The Enterprise crew is back in "Star Trek Into Darkness"

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Star Trek Into Darkness begins with Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise crew trying to save a planet from volcanic destruction. One of the most awe-inspiring shots is when the massive starship  Enterprise furiously emerges from a raging sea, rising above a cliff into the view of plaster-faced people standing in a magenta forest. This opening scene is a taste of the visual extravagance and near-catastrophic situations that dominate the rest of the film.

While the film’s awesome shots of planets, warp speed jumps and larger than life spaceships are complemented by the tantalizing 3D it also simplifies Kirk and Spock’s complex relationship as they battle the cruel villain, John Harrison.

Into Darkness is the second film in J.J. Abram’s Star Trek reboot, following 2009’s Star Trek. The films are prequels to the 1967 TV series that featured William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as Kirk the captain of the Enterprise and Spock the logical vulcan and second in command.

In Into Darkness ,Kirk, Spock, and the Enterprise crew set out to capture John Harrison. Harrison was once a member of Starfleet–the space exploratory program that sponsors the Enterprise– but launched two bombings at Starfleet headquarters, one of them killing former Enterprise captain, and mentor of Kirk’s, Chris Pike .The mission becomes increasingly complicated as Harrison flees to the enemy planet of Kronos.The plot is gripping  as it reveals more about Harrison’s  mysterious past and current identity as well as the true intentions of Starfleet.

The humor and spirit of Star Trek comes from the Enterprise crew. The cantankerous Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban ) and the spirited engine-expert  Scotty (Simon Pegg) are fun to watch and give the Enterprise crew energy and charisma. The complicated relationship between Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) makes for funny scenes, like when the two start to fight while fleeing from Klingon ships.

The movie is full of adrenaline-fueled and suspenseful scenes. At one point Kirk squeezes the ship through a narrow opening in a wall, scraping the sides into sparks to escape the oncoming Klingons as Spock calculates the probability of their certain death. There is also an unnecessary amount of explosions and mass destruction, enough to satisfy Michael Bay. Were those 2 minutes of Harrison’s ship plowing down futuristic London really necessary?

Pine is confident and assured in his role as the brash and passionate Captain Kirk. Pine doesn’t just make Kirk emotional, but he makes him human. His rage as he shouts hatred at Harrison who is locked in a glass cell  isn’t overdone but feels authentic  to the character.

It would be too easy to portray Spock as the robotic vulcan. Instead, Quinto embodies the conflicted nature of Spock. Throughout the movie Quinto gives a sense of the identity crisis going on inside Spock. In everyday situations (and this includes almost being obliterated by a volcano) Spock is intelligent,logical, serious and hilariously unaware. But Quinto does an excellent job of showing that Spock is half human. We see how he struggles to keep up his emotionless exterior despite the underlying love for his crew and the passion and rage that that love inspires.

Although the conflict between Kirk and Spock’s different outlooks makes for an intriguing relationship, the relationship’s conclusion seems cliched. Kirk learns to be more logical by putting himself in danger for the safety of the entire ship  (mirroring Spock’s decision in the opening scene) and Spock learns to seek revenge when Kirk is weakened by Harrison. This is essentially how the characters developed in the previous movie. It’s too simple to conclude with Spock getting in touch with his emotions and Kirk making the brave but logical decision. The conclusion also didn’t seem true to the characters. Maybe I have a bit of vulcan in me but it seems much more logical that  Kirk and Spock would continue to debate the right course of action yet still respect each other for their intelligence and bravery than connect emotionally.

Benedict Cumberbatch was terrifying as the cold, maniacal villain. His delivery rumbles with cruelty that grates into your bones. When he speaks you get the sense that this man is without a soul. Cumberbatch’s Harrison was reminiscent of Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape. They both have mastered that slow bass english accent  that radiates coldness into the audience’s hearts. But Cumberbatch also gave a wrath to Harrison that made him an even more terrifying villain.

Into Darkness is that rare movie where the 3D is actually warranted. The use of 3D in wide sweeping shots of the Enterprise suspended in space gives the ship another level of depth and vastness. It looks as though it stretches out into the theatre and beyond into the wall of space. When the Enterprise jumps to warp speed, disappearing into a tunnel of blue light and leaving behind streaks of energy and glowing dust, it creates a sensation of speed and power that would be unobtainable in 2D. The 3D makes the Enterprise even more magnificent  even  inspiring jealousy that we can’t be on that ship.

J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness is an adventurous reimagining of the classic series. The fantastic shots in realistic 3D and the  terrifying villain makes for a gripping summer blockbuster. However, the heart of the Enterprise felt lost due to the lack of development in Kirk and Spock’s potentially fascinating friendship.



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