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Star Trek Into Darkness - Builds nicely on what came before, and not just the 2009 movie
If your first real Star Trek experience was with the 2009, J.J. Abrams directed movie, and you thought "That looks fun. I want to see more." This movie is for you.
If you honestly can't remember your first Star Trek experience because your dad had you in Star Trek diapers, watching the animated series, drinking homemade Tranya way back in 1974, this movie is for you.
If you've never seen any Star Trek ever but are a fan of action and summer thrill-ride movies ... first off, what's up with never seeing any Star Trek at all? But this movie is also for you.
Star Trek Into Darkness works very well as a Star Trek movie, a high-energy action movie, and a fascinating sci-fi movie. You don't have to have seen any of the Star Trek movies or shows to understand, follow, and care about this movie, but the more grounding you have in Star Trek, the more you will see fun little references around each corner.
But first the story
As the movie starts, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew (et al) are on the tail end of a mission on planet Nibiru. We meet Kirk doing what he does best: running for his life.
Needless to say, the mission doesn't go as planned, and Kirk is punished by having his captaincy taken away from him, and he and good friend Spock (Zachary Quinto) are split up onto different ships. And he doesn't really have much credit to trade on with Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) until his old mentor, Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood), goes to bat for him.
Meanwhile, a mysterious man named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is doing some shady things back on earth. After a massive bombing, an assassination attempt and a hasty escape, Harrison is tracked to an abandoned province on Kronos, the Klingon home world.
I don't want to go much further than that, because this is a movie that has some pretty big elements that are too easy to spoil.
Dot dot dot
First off, if you take a series with nearly 50 years of history and fan-dom and make a series of movies in an alternate timeline, you'd better take those 50 years into account. And for fans of Star Trek in its many incarnations, there are so many fun moments in the form of quick bits of dialog, recognizable characters and creatures, and even major plot points with a twist.
But for you non Trekkers, none of those allusions make the movie any less enjoyable if you don't get them. You just don't get the same sense of the richness and the depth of the universe. But you couldn't really get that without watching a lot of Star Trek beforehand anyway. So just sit back and watch the story unfold and you won't be bored.
And the story is fantastic. In 2009, the story was fairly straightforward once you get past the whole oh-my-gosh-they-created-an-alternate-timeline part of the story. This time around, there's plenty of twists and turns to keep the whole thing moving. It's not particularly confusing, but there's always something new as the story unfolds.
The actors are clearly having loads of fun with their roles, even though some of them are not used quite as much as you might want. The friendship between Kirk, Spock and McCoy (Karl Urban)—and in particular between Kirk and Spock—has developed nicely. And Peter Weller's Admiral Marcus is very similar to his John Paxton character from Star Trek Enterprise.
Oh, and Alice Eve is ... *ahem* ... a very welcome addition to the crew.
I do, however, have one real, though not movie-ruining complaint about the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Harrison. But I can't say what it is without spoiling the movie. See what I have to deal with here?
And I was confused by the presenting of one Klingon face. If you're familiar with the Star Trek universe, you probably know the biggest problem with using Klingons in this movie. I'm sure the film makers have an explanation, but they don't give it on-screen. But even that I can live with.
The action is plentiful, high energy and very fun. The music is excellent. I really can't think of much to say against this move that I haven't already mentioned regarding casting.
The problem now is figuring out how to follow up two excellent movies with a third. Any step down in quality will feel like a letdown. But I will still eagerly await the next one.
And word is that Paramount is adamant about having a new movie for the 50 year anniversary of Star Trek which will be coming in 2016. Let's hope Abrams' work on the new Star Wars movie doesn't prevent his coming back to this franchise.
But what do you think?
Personally, I think this one is even better than last time.
For me, this one gets a great 9 / 10.
Star Trek Into Darkness is rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi action violence, a bit of language and a little sexuality (including one seriously-don't-look-while-I'm-changing moment with Alice Eve. Yeah, any odds they won't look?)
Star Trek Into Darkness Trailer
What about 3D?
This movie was converted to 3D, but it's really a great conversion. And more importantly, it actually uses the 3D to good effect. Better than most conversions I've seen.
I understand several of the people on the conversion team here were also part of the team that converted James Cameron's Titanic a while back. And as you probably know, that was the first 3D conversion that I had anything good to say about.
So if you're interested in trying it out in 3D, go ahead with it happily.