Probable spoilers ahead. As far as I’m concerned, director J.J. Abrams has succeeded in making a superior sequel with Star Trek: Into Darkness. I liked it even better than the first film. The action sequences are spectacular and the plot moves along at a breakneck pace that barely gives viewers a chance to take a breath. Seriously, those two hours and ten minutes flew by at warp speed.
One thing that has us Trekkies so excited about this franchise reboot is the fact we don’t know exactly what will happen next due to the “time travel fallout” that took place in 2009’s Star Trek, when an alternate timeline was created, changing each character’s future. Expect to see familiar events from the old movies given new twists and turns.
As this film begins, James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) is back as the young, brash captain of the Enterprise, leading a mission on the class-M planet Nibiru. (The opening scenes in the red jungle are visually stunning.) A volcano is about to erupt and destroy the primitive species, and First Officer Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) is hurled into the inferno to neutralize the problem. But when do things ever go as planned for the crew of the Enterprise? Kirk once again violates the Prime Directive in order to save his friend, and must face the consequences back home.
He barely has time to deal with the shock of his severe punishment when all hell breaks loose on Earth: Terrorist John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is determined to destroy Starfleet at any cost. As a result of an attack on Starfleet headquarters, Kirk suffers a terrible loss. It’s up to him, Spock and the rest of the crew – Bones/McCoy (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) – to go after Harrison when he flees to the Neutral Zone to hide out on the Klingon planet Kronos. Yes, we finally get to spend a little time with the violent Klingons, who are still archenemies of the Federation, at this point. My favorite villain in this flick (there’s definitely more than one), is the terrorist John Harrison (an alias, by the way). The brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch, of Sherlock fame, is deliciously menacing as the British Baddie, and not entirely unsympathetic.
Also along on the mission to help capture Harrison is Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve). An early interlude between Kirk and Carol, in her underwear, had some viewers crying foul, saying the scene was gratuitous. I thought it was excusable because 1) it was so brief, 2) Abrams was trying to remind the audience that Kirk is a womanizer, and 3) perhaps the encounter served a purpose by foreshadowing their future involvement (if that’s going to happen in this universe).
Even though we’re served up plenty of action in this latest installment, that does not mean we don’t get to see heartfelt emotion between the main characters as their relationships evolve. Fans will enjoy the familiar humor of Bones’ observations and Scotty’s lamentations. Spock still has to struggle to control his human side, as his romance with Uhura and his friendship with Kirk become more complex. All of them will be tested, and lessons will be learned when it comes to breaking the rules – defying orders to follow one’s heart instead of one’s head.
I’m not going to say this was a flawless, perfect film. But I believe Trekkies will be extremely satisfied with it, and science fiction fans, in general, will find it entertaining. If you choose to see Star Trek: Into Darkness, take my advice and don’t drink a lot of soda beforehand. You won’t want to miss one breathtaking minute. Oh, and if you don’t like movies that cause you to leave the theatre with uplifted spirits, then go see Les Misérables.
Live long and prosper.