I am a little late in posting this review, but I guess better late than never. I have to say up front that I have been a Star Trek fan since it first appeared on national television many years ago and have enjoyed all the shows and films based on the creation of this series by Gene Roddenberry. The latest addition, number 12 to be exact, Star Trek Into Darkness, directed by J.J. Abrams and written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof, is one of the best films in the series. Starring Chris Pine, who reprises his role as Captain James Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Karl Urban as Bones, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Anton Yelchin as Chekov, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Leonard Nimoy as the older Spock, John Cho as Sulu, Bruce Greenwood as Admiral Pike, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan. Peter Weller and Alice Eve appear, rounding out the principal actors in this film.
This film, as the previous Abrams’ film in 2009, is a prequel to the television series and subsequent films; although, there is much within it that will remind serious trekkies of the film (and episode) of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which as stated much as been appropriated for this film.
The plot is simple enough: The USS Enterprise is sent to the Nibiru system to observe a primitive group of people, but Kirk, here, violates the prime directive when Spock’s life is threatened by a volcano that is about to erupt. He exposes the ship to the indigenous population while rescuing Spock. Demoted when returning to Earth, Admiral Pike is then reinstated as the captain of the Enterprise, while Kirk remains as the first officer. While attending a secret meeting about a bombing in London, the entire meeting is attacked by Khan (then known as John Harrison), who escapes to the Klingon planet of Kronos, where Kirk captures rather than kills Harrison after Scotty resigns refusing to fire photo torpedoes at the Klingons. After killing the Klingons, Harrison/Khan surrenders and reveals his true identity as Khan, who has awakened from a 300 year period of suspended animation along with 70 of his Khan’s crew members in pods inside the torpedoes. The Enterprise is then severely damaged by the USS Vengeance, captained by Admiral Marcus (played by Peter Weller), who has demanded the Khan be handed over to him and whom Kirk has refused to comply. Scotty, who has managed to infiltrate the Vengeance, causes a power outage, stopping the possibility of it firing upon the Enterprise. Kirk and Khan then manage to space-jump aboard the Vengeance and take control of that ship. Trying to incapacitate Khan, Scotty and Kirk fail and Khan then kills Admiral Marcus and takes control of the Vengeance. After negotiations, Khan’s requests that the torpedoes be sent to him, believing that his crew is inside them, but unbeknownst to him, they have been removed and have been armed. The Vengeance is incapacitated, while both ships begin to fall to Earth. Kirk realigns the warp core, enabling the crew to regain control, but he dies of radiation poisoning in the process. Khan crashes his ship into San Francisco where Spock pursues him with orders NOT to kill him as it has been discovered by Bones that Khan’s blood contains regenerative powers that save Kirk. A year later, Kirk gives a speech at a memorial of the events and Khan is resealed into his pod and stored with the rest of his crew. The Enterprise then leaves on a five-year exploration mission into space.
Chris Pine plays Kirk by underplaying him, unlike Shatner, the original Kirk, who played him to the hilt. Quinto’s Spock is nothing like the original, played by Leonard Nimoy, which is wonderful, and the relationship between these two actors is their own. Some similarities to the original actors, but they have made these characters their own. Well played too!
The remainder of the supporting cast is also remarkable and makes the roles their own as well. Khan is played much differently than the original played by Ricardo Montalban. Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock Holmes on BBC, has the role of Khan in this film and plays him with a certain sincerity that masks his devilish intent, and he plays it extremely well.
The CGI is remarkable, as were the costumes, music, and overall storyline. I wondered what Into Darkness might have meant and another critic pretty much summed it up for me: it is referring to that place where one is no longer certain what the right thing to do is (Gleiberman).
Filmed entirely in California, this film is recommended to everyone
over the age of 10, whether male or female (Chris Pine’s eyes are to die for),
but adults need to remember that there is a lot of violence, so prepare
children for that. GRADE: 4 Crowns