Star Trek: Into Darkness is a more than worthy successor to the 2009 JJ Abrams reboot with its exciting and heart-pounding storyline, eye-popping special effects, much-welcomed humor, and a jelling of the characters. Using source material from earlier Trek movies, this installment ends up being a Trek fan's delight as they pick out well-known quotes, new yet familiar characters, and in an ultimate nod to sci-fi geeks everywhere......borrowing an actor from the Doctor Who universe for a pivotal opening role.
Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is still trying to fit the mold of what other's think makes a good Captain and struggling mightily. When the chips are down and he's thrust into doing what others can't do is when his true understanding of what a Captain must do becomes clear in a few unexpectedly emotional scenes. Emotional scenes show up at the most unexpected times in fact as Spock (Zachary Quinto) struggles with his human side in his dealings of friendship with Kirk and his continuing romance with Uhura (Zoe Saldana). Quinto is quickly making the role his own as he seamlessly blends his Vulcan logic with the human emotions of fear, anger, and love and had me focusing on him every time he came on screen. Scotty (Simon Pegg) too left his mark in this film through some perfectly timed humor and subtle way of reminding everyone the true vision of Star Trek is to explore. Talk and acts of war put a modern spin on the tale and creates extra tension and philosophical issues to ponder long after the movie is over.
Benedict Cumberbatch makes for a compelling villain, at once violent and untrustworthy and yet sympathetic too. His real identity isn't revealed until the latter part of the movie but true Trek fans have known all along who he was. He and Kirk make a formidable team when forced into working together and even scarier enemies when staring each other down. His storyline is wrapped up but definitely leaves room for a return appearance. Female moviegoers hoping for some kick ass heroines will be somewhat satisfied as Uhura gets to be more than Spock's girlfriend in this film showing a few fight skills of her own. I wish the other new female character of Carol Marcus (who Trek fans know from the mythology) had fared as well. She's a runaway daughter who tries to use tears to end a battle when not coyly flirting with Kirk. I both dread seeing her again but know it's inevitable so I hope for someone much stronger next time around.
JJ Abrams' script had one or two obvious moments, but on a whole kept me on the edge of my seat. The special effects were truly impressive and weren't done merely for show. The cast/crew really meshed in this movie as you could sense their closeness, their sense of friends and family. The dialogue was fast-paced with flashes of humor and intense emotions and I would love to see this film again as I feel I might have missed some of the nuances keeping up with the dialogue. Abrams has created another loving tribute to the Star Trek universe and we fans are the ones being rewarded in this immensely satisfying, sure to be a summer blockbuster, film.
My rating for this is an A.