As appears to be my movie-going trend lately, I have very little knowledge of anything Star Trek before the 2009 film. I caught that one in theaters, however (being a fan of Abrams’ work), and I absolutely loved it. The visuals, music, cinematography, script — all of it was incredible. It was great science fiction, and the characters were more than compelling enough to pull me into the story.
Needless to say — four years later — I was more than ready for another trip on the Enterprise.
As with the first film, Into Darkness opens up with a bang. The audience is offered a huge set piece to pull them back into the world and get things moving at a sprint. The additional focus on action scenes is immediately apparent, and some early impressions I skimmed prior to my viewing suggested the script made some sacrifices to accommodate a summer popcorn action flick audience. My fears were quickly put to rest, however.
While the action scenes are incredible and there are many of them, in no way did I feel that the storytelling suffered for this fact. Each and every scene serves a purpose and feels appropriately timed. There wasn’t a dull moment in my experience, and none of the flashier action bits overstayed their welcome by any means.
In fact — and this may be due in part to my lack of knowledge in Trek lore — one of my favorite elements of the film was how little I actually knew about it prior to seeing it. I’m one of those people who convinces himself to stay away from trailers and other related coverage only to break down and end up watching nearly every one of them. In such a situation, few things are worse than trailers that give away too much of a film.
In this particular case, I was pleasantly surprised. I obviously won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it (why aren’t you on Fandango looking up show times right now?), but one of the more exciting parts of the story for me was figuring out just what all the involved parties were after.
Of course, the fact that the cast absolutely oozes charm doesn’t hurt anything, either. As with the crew’s last outing, every major player in this game brings something to the table that makes the audience thoroughly enjoy his or her presence. I found myself laughing aloud as often as I tightly gripped my armrests (which couldn’t have been remotely hygienic), and I couldn’t help but identify with Chris Pine’s more-potential-than-sense Captain Jim Kirk.
Despite starting right off as captain of the Enterprise this time around, Jim’s story is hardly allowed the opportunity to stagnate. He still hasn’t learned much in the way of humility or how a chain of command functions, but that’s exactly what makes his growth so enjoyable to partake in. He often leaves the audience guessing not only what stunt he’s going to pull next, but also how exactly he expects to continue on as the heroic captain of the Enterprise after he pulls it.
That’s not to say his is the only show-stealing act, however. I was pleasantly surprised to see Simon Pegg’s role as Scotty featured more prominently this time around. He’s hilarious, as expected, but he also plays into the film’s plot much more significantly. In fact, most of the crew members are offered a greater level of development at some point, which was greatly appreciated. Zachary Quinto’s Spock and Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison are not to be overlooked, of course. Quinto portrays Spock’s personal struggles perfectly as he searches for a sense of who he is and where he belongs, and Cumberbatch fills out his own role with absolute precision.
Could the story have gone a couple more interesting places with the pieces it offered? Sure. Do I feel there’s any reason to complain about where it did go? Of course not. I was enthralled from start to finish, and I see no reason for any movie lover — regardless of whether you love or hate Trek or science fiction in general — not to feel the same.