Star Trek Into Darkness Review
The needs of the many… are apparently lens flares
The Temporal Prime Directive has been violated and I’m okay with that. I’m certain there are fans/ critics/narrative enthusiasts who may view it otherwise, but I’ll just say it works for now so I don’t reveal anything more without warning of “spoilerish” material.
Disney/ Lucasfilm’s hiring of director J.J. Abrams for the 2015-scheduled Star Wars installment is absolutely substantiated in Star Trek Into Darkness for three reasons: narrative quality, action-to-plot pacing and a legendary villain. The special effects and Michael Giacchino’s score are near-flawless as well. The 3D effects are some of the best post-conversion I’d ever witnessed, but I imagine the fact that Abrams shot with an IMAX camera helped considerably. The aspect I appreciated the most was the homage to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in particular scenes and phrases. If Abrams never makes another Star Trek film again in favor of Star Wars, let it be said that he gave 100 percent nonetheless to the former.
The main crew returns without a recast (a rare treat for any sequel in these crazy times). Chris Pine (Smokin’ Aces, upcoming Jack Ryan picture) returns to perfectly execute a brash, cocky, morally-correct, corn-fed Captain Kirk on screen. Zachary Quinto (“Heroes,” “American Horror Story”) keeps it logical as Dr. Spock while Karl Urban (Dredd, Doom) plays a passionate Bones, dammit! Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) is a rather perturbed Lieutenant Uhura. Unfortunately, John Cho’s (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, American Beauty) Sulu and Anton Yelchin’s (Charlie Bartlett, Fright Night) Chekov draw the short stick for onscreen time as Simon Pegg (Paul, Hot Fuzz) shines as the comedic Scottie.
The real show-stealer is Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement, War Horse) as John Harrison. Harrison is seemingly the villain of the piece. In an interview with GyaO!, Cumberbatch compared his role in Star Trek Into Darkness to Heath Ledger’s Joker and Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter. Cumberbatch won his role as the not-so-good guy by way of an iPhone-recorded audition while on Christmas holiday. I love a good villain and firmly believe that at least one quality bad guy is worth the price of admission.
My biggest concern with the film is the appearance of Leonard Nimoy as Spock Prime, who appears as a Deus Ex Machina of sorts to completely change the plot to favor against the suspected-villain Harrison (who is really none other than super-human Khan Noonien Singh). Quinto’s Dr. Spock didn’t get to really solve the mystery of Khan’s allegiance as Spock Prime just randomly appeared to drop in for a quick violation of the Temporal Prime Directive. Personally, I’m okay with this plot device as I enjoy the nod to Spock Prime’s existence in general — this further adds to the homage to Wrath of Khan.
Speaking of Khan, Cumberbatch’s Khan is a much more threatening villain than that of the legendary performance given by Ricardo Montalban. This new Khan is a one-man army with no need for a crew to wreak havoc and accomplish revenge (despite that his crew is his very motivation). Cumberbatch brings a Shakespearean quality to Khan’s diction and prose, creating a terrifying menace.
While the plot device of Spock Prime can be either construed as lazy solution or a fun reminder, it cannot be denied that J.J. Abrams knows how to pace a film. The action shows up at the appropriate increments without sacrificing plot details. None of the returning crew fail or let down their previous performance as Benedict Cumberbatch’s bigger, badder, meaner Khan make for a summer blockbuster that beckons multiple viewings.