Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Please join the Twitch stream at Can't Stop the Kittens. Andrew's writing is on hiatus, but you can join the kitty stream at night with gaming and conversation during the day.

Desolation is upon usAndrew LIKE BannerOne of the best things about reviewing movies is seeing the promise of greatness fulfilled.  The first film in the rebooted Star Trek line was a great popcorn entertainment and pretty good origin story.  A lot of the film centered around just Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) cementing their friendship through adversity and blood.  The supporting cast was stellar, but existed to pop on, play a new riff on their established character, and exit the scene.

Star Trek Into Darkness is as good a sequel any of us could have hoped for and then goes far beyond that.  It's not the crass moneymaking grab that certain other franchises have devolved into over the last few years.  Director J.J. Abrams took his time with his baby, letting ideas gestate with his screenwriters over the last few years before releasing the film when it was ready.  I cannot find fault in that process when I can barely find fault in the film itself.

The only complaint I can see is that the film is, at its core, more of the same.  Yes, it's smarter.  Yes, the action scenes are better constructed.  Yes, the supporting cast each gets multiple times to shine instead of a riff or two.  But if you were annoyed by the bombastic approach of the first film or found it lacking there will be little to satiate your desire for something different here.  For the rest of us, this is a delicious hunk of film that will leave you breathless and wanting more.

Abrams still embraces the spectacle, but gives it better weight and resonance this time around.

Abrams still embraces the spectacle, but gives it better weight and resonance this time around.

Into Darkness sets the stage in a wonderful fashion, showcasing the crew of the USS Enterprise in a mini-adventure that serves as a segue into the world.  This is done via a hilarious chase through the jungle as the denizens of a jungle planet chase after Kirk and Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) while Spock, Sulu (John Cho), and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) try and stop a volcano from going off.  Ultimately, it has little to do with the rest of the plot, but it works as an excellent showcase of the cast's easy chemistry with each other and real character growth since the events of the last film.

More than in the original reboot, they function as a true team.  Spock and Kirk get top billing, of course, but there are so many great character moments that I began to lose track.  Some of my favorites: the ominous look and similarly dark soundtrack queue when Chekov (Anton Yelchin) finds out he's being promoted to a Red Shirt.  Sulu bristling with pride at taking over the Captain's chair for the first time.  Uhura showing intelligence and bravery in the face of the newly revealed Klingon Empire.  When I go back and watch this again, I cannot wait for the little moments of "I remember this, this is going to be great" with each passing scene.

As good as all the individual moments are, they wouldn't mean as much if not in the service of a great plot.  The over-arching details involve Kirk chasing after the terrorist John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch, relishing every moment) after his assault on Starfleet.  Kirk's chase leads him to the corners of the galaxy where Harrison, and the Starfleet superiors who sent him there, may not all be honest about their intentions.

Kirk's famously wandering libido is still in full deployment.

Kirk's famously wandering libido is still in full deployment.

Once again, I am amazed at the work screenwriters Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof have done with this film.  The story is filled with double, triple, then quadruple crosses based on deception and misinformation but the amazing thing is that it always plays fair.  The solutions for every problem are not only right on the screen, but arrived at through the direct actions of Kirk, Harrison, and everyone on board the Enterprise.  What results is a film that could have confused but moves with such precise logic and energy that despite the many threads nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

All of these elements make the film great, but at the end comes a genuine sense of triumph.  There's a speech given by Kirk that quotes directly from the franchise's past, but also follows the cadence and dialogue of another famous soundbite about the willingness of people to "work...the dark side" instead of the alternative.  Into Darkness follows its characters through devastation and imagines them better people in the end, willing to reach out to new life and new civilizations instead of brutally punishing those who came before them.

Yes, it's a fiction.  But what a beautiful fiction to end on, one that reaches its conclusion through the bombast of a summer blockbuster told through humor, warmth, and determination.  What better people we could all be by facing hell and deciding to rise above it.  This is the best of what fiction, science or otherwise, can do.

If you enjoy my writing or podcast work, please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution! Every bit helps keep Can't Stop the Movies running and moving toward making it my day job.

Star Trek Into Darkness - TailStar Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Directed by J.J. Abrams.
Screenplay written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof.
Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Posted by Andrew

Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I’m in wholehearted agreement. I look forward to watching this movie again so I can get a closer look. This film gives me, wait for it, a new hope for the Star Wars films.

  2. That was a thoughtful and insightful review of ST: ID
    Thank you. I’ll revisit this site.

Leave Your Thoughts!

Trackbacks are disabled.