Star Trek Into Darkness

My husband was a big ol’ Trekkie.  Sitting right now in a cabinet in our home is a collection of commemorative Star Trek plates.  He had a Starfleet uniform and drew schematics of his very own hypothetical Starfleet ship.  He even recently made me watch Star Trek 2:  Wrath of Khan and its prequel of sorts, the episode entitled “Space Seed,” the twenty-second episode of the first season.

As a total Trek neophyte, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the episode of the series, but I enjoyed Wrath of Khan.  I equally enjoyed the 2009 J.J. Abrams reboot.  There were great performances; Karl Urban as Leonard “Bones” McCoy and Zachary Quinto as Spock stood out.  I was even quite excited when Star Trek: Into Darkness was announced.

My brief encounter with the original series and the films served me well, as it turned out.  Star Trek: Into Darkness is a throwback, in much the same way that last year’s Skyfall was an homage to the Bond films of yore.  Abrams uses establishes subtle (and not so subtle) ties to the TV series. There is much in this movie for a hardcore Trekkie to love, but it’s easy for a newbie like me to get caught up in the story and the characters.

Quinto and Urban continue to be the most interesting actors in Abrams’ ensemble.  Urban is hilarious, cranky, and charming as Bones.  James T. Kirk, as played by Chris Pine, is a vapid pretty boy, but a serviceable actor.  Zoe Saldana’s Uhura has very little to do.  But the chemistry between them all elevates all of their performances into something special.

I am an Abrams fangirl.  I will see anything he does (see the lamentable Cloverfield).  However, I would like to have a word or two with him about the lens flare schtick.  It’s become cliche to gripe about the lens flare in reviews, but sometimes cliches are cliches for good reason. Maybe anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

Abrams’ musical collaborator Michael Giacchino provides the score.  Giacchino’s music for LOST is still my favorite work of his, for its wide range and eclectic style.  There are some LOST-like moments of greatness in his score for Into Darkness.

The baddie-du-jour is John Harrison, played by Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch.  He really is the highlight of the movie.  Harrison is an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in an overcoat.  He’s a scary dude, but he’s pursuing his own twisted version of justice.  Maybe I’m weird, but I actually was cheering for Harrison for a few minutes.  Cumberbatch’s performance is captivating and chilling.

The first two-thirds of the film is wall-to-wall action and chaos.  There is a point in the film when I realized that the story could almost go anywhere.  Unfortunately, the loose ends are all tied up a little too neatly and the last ten minutes are rushed.

Abrams has so many irons in the fire recently, with a possible third film in the Star Trek franchise and the upcoming Star Wars sequels.  I remain a fan.