Star Trek Into Darkness

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JJ Abrams strikes back with a darker film than the first chapter of his “Star Trek” reboot.

Kirk and co. fight for survival in space as they face their greatest enemy yet in a big budget action packed summer spectacular.

Starfleet is severely crippled when a man named Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) bombs a research facility, and then makes a direct assault on Starfleet Headquarters, killing many of its top officers and officials. After Scotty (Simon Pegg) discerns where a fleeing Harrison transported himself to, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise are assigned to travel to the distant planet and obliterate him from afar using a new, technologically advanced torpedo.

Unfortunately for them, the planet that Harrision has hidden himself on is the Klingon homeworld.

Kirk, Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Bones (Karl Urban) will have to decide whether assassinating a man without a trial is something that they’re willing to do. Further, the act of aggression against the Klingons could launch an interstellar war. They’ll also face challenges when they discover the true identity of Harrison, and the nature of the weapons programs that created the torpedos they’ve been given. Before it’s all said and done, the Enterprise and crew will be fighting for its very survival. With the help of Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Sulu (John Cho) and their new science officer Carol Wallace (Alice Eve), Kirk will have to find a way to keep the Enterprise in one piece after being outmatched and outgunned.

As with most second installments, “Into Darkness” is a much darker film than the first offering in the series (if the title didn’t give that away). The crew of the Enterprise is given a morally questionable mission in response to a terrorist attack, and wind up in a fight for their lives against enemies both within and without. Though still not without its share of comedic beats, the tone is much more serious this time out.

Following the pattern of the first Abrams’ Trek offering, “Into Darkness” is an action packed film filled with death-defying leaps, phaser battles and Starship shootouts. There are plenty of fist fights, a couple of bomb disarmament countdowns, and of course, the requisite engine room emergency, where the engines need to be brought back on-line or else the ship will be demolished and everyone on board will die. It’s a big budget action movie in space; light on the sci-fi concepts, heavy on the adrenaline. I may prefer my “Trek” a little more thought-provoking and character based, but I can’t deny the thrills and chills presented here.

The reboot crew lives up to their performances in the first film; some are excellent at reprising the roles they’ve been given (Quinto, Urban) others not as much (Pine, Yelchin, Saldana), but they all work fine together onscreen if you’re willing to not compare them to their original counterparts. Benedict Cumberbatch is a seething, scowling villain. He’s short on charisma but long on menace. Alice Eve brings some “pretty” to the table, but not much more. As an ensemble, however, they more than get the job done together. They manage to stand out and apart amidst an array of action beats, imparting charm and drama in the downtime.

“Into Darkness” also features a number of callbacks to the original TV series and films, particularly to the second movie, “The Wrath of Khan”. Some of these worked for me, and left me smirking at being in on an in-joke, others had me rolling my eyes and wishing the new series would cut the cord to the past completely.

Regardless, the film winds up being just the type of summer spectacular you would hope for. It’s plot isn’t exactly airtight, but it has deft enough sleight of hand to keep your mind off of its flaws and focused on the fun.

A-

Daniel Fogarty

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97 thoughts on “Star Trek Into Darkness

  1. You are like the voice of reason here. I had such a hard time with this film because I loved it so much!
    I thought that this one did a lot better job at bringing in more political and moral issues, even if they still didn’t quite get there with the science. It’s hard to have it all though, even some of the old movies didn’t have all three. I sort of agree with you with the stuff he borrowed from Khan too, I mean on one hand it was really effective because of the old movie, and on the other that was really the big reason of why it was effective. Obviously it still carried an emotional impact because of the situation, but still. If they make another one (I hope so!) I hope they don’t reference the old films for main plot points, just little things. I recognized this in the movie, but it’s still not a really big deal for me because I loved the movie so much :)
    Also really loved Cumberbatch. He freaking terrified me here!
    All in all I loved the film and can’t wait to see it again. I also watched the trouble with tribbles last night! :) Fun times!

