Film Review: “Star Trek Into Darkness”

***1/2OUT OF 4

StarTrekPosterDirector J.J. Abrams, who has just been anointed to take over Star Wars, makes a Star Trek movie that is a lot of fun, thanks to an engaging script, pitch-perfect performances and stellar digital effects. It even, for the first time, contains a bona-fide bromance between Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his Vulcan antagonist, Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto)  breaking free of some of the trademarks of the original series.

The film begins with Kirk, Spock and the crew of the Enterprise-Uhura(Zoe Saldana),Bones(Karl Urban)Scotty (Simon Pegg)Chekov(Anton Yelchin) and Sulu (John Cho)boldly breaking The Prime Directive(i.e. no interference with the normal development of an alien civilization)in order to save a threatened civilization.  The result of this illegal action gets Kirk demoted and his ship taken away and Spock reassigned. However, they are reunited when a genetically modified terrorist named John Harrison (a wonderfully complex Benedict Cumberbatch) launches an all-out lethal attack with a determined revenge motive on the Starfleet Headquarters. When Harrison is revealed to be hiding on the planet Kronos, Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) deploys Kirk to hunt down and destroy him.  The assignment has the added complication of violating international law and could result in a world war with the residents of Kronos known as Klingons.

The iterations of Star Trek that Abrams has created are “prequels” to the original series created by Gene Roddenberry, which were broadcast between 1966 and 1969 on NBC. What makes the revived series work so well was that the 2009 “Star Trek” screenplay by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (who also wrote “Into Darkness” with Damon Lindelof) allows Mr. Spock to alter the past creating new stories that are free of the imperatives inherent in the 10 previous features and 4 TV series. Nevertheless, the clever script mixes mischief with respect for the original versions of this classic and is engaging and a delight to watch. The 3D is immersive and the 2 hours and 7 minutes running time feels comfortable.  It is a satisfying and well crafted entertainment experience.

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