Star Trek Into Darkness is a spectacular film and ride. It does exactly what it set out to do – entertain, drive the story and further develop the characters and relationships setup in Star Trek (2009). Director JJ Abrams seems to be developing an even better understanding of how to approach storytelling, and Star Trek Into Darkness is his best film yet.
The basic story is that Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine) is charged with bringing Star Fleet fugitive John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) to justice. (More will not be said on the plot so as to avoid all spoilers). The story itself is great – classic sci-fi and the screenplay (written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kutzman, and David Lindelof) is an improvement over Star Trek. Where the film really shines is the cast. Cumberbatch absolutely dominates every scene he is in. While the following statement may seem silly for a summer blockbuster, it seems plausible that Cumberbatch could very well see this performance nominated for many awards come award season.
Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, and Karl Urban all deliver equally great performances, but beside the brilliance of Cumberbatch, they can get lost. Not enough can be said about Cumberbatch to truly show the respect he deserves, not only for this performance, but as an actor in general. His turn at villainy was captivating, frightening and damn near perfect. His portrayal will be remembered for a long time.
Abrams did an excellent job of balancing the comedic aspects of the story and characters with the sheer drama that revolves Harrison. There is more action, more laughs, and much more intensity to this film than it’s predecessor. The parallels to the original Star Trek series and films are present, but Abrams has clearly defined that his version of the characters are unique. While there are certainly homages and references to the source, these are Abrams’ versions and should be judged as such. By utilizing the alternate realities and redefined timeline from Star Trek (2009), Abrams has allowed himself to stay true to the roots of the story and characters, but allow himself room to grow and be flexible with where the story takes them.
Star Trek Into Darkness is a film meant to be seen in theaters. Some scenes were filmed in the IMAX format, but it was post-converted to 3D. The size and scope of the film, along with the brilliant visuals, booming sound and terrific performances deserve the big screen and you will not be disappointed at the results.