    • I thought when they broke out the tribbles we were going to get a “Trouble With Tribbles” situation breaking out for comic relief at one point. :D

      It was fun, I definitely enjoyed it, and I do have to say that they did do a better job of interjecting morals and thought provoking situations than the first one, though they’re still not quite at the originals levels ;) The action was excellent, though the finale had me rolling my eyes a bit. :(

      Let’s just say I liked it a lot, but I have to keep it in line, this one didnt get me hyped up crazy and handing out plusses. But I still thought it was very good.

  2. I agree with some of the flaws you pointed out, but being a proud Cumberbitch I thought Benny was PERFECT (dont worry I’ll stop there:)… Andddd I haven’t seen a film that made me laugh AND cry in a while so there’s that. I thought Pine’s performance was particularly moving as well, a couple of those close up shots and a scene I won’t mention were really well done! Definitely agree with your grade :D

    • You cried during this movie? 8O At what point was that? I can only think of one candidate, but I want to make sure…

      Cumberbatch was evil, but…. kind of boring. I like a little more charisma to my villains. Show some flair somehow. All BC did was brood. :(

      • Well I don’t want to spoil anything, but obviously the scene at the end (those two are my BROTP, man don’t make me even start), and then during the aftermath of Harrison’s first attack when someone important is also crying…I just really noticed the increase in emotion in this film compared to the first :) Can’t wait to see it again actually!

      • Ok. I figured the first one you mentioned was one, didnt think of the second one. I can see it, but… didnt carry anywhere near that weight for me. I’m a tough guy though ;) LOL

  3. Nice review. I thought this was a better overall film than the first. It has some of the same issues for me as the first but it more than makes up for it in the second half.

  4. Fogs
    caught this last night. blown away by it. I was expecting it to be OK but probably not as good as the 2009 reboot. I was wrong. Right up there in my opinion. I liked the nods to the TV series. They were subtle and didn’t intrude in the story. Benedict C was superb and I think the films are benefiting from the class of actor involved.
    Very nice review and congrats on the Lammys.

    • Thanks John, I liked it too. I might disagree on the subtlety of the nods to the original properties, LOL. Some of them were subtle – a name drop here or there, say, but some of them were “mirroring” that really stood out. I’m sure you know what I’m referring to without me having to go into spoilers ;)

      Thanks for the congrats, btw, nice of you to say John :D It was a great, great experience!

  5. Good review!! So far the best blockbuster this year (and this comes from somebody who doesn’t even like Star Trek. lol)

  6. I enjoyed this film but I had a tough time with the tech of this movie even for a sci-fi flick. The inter stellar transporter was way to much of a far fetch for me. The enterprise can enter Klingonn space and orbit their planet without a hint of detection eas laughable at best. The enterprises seemed to travel space in a few seconds without any time lapse was another one for me. but the one that really got me was when they were in dire straights orbiting earth without even a hint that star fleet detected them was just redicules. I can go on but i think you get point. This is an adventure/sci-fi flick based on tech. The adventure part is an easy A. The sci-fi tech part is a C at best. A must see flick but remember to ignore the not so great tech.

    • Like I was saying in the review, if we break this movie down point by point, there’s a lot of farfetched things and a lot of plot points that make no sense. Here’s a few that you missed. How did Scotty sneak aboard that Dreadnaught class starship? LOL. And did he just find an “Off Switch” somewhere? What kind of “Superior Intellect” hides people in torpedos? :roll:

      But the trick is that – like a lot of good modern action movies – “Into Darkness” keeps things moving fast enough that you dont have time to say, “Wait. What?” At the end of the day, those flaws are why I gave it a – instead of a +, but it was still an enjoyable roller coaster ride of a movie, in my book ;)

      • Another one was why the heck did they need Cumberbatch alive? They didn’t, they had all of his genetically engineered minions so Bones could have just taken blood from one of them and Spock could have killed him and it would have been fine. Of course morally it would have been a different story but logistically it would have worked out.

