Friday, May 24, 2013


Characters, action, humor, surprise fuel 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

J. J. Abrams has figured out the secret to building a better franchise: treat the source material with respect, but not reverence, don't be afraid to tweak its foibles, jazz it up with a lot of youthful energy, and, most of all, have fun with it. This is the policy that made his first Star Trek prequel such a hit in 2009, and Abrams and his team continue to revitalize the series with the fast, punchy, slyly funny, yet surprisingly touching Star Trek Into Darkness.

Working again with the writing team from the first film, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, abetted here by co-scripter Damon Lindeof, Abrams maintains the same balance of irreverence and affection for Gene Roddenberry's beloved characters and the idealized, multi-cultural future they represent.

Then he grafts it all onto a kick-ass action narrative that hurtles along at warp-speed and has viewers literally holding on to their seats. True, it's too easy to get lost in the labyrinth of the plot, and some of the gigantic action sequences devolve into silliness, but mostly it's a fresh and satisfying ride.

The film begins in the middle of the action, with brash young starship Captain James Kirk (well-played by Chris Pine) breaking a few Starfleet rules to spring his First Officer, Spock (the excellent Zachary Quinto), out of an erupting volcano on a primitive planet.

(Berated for not following the Prime Directive, Kirk shrugs, "Aw, c'mon, Spock, they saw us. What's the big deal?" as awed native people on the ground draw an image of the Starship Enterprise to worship.)

When terrorist explosions rock the very core of Starfleet HQ, Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) dispatches Kirk and the Enterprise unofficially to go after the man responsible, called John Harrison (the always marvelous Benedict Cumberbatch), a genetically-engineered superman with a particular grudge against Starfleet. (Read more)

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