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Film Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Updated on December 2, 2013
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From the original posters showing destruction in the shape of the Star Fleet insignia, it was easy to tell that big things were lurking in Star Trek Into Darkness.

The Enterprise crew is back, and there's trouble amongst the crew. Kirk defied protocol to save Spock's life. Kirk lied about it in his log while Spock told the truth. Not only is Kirk demoted but Kirk and Spock's friendship is put to the test.However, that proves to be the least of Kirk's problems as a new enemy emerges. He is a force to be reckoned with: He is powerful enough to lay waste to everything in path, smart enough to attack Star Fleet at their weakest and seems otherwise indestructible. Kirk and the Enterprise crew are tasked with confronting this new villain. However, things do not go as planned. (Then again, this wouldn't be much of a movie if things went well.)

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2009's Star Trek reboot was an excellent way to revitalize the franchise. Despite having to recreate some of the most iconic characters in sci-fi history, the movie not only represented them well, but even breathed a little life into characters such as Uhura and Scotty. Many of the classic issues from the show are present such as Spock's battle with his dual nature remained in tact. I also like the interpretation of the future in this film: a marriage of futuristic technology and modern technology that makes their world seem more real. The new Star Trek franchise has successfully paid tribute to the original franchise while managing to be its own thing. It was a critical hit and a crowd pleaser. So it goes without saying expectations for a sequel were high. And this movie lives up... for the most part.

Let's start with the good. First of all, there's the villain. Without giving too much away, this is the kind of villain I've been waiting for in most of the Marvel superhero movies. I already listed everything that makes him one bad dude in the synopsis. However, every one of those qualities is magnified by the fact that he's played with great vigor by Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch is no stranger to the screen, but hopefully this role will propel him into bigger things. This is a character who shows a lot of faces throughout the movie: Aside from knowing how to hit Star Fleet where it hurts, he knows how to obtain what he wants and he even knows when to team with his enemy.

One of the draws of any Star Trek will undoubtedly be the space battles. Star Trek Into Darkness not only has some truly spectacular action scenes but some imaginative ones including Kirk and Scotty running across the Enterprise as it collapses. These are the kind of scenes that make me realize JJ Abrams is the right man for the job for the new Star Wars movies. Humor has also been a big part of the Star Trek films even since the original Motion Picture. While a lot of action movies nowadays have a sort of stilted way of delivering humor - almost as if the characters are playing to an unheard laugh track. While the humor is a little more scarce than in some action movies, it feels a little more natural.

Even though this is a big, bold action space adventure, there are a lot scenes where JJ Abrams knows to to have the characters shut up and let the action speak for itself. There are a lot of moments where characters' facial responses tell the story instead of dialogue. There are even a good number of quiet moments. This may seem like a small thing but, as they say, a picture's worth a thousand words.

Sadly, this movie does have a few faults. One of the biggest problems with the original series is that with so many characters to juggle, some of them get a bit shortchanged. Sulu, for example, seams to be there mostly decoration. And even Dr. McCoy has little to do - especially since Scotty handles so much of the action. The story is a bit jumbled. As impressive as the action scenes are, sometimes there is not enough breathing room between them. And as weird as this sounds, the story feels like it only has two acts.

There is also a bit of fan servicing. Some of it is amusing (Chekov not wanting to wear a red shirt). Some of it is downright cringe-inducing (You'll have to read the spoilers to know what I'm talking about). Also Leonard Nimoy shows up again. I absolutely loved his appearance in the first film. And I do like NImoy, but here his cameo feels tacked on. However, I must discuss the elephant in the room.

This sort of thing goes against my normal instincts, but in order to discuss this movie properly, I must discuss this. So I will warn readers: THE FOLLOWING SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO HAVE THE ENDING SPOILED, STOP READING... or just skip to my final thoughts. You have been warned. SPOILERS BEGIN NOW.

Kirk dies. That is not a typo. That is not a misprint. Kirk kicks the bucket. He shuffles off the moral coil and joins the choir invisible. Also, the villain is Khan. I bring this up because Kirk's death is a less than subtle throwback to Spock's death in Wrath of Khan. In fact, some fans will probably pull a Biff Tannen and mutter "something very familiar about this." Personally, I liked it. It plays off a familiar scene while adding a new twist to it. And even with connections to a famous scene, this manages to be a very touching scene that shows how much Kirk is willing to sacrifice for his crew. And then... it goes downhill.

First of all, Spock does the "Khan" yell. Remember that cringe-inducing moment I was talking about earlier? Yeah, this is it. Aside from the forced fan servicing, Zachary Quinto does not do the angry guttural yell quite like William Shatner. That would have been bad enough, but the movie keeps going after that. After that, Khan wrecks his ship into San Francisco. Okay, that was incredible and one of the highlights of the movie. But it leads to a pointless chase scene that is a decent action scene, but just doesn't feel justified.

And guess what? Kirk is revived. I suppose following this film with "The Search for Kirk" would have been too obvious. But this seriously feels like as much a cop out as Superman turning the Earth backward. And to add insult to injury, Kirk's revival isn't even treated like a big deal! It's treated more like he woke up from a nap as opposed to a return from the undiscovered country (Hey, this movie isn't the only one that can fan service). I was half-expecting Miracle Max to show up and say Kirk was only "Mostly dead." (Come to think of it, that would have been awesome.) Seriously, watch "The Search for Spock" to see how a character being brought back to life is done right. Oh, and there is an epilogue that gives new definition to the phrase tacked on. A while back, I did an article about good movies with shoddy endings. I may have to amend that list to include this.

SPOILERS ARE OFFICIALLY OVER! YOU CAN READ NOW... unless of course you don't mind having the movie spoiled... or you already know how it ends and you just want to know my thoughts. Either way, SPOILERS ARE OVER!

So even though it has its faults, Star Trek Into Darkness is a really good film. Fans of the original film and the original series will no doubt enjoy this. However, anyone looking for a good action adventure film to spice up their summer will find this exciting as well. The only downside is a truly terrible ending that will no doubt leave a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of viewers. Either way, hopefully, this franchise will live long and prosper.

With a spoiler in tow, how did you treat it?

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