      • LOL. We were talking about that on the way out of the theatre. My answer was, they might not have been sure that the other people’s blood would behave in the same way as Khans.

        Of course, the real answer is they felt as if ending with that chase scene/fistfight was a good idea. LOL xD

      • I know what you mean by fast moving action, but I did say what the heck throughout the flick and for me that did take away some pleasure from the film.

  7. Great review, Fogs. This one has been one of the highlights of the movie year so far for me. Such great fun. And Benedict Cumberbatch was great as a villain (although quite a bit underused).

    • Yeah, I saw you say that in your review. I didnt necessarily think he needed more screentime, but I thought he could have… been more animated. He was evil, but kind of dull. Especially when I compare him to his flamboyent predecessor, you know? :(

      The movie was very very entertaining though, no doubt!

      • I don’t necessarily think he was dull but, yeah, I can understand why you would think that. I just wanted him to kick more ass, you know. He spent half his time helping the others! lol

  8. Great review Fogs, agreed w/ everything except that Benedict is short on charisma :D I think he’s got it in spades, but now I’m curious to see how Montalban does it ;)

    You’re right about Alice Eve, kind of an unnecessary character and what’s w/ her stripping to her underwear?? In any case, I like that this movie is dark (well dark-er than the first) but yet not grim.

    • LOL. That stripping down to her underwear scene was the most blatant interjection of unnecessary “hotness” to a movie that I’ve ever ever seen. LOL Absolutely uncalled for. Not that I minded, but I could imagine female audience members everywhere rolling their eyes. LOL

      Once you see Montalban chew scenery Ruth, you’ll know what I mean ;) :D

  9. Are you finally done with the awards? Whew! Now onto the movie. Just watched it and loved it. Emotional and very action packed. Can’t wait for this one to come out on BD. Great review. A- was just perfect.

    • LOL. Yeah… the awards are done. Unless you can find me somewhere else that gives out blog awards, I’ll throw my hat into that ring! :D

      Glad to see you concur, sir! I enjoyed it too, but I couldnt get too too carried away about it. It had a variety of small issues here and there along the way that kept me from ranting and raving. Glad you liked it too Al!

  10. I thought you’d be a little tougher given your thoughts on my review. ha. Love that you still give it a A-. I think that’s accurate!

    There was much to enjoy in this one. i give Benedict Cumberbatch a little more credit than you though, I think.

    good review man!

    • Psych!… I guess? LOL

      I think everyone is a little more fond of Cumberbatch than I was. Did he glower enough and look really mad? Yeah… but he didnt have a lot of charisma, to me. All my favorite villains have more personality than that. Included the actor who played the role previously…

  11. I loved it. LOL. I enjoyed the story, and I think it points to maybe more science on the next movie. I thought the nods to the original were well placed and fun but not over done and I just had a blast watching it. Thanks for the review. Glad it got an A!

  12. I think your assessment of this film is generally spot on. There are a lot of things that happen which are not explained and scientifically don’t make sense. When you have an hour and people are consuming for free in their homes, you can address those issues. When you have two hours, every three or four years and people are paying as much as $18 for an IMAX 3-D experience, stuff better go boom every ten minutes and there has to be a new twist to satisfy the casual observers. They managed to get in some moral and political ideas in the story, the science was sacrificed for entertainment value. The lessons of Star Trek The Motion Picture have still been learned 34 years later.

    I think Cumberbatch became more complex as the story went along, and the relentlessness of his mission is what makes him a dangerous character, not simply the snarling and pyrotechnics. He did a lot with his voice which is why I feel more confident in the second Hobbit film, even though I still think Peter O’Toole should be the voice of Smaug. I don’t really disagree with the substance of your criticism, and the tone is moderated by the score. Looking forward to the podcast discussion. In a throwdown between an Iron Man 3 apologist and a Star Trek realist, I expect some sparks. Good job, and thanks for your comments on my review also.

