“Star Trek Into Darkness” Review: Boldly Going Where The First Film Went Before


By Wesley Emblidge


When J.J. Abrams rebooted the “Star Trek” franchise in 2009, I was faced with an interesting dilemma: a movie that was very dumb and poorly written, but was so fast and so much fun to watch that it actually didn’t matter. The energy was high, the cast was perfect, it was just hard to not have a good time. Of course, the moment the credits begin to roll, the movie starts to fall apart. Upon rewatching the film, things start to get really absurd. However, unlike writing team Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s more popular (by attendance at least) Transformers franchise, the movies aren’t boring along with stupid, and the characters are actually interesting. Now they’re back with “Star Trek Into Darkness,” joined by co-writer Damon Lindelof, and have essentially amplified all the problems of the first film, but maintained the energy that made the first work.

After breaking mission protocol in order to rescue Spock (Zachary Quinto) on a remote planet, Kirk (Chris Pine) is demoted from captain to first officer of his ship, the Enterprise. However after a building is bombed in London and Starfleet headquarters are attacked, Kirk is promoted back and takes his crew on a mission after the culprit, the mysterious Starfleet officer John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). Harrison hides out on the Klingon homeworld, where relations with Starfleet are tense and simply the presence of the Enterprise puts them on the brink of an all out war. Slowly (and I mean very slowly, much slower than the audience) the crew realizes everything about their mission is not as it seems, and that they may have wandered right into a trap.

Truthfully, the best way to discuss the film is with spoilers, as a result of the constant twists. twists added not so much for the story but in order to appear smart, or even worse, as fan service. There’s just so much story that gets doubled back on, and ends up irrelevant to the rest of the film. Along with that, the film tries to bring up very blatant political commentary about the war on Iraq, which is annoying enough as is, but then the film doubles back on that too. This is endless throughout, and it gets incredibly annoying, which was much less of a problem with the first.

There are, of course, massive plot holes and terrible decisions abound, and even a good helping of stealing from many of the original Trek films (not the good plot points, mind you, but the little iconic moments that fans will get excited about seeing), while still being less effective.

And yet, it’s still fun. These films put me in the weird situation of wanting to rip to shreds a movie I was actually able to enjoy. It’s just frustrating to see how little the writers seem to care, it’s as if no one ever really thought about how actual people act, but rather how they could get the cast to the next set piece.

At the very least, Abrams continues to bring his very slick visual style to the film, lens flares and all, and the cast might have the best chemistry of any ensemble franchise around today. Cumberbatch, who most will know as the lead on BBCs “Sherlock,” is a great addition, despite the massive problems with his character. These films have huge problems with their villains, but at least Harrison is a step up from the incredibly boring Nero of the first. Cumberbatch is playing somewhat of a superhuman, and he manages to pull that off believably, despite the poor writing. Really, the entire cast deserves a lot of credit for making writing this awful work, but Cumberbatch does a lot of heavy lifting with his role.

Up against the first film, it’s really about the same. Everything it does better ends up being brought down by the bigger plot holes and poor plotting, but I end up just barely positive thanks to Abrams and his cast. There are signs that Abrams, now off to make the new “Star Wars” film, may not return for the third Trek movie. If that ends up being the case, we’ll have an even bigger problem on our hands.


3/5 Stars