In 2009, J.J. Abrams brought a reboot of the beloved Star Trek series to the silver screen. It turned out to be a critical and commercial success. With a plot that not only reinvigorated the franchise, but payed homage to it and made sense within the continuity of the entire series, Trekkies around the world rejoiced. Now, Abrams returns to the director’s chair to try and outdo himself.
Into Darkness sees the return of Captain Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and the rest of the Enterprise crew. Shortly after a botched mission on a developing planet, Kirk’s rank and the ship are taken from him. Soon, he begins to fall into a downward spiral of depression. Meanwhile, a mysterious man who calls himself John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) begins attacking Starfleet buildings. As the death toll sharply rises, Kirk is spurred back into action. When he discovers that Harrison has fled to the Klingon planet of Kronos, he hatches a plan to capture the criminal and bring him back to Earth.
This film brings back the energy of it’s predecessor to great effect. The pacing is fast and exciting, and the universe is a colorful (and lens flare-tastic) place. The way that Abrams has managed to recreate some of the most memorable vehicles and creatures in all science fiction, while still making it feel fresh, is one of the best things he has brought to the series.
It’s hard not to feel a little giddy when you see the Enterprise streak across the vaccum of space. And once she does, the film builds and becomes a great action packed ride all the way through. Writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof have crafted an almost perfect science fiction adventure film that has a number of well executed and interesting plot twists, which never detract from the pace of the action on screen.
The film also features fine performances from all of the principal cast. Especially noteworthy are Chris Pine, who reprises his role as the cocky James T. Kirk of this alternate universe, and Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the film’s villain. In Pine, Abrams has found a golden leading man. He perfectly brings his tortured, but confident hero to life with an emotional performance. He also brings an air of authority to the character, that serves to strengthen not only his overall performance, but the feel and legitimacy of the entire reboot series thus far.
Cumberbatch, is the real scene stealer in this movie. As The Dark Knight and Skyfall benefited immeasurably from excellent performances from their bad guys, so does Into Darkness. His melodic, deep voice drips with malice as well as intelligence. Every time you hear him speak, it’s like listening to an English Hitler. His gift for delivery makes his lines feel like the sermon of a great orator, who uses manipulation as his weapon.
He also brings an incredible physical performance to the table. When you first see Harrison, you don’t think much of him. He seems like just some skinny bookworm. However, when he springs into action suddenly the screen radiates with his raw, animal like behavior. His fight scenes are truly epic.
With a string of mediocre science fiction releases (I’m looking at you Iron Man 3 and Oblivion), it’s really refreshing to see a film that not only appeals to it’s fans, but has the potential to generate a whole slew of new devotees. With spectacular action, excellent performances, and a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, Star Trek: Into Darkness is our best hope thus far for a great science fiction film this year.