Star Trek Into Darkness

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2259, the starship Enterprise is on a survey mission to the planet Nibiru, studying a primitive culture. Captain James T. Kirk and First Officer Spock attempt to save the planet’s inhabitants from a volcanic eruption. When Spock’s life is endangered, Kirk violates the Prime Directive in order to save him, exposing the Enterprise to the native inhabitants, a decision with which Spock disagrees.

Returning to Earth, Kirk loses command of the Enterprise and Admiral Christopher Pike is reinstated as its commanding officer. Pike manages to convince Admiral Marcus to allow Kirk to continue as his first officer on the Enterprise, rather than being sent back to the Academy. Meanwhile, a secret Section 31 installation in London is bombed by a renegade Starfleet officer, Commander John Harrison. During a meeting of Starfleet commanders to discuss the situation, Harrison attacks in a jumpship, killing Pike. Kirk disables the jumpship, but Harrison uses a prototype portable transwarp transporter device to escape to Kronos, the Klingon homeworld, knowing Starfleet would be unable to follow.

Admiral Marcus orders the Enterprise to kill Harrison, arming them with 72 prototype photon torpedoes, shielded and untraceable to sensors. Chief engineer Montgomery Scott resigns his duties in protest when Kirk denies Scott’s request to examine the weapons for safety reasons. Pavel Chekov is promoted in his stead and Dr. Carol Wallace, a weapons specialist, joins the crew. Spock, Dr. Leonard McCoy and Uhura convinces Kirk it would be better to capture Harrison and return him to Earth for trial, rather than killing him.

En route, the Enterprise suffers an unexpected coolant leak in the warp core, disabling the ship’s warp capabilities. Kirk leads a deniable operation to Kronos in a confiscated civilian vessel. Approaching Harrison’s location, they are ambushed by Klingon patrols. Harrison easily dispatches the Klingons, then unexpectedly surrenders after learning the exact number of torpedoes locked on his location. On the Enterprise, Wallace is revealed as Dr. Carol Marcus, the Admiral’s daughter, who along with Dr. McCoy, opens a torpedo at the behest of Harrison, revealing a man in cryogenic stasis. Harrison reveals his true identity as Khan, a genetically-engineered superhuman awoken by Marcus from a 300-year suspended animation. Khan reveals his crew was held hostage by Marcus to force him to develop weapons and warships for Starfleet in preparation for a war between the Federation and the Klingons. Khan attempted to smuggle his crew out in the torpedoes he had designed, but was discovered. Believing Marcus had killed his crew, he instigated his attacks to avenge his family. Khan reveals Marcus had sabotaged the Enterprise’s warp drive, intending for the Klingons to destroy the ship after firing the torpedoes at Kronos, giving him a casus belli for war. Acting on information from Khan, Kirk asks Scott to investigate a set of coordinates within the Solar System.

The Enterprise is intercepted by a larger Federation warship, the USS Vengeance under the command of Marcus. Marcus demands that Kirk deliver Khan, but Kirk refuses. The Enterprise, with a hastily repaired warp drive, flees to Earth in order to report Marcus, however the Vengeance intercepts and disables it. Kirk offers to exchange Khan and the cryogenic pods in exchange for sparing the lives of his crew. Marcus refuses, transporting Carol Marcus to the Vengeance and ordering the Enterprise’s destruction. The Vengeance suddenly loses power, having been sabotaged by Scott, who discovered and infiltrated the ship during his investigation. With the transporters down, Kirk and Khan, with the latter’s knowledge of the warship’s design, space-jump to the Vengeance. Meanwhile, Spock contacts his older self on New Vulcan, who informs him that Khan cannot be trusted. After capturing the bridge, Khan overpowers Kirk, Scott and Carol, killing Admiral Marcus and seizing control of the Vengeance.

Khan demands from Spock the return of his crew in exchange for the three Enterprise officers. Spock complies, but had previously removed Khan’s frozen crew and armed the warheads. Khan betrays their agreement, crippling the Enterprise, however the Vengeance is in turn disabled following the detonation of the torpedoes. With both starships powerless and caught in Earth’s gravity, they begin to fall toward the surface. Kirk sacrifices himself by entering the radioactive reactor chamber to realign the warp core, saving the ship. Kirk succumbs to radiation poisoning, throwing Spock into a grief-stricken rage.

