The Star Trek prequel series has an advantage when it comes to competing against so much other brilliant sci-fi thrillers. In CGI effects, it warbles the mind. When it comes to characters, Star Trek’s are so iconic and well-known, seeing them again is almost like having guests over for dinner. The new cast for this reboot of the old series carries on the adventures and, this time, with not one but two villains whose threat to mankind requires no prosthetics and/or makeup to freeze you in your seat. Which is an achievement in itself.
It starts with a trip to a Niburu planet thought to be uninhabited. But when Kirk, Spock and Uhura encounter a tribe of primitive natives who look like they arose from the volcanic ashes, and when they are attacked by them, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is forced to ignore orders to keep the Enterprise away from alien eyes.First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto) is down! Near death. The first priority is to rescue him and get him back to Starfleet pronto despite the Prime Directive.
But, what awaits them isn’t so great. First, on the ship, Uhura (Zoe Saldana) is ready to call off the romance with Spock for what he dared to do during the fight when they were so outnumbered. She can’t go through anything like that anymore, and the spat goes on as a subplot for the rest of the film. Cute.
Second, Kirk’s commander Admiral Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) is so enraged at Kirk’s defiance of orders that he relieves Kirk of his command. The ex-captain is now on the same level with his former First Officer. But events will follow that puts Kirk back in Enterprise’s command seat, for an interplanetary threat that involves the Klingons, turning the peaceful Enterprise into a war ship with 24 newly designed torpedoes, and a strangely powerful man who, after serving with the Starfleet, reveals himself as Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch). This is a genius fanatic who will stop at nothing to achieve his mission.
Cumberbatch is uniquely equipped with size, energy and acting chops to make this concept feel real, and it’s a powerful performance. Also aboard is Bones (Karl Urban); Sulu (Jon Cho); and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) — the rest of our crew “regulars.” And, Khan isn’t the only villain in the piece as there’s another psychotic waiting for his turn to jam up the enterprise. Director J.J. Abrams and his screenwriters had a ball with this new material with some twists and surprises as the dark tale spins out at warp speed.
Visual elements are (not surprisingly) socko and state-of-the-art. The 3-D was added in post editing with the ongoing effect of seeing the characters through glass, with reflections of light sources in the soft foreground. A bit diverting, some might say.
But, on the whole, “Star Trek Into Darkness” is entertaining enough to want another ride aboard Enterprise… in time.