    • LOL! “In a throwdown between an Iron Man 3 apologist and a Star Trek realist, I expect some sparks.” I’m not sure there will be any on this one, Richard. Unless Tank does something crazy like flushes it or something. :D

      As to the lessons of Star Trek the Motion Picture, I agree to an extent… but there has to be a happy medium. I think they came close here, but didnt quite achieve it. The story could have used a bit more beef, and maybe the fistfight at the end could have been tossed in favor of having the plummeting Enterprise being the finale. That’s alright, though, few action movies nail things perfectly.. That’s what makes the great ones so great. They’re rare.

      As to Cumberbatch, his plot was fine, and his character was fine, but all he did was look mean the whole time. I wasn’t impressed. I like a little more flair to my villains. Give me Gruber, Give the the Joker, Give me… dare I say it? Khan! :D

  13. We agree! No fight here. I enjoyed it, too–but it is indeed, not perfect–neither was the first one (finishing up review now). But, despite serious use of contrived plot devices to propel determined narratives, Abrams constant use of screenwriting 101 sensibilities and lens flare shots–it is the chemistry of the characters that keep your interest throughout.

    This is a fun ride, from beginning to end. Abrams can tell a hell of a good story and in my opinion, this finished the bromance that is Kirk & Spock :D — they found their balance with each other. Well done. Now, I too hope that they cut the umbilical cord and it appears that from this point forward we might finally be “going where no man has gone before…”

    And no love for Cumberbatch? Shame. I loved him–he was not a traditional villain because his quest is single minded and completely personal. But, no matter–check out the BBC Sherlock series (LOVE!) and then let me know if you are still not impressed. ;) Just sayin’.

    Later!

    • I didnt even mention the lens flares in my review, much to my regret. I should have. That’s such an annoying habit, I wish someone would break him of it!

      I dont want to say I had NO love for Cumberbatch, but I’ve seen a lot of people raving about how “great” he was, and I wasn’t all THAT impressed. I know, I know people have recommended “Sherlock” to me a bunch of times, but I havent been able to get to it. I’ll probably have to wait to see him again as Smaug. Regardless, here, he was too stiff and stoic for me. :(

      I’ll check out your review later, Nedi. Peace!!

  14. I enjoyed this too. It was a great ensemble. Not everyone can get equal time so I thought the way it was balanced out was perfect. Love your review.

    • Thanks Mark… the cast is pretty good for the most part. Some are better than others for calling back to mind the original stars, but they’re all pretty good for making a fun, entertaining movie. ;)

  15. Saw it last night in IMAX and really enjoyed it! As stated above, a well balanced film. Being a Trek fan, I loved the subtle injections of familiar characters, but can do without some of the non-storyline filler. In the show I was in, the audience was cheering and clapping at least 4 times and clapped at the end as well. A bit over zealous if you ask me. But I loved the film and your review is spot on!

    • Thanks Ray! It’s cool when an audience is really into it… I dont know what moments might have been that big in the movie though, presonally, to me… I’m a Trek fan too (watching “First Contact” now actually, LOL) but a couple of the nods to the old series were a little out of place. Quinto has a yell that he does that I had to roll my eyes at a bit. No one can match that original… LOL I’m sure you can figure out what I’m referring to!

      Glad you dug it though, it was a really fun movie!!

  16. I appreciated that JJ toned down the amount of lens flares in this film. That new science officer Carol Wallace can light my bunsen burner whenever she wants. Great visuals and plenty of action and funny one liners.

    On the downside, enough with revisiting the past with this series… It is high time to boldly go where no film has gone before. Do I get to blame Lindelof for reusing all the plot themes from Star Trek 2?