In one last act of defiance, Khan crashes the Vengeance into San Francisco to destroy Starfleet headquarters. Fleeing the scene, Spock transports down in pursuit. While experimenting on a dead tribble, McCoy discovers that Khan’s blood has regenerative properties that may save Kirk. Spock manages to subdue and capture Khan, and Kirk is revived. One year later, Kirk addresses a gathering memorializing the events, where he recites the “where no man has gone before” monologue. Khan is resealed in his cryogenic pod and stored with his crew, while Carol Marcus joins the crew of a recommissioned Enterprise, as it departs on a five-year exploratory mission.

REVIEW:

Let me preface this review with a very important statement, I am not a trekkie. My sci-fi franchise allegiance lies with the holy trilogy, before George Lucas decided to make them nothing more than a cash cow. That said, I do have respect for the phenomena of Star Trek and was somewhat looking forward to Star Trek Into Darkness.

What is this about?

This sequel returns much of the cast from the Star Trek feature released in 2009, breathing new life into the seemingly ageless space franchise. Led by the intrepid Captain Kirk, the Enterprise crew still includes Scotty, Spock and Chekov as well.

What did I like?

Characterization. In the last Star Trek, I don’t recall the characters being as similar to the original as they are in this one. For instance, Scotty has an exaggerated, almost Scrooge McDuck-like Scottish accent, Bones was spitting out metaphors, until ordered to stop, etc. I know that this irked some people, but I loved it! If you’re going to reboot something, you need to have nods to the original, and this is a good way to give the fans a little nugget of nostalgia.

Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch is a fast rising star. If you haven’t had the chance to see him in Sherlock, then you are missing out on a great show. I’m no fan of him as Khan, but as a villain he has the cunning, cruel streak that is pure evil, not to mention his voice, which has been compared to the likes of Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, and Alan Rickman, makes for quite the imposing antagonist.

Pacing. If you are an avid reader of this blog, then you are more than aware that I am a sucker for films that keep things rolling along. When things slow down, my ADHD kicks in and I lose interest, unless it is an older film that Is made in a different time, so pacing isn’t the same. I appreciate this film being almost non-stop action, slowing down just long enough to let the audience catch their breath and then ratchets right back up.

What didn’t I like?

Plot. The big selling point of this rebooted Star Trek universe is that it is new adventures that may be similar to things that have happened before. Well, this was not a new adventure, no matter what they try to tell you. My dad was a trekkie and forced me to watch Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan when it was either released or on TV. It is more than obvious that this is a blatant ripoff of that film. Many of the memorable parts are recreated, just with different characters, for instance, it is Spock that yells “Khan” and Kirk that ends up in radiation. They came up with a new villain for the first film, and Khan was eventually going to have to make an appearance, but damn…they could have done better than this.

Lens flares. When this was released everyone was complaining about the lens flares. A couple of times, it worked, but after a while it just got to be old and annoying, in the same vein as bullet time has become. What was J.J. Abrams thinking by using this technique so frequently?

Underwear. There apparently is a bit of a controversy surrounding the scene with Alice Eve in her underwear. I was expecting it to be some huge scene where she’s half-naked, but instead it is a quick shot where she’s changing clothes. Yes, it was out of place, but I’m not complaining. A little skin never hurt anyone. I really don’t get the backlash. No one said anything about the alien girls in Kirk’s bed. Also, I would much rather see curvy Alice Eve than anorexic Zoe Saldana in her underwear.

There are only a few other films that were as hyped coming into this year as Star Trek Into Darkness. Did it live up to the hype? Well, judging by the box office, you would say no, but audiences seem to have responded very positively to it. That being said, audiences expected more than what we got. I enjoyed and recommend it, but I can’t help but feel it is a bit of a step back from its predecessor. Give it a shot, though.

4 out of 5 stars

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