Release Date: May 16, 2013
Director: J.J. Abrams
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 8/10
With the 2009 film Star Trek, director J.J. Abrams successfully rebooted a beloved franchise. What really stood out was his approach. His film not only served as a reboot but also as an origin story and a direct sequel to the series featuring the original crew. In that film a vengeful Romulan named Nero is pursuing Ambassador Spock. In the process the Romulan goes back in time and ends up changing history. The universe had been spun into an alternate timeline. What happened in the past did happen and is history, we know this because of the presence of Ambassador Spock, but in this alternate universe events are unfolding but not in the way they did before. With Into Darkness, Abrams continues to explore that aspect of the alternate universe and delivers one of the best films in the franchise.
When Star Trek concluded we were left with an untried captain taking the Enterprise out on its first mission under his command. Into Darkness opens with a mission where Kirk and crew are attempting to prevent a primitive species from being annihilated by an erupting volcano. Meanwhile, Starfleet comes under attack by a terrorist from within their own ranks and the manhunt begins. In the last film Spock tells his young self that he did not want to deprive him of discovering and building his friendship with James T. Kirk. The emotional core of Into Darkness is about how their friendship and respect grows into that bond. Into Darkness is best enjoyed by knowing as little as possible about the plot. You may have seen the trailers but they only scratch the surface of what the film as a whole is about.
This is a fun film not only because it works as a stand alone film but because of what they do within the story. Needless to say the film will be richer if you are a fan of the franchise. If Star Trek was your first introduction to the series then this will still be an enjoyable ride. The film is most notable for introducing one of the best villains in the franchise. It is also a much darker film than the last. There are a number of great action sequences and several nods that fans will truly appreciate.
The performances are very good throughout. The main cast is growing into their roles rather nicely. The banter between the Holy Trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy is beginning to meld into that dynamic that fans hold so dear. Benedict Cumberbatch is a standout as the terrorist John Harrison. Peter Weller also appears as Admiral Marcus, the head of Starfleet. Bruce Greenwood returns as Admiral Pike. Each member of the crew is given something substantial to do in the story and they all have their moments. Again, it’s best left for you to discover them as you watch it.
The effects work is fantastic in this one. They really stand out when seen in the IMAX 3D version of the film. The film does feature IMAX sequences that utilize the entire screen so this will likely be the version to see as Abrams shot those scenes with IMAX cameras. Michael Giacchino has composed yet another solid score. He is truly becoming John Williams for a new generation. Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey return as editors and keep it tight and propulsive.
With the exception of Nemesis, Into Darkness does continue the trend that the even films are better than the odd ones. It does cement a new trend where a crew’s second film turns out to be their best; The Wrath of Khan and First Contact. Abrams and writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtman and Damon Lindelof have put together a fun science fiction/adventure film that will no doubt please fans of the original series but could garner new ones as well. The film concludes with the universe lying before the crew of the Enterprise as they set out on their next mission. While a new captain may be at the helm of the next adventure, he is moving on to a bigger canvas, it’s safe to say it will be eagerly anticipated.