For the most part, “Star Trek” fans hate J.J. Abrams and what he has done to their beloved franchise. But, all things considered, they probably should hate him. He isn't making films like “Star Trek Into Darkness” for anyone who has every worn a Starfleet uniform to jury duty for any reason other than trying to get out of jury duty.
He's making these films for those who demand their summer movies to be filled with scenes of terrorism that are both glossy and 3D friendly, for those who require their supporting actresses to be seen in only the finest, silkiest bras available, and for those who need their Benedicts to be as Cumberbatch-y as possible. In other words, Abrams has made “Star Trek” for the rest of us. He's giving us the sexy, stupid “Star Trek” we were too ashamed to realize we wanted.
Setting the predictably Spielbergian tone early on, “Star Trek Into Darkness” opens with a scene that could almost fit inside any Indiana Jones movie. As Kirk (Chris Pine) and “Bones” (Karl Urban) attempt to outrun a primitive tribe of aliens and their spears, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is attempting to defuse a volcano with a cold fusion bomb.
Unfortunately, Spock manages to get himself trapped and would rather die a fiery death than violate the Prime Directive. Against Spock's objections, Kirk transports him aboard the Enterprise just moments before the bomb goes off. Kirk's valiant efforts are repaid with a court-martial. However, the court-martial doesn't stick and Kirk is reinstated as a Starfleet captain when all of the living captains are killed in a terroristic attack orchestrated by an enigmatic figure known as John Harrison (Cumberbatch).
Once the smoke clears, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are dispatched to Klingon-controlled territory to kill Harrison. But who is Harrison really, and are the crew members of the Enterprise merely pawns in a bigger game to jumpstart an unnecessary war?
As noted earlier, “Star Trek Into Darkness” really isn't for the diehard or even the casual Trekkie. Sure, there are little nods to things like the Tribbles and Nurse Chapel, but for the most part, Abrams' film seems nakedly calculated to piss off the fans. For example, a major plot point in the film that subverts and repurposes one of the major plot points found in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” has managed to spark porcine squeals of defiance from the online community.
But if you can cast aside this pedantic nitpickery, you'll find that “Star Trek Into Darkness” is the kind of summer movie that allows you to ignore your awful brain and all of the paranoid or distressingly horny thoughts that go with it and finally enjoy the sight of very pretty people crushing the heads of people with varying degrees of prettiness as they majestically scoot around in the cold vacuum of space searching for airlocks. Look, it's hot outside (not here but somewhere), we've all worked hard; it's time to stop worrying about plot holes or whether or not Pine's Kirk comes off like a dim fratboy and just enjoy the movie like a family! Jesus Christ!
At any rate, no matter what you feel about “Star Trek Into Darkness,” you've got to hand it to Abrams. In spite of widespread public derision, it's nice to know he is not easing up on those lens flares any time soon. Flare on you crazy diamond. Flare on.
Rating: W W W