By Gary Murray
Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Peter Weller
Written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof
Based on characters created by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Running time 135 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE
Star Trek has been around for a good half a century and still celebrated as one of the most important science fiction franchises in existence. What started as ‘Wagon Train in Space’ has become a group of television series and films with the assorted different off-shoots.
Arguably, the best of the bunch is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The story of a genetically modified Kahn and his minions taking on Kirk and the crew was the perfect balance of adventure and pathos. Even after all these years, the film still holds up.
J.J. Abrams has been handed the mantel of Star Trek from Gene Roddenberry and made one of the best re-boots of a series. The re-casting of the iconic figures of Kirk, Spock and McCoy gave a new generation of film-goers thrills and spills.
By setting it in an alternative universe, the makers can change events and still keep the basic tenants of the Star Trek world as a tangent but still intact. The second J.J. Abrams adventure is Star Trek: Into Darkness.
The story starts with the cast and crew of the Enterprise stopping a volcano from erupting. By saving the planet and saving Spock (Zachary Quinto), Kirk (Chris Pine) exposes the Enterprise to the primitive people. This is violation of the Prime Directive. After this preamble event, the major story line starts.
Kirk, the young starship captain, is hoping to be placed on a five-year mission by Starfleet. He is brash ad bold and totally shocked when he finds that he is demoted. It seems that Spock has reported Kirk in his violation of the Prime Directive. He will become a First Officer and Spock will be transferred to another ship.
On the other side of the plot, there is an explosion at an archive. A terrorist (Benedict Cumberbatch) is seen and identified. Soon after the attack, the senior officers of Starfleet meet to discuss their options. Kirk feels that something is amiss and that the hit is part of a larger plan.
Then the Academy is attacked. In one of the big action sequences of the film, Kirk has to stop the murderous assault but the bad guy gets away. In the melee, someone very important to Kirk is killed.
Commander Marcus (Peter Weller) lets Kirk know that the bad guy has escaped and is on an abandoned planet that is part of the Klingon Empire. The crew of the Enterprise must disobey high command and travel into unsafe space to hunt down the criminal. As the plot goes forward, nothing is as it seems. To give away any more would spoil the fun of the adventure.
Star Trek: Into Darkness is a solid sequel and one of the best Star Trek films produced. It has the grand themes one would expect from these adventures. Writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof have crafted a script that will please the fans of the original series while expanding on what has come before. They use motifs such as “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” while still staying fresh. The film in so many ways parallels the best of the original film series
The cast is becoming comfortable with their roles. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto have the chemistry needed while still making the characters their own. One believes that these two are new friends who will become life-long partners in exploring the great unknown. They play off each other while still supporting a similar cause. The two actors are becoming their own iconic interpretations.
Perhaps the best performance is by Simon Pegg as Scotty. He brings an enthusiasm to the role that was never in the 1960s series. It is a funny and charming reading of the role that gives some much needed comic relief to the proceedings.
The sets and special effects behind this adventure are spectacular. J.J. Abrams has crafted a second film that delivers every thing one would expect from this series while still keeping it fresh. The final product is homage to the best of the series while still being relevant to another generation of film fans.
Star Trek has always taken today’s social issues and amplified them. This work does much of the same, working in terrorism and territory into a futuristic storyline. It examines a classic problem in a modern setting. And we get another view of Klingons.
The reason someone goes to a film like this one is to ‘go on the ride’. This is not the kind of flick that wins Oscars but it is the kind of film that wins hearts. If I had to rank this adventure, I’d put it as #2 of all the films. Don’t miss this adventure and see it in 3D, it is worth the extra cash.