Star Trek Into Darkness

It can be a risky move to reboot an old television franchise.  Occasionally the magic of the original show gets lost in translation when updated.  Sometimes it works (Mission: Impossible, Charlie’s Angels) and sometimes it doesn’t (Dukes of Hazzard).  2009’s Star Trek is another example of a successful TV reboot.  It was fairly entertaining and did pretty well at the box office, so of course Paramount Studios went back to the well again; it’s only right.

Star Trek Into Darkness finds the cocky young James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, This Means War) back at Starfleet as Captain of the Enterprise.  The movie opens with Kirk and company on a recon mission on a foreign planet.  The natives are “uncivilized,” and the Enterprise has a directive to keep its presence undetected.  There is a volcano on the planet, threatening to erupt and destroy everyone on it, unless Spock can set off a device to prevent it.  Spock plants the device, but is unable to escape the scorching lava.  The only way for Kirk to save Spock is to disobey the directive and save him with the Enterprise, rescuing him from the volcano’s peak.  Spock is emotionless about his impending doom, and he doesn’t mind sacrificing himself to execute the mission.  Kirk is a wild card, and he doesn’t mind breaking the rules, even if it’s a Starfleet directive.  He rescues Spock, and in doing so exposes the highly advanced interplanetary spacecraft to a people who haven’t even invented the wheel yet.

This act of defiance leads to Kirk’s demotion and his ordered return to the Academy, courtesy of his superior officer and mentor Commander Pike (Bruce Greenwood, Flight).  His exile is short-lived though, as emergencies call for reinstatement to the Enterprise.  An act of British terrorism at a Starfleet Records location implicates a treasonous officer named John Harrison.  Harrison takes it a step further with an attack on Starfleet, and now the crew must hunt him down and make him pay.  Their quest to apprehend him takes them throughout the galaxy, to the forbidden planet of Kronos – a planet they dare not visit, as tension with the Klingons is at an all-time high.  The remainder of the movie centers around the battle with Harrison, who is a much greater foe than Kirk and Company anticipated.

JJ Abrams (Super 8) has done it again.  Star Trek Into Darkness was everything you’d want in a summer blockbuster: non-stop action and entertainment, and cool special effects.  I’m starting to hate the entire concept of 3D, because 90% of the movies that are released with this “special feature” are not enhanced by it at all.  The difference is negligible, and audiences should smarten up and stop falling for the trick.  Studios are shameful with this blatant money-grab.  I digress.  Despite the useless 3D aspect, I have no real criticism of the movie.  The plot made sense and it was easy to understand.  I don’t want a plot that’s completely dumbed down, but give audiences something they can wrap their heads around.  I want the plot to make sense; I don’t just want to be entertained by stuff blowing up, although that works for me too.  Chris Pine is a likable leading man, and he’s ably shouldered the load in the few performances I’ve seen from him.  Abrams brought an emotional backstory to the movie, adding an unexpected heft to the movie’s tone.  With him at the helm, Star Trek should be a summer franchise to watch for a few years to come.  Grade: A

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