With all of the angry insistance of “you HAVE to see this!” that goes around in popular culture nowadays, it is always nice to see something that is more inviting than exclusive. So far, J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” has been great for old fans* while it also creates new ones.
Laying out the entire plot of “Star Trek Into Darkness” here would be of no use, as there are too many details that I am afraid I will give away. The opening scenes involve a chase by some indigenous people through a colorful forest that leads into the center of an active volcano. Now, movies don’t tend to kill of their main characters before the opening credits, especially if that character is Spock (Zachary Quinto), but I was surprised to find out that that was not a simulation as I thought it would be.
Something that worked for me about “Into Darkness” is that it doesn’t get bogged down in cinematic tropes. While there are love interests here, there is no real central love story. The lack of romance allows the film to focus on the most important element in all of “Star Trek”: the strange friendship between Spock and Kirk (Chris Pine).
However, this story is of course not without external conflict. In “Into Darkness,” the Enterprise battles against the genetically superior Khan, who is played by brilliant casting choice Benedict Cumberbatch.** Cumberbatch plays Khan with a level of terrifying restraint. Cumberbatch embraces the idea that the best villains don’t speak much because when they actually do, everyone listens. However, a little more screen time for him wouldn’t have hurt anyone.
While I do not know much about the original Khan, I can say that this Khan is a somewhat complex villain. At least that’s what would happen if you were a genetic creation by man and never really governed by much free will. Khan isn’t quite Kirk’s doppelganger, but both of them do have a crew to watch over, and only one of them really considers that crew a “family.” Surprisingly, it’s not who you think it is.
“Into Darkness” does a much better job expanding the friendly rivalry between Kirk and Spock. “Into Darkness” is a very deep look at the constant yin and yang that forms between emotion and logic. Boiled down, this is what “Star Trek” is all about, and “Into Darkness” very wisely made it a focal point.
Overall, it is hard to find a lot to say about “Into Darkness.” It was a pretty great way to kick off blockbuster season. However, I don’t have any strong opinions about it. “Into Darkness” held my attention for two hours and I followed it on every twist and turn it took. But I guess the best way to end this review is by praising the director himself. “Star Trek Into Darkness” is a blend of many broad sci-fi ideas from space travel to the idea of restoring life to something that is dead. “Into Darkness” tackles all of them with a wonder and excitement. It is never scared of breaking, dare I say it Mr. Spock, logic.***
*NOTE: I have never watched the old “Star Trek” and therefore cannot be held accountable for knowing any major changes made in the films.
**I somehow spelled that right the first time.
***Thank you! Thank you, good night!