Star Trek Into Darkness had big shoes to fill and many expectations to uphold. The first Star Trek was so well done, it was hard to imagine how director J.J. Abrams would be able to follow up such a incredibly successful reboot. After witnessing the sequel last night in IMAX 3D, I’m glad to say that Abrams has done it again with Star Trek Into Darkness, a sequel that is just as good as it’s predecessor.
The USS Enterprise team is back at it again now firmly under the leadership of the ever bold Captain, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine). The movie wastes no time re-introducing us to these wonderful characters, sending us right into the action. The film jump starts with an action-packed sequence of the Enterprise crew trying to save an primitive society from an erupting volcano. Events occur that put Kirk’s leadership role as Captain into question, and put Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) against each other in a question of what’s more appropriate when the time calls: Instincts or logic. Is the logical choice the best one, or do certain rules need to be broken for the greater good?
These are themes that surround Star Trek Into Darkness and all their characters throughout the film. Especially with the introduction of a former Starfleet agent gone rogue in John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). Harrison takes aim at Starfleet where it hurts most by targeting some of their most important people and places. These actions have a ripple effect and set up Captain Kirk and his team to go head on with the mysterious villain to put an end to him. While Kirk and his superiors want to crush Harrison, Spock would rather stick to the rules and bring him to justice with an arrest. There’s many internal debates about what should be done with Harrison, once again looking at what’s necessary vs. what is right.
Bendedict Cumberbatch is incredible as the menacing ruthless villain John Harrison. He is a much more formidable and memorable villain than Eric Bana’s Nero was from the prior film. He hits Starfleet hard in its core and has many movie-stealing scenes that reminded me a lot of Javier Bardem’s powerful villain Raoul Silva from last year’s Skyfall. Although his identity is a pretty poorly kept secret, it’s still something that finds a way to keep its impact and power throughout the film’s duration. This is due to Abrams and the film’s screenwriters Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman who craft a memorable villain that doesn’t just do things to be evil. There’s a reason and method to every action, often crossing both sides of the moral line of what’s right and wrong. People will be talking about his performance throughout the year.
The rest of the cast is incredibly rounded out by the familiar faces of the Enterprise crew. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto have many of the film’s best scenes, the type of stuff that may even cause even the toughest Vulcan to shed a tear or two. Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin are all on top of their games, creating many memorable scenes and one-liners that make this crew loveable. Alice Eve and Peter Weller are new additions to the film that are also well uses and do well with their roles. For me, Karl Urban, John Cho, and Simon Pegg all stole the show in their own ways, making role of every scene they’re in.
Star Trek Into Darkness is the rare blockbuster that feels evenly sided with action and drama. There is plenty of bold action sequences that were amazing to watch unfold on an IMAX screen in 3D (worth going with in my opinion) and there were many scenes that had my emotions running wild. Abrams does the film well with some breathtaking shots that suit both his style and the films. I was amazed at how well I was wowed by the high octane of the action, and simultaneously caught emotionally involved and caring about all these characters. You do care, because you know that no one in a film like this is safe from harm’s way. No one.
There are so many things that can go wrong with sequels. It’s so rare that a film can keep the integrity of the prior film while also reaching back and delivering something on a much bigger scale. But J.J. Abrams does so seemingly with ease with Into Darkness, a film that I found almost on par with Star Trek, and some may argue that it may even be better. Either way you lean, I think we can all agree that Star Trek Into Darkness was a success, and the first truly great blockbuster of 2013 (sorry Iron Man 3).