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Film Review: 'Star Trek Into Darkness' marks return of some old friends

May 16, 2013|By Andy Klein
  • (Left to right) Karl Urban is Bones and Chris Pine is Kirk in "Star Trek Into Darkness."
(Left to right) Karl Urban is Bones and Chris Pine is Kirk… (Courtesy of Paramount…)

In 2009, the "Star Trek" franchise was put in the hands of J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Mission Impossible 3"), who confessed to never having been much of a Trekkie. This, of course, sent the dyed-in-the-wool Trekkies into a tizzy, but it turned out to be exactly what was needed. Abrams managed to pull off one of the trickiest reboots imaginable: The original cast had played their characters on TV and film for 25 years; and no one else had attempted those roles for 43 years.

It's too soon to judge whether Abrams' new "Star Trek Into Darkness" is a little better or a little worse, but it's definitely in the same league. The story this time around opens with a pre-title-card "splash panel" sequence — reminiscent of the opening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" — in which Kirk (Chris Pine) risks his life to rescue Spock (Zachary Quinto), only to be severely criticized by the latter for both violating the Prime Directive and acting illogically.

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As a result, Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) and Starfleet Command take the Enterprise away from Kirk and give it back to Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Circumstances, however, put Kirk back in charge of the ship on an urgent mission to capture renegade intelligence officer Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch, of the current "Sherlock Holmes" series), who has launched a devastating attack on Starfleet Headquarters.

Before the mission even starts, Kirk shockingly fires Scotty (Simon Pegg) for basically doing the right thing. Conveniently there is another science officer handy (Alice Eve) — allegedly to serve as Scotty's stand-in, but mostly to serve as eye candy and a plot device.

The central conflict really kicks in after Harrison is captured and brought aboard: Suddenly it's not so easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

The many action sequences are well-conceived and executed, but in grand "Star Trek" tradition, the themes are played out between the characters and within their souls. For one brief moment, those conflicts touch on real current events: Spock condemns the idea of targeting a villain for assassination without any form of due process. Sounds kinda familiar.

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