The Dork Knight’s Star Trek Into Darkness Review
As of this moment, I’ve already seen this movie twice because it’s that good. Star Trek Into Darkness is the best Star Trek movie I’ve ever seen and it is easily the best movie of this summer so far (sorry Iron Man 3 fans). I was fortunate enough to see the 3D press screening on Wednesday and I just had to see it in IMAX 3D so I took my Number One to see it at the Brenden Theaters IMAX at the Palms here in Las Vegas Thursday night and I am so glad I did. If you can see this movie in IMAX 3D, do yourself a favor and see it in IMAX 3D.
In between viewings I stopped by Cosmic Comics to pick up the official prequel trade, Countdown to Darkness, and enjoyed a quick read that gave me some insight to Spock’s (Zachary Quinto) mindset and the type of company that Admiral Alex Marcus (Peter Weller) keeps. It’s not essential reading for the mainstream fan, but fans of the Star Trek franchise should give it a read. It’s also kind of cool how in the movie Sulu (John Cho) references an event (the Mudd incident) that took place in the comic book prequel. If you’re in the Las Vegas area, you can pick a copy up at Cosmic Comics for $17.99 (pull box members get 20% off).
Before I get back to discussing this amazing movie, I should preface this with some information about me. I am a huge Star Trek fan, but I’m one of those people who likes Star Wars too. (Why should I have to choose?) My mother raised me on her VHS copies of TOS (that’s short hand for Star Trek The Original Series) and Star Wars (back then it was just called Star Wars not Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope); while other kids were watching Saturday morning cartoons I was watching Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) rescue Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) from “The City On the Edge of Forever” and dreaming of space travel on board the USS Enterprise. Some of my earliest memories are of when I was a toddler emptying out my toy box and making “alien terrain” in my bedroom, then climbing into my empty toy box to travel on away missions to the planet below. I was put to sleep during much of my early youth to the sounds of John Williams’ score coming from the small black and white television in my bedroom. Needless to say, my mother conditioned me from as far back as I can remember to love science fiction.
Based on all of that you’d think I probably loved the 2009 Star Trek reboot, but truth be told I wasn’t a huge fan of it. I didn’t buy Chris Pine as Kirk and while Zachary Quinto’s Spock looks amazingly like a young Leonard Nimoy, his voice was distracting to me for some reason. I didn’t much care for Nero at all and I hated that Vulcan was destroyed and Spock’s mother killed even though the movie was set in a parallel universe (click here or here or here and here for more info on that). Overall, I did like the movie and what it did for Star Trek as far as exposing it to a wider audience and finding large commercial success, but other than Karl Urban’s brilliant portrayal of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, it didn’t feel like the Star Trek that I grew up loving, even with the inclusion of Leonard Nimoy as “Spock Prime” (as he was credited). Also, the main theme to the 2009 Star Trek didn’t have any similarity to the original Star Trek theme by Alexander Courage or the updated versions of the Star Trek theme by Jerry Goldsmith or James Horner, at least not until the closing credits. That may seem petty, but I’m pretty damn sure the reason Star Trek: Enterprise failed was because it abandoned the orchestral score for that horrible “Faith of the Heart” song.
All of that said, I loved Star Trek Into Darkness. Before I saw this movie, my all-time favorite Star Trek flick was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which thanks to AMC Town Square 18 and MaximuM Comics I got to see on the big screen a couple of Saturdays ago. I say “was” because Star Trek Into Darkness is now officially my all-time favorite Star Trek movie. In 2009’s Star Trek, the stage had to be set as far as “How does this crew end up together earlier than the original timeline?” and “How does Kirk become the captain of the Enterprise so young?”; it had the burden of an “origin story” and Star Trek Into Darkness does not. In fact, the movie starts out with the crew of the Enterprise completing an away mission on the planet of Nibiru and in typical classic Star Trek fashion, pretty much all of the senior staff is on the away mission for some reason.
It’s not quite clear how long after the events of 2009’s Star Trek this takes place, but it has been long enough for Kirk (Chris Pine) to become quite the pain in Admiral Pike’s (Bruce Greenwood) ass while displaying to the top brass at Starfleet that he’s not quite ready to be a star ship captain after all through his blatant disregard for the rules and his reckless behavior. I really enjoyed the father/son relationship between Kirk and Pike and the character development that takes place at the beginning of the movie. I’ve been asked to keep the review on this site spoiler free, so I’ll just say that all the doubts I had about Chris Pine’s interpretation of Kirk are gone after this movie. Fueled by Pike’s belief in him, Kirk goes from a brash, reckless cowboy with a sense of entitlement to a captain who “respects the chair” and faces death bravely instead of cheating it at every chance he gets and Chris Pine plays the part wonderfully. There are two scenes especially that he’s extremely wonderful in and I swear I thought I’d never say that about him.
I also enjoyed Zachary Quinto’s interpretation of Spock this time around and while his voice still distracts me somewhat, the progression of the Spock character in this parallel universe is one I enjoy watching in Star Trek Into Darkness. There’s a scene near the end where Spock releases a scream that Shatner should approve of and loses control of his emotions. It could have easily come off as comical, but Quinto pulls it off. I also enjoyed watching the progression of Spock’s relationship with Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana). In 2009’s Star Trek their relationship was too “lovey-dovey” for me. This time around their relationship explores the strains that come along with one-half of the couple being someone who suppresses and hides their emotions and what that type of behavior would do to the other half. In fact, there’s a scene where Uhura and Spock have a lovers’ quarrel that Uhura drags Kirk into and it’s extremely entertaining to watch.
Star Trek Into Darkness does a wonderful job of focusing on the relationships between the characters much like the original Gene Roddenberry show and, in my opinion, has done the best job of any of the subsequent series at capturing the spirit of the original Star Trek. Even small exchanges, like the one between Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) and Lieutenant Sulu on the bridge after Sulu contacts John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) for the first time and Bones expresses his respect for Sulu or when Captain Kirk tells Ensign Chekov (Anton Yelchin) to put on a red shirt, reminded me of all the character relationships I loved so much in TOS. Scotty (Simon Pegg) even has a great scene where he’s drinking in a bar when Captain Kirk calls him; it’s just great.
On top of all of the great character interactions was the action and Star Trek Into Darkness has plenty of action. Benedict Cumberbatch does a great job as the movie’s main antagonist, John Harrison, and at one point in the movie he actually had me feeling sympathy for the character as he explained his motivations to Kirk. Of course I would later feel guilty over being played a fool when Harrison’s ripping people’s heads off and unleashing hell on the Enterprise with a really BIG damn ship (even though from movie posters and trailers alone I should have known better). For fans of the original Star Trek, the ending of Star Trek Into Darkness has all of the action and emotion of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but then after the emotional ride comes even more action. It was like everything I felt from watching Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but in one movie with modern day kick ass effects and action. For new fans of Star Trek, this movie is a worthy sequel as it is far superior to its predecessor in both story and action.
Enjoy the latest trailer below then do yourself a solid and go see Star Trek Into Darkness! (Preferably in IMAX 3D if you can.)
Movie Description from Paramount:
“In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes Star Trek Into Darkness. When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.”
Star Trek Into Darkness, directed by J.J. Abrams, is in theaters now and stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, Alice Eve, and Benedict Cumberbatch.