Star Trek Into Darkness Review

poster from the Paramount Pictures film Star Trek Into Darkness

I’ve been a science fiction fan since I was a kid, with the Star Wars movies sitting at the top of my personal heap and the Star Trek shows and movies in the middle, except for the original Star Trek, which is near the bottom. When J.J. Abrams remade Star Trek in 2009, it slotted in just below the original Star Wars trilogy, so you can imagine how crushed I was not to be able to see the sequel on opening night, especially since it sounded so awesome.

Following a terrorist attack on Starfleet, Captain Kirk and the crew of the enterprise go on a black op to hunt down and kill the rogue officer responsible.

Terrorism? Black ops? Assassination? Hell yeah! I already knew J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek was nothing like the campy, wishy washy TV show from the 60s, but it took seeing Into Darkness to make me realize what it WAS like: Star Wars. I suspect that’s why I love it.

The movie opens with James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise attempting to stop a volcano from erupting on a pre-contact world. The science doesn’t make a whole lot of sense – for instance, no one seems to realize that cold fusion makes electricity, not magic ice – but we get the gist of it anyway: Kirk would do anything for to save his crew, especially his Vulcan buddy Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the rules can go f*** themselves.

Spock in the volcano from the Paramount Pictures film Star Trek Into Darkness

We who are about to die, salute you, volcano, in all your toasty glory.

Unfortunately, Spock doesn’t agree and files a report that gets Kirk demoted back to Chief Screwup Who Drinks in Honkey Tonks. At this point half of Starfleet has to die before Kirk gets to command a ship again, but lucky, almost this exact thing happens! A rogue Starfleet officer named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) shoots up a command meeting and Voila! Kirk is once again back in the Captain’s chair.

Captain Kirk from the Paramount Pictures film Star Trek Into Darkness

I thought you learned from the last movie: people who get between me
and this chair end up swimming with the fishes.

Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) has sent the Enterprise on a black op because that pesky terrorist has escaped into Klingon space and a real mission might mean starting a war. Harrison is only one guy, but Marcus loads the Enterprise up with about a million super secret torpedo things, which Scotty finds so sketchy that he up and quits, leaving Chekov (Anton Yelchin) to cover engineering for him.

Scotty and the torpedos from the Paramount Pictures film Star Trek Into Darkness

Please finish loading the Nuclear Wessels.

As you might expect from the sketchiness of their mission, there’s quite a bit of backstabbing, plot twists, and epic disasters of the near-death inducing kind, but I can’t talk about any of them or it might ruin the movie on you. So let’s talk about the Bromance instead. Spock, despite the fact that he half-belongs to an alien species that refuses to have feelings, has girlfriend: ship’s communication officer Uhura (Zoe Saldana).

Spock and Uhura from the Paramount Pictures film Star Trek Into Darkness

You know, I’m glad your mom was a human or this relationship would be really awkward.

But the real romance that unfolds during Into Darkness is between Spock and his buddy Kirk. Kirk risked his career and his life to save Spock in the beginning of the movie, and at first Spock doesn’t get it. But by the end of the movie, Spock is ready to repay the favor – and then some, because everyone in this movie is always on the edge of death.

Spock and Kirk hand touch from the Paramount Pictures film Star Trek Into Darkness

Ah wish ah could quit you!

There’s so much action in Into Darkness that’s more like a Star Wars movie than a Star Trek movie. J.J. Abrams must be warming up to take over the Star Wars franchise because Into Darkness features knockoffs of the jedi vs assassin speeder battle from Episode II as well as Lando’s assault on the second death star from Return of the Jedi.

Sneaking around on a Klingon planet from the Paramount Pictures film Star Trek Into Darkness

“Split up and head back to the surface. And see if you can get a few of those TIE fighters to follow you.”

Set decoration has also taken a Star Wars turn, with the uber-clean, uber-sterile sets of previous Star Trek incarnations being replaced by more utilitarian tech that’s dirty and used-looking. I was all set to say it’s more practical, especially after they broke out the seat belts, but the inaccessible, radiation-soaked warp core that’s no where near a locker full of protective suits put the kibosh on that thought.

Kirk in the warp core from the Paramount Pictures film Star Trek Into Darkness

Who designed this thing? Frank Gehry??

Starfleet even has new dress uniforms that look an awful lot like the ones you might see on the bridge crew of a Star Destroyer. But you know what? I don’t care. Because despite the dark plot, Into Darkness made me laugh. A lot. Kirk has some great lines, but everyone, even Spock, holds their own. My personal favorite is Bones (Karl Urban). Hot and funny. A powerhouse combination.

Bones draws blood from Khan from the Paramount Pictures film Star Trek Into Darkness

BONES: “Are you feeling homicidal, power-mad, despotic?”

But the real reason I don’t care is that the original Star Wars is awesome and more of it can never be a bad thing (see: Eragon). I’m all for giving J.J. Abrams the maximum possible amount of money to keep making films with, so all of you reading this should get off your butts and go buy a ticket. And if you’ve already seen it, buy another one. We’ve got a Star Wars sequel trilogy to make here, people!

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