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Star Trek Into Darkness - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Star Trek Into Darkness
Directing: A-
Acting: B+
Writing: A-
Cinematography: A-
Editing: A
Special Effects: B+

How do I tell you about Star Trek Into Darkness without giving too much away? I don't want to give anything away! Truly the greatest joy of watching this movie is in the unspoiled discovery of story details as they unfold before your eyes. If I believed in God, I would thank him for J.J. Abrams, who remains consistent with the previous installment in honoring the long Star Trek legacy while seamlessly updating it for modern audiences. Truly, I don't know how this film could have been done better.

I mean, in terms of story-telling, anyway. There's a couple of qualifications. I saw this in 3D and there was absolutely no reason for that. I'll see it again, and when it do, it will be in 2D. Maybe in IMAX. I can see IMAX being far more effective in enhancing the experience than seeing it in 3D did. The 3D actually occasionally slightly distorts the picture, at least if you are not seated in a spot where you are looking dead center at the screen.

I suppose it could also be said that this film is slightly excessive in the CGI department. There are some sequences where this film gets dangerously close to the same CGI Overdone Syndrome the Star Wars prequels suffered from. At least the effects in this film are better.

There is so little about the actual story that I am comfortable even discussing. If you've already read around online for spoilers, well, I don't know what your problem is. I refuse to get into specifics, but suffice it to say that knowledge of the original films certainly deepens both the understanding and enjoyment of this film. There was an element of that in the 2009 Star Trek, and this film essentially expands on that.

And I will also say this: Benedict Cumberbatch makes a great villain. If there was any fundamental flaw to the 2009 Star Trek, it was that the villain was weak. Movies tend to be only as good as their villains; Star Trek inverted that trend by making the crew of the Enterprise even more compelling. This time, the villain is complex in all the right ways. And how could you not love a sequence in which a starship crashing into a futuristic downtown San Francisco? (For the record, that's not a spoiler; you see footage of that in the trailer.)

This film even has delightful references to the original Star Trek television series. It's very similar to Skyfall in that regard. The difference for me personally is, I am a lot more familiar with original Star Trek content than I am with early James Bond.

Okay, so there are also a few things continued in Into Darkness that are a little tired. I mean, shit, how many times can we hear a line like, "Shields at six percent!" On the upside, at least we're no longer subjected to cheap camera tricks with shaky cinematography and people on the Bridge being hurled from one side of the screen to the other whenever the Enterprise gets shot at. Although there are scenes here that get a little close.

The Stark Trek universe has now existed for 47 years; the motion pictures -- this one being the twelfth -- have been being made for 34. If there's any freshness at all in any new offering, it's practically a miracle. And Into Darkness has it in spades. We get the same characters we've loved for decades, presented in a new way. Something old, something new. It works remarkably well. I was stunned by what a thrilling experience it was, honestly.

The motion pictures have a history of reverence for the Enterprise starship, and this film is no exception. The ship has been destroyed twice before; there's a gripping sequence in this film here it looks like it may be yet again. That ship is a character unto itself. Simon Pegg is perfectly cast as the engineer who, in a way, is the ship's caretaker.

I kind of feel bad for Anton Yelchin, who is the only principal crew member who never seems to get any truly vital part in the story. I suppose he sort of does here, when he has to become the acting engineer in Scotty's absence -- but only in the service of Scotty playing a far more important role -- if not more important in character responsibility, then certainly in plot development in the film. The rest of the crew get their requisite roles in doing their own vital part in saving the day: Chris Pine as Captain Kirk; the impeccable Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock; Zoe Saldana as Uhura, still engaging in sexual tension with Spock; Karl Urban as Bones; John Cho as Mr. Sulu. I would have liked Bones getting at least a little more screen time, actually.

But Star Trek at its core has always been about the relationship between Kirk and Spock, actually, and on that front, Into Darkness does not disappoint. And given the events of the 2009 Star Trek, it's fun as hell to see a lot of what happened in earlier films play out in new ways, in what is essentially the alternate universe created by the previous film. It actually brings new appreciation for the time-travel conceit, thankfully absent here, used in the last movie.

It's all connected: that's the bottom line. But with a franchise this enduring, it would be easy for those connections to be played out ineptly. But after this movie, which is seriously difficult not to love, one can only hope J.J. Abrams continues to have extensive involvement in future installments.

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto take what's old and make it new again in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS.

Overall: A-
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