‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Movie Review – Not Your Ordinary Blockbuster
Stereotypes exist for a reason. Although I’m obviously using the term in a much less serious way than, say, social stereotypes, there still are movie stereotypes. Star Trek Into Darkness is bound to be pre-judged under two common stereotypes: science fiction and big budget blockbuster. Unfamiliar (read: ignorant) folks would say J.J. Abrams’ film looks good but has less substance. These folks couldn’t be further from the truth because not only is this “science fiction blockbuster” full of great action sequences and visuals, but it is packed fuller with heart and soul.
Time will tell if this film is a genre-buster, but Star Trek Into Darkness at least deserves to be part of that conversation at this point.
The 12th installment into the Star Trek franchise, Into Darkness continues at least part of the conflict from its predecessor Star Trek (also directed by Abrams). James Kirk (Chris Pine) is still a pompous jerk that doesn’t quite understand what it means to be “Captain.” Although there were significant breakthroughs in regards to his friendship with First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto) in the last movie, this installment continues to chart this conflict.
However, the major difference is in the villain. Or perhaps we should say “villain” because nothing is quite what it seems. When a rogue Commander named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) starts to terrorize future London, Starfleet, led by Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller), sets into motion a dangerous manhunt. Of course, Kirk, Spock, and the U.S.S. Enterprise find themselves right in the middle of the intergalactic spacehunt.
Like some of the best movies, Into Darkness benefits from a great villain. At first, Harrison seems like the direct antithesis to both Kirk and Spock. However, as the film goes on, he turns from villain to “villain” as he grays the lines a lot more than you’d expect. He also turns out to be eerily similar to Spock (in some ways). Not only is Harrison a part of nearly every great scene – only one notable exception sticks out – but he is the driving force behind the conflict and entertainment value.
To nobody’s surprise, Cumberbatch is a scene-stealer. His performance balances the subdued genius and absolutely terrifying nature of Harrison’s character. Although the trailers (which I admittedly watched over twenty times leading up to the film) seem like they may give away where the story, and the villain, are going, Into Darkness keeps plenty of tricks up its sleeves. Most importantly, they pull the tricks off…unlike other movies (I’m looking at you Iron Man 3).
Although Cumberbatch is the standout, both Pine and Quinto do a fabulous job as well. Personally, Pine is more surprising, and he is partially responsible for the most emotional scene in the entire film.
Pine and Quinto have to be good, too, because their characters’ relationship is what is most important. Star Trek was about getting the two to respect each other, and Into Darkness is about making them the duo Trekkies know and love. There’s not a lot of people that would disagree when I say they pull it off here.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, too. Abrams, who I unfortunately think will exit the franchise, deserves a lot of recognition. Similarly, cinematographer Daniel Mindel (Mission: Impossible III) did a lot with the effects and the predominately red color scheme.
I imagine that I will continue to go back-and-forth on what part of J.J. Abrams’ film I liked the most. This has to be a compliment, and despite what I call the “franchise effect” – where a film has to end a certain way to keep it going – Star Trek Into Darkness hits all the right notes. Cumberbatch has a rousing performance, but I’m going to go with Captain Kirk and Spock’s bromance (something that means more than Spock’s relationship with Uhura) as the #1 highlight. A debate is really unnecessary because you don’t need to choose one, and that, my friends, is why it’s so fantastic. It’s the film science fiction “nerds” will like, but it’s still much more accessible than that.
Star Trek Into Darkness opened nationwide yesterday and will probably be around for a long time. Find the nearest showtime and see it when you get the chance.
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