I will say first and for the record that this review doesn’t contain spoilers per se but I do allude to elements that might have been intended to be surprises. But since the Internet had already ruined that because it was released in Europe and Mexico before the US (Mexico?!), I have no trouble talking it about it now.
When it was announced that JJ Abrams and his Bad Robot team would be going to work to make a sequel to their 2009 take on Star Trek, fans immediately speculated, even begged, that the next movie would feature their favorite villain, Khan. But writers Robert Orzi, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof argued that their intention of creating a “new” Trek franchise (that takes place in an altered version of what’s been seen on TV but with the same beloved characters) was to be able to tell brand new interesting stories. Then again, when asked if the new movie was going to be a 3D spectacle, JJ Abrams said that he wouldn’t make a 3D movie just because it has become the popular format for big-budget blockbusters.
So here it is; Star Trek Into Darkness filmed in IMAX 3D and… well…
The story revolves around the capture of a terrorist named “John Harrison,” a 300 year old genetically enhanced man with great intelligence, strength and agility who was being used by a secret government organization. While hunting him down, James T. Kirk, still wet-behind-the-ears as a starship captain, must learn to balance his duty to ship and crew with his gung-ho attitude. Spock must balance his by-the-book, logical Vulcan side with his emotional human side and eventually, together, become to cohesive whole Trekkies have come to know and love from TV. But try as they might not everything goes according to plan. It is after all “Harrison” who has caused this chain of events and he’s not who Kirk thinks he is. Despite what some may know from the original story the events that transpire here aren’t exactly as fans remember. But then a certain scene comes along that makes you realize all too soon you’ve seen it before… complete with parts of the same dialog… and it fails to produce the desired emotional response. With multiple climactic endings (and yes it could have ended several times) you don’t know how its going to end. But this is Star Trek after all so you know how it’s going to end.
Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) and the rest of the actors playing the Enterprise return to give us that sense of brotherhood of the original characters but they are really only playing the personalities that have become iconic for Star Trek. It’s really only Pine and Quinto who have a chance to do any real acting here and both do very well. Benedict Cumberbatch plays “John Harrison” and is only half as effective as say… a certain Latin actor who played the same character years ago. And although Doctor Carol “Wallace” Marcus is thrown in as a mere plot device, Alice Eve is very watchable and makes this new crew member as interesting as possible.
As a trekkie I’d like to give this movie a higher score just because it’s Star Trek but I can’t get past the fact that this story has been told before. Yes, its an “alternate” reality and the events have been changed overall. But I suppose this is no different than any number of comic book movies who retell the origin myth of a superhero and use a popular storyline only to make changes to it for the big screen. I also saw this movie with a mix of people; some of them vaguely remember the original story and some had very little information about Star Trek to begin with and it seems that overall they enjoyed it. Therefore I have to take into account that this is a Star Trek for the general masses and it really does work overall. On a scale of 1-10, I give Star Trek Into Darkness… a 7.