Boldly Go See Star Trek Into Darkness

Warning:  This review contains spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness. If you don’t want me to violate your prime directive, come back to this review after you’ve seen the film.

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It isn’t often that I attend midnight releases for films. I hate dealing with crowds, and I’m usually a complete waste of a human being after midnight. Besides, I can see a new release any time during opening weekend, right? But when a group of my friends set up a Facebook invitation for the midnight release of Star Trek Into Darkness, and after dragging my feet for a few days, I finally agreed to buy a ticket and join them.

Holy shit, this movie is good!

No, I mean, seriously, this is a solid movie that fans of the monster that is the Star Trek franchise and new initiates to Starfleet can enjoy together. Admittedly, I was already expecting an exciting experience from J.J. Abram’s second film in his rebooted Star Trek universe; after all, 2009’s Star Trek was an impressive first showing for a director who brought genuine care to the characters and stories that the fandom had trusted him with. What I wasn’t expecting was the sheet amount of giddy joy that Star Trek Into Darkness left me with.

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As with the first film, the cast does not fail to deliver on their second go-around. Standout cast members include Chris Pine, who portrays the reckless, yet lovable Captain Kirk effortlessly, and Karl Urban, who had to have been created in a lab for the sole purpose of playing the role of Bones. Zachary Quinto’s Spock deserves special mention as well; in Star Trek Into Darkness, he demonstrates a great deal of precision and restraint with his emotions; keeping them in check for the bulk of the film while still allowing us to see glimpses of the thoughts and feelings bubbling beneath his surface. Of course, every member of the cast delivers solid performances.

Side note: Doctor Who fans, look out for an interesting cameo by Noel Clarke’s Mickey the idiot.

What would a summer blockbuster be without over-the-top action and high stakes battles? Star Trek Into Darkness sets the tone early, with the first action sequence occurring before the title sequence. The color palette in the opening action sequence established a trend that, for me, would continue throughout the film: not only were the action sequences fun, but they looked nice, too. Often, action movies rely on shaky cameras and darkness to cover inadequacies in their action choreography. Not this film. Every action scene was beautifully shot, with movement easy to distinguish and appealing to the senses.

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With any film, there is the possibility for quibbles, and there was a major one I had with Star Trek Into Darkness. The only glaring issue I had with the film was a pacing roadblock caused by a clunky scripting sequence early on. After recklessly violating the Prime Directive (the rule stating that Starfleet must never interfere with the development of alien civilizations) to save Spock’s life, Kirk is reprimanded by his superiors. In a matter of a few scenes, he has his ship taken away from him, he is placed as the First Officer of the Enterprise under mentor Captain Pike, and Spock is reassigned to another ship. This leads to a scene where Pike, Kirk, and Spock are all in a room with other Captains and First Officers. A trap is sprung, Pike is killed, and Spock gets to experience the emotions that go along with watching someone die in your arms. Kirk is immediately promoted back up to Captain, with Spock as his First Officer. Thank you, status quo, it is nice to have you back!

Here’s my problem: all of the demotions, reassignments, and promotions occur in dialogue sequences during the course of a day. At no point is Kirk actually aboard the Enterprise as a First Officer, nor do we see Spock leave to work with another ship. This is merely a plot device to accomplish a few tasks:

  1. Establish Pike’s mentor role with Kirk, and his willingness to protect Kirk from his own recklessness
  2. Get Pike, Kirk, and Spock in the same room, all as Captains or First Officers, so that they could all witness Khan’s trap firsthand.

Instead of wasting audience time with these bureaucratic gymnastics, the film could have accomplished the same goals by having Pike chastise Kirk following his violation of the Prime Directive, have a scene with them discussing Kirk and his potential as a Captain, and then moving into the action sequences at Starfleet. Boom!  This would have trimmed 15 minutes or so out of the film, and would have helped the pacing of the story incredibly.

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This is just a quibble, though.  Not a tribble, mind you; I don’t want any trouble with tribbles. Aside from this one little pacing issue early in the film, I don’t really have any problems with this movie. The story was engaging, the tone was perfect for this type of film, the characters were memorable, and the action was fun. What more can you ask for from a summer science fiction blockbuster?

I strongly encourage you to boldly go where all of your friends and family will probably end up going this weekend; see Star Trek Into Darkness, and let me know what you think!

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