“Star Trek Into Darkness” is Abrams’ second installment in his “Star Trek” reboot. Although it is not quite on the level of the first film, it is not far behind. The story line, which will feel familiar to those who are acquainted with the older “Star Trek” movies, is still good enough to hold up on its own. It does not feel forced. It fits very nicely into this new Trek universe that was created in the first film and we can only hope they continue to build on the legacy these characters are starting.
The characters, who are all younger than the predecessors from the original series, are morphing into those very characters before our eyes. Kirk’s (Chris Pine) prowess with women is becoming more evident (and a hint at the future with Ms. Marcus? Perhaps), and McCoy’s (Karl Urban) metaphors are a nice, light-hearted side of the film and are also very “Bones” things to say (“I’m a doctor, not a torpedo technician.” If it was up to me, Dr. McCoy needs one of those “I’m a doctor, not a ____” per movie). They are both evolving into their characters nicely. The biggest evolution can be seen from Spock (Zachary Quinto), where losing his home world is becoming the driving force for cutting off all emotion from his actions and thoughts. However, you see his half-human side show, which makes the decision to stop showing emotion all the more powerful.
The rest of the cast is also solid, as you see the great technician abilities of Scotty (Simon Pegg), the versatility of Chekhov (Anton Yelchin), and the leadership ability of Sulu (John Cho). All facets taken from the the original characters (especially the placement of Sulu into the Captain’s chair and McCoy noting to not mess with him). The one character who is not quite like her predecessor is Uhura (Zoe Saldana). She already seems more advanced, since she can speak Klingon already (earlier Uhura had her difficulties), and her relationship with Spock is something totally new, but it still works. Everyone seems to be rounding into shape, which is good news for the series.
The other cast members all bring in solid performances, especially Peter Weller as Admiral Marcus. He adds a strong presence every time he is on screen. Bruce Greenwood returns as Capt. Pike, who has a couple very strong scenes with Pine, as he brings a father-like mentality to the father-less Kirk. Then there is the mysterious character of John Harrison, who is played fantastically by Benedict Cumberbatch (honestly, one of the best names out there). The mystery of Cumberbatch’s character lives up to expectations, that’s all I’ll say.
The beginning of the film sees Kirk saving Spock, but disobeying the Prime Directive of Starfleet. Spock has a problem with this, even though his life was saved, and he filed it in his report. However, Kirk did not, which put him in hot water with Pike. He ends up losing his status as Captain and is sent back to basic. Even after all this, a demotion by Kirk, a transfer by Spock, Kirk still goes out of his way to say that he will miss Spock, which catches him off-guard since he was mad at Spock earlier (humans, am I right?). This is important to note, since the friendship between these two is paramount to the story, not only of this film, but of this entire series. However, the demotions do not last long, as extenuating circumstances lead to Admiral Marcus giving the Enterprise back to Kirk, with Spock as his first officer. That is when the real fun begins.
At the end, the whole controversy of disobeying the Prime Directive comes back into play, as Kirk tells Spock why he saves him. The answer is simple. They are friends and that is what friends do. To me, this is the true meaning of this film and the series. Kirk and Spock are put through the ringer in this film, as the proverbial shit keeps hitting the fan, but the two are always resilient to find a way to keep each other alive. It all comes to a screeching halt at the end, as Kirk saves the Enterprise, but at what cost (The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few . . . or one)?
The idea of friendship has always been at the heart of the “Star Trek” series. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy have a very memorable frienship built up through the years in the old series, a friendship that has been near death, or death, experiences by all of the characters. But through it all, they prevailed. Why? Because they were friends. Why did Kirk always live through those scenarios, which seemed impossible? Because he knew he would die alone, and since he still had McCoy and Spock around, he knew things would be alright. You get that same sense in these new rebooted “Star Trek” films. A bond is being formed by Spock and Kirk, one that will stand the test of time, one that will ensure that good will always prevail over evil.
The film ends with the Enterprise going on a five year voyage, a first of its kind. And you know, by the time we are returned to this franchise, the friendship between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy will be very reminiscent from the original series. Pine, Quinto, and Urban. The new Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley. And no, I will not get tired of seeing them renew their friendship the only place they can: Space, the final frontier . . .