Reviewed by Michael Hickerson (Slice of SciFi Editor)
It’s been four years since J.J. Abrams revitalized the Star Trek movie franchise and with each passing summer, expectations for the next voyage “where no man has gone before” have ratcheted up higher and higher. Add to it the extreme secrecy surrounding certain plot elements and character identities and you’ve got a movie that I entered with pretty much the same feeling as I did the first revitalized Trek a few years ago — equal parts anticipation and apprehension.
Huge parts of me were hoping that Star Trek into Darkness would be to the Trek franchise what The Dark Knight was to the revitalized Batman franchise.
Lofty expectations like that are probably unfair. But I’ll also say that Christopher Nolan didn’t make us wait four years for the next installment either.
As a summer action movie, Star Trek into Darkness works on just about every level. The film begins with Kirk blatantly violating the Prime Directive to save Spock and a planet full of aliens from an erupting volcano. The decision creates conflicts with Starfleet for Kirk and tensions in Kirk’s friendship with Spock.
But there’s little time for these matters when a terrorist by the name of John Harrison begins targeting Starfleet installations. Kirk is enlisted to pursue Harrison and bring him to justice.
I won’t say a lot more about the film’s plot at this point to avoid ruining any of the movie’s surprises for anyone. Star Trek into Darkness examines the theme of family — and let’s just say that as a family, the crew of the Enterprise is a highly dysfunctional one. But they all come together over the course of the film, helped by a common foe and by the events that unfold in the film.
Again, I’m trying to be deliberately vague here so as to not ruin things for anyone who hasn’t seen the film yet. The film is full of homages to past Trek installments — some of them will be obvious to even casual fans of the franchise and some will reward eagle-eyed long-time Trek fans who can probably recite the original 79 episodes backwards and forwards.
The film will probably find wide appeal among more casual fans and I fully expect a certain segment of the Trek fandom to out and out hate the film. Interestingly, Peter Weller is in the film as a Starfleet admiral and his character has a lot of echoes to one Weller played in the final season of Enterprise.
And, of course, since this is a J.J. Abrams movie, there’s lense flare. But either I’m getting used to it or Abrams has toned down his penchant for the lense flare because it wasn’t quite as glaring as it was in the first installment.
Like the first installment, Trek into Darkness left me wanting to see more adventures with the rebooted crew and yearning to follow this crew on their own five year mission exploring space. Hopefully we won’t have to wait four years for the next installment….
Oh and any Trek fan who doesn’t get a lump in his or her throat when Christopher Pike recites the immortal lines, “Space, the final frontier…” …well, let’s just say you’re as emotionally detached as Spock wishes he could be in this film.