This week we continue the summer movie blockbuster season with Star Trek Into Darkness (PG-13).
Most of the original cast from the 2009 Star Trek returns (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Salanda, and Simon Pegg) for this round, where the crew is on a manhunt for a terrorist that ends up being more complicated than initially thought. J.J. Abrams directs.
Ryan: Much like 2009’s reboot I found Star Trek Into the Darkness to be a solid summer film and a worthy follow-up. The brilliance of the first movie was that it set up a new universe while also preserving the Star Trek history that came before it. With that in mind, Into Darkness expands this new universe and we see the characters forge into their expected counterparts. There are some minor issues with the film. But Into Darkness actually feels more like a Star Trek movie as the film’s frantic pace is complemented by a deeper allegoric narrative that feels more in tune to the kind of philosophical driven science fiction that Star Trek is famous for.
Andy: I don’t think that Into Darkness is quite as good as the 2009 reinvention of Star Trek, but it does pretty much everything that you want a Star Trek movie to do. It has plenty of action, the characters develop well, and many obligatory moments arise (Vulcan neck pinch, Bones complaining that he is a doctor, not a ___). What this film does best is get the relationship between Kirk and Spock right. We see the two characters as friends who respect each other greatly, but sometimes have trouble connecting due to circumstance and differences in species. That relationship is really at the core of the film, and it allows the rest of the narrative to build around it.
Ryan: I would classify myself as a casual Star Trek fan so I can’t really speak to if this film will please or disappoint the hard-core fans. The impressions that I’ve gotten from other avenues about the film is that there’s a pretty big split among the die-hards in how the film handles a couple of big reveals in the film. I didn’t have an issue with the film’s revelations, but it’s clear that the movie is trying to balance paying fan-service to the Trekkies while also making the movie accessible to the general movie-going public. It’s certainly not an easy way to make a movie, but Abrams and company are succeeding in delivering a product that (mostly) appeases the fan-base while bringing in new fans to the Star Trek universe.
Andy: It is interesting that Star Trek can be such a successful film without making any of the lead actors seem like really big stars. The original television show cast was boxed in by the cult following of the show and was never able to transcend the characters they created. While that seems unlikely for the new cast, this is still clearly all about the Star Trek franchise and not the individual performances. The performances are strong across the board, but they are overshadowed by the spectacle of Star Trek. Speaking of that spectacle, at times it feels like this movie is trying to be bigger than it needs to. While that is probably a possible criticism of most summer blockbusters, this franchise has the depth and following that it should not need to rely on action sequences every 10 minutes.
Ryan: There are some issues that I had with the movie. The second sequence in the film (where Captain Kirk is more-or-less getting his comeuppance) is quite clunky and feels like a retread of the first film. Secondly, the plot device of the villain getting captured on purpose as part of his evil plan is growing a little old. Third, the movie’s relentless climax is quite honestly a little too relentless. It’s one of those film endings that just keeps going even after one thinks that the movie has resolved itself. But even with these minor issues, Star Trek Into Darkness is still a fun summer flick.
Star Trek Into Darkness does everything a summer movie needs to, and despite some flaws, still earns a respectable B.