Star Trek Into Darkness opens much as would any action series; the crew is at the tail end of an exciting mission, one that nearly results in a volcanic eruption and the genocide of a primitive species. It all works out for Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), but only thanks to luck and a considerable amount of rule breaking. This disregard for the rules lands him in hot water this time, and his hubris finally comes back to bite him in the ass. The USS Enterprise is taken away from his command, and just at that moment is when the mysterious terrorist called John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) decides to make his devastating move against Star Fleet.
This is a high octane action series, of that there’s no argument. J.J. Abrams places all of the classic characters into these high stakes and fast paced situations, but without losing one of the most important aspects, which is the friendship and camaraderie between the crew (or the essential bridge crew, at least. Nobody else matters on that ship.). The crew and their relationships are what really makes these movies work, because without it there’s just action in space. The action is made all the more intense and suspenseful when you actually care what happens to these people.
While there may not be anything philosophical or cerebral about this new iteration of the crew’s adventures, there’s no denying how much fun it is to see them in action. It’s a likeable cast, and it’s easy to care about these characters. A decent amount of time is spent developing their relationships to ensure this. They banter, joke, and argue, but beneath it all is the strong sense of a familial bond. This time spent on character development is carefully spliced throughout the movie, keeping the story interesting without allowing it to slow down.
Much like the previous film, this one moves right along at a crisp pace, making sure the plot doesn’t have time to settle or drag. The stakes are always set high, and there’s a real sense of danger and intensity in the action. The ship and her crew are in almost constant peril, and a lot of red shirts are killed over the course of the story.
|Spock (Zachary Quinto) in peril.|
Chris Pine is given far more range to work with this time around, and his playful arrogance and ego from the first film is reintroduced as a more serious character flaw. His reckless judgment is continuously brought into question, pitting him at odds with his crew and putting him into a situation where he cannot come out without suffering some loss. Personal morality is weighed against duty, and it’s something that Kirk seems to struggle balancing. You get the sense that he may actually learn something and change for the better.
Zachary Quinto reprises Spock very naturally, bringing in a subtle humor and sarcasm to his emotionless delivery. His human side is made all the more impactful when it’s brought to the foreground. It’s a genuine emotional push to get him to express these emotions, and it never feels contrived. The rest of the cast is good as well, with Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy getting some pretty stand out lines and Scotty (Simon Pegg) actually having a lot more to do this time around. Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Alice Eve, and Anton Yelchin round out the rest, but they’re just to flesh out the bridge. All good performances, but with less overall impact on the plot. There’s also a great surprise role from Peter Weller, who plays Admiral Marcus of Star Fleet.
Star Trek Into Darkness is a sequel which surpasses its predecessor, building off of its strengths. It has the makings of a great action adventure, and it has a better villain and interesting character arcs to keep the story engaging. Aside from that, it’s just a damn good time at the movies.