This film opens with a huge action scene with the
crew trying to simultaneously escape from natives and extinguish a volcano that is about to erupt. Abrams immediately establishes that he has not yet outgrown his fondness for shakycam. In fact, there is a later action scene where there is a gun battle that occurs on a planet’s surface and I frankly cannot tell you much of anything that happened in it because the camera was bouncing around so much. There were two guys in red shirts that I assume died because that’s what happens to those guys, but if it was shown onscreen I wasn’t able to pick up on it. It sounded like an exciting scene, though. Enterprise
And this time around Abrams has added another “hey, look at me” element to his films: lens flares. I first noticed an abundance of them in a couple of last summer’s action films. Back then I joked that apparently the lens flare is the new shakycam. I guess Abrams has jumped on this bandwagon, too, because there were a ton of them in this film.
Anyway, what is the film about? After the aforementioned natives and volcano sequence, during which Kirk violates any number of Star Fleet directives, he is busted down to First Officer. That lasts for approximately one day and he is once again back on the job as the Enterprise Captain, leading a hunt for a man (Benedict Cumberbatch) who blew up a Starfleet facility. Not everything is as it first appears, either with the bad guy, or with the entire assignment. Kirk has reason to question both his own motivations and the orders he received. There are impossible-to-miss parallels with 9/11 and the actions of some in power in the aftermath of it. In fact, there is a tribute to 9/11 First Responders in the credits.
Joining all the regulars this time around are Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller), who gives Kirk the assignment, and his daughter Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), who sneaks onboard the
. Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) also returns from the first film, once again trying to give Kirk good advice and most of the time being ignored. Enterprise
Among the regulars – Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Karl Urban as Bones, Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, and Anton Yelchin as Chekov – it is Uhura whose part is most pumped up from the reboot. She seems to accompany both Kirk and Spock in many of the key scenes in the film. The filmmakers also throw in some relationship squabbling between her and Spock, with Kirk sometimes playing marriage counselor.
Everything you’ve read so far may not make the film sound that exciting. Most big action films are only as good as the villain that is in them. Imagine John McClain without Hans Gruber in Die Hard, for example. Well, Benedict Cumberbatch as the bad guy is what makes this film work. He is far more effective onscreen than Eric Bana was in the reboot, although to be fair that was from bad writing on the first film more than anything else. This time around the writers (the same as on the reboot) learned from the mistakes of the first one and created a much more effective and three dimensional antagonist for Kirk and his crew.
I mentioned up top that this was a remake of The Wrath of Khan. When this became apparent I was a little disappointed, but I went with it. As they started replicating some scenes, though, I got a little frustrated. When they finally had the iconic “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN” yell I had had enough and literally said to myself, “Give me a break.” The filmmakers do put enough of a different spin on things to keep it from being a total redo, though. And it will be fresh for anyone who has not seen the original film, of course.
If you watch Star Trek into Darkness throw any kind of logic out the window. Like its predecessor, it’s a big, dumb, loud summer action movie. Big, dumb, loud, summer action movies can be entertaining, though, and this one is. If anything you read here makes this movie sound interesting then I recommend you give it a try.
Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars