Monday, May 20, 2013

Movie with Abe: Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Released May 16, 2013

This season’s second big sequel is actually the twelfth film in the “Star Trek” saga, though it’s only the second that takes place in the modified universe associated with the one and only J.J. Abrams. Picking up where his 2009 success left off, it revisits the famous crew of the original USS Enterprise in their younger, more excitable versions. This return trip proves to be a wholehearted success, equally thrilling and entertaining for the whole of its 132 minutes, and a strong sign that this rebooted franchise has plenty of life left in it.

“Star Trek Into Darkness” begins in the middle of the action as Kirk and his crew race to stop a volcano from exploding on a primitive planet without violating the Prime Directive and alerting its people to advanced technology. This start firmly grounds the film in the mindset of space exploration and honor, and after that, the plot takes off, leaving Kirk, Spock, and everyone else to find for their lives as they encounter deadly new enemies. What’s most affirming is that all of the characters work together so well, and it’s clear that every member of the cast is having fun.

Unlike “Iron Man 3,” this movie has a clear sense of where to insert humor, and, to its credit, it’s quite funny when it wants to be. Chris Pine’s Kirk, Karl Urban’s Bones, and Simon Pegg’s Scotty are particularly humorous, and the film also makes the most of Spock’s logic-driven Vulcan and how his antics are received by Kirk and Uhura. The already terrific cast gets two magnificent additions in Alice Eve as Carol, the Enterprise’s newest officer, and Benedict Cumberbatch, who is simply astounding as the film’s captivating and fascinating villain. The film balances the drama of Cumberbatch’s performance and the lighthearted nature of the “Star Trek” universe perfectly.

Like its film and television predecessors, the success of this entry in the “Star Trek” canon is largely dependent on the selected story. Retooling a classic and beloved piece of the saga works excellently, and, as with the first Abrams film, this one redefines it and re-imagines it in a way that likely won’t be able to please everyone. Yet the gamble pays off with Abrams behind this visually strong film, and this sci-fi blockbuster turns out to be one of the most energetic and engaging films of the year, a thoroughly enjoyable visit to space, the final frontier, but hopefully not for the final time.


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