STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (director: J. J. Abrams; screenwriters: Alex Kurtzman/Damon Lindelof/Roberto Orci/based on “Star Trek” by Gene Roddenberry; cinematographer: Dan Mindel; editor: Maryann Brandon/Mary Jo Markey; music: Michael Giacchino; cast: John Cho (Hikaru Sulu), Benedict Cumberbatch (John Harrison/Khan), Alice Eve (Carol Marcus), Bruce Greenwood (Captain Pike), Simon Pegg (Montgomery Scott), Chris Pine (Capt. James T. Kirk), Zoe Saldana (Nyota Uhura), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (Dr. Leonard McCoy), Peter Weller (Starfleet Admiral Marcus), Anton Yelchin (Pavel Chekov); Runtime: 132; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: J. J. Abrams/Alex Kurtzman/Roberto Orci/Damon Lindelof/Bryan Burk; Paramount Pictures; 2013)
“A popcorn sci-fi movie.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
TV and now film director J. J. Abrams (“Star Trek”/”Mission: Impossible III”/”Super 8″) follows up his well-received 2009 reboot of Star Trek, the movie that gave new life to the classic 1960s TV series, with a popcorn sci-fi movie shot in 3D Imax. It looks surprisingly flat in this medium. Abrams messes with Star Trek purist Trekkie sensibilities to keep it as a crowd-pleasing action pic that touches on topical issues of domestic terrorism. Its plot line builds around a conflict among the Enterprise crew and of the good guys overcoming their differences to re-unite to save the world from the brilliant, elusive and dangerous villain John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch, Brit actor), one of theirs gone bad. The script is by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof.
The returning young new stars include the risk-taking brash captain James Kirk (Chris Pine), the unemotional mission conflicted half-man, half-Vulcan philosophizing first officer Spock (Zachary Quinto) and his girlfriend, the fiery communications lieutenant Uhura (Zoe Saldana). Kirk was removed of his Enterprise command by his mentor boss, Admiral Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), for insubordination when on an exploratory mission on the volcanic planet Nibiru and is reassigned to the Academy. The USS Enterprise crew also includes ship doctor “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), chief engineer Scotty (Simon Pegg), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Sulu (John Cho).
We’re in 23rd-century London and learn that a Starfleet intelligence archive has been sabotaged by the brilliant doctor Harrison. The hawkish Starfleet Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) brings his leaders together in their San Francisco headquarters to discuss the threatening situation, when a bomb by Harrison tries to wipe them all out. Almost all are saved by the intuitive Kirk’s last second warning, which earns him back his captain position on the Enterprise. This time the Enterprise, armed as a warship, treks to the warlike Klingon, the home planet of Kronos, where Harrison retreated to after the bombing. It’s up to the Enterprise, involved in overblown starship battles, to stop the terrorist. It results in the destruction of San Francisco. But with the help of Admiral Marcus’s sexy weapon expert daughter Carol (Alice Eve ), a stowaway on the Enterprise, all is seemingly well by the end of the third act.
The pic jettisons gravitas for an absurd, confusing and disheartening story line, as it fails to keep intact the Utopian ideals of Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s original author, by making it instead a simplistic blockbuster action pic that is too readily applauding military might above all else (though pretending otherwise) and offering crocodile tears to the victims of terrorism.
REVIEWED ON 5/16/2013 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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