[Review] Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
I wasn’t a Trekkian. I’ve never seen any of the original Star Trek films or TV series. In fact, I was more of a Millenium Falcon kind of guy rather than a U.S.S. Enterprise’s. But truth be told, I enjoyed what J.J. Abrams (for those who didn’t know, he was the guy behind the unparalleled success of heavy sci-fi series Alias and Lost, which basically made him a god for the geek crowd) did to the 2009 “reboot” of Star Trek. Abrams was obviously a true geek at heart, thus making him clearly understand how to win the crowd over. To put it simply at the beginning, he’s done it twice in a row, as ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ is as good – or even better – than its predecessor.
‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ brought us back into the latest tale of Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) captaining the infamous larger-than-life starship known as U.S.S. Enterprise, along with his crews. While the 2009 film was all about introduction to the newly-fabricated universe and long-known characters given new life, this time Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) had to deal with an act of terrorism (a recurring theme commonly found in today’s movies, mind you) committed to the Federation by one-man army John Harrison (Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch). The rest of the cast – Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin reprised their role as Nyota Uhura, Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, Montgomery Scott, Hikari Sulu, and Pavel Chekov, respectively, to assist Kirk in pursuing Harrison.
Abrams has been known to work together with his loyal team of scribe: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof, all of which have been working together for quite some time for different projects and also co-produced the film. They started the premise with such simplicity: the good guy(s) chasing the villain and the plot thickened along the way. It was never in the same level of originality of ‘Star Trek’ (what Abrams and co. did back then was pure genius) but it definitely had its own moments. I won’t go down on details here, but Abrams threw in what would give the geeks all the more reason to worship him, even more than they already did. There’s a lot of reference to the long-running franchise; the brief conversation between young Spock and Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy, given very limited screen time) would put a smile on Trekkians, signaling Abrams himself is, and will always be, a devoted Trekkian. Despite second-layer characters such as Sulu or Chekov were given limited space to develop themselves more, their presence hardly went unnoticed. Enterprise was more a home than a spaceship to its crew, and you may be surprised on how Abrams and his scribes managed to retain that impression from start to finish. There were more drama here than the last time; and it worked so well you’ll find yourself almost broke into tears during several parts. And you’ll giggle more than you expect as well, especially with Simon Pegg and Karl Urban’s character around.
To keep the audience emotionally invested in the characters was never an easy task, but the all-brilliant cast managed to do so. Kirk and Spock’s relationship remained the center of the spotlight here, and this time it was flawless. The first film was about Kirk gaining Spock’s hardly-earned respect as his captain, and the second film it was about the Vulcan admitting that he got himself a true friend in the form of Kirk. But what strikes me the most here was the magnificent performance of one Benedict Cumberbatch. As cold and dangerous as he is, John Harrison was in fact, a very tragic character one can’t help but feel sympathetic with. (They also came up with a story on Harrison’s past, which will send Trekkians into their highest level of geekgasm). Cumberbatch stole every single scene he is in, and that’s like the highest praise an actor could ever get for portraying a villain. Especially when he shared the screen with both Pine and Quinto, you’ll get why they were considered Hollywood’s most promising actors. All the more reason why this film should be 2013’s best so far.
There were some minor flaws especially if you’re one of those who put criticism on the scientific errors. For instance, whether one would be able to cancel the eruption of a volcano by freezing the lava with a cold-fusion bomb. But it’s rather insignificant compared to the level of satisfaction Abrams had brought to us: heavy special effect, Michael Giacchino’s epic scoring, and that 3D imagine-you-are-in-space-for-real sensation. Star Trek Into Darkness worked both visually and emotionally, it’s not a film to be missed at all cost by anyone ever, let alone in 2013. Abrams has raised the bar once again for a sci-fi flick, and we’ll see whether he’ll be able to overcome himself in 2015 with his directing ‘Star Wars Episode VIII’. Until that time, the Trekkians are still on his debt, especially since he managed to boldly go (with the franchise) where no man has gone before.