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Film Review: ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Satisfies with Entertaining Adventure

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CHICAGOJ.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness” is like a really solid mid-season episode of a great TV series. Entertaining, for sure, but lacking the energy of a premiere or the stakes of a finale. It leaves fans wondering what’s next in the franchise, which will surely make Paramount happy, but doesn’t stand on its own like the truly great part twos (“The Dark Knight,” “The Empire Strikes Back”). It’s a transitional film, expanding the characters, expanding the universe, but not really expanding on the cinematic potential for the series shown in the 2009 “Star Trek,” the undeniably superior outing. There’s a lot to like here, including strong performances, stellar sound design, and Abrams’ breakneck pacing, but those elements are balanced by the sense that this film falls short of the near-perfect blockbuster that preceded it.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

“Star Trek Into Darkness” wastes absolutely no time. From scene one, Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban) are running from a tribe of people who haven’t even invented the wheel in an effort to distract them while Spock (Zachary Quinto) saves them from a volcanic eruption. Of course, something goes wrong (the film could have been called “Star Trek: Something Goes Wrong”) and it looks like Spock is going to die if Kirk follows the “Prime Directive.” In his logical way, Spock embraces this eventuality. You don’t break the rules to save a life, even if that life is important. Of course, Kirk acts more from instinct and emotion and he needs his First Officer and friend. The thematic core of “Into Darkness” is established – Kirk’s gut feeling vs. Spock’s logic and, more importantly, how a combination of both is needed for success.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Star Trek Into Darkness” in our reviews section.

Before you can catch your breath from the whiz-bang-boom opening scene (one that felt a little too noisy and Bay-esque for my taste), an interstellar terrorist named Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) has blown up a top secret Starfleet project in London. As the power structure of Starfleet, including Admirals Pike (Bruce Greenwood) and Marcus (Peter Weller), meet to discuss how to face the challenge in front of them, they’re assaulted. In one of several arguable plot holes, Harrison leaves a clear path to find him. He’s hiding on a distant Klingon planet named Kronos. Admiral Marcus orders Kirk to take his team on a covert mission to simply assassinate the villain, avoid war with the Klingons, and return. Things don’t go exactly as planned.

There’s one thing that is clear about Abrams’ blockbuster filmmaking ability (other than his LOVE for lens flare…this time in 3D!) – he simply knows how to pace a film more expertly than most, maybe anybody, doing this kind of thing in 2013. “Star Trek Into Darkness” features more running, jumping, panic, switch pulling, shooting, crashing, and so on and so on. The plot is merely the device on which Abrams and his writers, Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof, build action scene after action scene. It does approach ridiculousness. When one thinks back on it, “Into Darkness” is really just a series of near-death events for Enterprise crew members in terms of plot. If you thought “Star Trek” was light on plot, don’t expect this one to be all that more complex.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Star Trek Into Darkness” review.

“Star Trek Into Darkness” stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelckin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, Alice Eve, and Benedict Cumberbatch. It was directed by J.J. Abrams. It was released on May 16, 2013.

Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek Into Darkness
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

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