Gene Rodenberry knew when he pitch his science fiction show to CBS that he had a great idea, but it took a while for the rest of us to catch on. CBS took Rodenberry’s idea and built their own show “Lost in Space,” stealing Rodenberry’s idea of a “Wagon Train” to the stars. And when NBC finally took on the project, the original pilot was scrapped and the eventual show only lasted three years. But “Star Trek” found a new and incredibly faithful audience when it went on to syndication. In 1977, “Star Wars” was a smash hit and Paramount Pictures new it had a popular syndicated series, and thus the rebirth of “Star Trek” began. The franchise has had its ups and downs, but one thing has never changed – the fans. No other television series in the history of television has had such a following. “Star Trek” mixed action, science fiction and thoughtful and sometimes controversial subjects in its plots and we loved it.
“Star Trek Into Darkness,” is the second film of the franchise’s reboot. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the characters are the same but history of Star Trek is being rewritten. It’s a refreshing look at the characters that were featured in the original series. Abrams, with the benefit of a large budget from Paramount, has a story with real-time implications and lots of action. A terrorist is at large. He has attacked a Star Fleet installation in London and Star Fleet Headquarters in San Francisco. It is Kirk’s job to go after this terrorist, follow him into the forbidden Romulan sector and kill him using a new long-range missile.
Kirk is hell bent on finding the terrorist and doesn’t have second thoughts about killing him until his own crew star asking questions. With their input, Kirk decides on another method of finding justice. In the end, Kirk finds out that his toughest enemy awaits and Star Trek fans have no idea what character just might resurface.
The reason I think that “Star Trek” has had such a following is that the television series and films not only tell a good story with action and the mystic of taking place in outer space, but always add morality to the mix. The original series dealt with racism and many other political and social matters. In “Star Trek Into Darkness,” Kirk’s orders to destroy the terrorist is very similar to our current debate of America’s use of drone missions in Afghanistan and other areas known to harbor terrorists. Bravo to Abrams for not forgetting to bring in thoughtful and relevant topics into this very fiery and adventurous outing.
The script written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtman and Damon Lindlof bring new life to the original set of characters without completely changing their characteristics. The story line will be easy for new fans to follow and had still has references to its prior series and films to bring true trekers laughing.
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin and John Cho are all well versed in their roles. I like the new set of actors, especially Chris Pine as Kirk. Pine is bring his own bravado to the Kirk persona and I like his choices. And Benedict Cumberbunch does well playing an old foe, although some trekers may have a hard time seeing Cumberbunch taking over the work once held by a very beloved actor.
Adding to the splendor of the film are the exemplary visual effects and and stirring score. Both departments added the necessary depth and pace to put “Star Trek Into Darkness” in a believable world.
J.J. Abrams and the complete cast and crew hit it out of the park with “Star Trek Into Darkness.” It’s a new set of rules and also a new Star Trek for the 21st century. This film is action-packed and it will keep you in your seats and your cell phone off for its entirety. It’s a movie experience that will boldly take you to great story and a place we have often visited before.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and has a run-time of 2 hours and 12 minutes.
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-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work at SilentHollywood.com