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Film Critic: Not a Cliche Review - ST: ID, Star Trek: Into Darkness

Updated on August 16, 2015

A Fresh Review

After plodding through the deep mire of production rumors, fan and detractor speculation, trailers, true and trick spoilers, and both good and strange reviews, I was relieved and excited to see Star Trek: Into Darkness for my own enjoyment. This treat was fortunate, because in order to review it for one site I frequent, I'd need to watch the film three times - I may anyway, but it woud take three viewiings to catch all that's happening.

Previous to viewing, I was most demayed by one poor review that seemed to lack evidence, the reviewer calling his article "Star Trek: Into the Garbage." It's hardly that -- By the end of the film, I was attempting to decide how to start a campaign to bring back the Star Trek franchise on television.

I saw the new film in 3D, but my next viewing will be IMAX 3D. When I purchase the DVD, I'll watch it in 2D, although you can do so in theaters right now. The large mulitplex theater I attended had dedicated nearly one-third of their screening auditoriums to ST:ID in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D.

This Rating Needs 6 Stars

5 stars for Star Trek: Into Darkness


ST:ID is first an action movie and it is full of action. It has enough action for two films and the 3D features magnify all that in a grand manner. Some reviewers stated that it had too much action and it made them tired, but I was happy with what I experienced and did not want the film to end. The special effects are as good as the actors in character; they are equally as riveting --

Most of the male characters in this film seem to be 6'5" tall. The towering Benedict Cumberbatch as a villain is solidly believable and as the film progresses, we can understand the pain that caused him, as Agent John Harrison, to become mercilessly vengeful. Harrison screams. He cries. He kills.

From watching Cumberbatch in BBC's Sherlock, I know that he is very tall (else everyone else is very short). In many ST:ID scenes, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Harrison are all of one height -- Uhura even seems to step up onto a box to be able to kiss Spock in one scene, and she is tall herself.

Against all the giant men and woman, Simon Pegg is a fiesty and entertaining Scotty, but some camera angles make him look the size of a Leprechaun, until his sidekick steps up to his side and his head reaches only Scotty's waist. In the film, Scotty does a lot of complaining and running and at one point, opens his communicator and asks to be beamed up -- That's so much fun to see. On the somber side, Scott weeps in one scene and nearly does so in an earlier one.

We see plenty of interesting aliens as well - bikini-clad women with tails, a lovely person with stark white hair, people of neon colors, and Black Klingons with stabbing blue eyes. The population of planet Niburu (yes, the mystical rogue planet) are most interesting, but I won't describe them here and spoil their scenes.

Now, here's a cliche: I read some reviews that report that J.J. Abrams "loves the original Star Trek." That's odd, since his television interviews include statements that he never watched the show as a kid and is not emotionally attached to the material. I think he enjoyed learning about the original series and developed respect for the originator and the actors before he began work on ST:TNG. I don't think he loves ST:TOS, but he knows that a lot of us out here do love it. ST:ID is new work, but it is also a tribute to past Trek series and films.

ST:ID shows that Trek is so long lasting a phenomenon, almost as long as Doctor Who, for several reasons. Not only does it provide proverbial hope for the future, but it emphasizes social and moral justice, diversity and equality, relationships, and family. The characters mature in this film edition.

Chekov has some problems with the engines.
Chekov has some problems with the engines. | Source
Fire is important in this film.
Fire is important in this film. | Source
Cryogenics is also important to the story.
Cryogenics is also important to the story. | Source

The current character that is most like the ST:TOS counterpart is Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy. Urban and DeForrest Kelley could nearly be the same person when in character.

Chris Pine is picking up a few more of the subtler mannerisms used by William Shatner as Captain Kirk, yet keeps his own style as well. This makes me think of all the people who have played Doctor Who. I wonder if the third generation Kirk will be as recognizeable when he plays The Captain?

Zoe Saldana is a different Uhura, but a good Uhura. If I want the original, I can still see Nichelle Nichols in new ST:TOS-universe Internet movies as they are released online. They are great fun!

