J.J. Abrams has graced the Star Trek
franchise with another winning film. One that I think is better than the original and was adequately balanced for the need of keeping audiences interested while paying homage
to Star Trek
's past. In the 2009 installment, the ability of choice is a continuous theme. Again and again, the movie's characters were faced with choices they make that affect not only the course of their own lives, but also those around them in order to make the point that people ultimately control their destiny. Into Darkness
highlights the power of intelligence along with the value of friendship while elements of previous movies and shows are used for the film's plot. I do wish Abrams did not wait four years to make this sequel and think there was an opportunity missed by using elements of the past for this movie's plot. Hopefully, the next film slated for 2016 to be released in time for Star Trek
's fiftieth anniversary will have a more original storyline. Despite the multiple familiar elements in the film, the makers did a good job of integrating elements of past Star Trek
films and television shows while making the movie enjoyable for average moviegoers.
Into Darkness begins on the lush planet of Nibiru where the crew of the Enterprise have decided to save the planet's species from certain extinction. They are then sent on a mission to a barren province of the Klingon home world Kronos originally to assassinate a terrorist named John Harrison (aka Khan) who has taken refuge there. Instead of being executed, Harrison is taken prisoner which sets off a series of events that enables Captain Kirk to reveal a conspiracy geared to plunge the Federation into a galactic war. Central to the story is not only the Enterprise but Earth civilization itself as evidenced by the sophisticated cities of San Francisco and London. Into Darkness does a very good job of being escapist by presenting excellent action, acting, and special effects. Like it's predecessor, the movie remains larger than life with the Enterprise crew showing how fantastic they are, using their intelligence, taking risks while achieving great things along the way. Khan is the Enterprise crew's arch nemesis as symbolized not only by his brilliance but also Khan's cunning ruthlessness and manipulations. The indication that Khan is the bad guy is symbolic not only with his chosen home on the Klingon homeworld of Kronos but also the darkness of the ship he commandeers.
A good amount of humor and fast pace kept the movie fun and interesting. I think picking Chris Pine to play Captain Kirk was a good move as he fits the role well. Zachary Quinto is an excellent choice to play Spock and I love Karl Urban's rendition of Dr. Leonard Bones McCoy. In addition to the indirect snippets paying homage to the original Trek, Spock and McCoy assert their original roles as the conflict between emotion and reason that Kirk uses when making his decisions. Each of the actors playing their respective roles are comfortable doing so and it shows since there is great chemistry among the cast which is important. Despite the film not tackling philosophical issues in the depth that past television shows or movies did, Sulu, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura passionately pursue values much more so than before.
One reviewer sums up Star Trek Into Darkness nicely:
The Enterprise - and all of Starfleet - is overflowing with smart, highly technical, amazingly skilled men and women ready to build, repair and imagine as their life mission. Best of all, unlike in the original series, in today's version the highly intellectual Spock and the brain-enhanced Khan get all the best action scenes.
In the future, smarts and focus are rewarded. Through intellect, bravery and a can-do attitude - all pure geek - all obstacles are overcome. Theirs is a world of magic-like technology, blistering focus and an eager embrace of faraway worlds, beings, and cultures. We are the better for it.
With the symbolism of Kirk breaking the Prime Directive in the beginning of the movie along with breaking a host of other Starfleet regulations and Admiral Pike chastising him for doing so shows not only that Kirk's individualism will continue but, simultaneously, you cannot expect the new franchise to be the same as the original canon. As a long time fan I am fine with that. The new folks in charge are doing something new which itself is a new frontier if you will for Star Trek.
The new crew behind the franchise have shown they can pack quite a punch while paying their respects to what got them there. In J.J. Abrams' version Gene Roddenberry's optimistic, pro-technology future is still intact. So far and best of all, the liberal political causes shown in previous Star Trek television shows and films (like the Save the Whales message from Star Trek IV) seem to have been eviscerated. Star Trek is not only a science fiction tale and culture, but also an exploration as to what it means to be an individual. Star Trek is a positive vision of the future that tells stories of heroic individuals confidently solving problems successfully and what mankind overall can achieve.