Movie Review: Solid New Entry Keeps Franchise Trekkin’

A year after the events in Star Trek, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is in trouble for once again violating the Prime Directive. Before he can be reprimanded, however, Starfleet is attacked by a rogue agent named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise must track him down and bring him to justice. Of course, Harrison isn’t quite who he seems to be (total non-spoiler alert), and there’s more intrigue and machinations behind his actions than anyone is prepared for.

The 2009 reboot of Star Trek was either a refreshing way to renew interest in a staid franchise or the worst depths of heresy, depending on which internet forum you visited. Into Darkness takes that film’s mix of kinetic action and relatively complex character development and tilts it clearly in favor of delivering more interstellar war-games. Director JJ Abrams doubles down on the action, often at the cost of plot and script, making it quite possibly the least Star Trek-like film in the franchise.

Is that a bad thing? Again, depends on who you ask. As a film on its own, it’s perfectly solid. The CGI is gorgeous, the visuals are intense, the pace never slacks, and the acting never falls below a certain level. Pine, Zachary Quinto (Spock) and Cumberbatch all do remarkably well, with Cumberbatch owning every moment he’s on screen. Zoe Saldana as Uhura also acquits herself well, even if she’s given relatively little to do, and Simon Pegg is still a welcome does of comic relief as Scotty. Nobody on this film, cast or crew, does a bad job of anything they’ve been hired to do…it’s just a question of whether they do a very good job, and that tends to be a hit-or-miss proposition.

Into Darkness won’t win over any of the Trekkers who disliked the trajectory of the reboot, and by pushing the themes and setting of the franchise into the background in favor of action, it probably won’t win any converts to the series as a whole. It’s an enjoyable, exciting film, just the same. Just be careful where you share your opinion about it.

7 out of 10 / B

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