    • Heh. I thought that Abrams’ lens flares were just as out of control as always! There were moments when I couldnt even see! LOL. Not that I’m complaining about Alice Eve in her underwear, but that was the most blatant interjection of sex appeal ever. LOL

      You can blame Lindelof, sure. I cant wait til we dont have to think about that guy anymore! :(

      • More blatant than the existence of Seven of Nine? More blatant than Uhura’s naked fan dance? More blatant than the decontamination chamber in ST: Enterprise where a sexy Vulcan lady strips to her skivvies and rubs clear gel all over herself?

        Good day to you, sir.

        I say good day!

  17. Been a long since I disagreed with you so much on a movie. Just got back; I went in with low expectations and the movie met them.

    This is such a good, talented cast and it’s a shame they are getting hamstrung with storylines this stupid.

    • Really? Our first hater today… I was actually coming in on the low side of most people’s comments.

      I didnt think it was altogether stupid, but there were definitely moments where you had to suspend your disbelief more than others. Was there any particular part that got under your skin?

      • **SPOILERS**

        The entire movie after “KHAAAAAAAAN!” Ridiculous. Like, Star Trek V levels of stupid.

        And really, just the amount of re-tread just kind of pissed me off. Iron Man III, as flawed as it was, ate this movie for breakfast.

      • I agree with all your sentences there except the last one. This was on pace for a much higher grade from me until the finale, which degenerated into silly action movie tropes. I also agree about the “re-tread material”.

        That said, I enjoyed this much more than Iron Man 3 LOL :roll: :D

      • And another thing… why the frak is everything so close together in this universe? Ten minutes from Earth to Vulcan? Less than a day from Earth to Qo’noS?

        It just ticks me off more that they didn’t do a true re-boot. Then that would all be OK. But they try to have it both ways, it’s a re-imaged Trek AND it ties to original Trek. It ticked me off in the first movie, and it ticked me off here. I was desperately hoping that this movie would move onto new material, but rehashing more classic storylines and relying once again on Classic Spock just… ugh. The more I think about it the more I hate it.

        And the sad thing is, it’s all script. The cast is quite good, especially Pegg as Scotty and Pine as Kirk. Abrams even toned down the lens flare and directed a very visually impressive film.

        But yeah Scotty… why did they hide a starship in the ocean? Admiral Robocop, did you really expect Kirk, the guy that was just reprimanded for not following orders, to follow orders blindly and NOT open up the torpedoes? Khan, why the frak did YOU put your crewmates in the torpedoes? Kirk, you noticed that your space jump was essentially a re-do of the last movie too? Scriptwriters, do you really want to invite direct comparisons to A BETTER STAR TREK MOVIE by recreating the most emotional Star Trek moment of all time? New!Spock, Leonard Nimoy paid for each limited emotional outburst with many hours of masterful, restrained character building, does is bug you that you have to play Spock like it was a Nicholas Cage role? Movie, do you have any idea just how stupid you make Spock look for rush after Khan by himself when there are just so many LOGICAL ways to resolve the situation? Of all the characters, why does SPOCK get passed the Idiot Ball so damn much?

        Grrrr! Rant! Slober! Gawddamnit Man of Steel needs to be awesome to wipe this crap out of my mind.

      • “And another thing… why the frak is everything so close together in this universe? Ten minutes from Earth to Vulcan? Less than a day from Earth to Qo’noS?” Warp speed, man! :D

        LOL. Shit man. I cant really argue with your rant, but I can be glad it didnt happen to me. Let’s just say, high level, I agree about wishing they cut the cord and went straight reboot, because they didn’t do “Wrath of Khan” any justice here, and “Into Darkness” suffers for it as well.

        BTW, You forgot the meaningless, confusing Spock/Uhura romance, btw. A plot detail that diminishes a history making female television role to being a “girlfriend” LOL. :roll:

  18. Pingback: Star Trek: Into Darkness Review: It… Has… TRIBBLES!!!!!!!! | Rorschach Reviews

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