it fizzled. So will this sequel reignite that passion?
The gist is that terrorist John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) strikes the heart of Starfleet Command and it’s up to Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew to seek him out and bring him to justice. While this sounds like a pretty common spy thriller story, the magic of Star Trek is there as we cross multiple planets and engage with different races, all while looking for the truth. Supporting cast includes Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin.
In the first film, it was hard to gain traction because we spent much of the movie with pure exposition and character backstories. Here, we’re able to literally dive right in with an incredible opening scene that sets the tone beautifully. However, the movie does assume you remember every detail from the first film so I’d definitely recommend renting it or checking it out on Netflix (I think it’s still streaming there) before heading to the theater. The pace is quick and doesn’t slow down until the final moments.
And the action… Fantastic stuff here. We’ve got a few extraordinary mano a mano battles and a few interstellar spaceship fights as well, and everything in between. J.J. Abrams reeled in the lens flares that he’s so well known for and instead let the action scenes showcase themselves. The effects are top notch and incredibly engaging.
Since we’re jumping right in, the characters are able to get some depth, especially the power struggle turned friendship between Kirk and Spock. Great work by both Pine and Quinto here. Urban and Pegg also get some more screentime here, thankfully.
But the star of the show is undoubtedly Benedict Cumberbatch as terrorist John Harrison. He completely steals every scene he’s in and manages to pull off a subtle yet powerful demeanor but also is straight-up physically dominating when he steps toe-to-toe with the crew of the Enterprise. If you haven’t seen Cumberbatch before, check out the BBC version of Sherlock (first season reviewed here). Absolutely fantastic work here.
What doesn’t work?
It’s hard with a huge cast to give everyone ample storylines, so some of the characters get a little slighted. Here, the most underused was Anton Yelchin as Chekov. Karl Urban comes in second as Bones, getting minor pieces but nothing substantial.
Otherwise, outstanding film.
This is going to be an outstanding summer if we keep getting huge sprawling epics like Star Trek: Into Darkness. It’s a fun and explosive adventure with a memorable and daunting villain courtesy of Benedict Cumberbatch. Definitely worth seeing, especially on the big screen.