Sunday, June 02, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness Review

Four years ago, J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek franchise in a clever way, having a little time travel change the future.  While that concept itself isn't exactly new or clever, actioning-up the franchise to appeal to a much larger audience was.

At its core, Abram's Star Trek is still Star Trek filled with all the wonderful characters, technology, and even science that we remember, but the latter two are set a bit more behind-the-scenes while the first, along with great action and effects, take the centre stage.

And at the end of the day, this worked wonderfully.  Star Trek was an amazing film and it brought a lot of new people into the Trekkie realm, and the sequel, Star Trek: Into Darkness, is now gracing the silver screen as I type this.

A young Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is in command of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and he's still embracing being a bit of a rouge, a maverick who doesn't quite play by the book, and he's taken his crew along for the ride.  The film opens with him and McCoy (Karl Urban) stealing a religious artifact from a primitive culture and escaping, leading the indigenous population outside of their temple and on a merry chase.  The reason?  The volcano right next to them is about to errupt and wipe them out, and Kirk and McCoy are serving as distractions while Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and Sulu (John Cho) take a shuttle to place a device inside the volcano to stop it.

Things don't go exactly as planned, Spock almost dies, and Kirk has to violate the Prime Directive in order to save him.  Despite all of this, the Enterprise's original mission here was much simpler:  to scout the planet at long range and not get involved with anything.  Oops.  Suffice it to say, even though Kirk saved the native population and his first officer, Starfleet Command isn't very happy with the gallant Captain and disciplinary action is taken.

Right around this time though, a rouge Starfleet operative, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), begins a series of bombings and terror attacks against Starfleet, bringing everything else to a halt.  Harrison immediately becomes public enemy number one starting off a good old man hunt that leads to tragic consequences, revelations, and betrayals in extremely ingenious nods to past films from the original timeline.

In today's actual society, the fear of terrorism is very much a reality, so Abrams certainly picked the right theme to focus on to engage an audience.  The desire to see justice done to those who commit terrorist acts is equally as strong, so the character's reactions in the film are pretty identifiable.

As a long standing fan of the franchise, however, what truly captivated me was the altered plot lines and the parallels I mentioned which came before.  Sadly, I can't go into this in detail (as much as I want to) simply due to the heavy spoiler nature of it, but I was thrilled as I began figuring things out and piecing together the plot points before they were officially revealed.  Doing so greatly appeased my inner nerd and so added to the fun I was getting from the film.

Even without knowing any of the history here, Star Trek: Into Darkness is still a great action packed ride that anyone can enjoy.  This isn't the same style as the Star Trek of old from the '60's to early '80's, it's much faster paced and designed to keep things moving forward while mixing in very healthy doeses of nostalgia for previous fans of the franchise.

As a standalone piece it definitely holds its own as the characters are lively enough, the plot well fleshed out enough (and full of convenient coincidences like the first reboot film), and the effects and battles spectacular enough.  If anything, my only real gripe would be that at points things can feel a bit too rushed and that a bit of a breather is needed, but not so much so that it ruined the film for me.

Of the summer blockbuster season, Star Trek: Into Darkness is the best film released yet.  It's not perfect, nor is it the best Star Trek film I've seen, but it's still great fun and thoroughly entertaining, which just so happens to be exactly what I was looking for.  I personally recommend you don't pass up the opportunity to journey along with Kirk's crew and the Enterprise this summer.

No comments: