by Sarah Hayes
After the success of the 2009 film “Star Trek”, which rebooted the beloved science-fiction franchise that originally sprung from the brain of Gene Roddenberry for a new generation, it’s only logical that director and producer J. J. Abrams would bring the crew of the new USS Enterprise back for a sequel. Capitalizing on the success of the first film, the sequel “Star Trek Into Darkness” manages to be twice as exciting and explosive as the first and still embrace the core ideals that attracted fans to the original series.
The events of “Star Trek Into Darkness” take place several months after the first film, with James Kirk still settling into his role of captain of the Enterprise. After getting in trouble for violating the Prime Directive, the rule of law that governs the conduct of all Starfleet officers, Kirk has scarcely any time to consider the consequences of his decisions. He and the rest of his crew are quickly thrown into action when a lone terrorist strikes at a secret Starfleet facility. It is revealed that the terrorist is ex-Starfleet agent John Harrison, and the Enterprise is sent on a mission to hunt down and kill Harrison – but in usual Trek fashion, not everything is what it seems and the Enterprise is put in the crosshairs of a man bent on revenge against the Federation.
As usual for an Abrams flick, “Star Trek Into Darkness” dazzles on the screen – and not just because of the producer’s infamous love of the lens flare effect. Despite clocking in at over two hours, everything moves at a brisk pace, jamming every scene with action and explosions galore. Some of the best scenes, however, are its quietest – the scenes in which the characters themselves shine through, and Abrams shows his understanding of the original series. Even as Hollywood ‘rebooted’ versions of them, its old crew is clearly still helming the Enterprise, albeit with new uniforms and fresher faces.
Those who had well founded doubts about Chris Pine’s ability to take on the role of Captain Kirk should find themselves appeased by film’s end, as Pine truly grows into the captain’s shoes to become a worthy successor to William Shatner’s legacy. In turn, Zachary Quinto continues to shine as Kirk’s right-hand man, the half-Vulcan half-human Spock. His performance in “Into Darkness” is a masterful blend of controlled human emotion and a subtle underscore of Vulcan sass, coupled with the ever-present quirked eyebrow.
Overall, “Star Trek Into Darkness” works well on several levels. It’s a good summer blockbuster that’s already making lots of money, and it’s a solid addition to the “Star Trek” canon, with a villain reveal that will thrill (or irritate) long-term fans of the program. Don’t wait for this one to hit Netflix; it’s worth the price of admission to see the Enterprise warping onto the big screen.