Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Director: J.J. Abrams                                  Writers: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Film Score: Michael Giacchino                    Cinematography: Daniel Mindel
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch and Bruce Greenwood

As someone who owns the entire original Star Trek television series and all of the feature films, I've had absolutely no interest in the modern spin-offs. I’ve never seen a single episode of Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine or Enterprise and so it's no surprise that I was delighted with the first Star Trek prequel. Finally, Kirk, Spock, Scottie, Bones and the gang--the reason I loved the original series in the first place--were back on the big screen. Star Trek Into Darkness is the latest entry in the franchise, reprising all of the old characters and letting us see them as they develop into the tight-knit crew they would become in the series and films.

This one begins on the planet Nibiru which, of course, is the name of the fictional doomsday planet that conspiracy theorists say is on the other side of the sun paralleling the earth. In the new film it is simply a planet with a primitive population that Kirk and McCoy are attempting to escape from while Spock neutralizes the volcano that threatens to kill all life on the planet. Due to certain “irregularities” during the mission, Kirk is called into Pike’s office and demoted to first officer under Pike himself and Spock reassigned. But events intervene when a rogue Federation officer John Harrison bombs a London archive as a ploy to get the top Starfleet officers together in one place. Eventually Kirk is sent out to track down Harrison and kill him . . . with utterly unexpected consequences.

Chris Pike is just terrific again as the new Kirk and I’m finally beginning to warm to Zachary Quinto as Spock. The fact that Quinto's looks and behavior approximate Nimoy’s slightly more than the other actors resemble the originals has kind of worked against him for me. Zoe Saldana as Uhura is also great casting. In fact, the entire crew does a terrific job of emulating their TV show counterparts, which is not necessarily a fun job for an actor, but is admirable just the same, especially for fans of the original series. And that is the real joy of this film. To see the young James T. Kirk risking life and limb, making gut decisions, the taunting of Spock by Bones McCoy, and the frantic energy of Scottie and Chekov is just so great to see again. One of the added treats in the film is a cameo by Leonard Nemoy. Benedict Cumberbatch is the guest star and plays a great villain that will put a smile on the faces of Trek fans.

Of course there is a lot of action, plenty of great special effects, and a great script that references plenty of the classic phrases from the original series. As a film in its own right, it’s perhaps not a great piece of work. For someone like me, however, who loves the characters, it’s nearly impossible to be objective. And so other Trekkies should be thoroughly pleased by the results. Star Trek Into Darkness is another worthy entry to the series preceding the TV show. We can only hope that the new series will live long and prosper.

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