John Cho makes a very fine Hikaru Sulu, with his own interpretation of the character. And, he gets to sit in the Captain's Chair.

Anton Yelchin is a hoot as Pavel Chekov, especially in this film, as he must become Chief Engineer through some Big Trouble.

A tribble even makes a couple of appearances in ST:ID and its role is important.

Quinto? Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy report being great friends in TV interviews and if you want to see that friendship, just watch their new automobile commercial in which they attempt to out-Spock each other on the way to a golf date.

Nimoy Speaks About Quinto

Spock and Spock Sell Cars


Watching many interviews on British TV done with pairs of characters from ST:ID, I am struck by the fact so many of them share apparently genuine friendships. That was not so much the rule from 1966 - 1969. The current friendships mirror the storyline of developing and admitting friendship, love, and the status of being family on shipboard. On screen, the tears so any of the characters shed are probably backed by real emotions and real relationships among the actors.

Plotting and Story

The Trek reboot movies seem to be following ST:TOS and the related follow-up films, with differences. We hear some of the same important lines, but some of these lines are delivered by different characters than those originally saying them in Trek TV episodes and films. Roles are sometimes reversed. However, Bones still says things like, "I'm a doctor, not a torpedo technician!"

Translating the plots of an original TOS episode and one of the films into the universe in which Vulcan no longer exists and previous villains are using time travel and ultra-warp speed to achieve revenge can be tricky. It's all very entertaining and thought-provoking, but makes the viewer's head swim a bit. That's all to the good, since it sparks conversations - and complaints from some film goers. That's also OK, because Kirk tells a character to shut his mouth and I hear one viewer telling another to do the same. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC).

Not too far into the movie, we learn that John Harrison is not John Harrison, but a former villain forced to play the part of Harrison by a Star Fleet Admiral. Harrison is enraged and grief stricken and his accent is different from the last time we saw him. Altogether, he creates enough chaos and destruction to keep the crew and captain of the NCC 1701 on the run, even while they are bickering among one another and trying to mature. At this point in the stardates, the Kirk and Spock characters are just 23 - they were only 19 in the first reboot film. They must grow up fast now.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie very much throughout the action, characterizations, plot elements, music, and more. The use of Alexander Courage's original ST:TOS theme at the end of the film brought the production to a satisfying close.


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    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      I was not so impressed with the character development in this movie, except for Kirk as we see him really understand there is more to captaining a starship with quick wittedness and reckless abandon. But I really wished they had spent more time on McCoy, who I think did the best job of emulating a TOS character in the first (11th) movie. I also was not happy with Sulu in the first movie, but John Cho is really making the character his own in Into Darkness. I wish he had had more screen time but a lot of character development had to be pushed to the side for the sake of the story - it moved forward very fast and there was a lot to do and see. My favorite scene thus far was with the Klingons, especially when Uhura spoke Klingon with the right intonation, aggression and language skills. I was so impressed by Zoe's performance, I want to see it again just for that.

      Excellent review here, although I am not as happy about this movie as I was with the first (too much action, not enough character development), it is still worth seeing and I think your assessment is accurate. I especially like your use of IDIC, that should help any trekkie with the transition to this wilder version of Star Trek.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I rather think that the IMAX 3D will give me somewhat of headache, but I am going to see it in that version as well. I heard that IMAX 3D version has 20 additional minutes, but I am unsure about that.

      Does anyone remember when they added 15 minutes or so to the first Star Trek movie of 1979? It was only additional minutes of people on the bridge grimacing at something they saw on the forward view screen. No dialogue or action. Kind of not-needed.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Patty great well written review and i found what you have written hear about this movie to be in sync with what my cousin has said about it after just seeing. I have not seen many Star-Trek movies but i may just give this one a try when it is out on DVD.

      Vote up and more !!! Sharing !

    • ketage profile image

      ketage 4 years ago from Croatia

      Great review , I was a little bit worried that it would be a horrible movie , as so many sequels seem to be, but from reading what you wrote here, my curiosity has been aroused and I shall watch this movie as soon as opportunity presents itself. Thank you for taking the time to write this review :)