Editorial: As a kid I grew up passively watching Star Trek. My mother was a massive fan and even wrote in to CBS after the show was canceled in the late 60’s. In my youth I had seen every movie in the franchise and a few episodes of Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager but it wasn’t until J.J. Abrams 2009 reboot when I started showing more of an interest. That movie cut away from all of the boring stiffness I associated with Trek and allowed me to see just how grand the future envisioned by the late great Gene Roddenberry could be. When Star Trek Into Darkness announced it’s filming in January of 2012 I decided to take it upon myself to watch every series and every film in chronological order starting with Enterprise and ending at the release of the new movie.
My full report is just under this review but needless to say, the experiment endeared me to ALL of Star Trek. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awful movies (Final Frontier, Generations) and some even worse shows (Enterprise and Voyager) but on the whole my eyes have been opened to such a glorious sci-fi world and this 17 month long journey has helped me appreciate Star Trek Into Darkness as one of the greatest cinematic experiences I have had this year.
Who’s responsible? : J.J. Abrams is back in the directors chair with a new script from the Star Trek (2009) writers staff of Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof.
What’s it about? : A mysterious man named John Harrison causes pain and havoc to Starfleet and it’s up to Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise to bring him to justice before it’s too late.
Who’s in it? : Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Bruce Greenwood all reprise their roles from the 2009 movie, this time they’re joined by Peter Weller, Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch (in a star making role as the villain John Harrison)
What worked? : This movie starts and hits the ground running (literally) the first 13 mins not only manage to show and tell you everything you need to know about what the crew has been up to since the last movie but also manages to deliver humor, action and the central theme at a breakneck pace that somehow never manages to become overwhelming. Everything I loved about the last movie is in this one and turned up to eleven. The team dynamics, the humor (which is in abundance here but never feels tired), the action, the personal drama, Star Trek Into Darkness is everything a superior sequel should be and more. After spending so much time watching way too much Star Trek, my persistence and knowledge was rewarded what felt like every ten minutes. There are so many nods to the previous series as well as the films yet all of it is hidden for true fans and the casual observer shouldn’t (and can’t really) get bogged down in the references. The cast still has that same chemistry that made the 2009 reboot successful but all the introductions are over and we really get to see these characters fully realized. Benedict Cumberbach steals the show, giving us a way more layered and calculating villain than any other Star Trek movie antagonist I have ever seen before. Abrams, Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof should all be applauded for the work they’ve done here; as well as cinematographer Daniel Mindel and composer Michael Giacchino.
What didn’t work? : I may love this iteration of Star Trek but many hardcore Trekkies/Trekkers who are bigger fans of the Original Star Trek universe may be disappointed. Especially how this movie renders a long considered classic Trek movie (to say which one would be a crime) irrelevant. Other audiences may find the pacing and relentless action exhausting.
Final Verdict? : The best movie of the year I’ve seen so far and by far. Star Trek Into Darkness lived up to every expectation I had and more, becoming my favorite Star Trek film and a welcome addition to this all-new cannon. My only complaint with the last movie is that it ended when I wanted more and that complaint is doubled by this one. I would rather have the next Star Trek adventure than Star Wars Episode VII (J.J. Abrams next directing gig) I can only hope that this series keeps delivering the goods. Cause the universe knows I’ll keep watching.
5/5 HOT WINGS!!!!!