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Star Trek Into Darkness Film Review
Warning: This review will contain spoilers from the movie. At this point, the cats been out of the bag for a while, but I give the warning anyway.
Star Trek Into Darkness has finally hit theaters four years after the 2009 reboot and the J.J. Abrams crew have delivered the goods once again. Into Darkness is an intense, dark, and true to Star Trek form adventure that will once again take audiences at warp speed on another great movie ride. This time, the crew of the Enterprise must take down a terrorist from within Starfleet who has betrayed the Federation and looks to incite war. Once the villain's identity is truly revealed, the Enterprise must try to survive the coming onslaught. Along the way, Captain Kirk embarks on a personal journey to become the Captain he's supposed to be.
The story was true to Trek form and emblematic of current events. Since terrorism is still a hot button issue across the world, Into Darkness capitalizes on those current events to tell a relevant true-to-the-times story that Star Trek has always done. The crew of the Enterprise has to grapple with the fact that they're not really fulfilling their real purpose as a starship crew in Into Darkness since the Enterprise is sent on a military operation that has them in the dark, putting them into conflict with their actual purpose which is to explore. The conflict of military duty and starship exploration is a major theme in the film and tackles something that fans argue about from time to time. That argument is whether Star Trek is best as a sci-fi exploration journey or a knockdown sci-fi action epic. The truth is that Star Trek is great at both and the debate is adequately utilized in the fiilm.
Captain Kirk's journey to become the legendary Captain that he's supposed to be is also at the heart of Into Darkness. At the beginning of the film, Kirk breaks a major rule that sees him taken away from the Captain's chair. After a terrorist attack on Starfleet top brass, he's given back the Enterprise to track down the man responsible. Over the course of the movie, Kirk grapples with decision after decision that may or not put the crew at risk. His relationships with his friends are put to the test as well as he endures conflicts with Scotty, Uhura, and especially his best friends, Spock and McCoy. His decisions are challenged at every turn as the crew makes him question whether or not those decisions are the right thing to do. We get to see Captain Kirk evolve in a way that we haven't seen before, an evolution that goes back to 2009's reboot, where we seen him grow from arrogant Cadet to legendary Captain.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, the cat has been out of the bag for quite some time on the true identity of Benedict Cumberbatch's character. We all really knew who it would turn out to be as well so it's not that big of a surprise. Cumberbatch's turn as iconic Star Trek villain, Khan, was the standout of the film with an electrifying performance as the superhuman madman. He had a truly magnetic charisma on screen and all eyes could not be taken off of him because of that magnetism. His performance should definitely go a long way towards making him a star in the film industry. His Khan was just like the Ricardo Montalban's Khan from the original film and Wrath of Khan, but with a much darker personality. He was dangerous, intelligent, charismatic, and truly insane. Cumberbatch's performance absolutely matched Montalban's legendary work and I believe he would've been proud to see it.
The action was also fantastic, even if it wasn't as big as I thought it would be. I thought we would be in for some major ship-to-ship, epic, torpedo and phaser blasting action, but we didn't really get to see that. Despite my gripe at the lack of a true space battle, the scene where the USS Vengeance blasts the Enterprise out of warp and nearly destroys it was absolutely spectacular. The opening sequence of the film, the action sequence on the Klingon homeworld, and the scene where a broken Enterprise plummets towards Earth are also standout sequences from an action packed film. I still hope that we''ll get another epic space battle sequence in the next film.
Overall, Star Trek Into Darkness is another great addition to a great series. J.J. Abrams is cementing his status as one of today's best filmmakers with each film he makes and I lament the fact that he probably won't do the third film because of his commitment to Star Wars. I trust the Bad Robot crew to find a suitable replacement that they'll be comfortable with moving forward. My vote goes to Brad Bird since he's worked with Abrams before on Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol. The series is definitely in good hands with the producers and I can't wait to see the crew of the Enterprise back on the screen in the next few years.