Friday, May 17, 2013

'Star Trek: Into Darkness' satisifies both fans and newcomers

I wasn’t sure what to expect from ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness.’

I wasn’t keen on the idea of a reboot in 2009 – in general, I think the majority of reboots are terrible – but I was blown away by the first installment.

Not only were the movies cast well – especially in the three major roles of Kirk, Spock and Bones –  but they were also well acted and action-packed.

The trailer for the second film was a lot darker – and I was worried the fun of the first film would be lost.

‘Into Darkness’ is definitely darker. There’s no doubt about that. It still has fun with itself, though, and it’s the nods to true ‘Star Trek’ fans that really thrilled me.

There are funny jokes – including making Chekhov gulp when he has to put on a red shirt – and there are poignant moments of true feeling and devotion among the crew members.

The movie opens with Spock’s life in peril and Kirk breaking Starfleet’s Prime Directive to save him.
While the action sequence is tons of fun, it’s really just a plot point to show that Kirk and Spock have differing ideas about duty.

Kirk wants to do his duty – but he’s not willing to sacrifice a crew member to do it. Spock is by the book the entire way – and he’s ready to die if it means that his duty is fulfilled.

Kirk and Spock are the centerpiece of the movie – and their relationship is key. ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ is widely considered the best of the original Trek movies (although I have a soft spot for ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’). This movie is an odd mirror of that – although it doesn’t take the same twists at turns.

At the center of ‘Into Darkness’ is John Harrison, a rogue Starfleet officer that inflicts two acts of terrorism on Starfleet – forcing Kirk and Spock into a moral quandary as they chase him to Kronos (a Klingon moon introduced in previous ‘Star Trek’ flicks).

In the capable hands of Benedict Cumberbatch, Harrison is a marvel to watch on the screen -- a fine physical specimen with absolutely no sex appeal. I know, it's a weird combination -- but it works. You are never sure of his true motivations – and he’s a master manipulator. Most fans already know who Cumberbatch is – but I won’t ruin it for the handful who are still living in the dark.

Instead of killing Harrison – like Admiral Marcus orders Kirk – he is taken into custody on the Enterprise. That’s where the true plot of the movie is revealed.

‘Into Darkness’ really is a love story for ‘Star Trek’ fans. I think those that aren’t familiar with the
franchise will love the movie – but those that loved ‘Wrath of Khan’ will really adore it. Director J.J. Abrams does a masterful job of interweaving the second Trek stories into each other.

It takes a lot to make me cry at a movie – but this one did bring me to tears near the end. I figured out what they were going to do at the end – but that didn’t ruin the ride for me. And the Leonard Nimoy cameo fit in well -- and didn't feel forced.

At its heart, ‘Wrath of Khan’ was a story of what happens when sacrifice and vengeance collide. The same can be said of ‘Into Darkness.’
Not only are the action sequences breathtaking – including a final fight between Harrison and Spock that harkens back to some ‘Star Wars’ glory (Abrams is going to revitalize that series, I can feel it) – but the quiet moments are poignant, as well.

While this film doesn’t have as much humor as the first film – it’s still there, mostly revolving around Kirk and Spock’s combustible relationship.

“Sometimes I just want to . . . rip those bangs right off his head,” Kirk says at one point.

It’s no surprise that their relationship is the one that rings most true in this rebooted franchise. Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine embody their characters – and they both look like they’re having a blast doing it.

In the end, I recommend ‘Into Darkness’ to everyone – but true Trek fans will be missing out on a wonder if they skip it.

What do you think? Did you like ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’?


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