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Film Review; Star Trek Into Darkness

Updated on December 21, 2016
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Jason Wheeler is the Senior Writer and Editor at Film Frenzy. He reviews films from across the cinematic landscape.


In 2013, J. J. Abrams released Star Trek Into Darkness, based on the 1966 television series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, as the 12th installment of the franchise. Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Alice Eve, and Benedict Cumberbatch, the film grossed $467.4 million at the box office


Tensions are high between Captain Kirk and Spock after the former violates the Prime Directive in order to save the latter. However a rogue Starfleet agent begins a terror campaign, the crew of the Enterprise is assigned to travel to the Klingon homeworld and bring him to justice.


Though not as good as the film before it, Star Trek Into Darkness is quite decent. It's another film in the series that explores the ideas of revenge, this time sought by both Kirk and Harrison who want it for different reasons. The former wants revenge on Harrison for perpetrating terrorist attacks on Starfleet and killing the closest thing he had to a father. The latter wants revenge against Starfleet for because they took everything from him and fabricated an entirely fake identity. The two are quite similar in showing how far they will go away from their values to get back at an enemy that either scares or angers them. It’s only with prompting by Spock that Kirk pulls back and does the right thing. Harrison, whose motivation is that everything has been taken away, has no one to tell him to reign anything in and so he goes just as far as Nero did in the previous film.

Further, it’s interesting to note that if Kirk hadn’t listened to Spock and gone through with killing Harrison instead of taking him in for a trial, he wouldn’t have learned about how the Enterprise was to be a sacrifice for war with the Klingons. In the latter half of the film, if Spock had gone through with his revenge, the only chance to save Kirk would be lost.

This is where the film diverges with the Prime Timeline.Since Harrison is Kahn, it presents the idea that in any timeline, just as the crew of the Enterprise are destined to get together, they are destined to face Khan. In this timeline though, things are different. Kirk saves the ship and gets the fatal dose of radiation while Spock fights Khan, which may seem like an out of character moment. It's perfectly in character though as in the previous film, when Vulcan was destroyed, Kirk made him realize he was emotionally compromised. It's the same thing here and Spock recognized it without prompting and did something about it.

In another divergence, Khan's regenerative abilities are what saves Kirk, making it so tha in any universe, the Enterprise faces Khan at great cost and gets back what they lost. Dialogue also contains some clever nods, such as Spock saying the ship is out of danger when Kirk asks how she is and Spock gets to perform Shatner’s famous line.

Despite all that, no film is without its flaws and there’s a couple here. For one, there’s a considerable racial difference between Ricardo Mantalban and Benedict Cumberbatch, namely the latter white and Mantalban was not. Even if the filmmakers wanted to avoid “demonizing anyone of color, particularly any one of Middle Eastern descent,” staying true to the race of the original character isn’t demonizing that person’s race. Tie-in comics explain the difference is because to become Harrison, Khan was given plastic surgery to become white. This should have been better explained within the film. There’s also the shot of Carol in her underwear. It does nothing to move the film forward, exists purely for fan service purposes and is completely unnecessary. Finally, it doesn’t really make sense for how a ship as big as the Vengeance crashes into San Francisco, possibly killing thousands, for people to be just acting like it’s an average day right after it just happened while Spock chases Khan.

3 stars for Star Trek Into Darkness

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

Awards won

ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards

  • Top Box Office Films

BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards

  • British Artist of the Year (Benedict Cumberbatch)

California on Location Awards

  • Location Team of the Year - Features

Golden Trailer Awards

  • Best Fantasy/Adventure TV Spot

Hollywood Film Awards

  • Hollywood Movie Award

Key Art Awards

  • Second Place - Best Audio/Visual Technique
  • Third Place - Best Trailer - Audio/Visual

Satellite Awards

  • Best Overall Blu-Ray

Nominated for

Academy Awards

  • Best Achievement in Visual Effects

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Special Visual Effects

BAFTA Children's Awards

  • BAFTA Kids Vote - Feature Film

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Science Fiction Film
  • Best Supporting Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch)
  • Best Director
  • Best Costumes
  • Best Special Effects

Annie Awards

  • Outstanding Achievement in Animated Effects in a Live Action Production (Ben O'Brien, Karin Cooper, Lee Uren, Chris Root)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Animated Effects in a Live Action Production (Dan Pearson, Jay Cooper, Jeff Grebe, Amelia Chenoweth)

Art Directors Guild Awards

  • Fantasy Film

Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

British Society of Cinematographers Awards

  • GBCT Operators Award

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Visual Effects
  • Best Action Movie
  • Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie

Central Ohio Film Critics Association Awards

  • Actor of the Year (Benedict Cumberbatch)

CinEuphoria Awards

  • Best Special Effects (Sound or Visual) - International Competition

Denver Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Science-Fiction/Horror Film

Empire Awards

  • Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Gold Derby Awards

  • Visual Effects

Golden Schmoes Awards

  • Best Sci-Fi Movie of the Year
  • Best Special Effects of the year
  • Biggest Disappointment of the year

Golden Trailer Awards

  • Best Action
  • Best Fantasy Adventure

Golden Trailer Awards

  • Best Summer Blockbuster 2013 TV Spot
  • Best Summer 2013 Blockbuster Poster

IGN Summer Movie Awards

  • Best Sci-Fi Movie

International Film Music Critics Awards

  • Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film

International Online Cinema Awards

  • Halfway Award - Best Supporting Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch)

MTV Movie Awards

  • Best Villain (Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan)
  • Favorite Character (Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan)

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

People's Choice Awards

  • Favorite Movie
  • Favorite Movie Duo
  • Favorite Action Movie

Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Visual Effects
  • Best Stunts

St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Visual Effects

Teen Choice Awards

  • Choice Summer Movie Star: Male (Chris Pine)
  • Choice Summer Movie Star: Female (Zoe Saldana)

The BSC, ACO, GBCT Features Operators Awards

  • Camera Operator (Colin Anderson)

Visual Effects Society Awards

  • Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
  • Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture


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