DVD Review: STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS

I thought this review might be too long after the fact, since I didn’t post it when the movie was in theaters–but now that the DVD has been released, I have a second chance!

I’ve been a fan of the Star Trek films and TV series for many years now. My favorite of the films remains Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home–but I’ve really enjoyed J.J. Abrams’ take on the Trek universe. What I’ve loved most about this franchise overall, however, is not the sci-fi elements or the adventure or the special effects (which were amazing!), but the characters. The crew of the Enterprise is a wildly diverse group that has somehow produced just the right chemistry. They’re not just a crew, they’re a family. In the face of overwhelming danger, they come together in the way families do.

I’m pretty sure this is no longer a secret, so no spoiler alert–in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Kirk and company have their first face-off with the notorious Khan, who appears on Earth with an offer to help a couple whose child is dying. He can save her, he promises. But his offer comes with a price…one that will lead to the deaths of many members of Starfleet, including Kirk’s mentor, Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Kirk and the Enterprise crew set off in pursuit–straight into Klingon territory.

The young Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) is what anyone familiar with the character in his later years would expect: brash, stubborn, daring–but always with the best intentions. And with a middle name like Tiberius, one can assume he learned to fight at an early age. He is, as Admiral Pike puts it, Starfleet’s “only genius-level repeat offender.”

Spock (Zachary Quinto), by contrast, is still trying to be all Vulcan, in spite of his half human side. Kirk brings out that human side, which frustrates Spock. Kirk has a nasty habit of giving a single-finger salute to logic. He might not break the rules, but he’ll bend them beyond recognition, the way Uri Geller used to bend spoons.

The negatives? I was disappointed that a pivotal scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was borrowed in this movie, reversed to have Kirk dying to save the Enterprise as Spock did in that film. If one is going to rewrite Trek history, don’t include retread scenes! Also, I never bought into the relationship between Spock and Uhura–there was never anything in the original series to even hint at such a relationship, and it seemed to me it was contrived to give the character a stronger presence in the story. It wasn’t necessary. Uhura is and always was a great character without the romance angle.

All of the actors (Pine, Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho and Anton Yelchin are spot-on in their roles. (Okay, I do have one question: how is it that Scotty, in his later years, has so much more hair than young Scotty? He really is a miracle-worker–or those 23rd-century replicators are just that good!) Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan brings just the right degree of brilliance and menace to the role. I would have preferred he be a more complex villain, like Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in Thor and The Avengers, but still I’m glad the character wasn’t killed off–there’s always the possibility he’ll return in a future installment (and I do hope there will be future installments).

PS Be sure you check out William’s blog–in addition to getting acquainted with his new toy, he has a fascinating story to share!

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18 responses

  1. An excellent review, Norma!

    Benedict Cumberbatch is only starring in forty different projects this year, it seems…

    And I don't care for the Uhura romance angle either… just doesn't suit the characters.

    And there's no problem with reviewing films after the fact. I've occasionally mused on doing the same with, say, a film like Casablanca.

  2. Great review, and it's certainly not too late for me, since I seem to catch everything on DVD! I love Chris Pine as Kirk;).

    In the original series, I believe an affair was hinted at between Kirk and Uhura–but never Spock. I do like the romance for her–but it would have been more tension filled with Kirk instead of Spock.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how Khan is played. I just can't put Ricardo Montalban out of my mind when I think of that character.

  3. I agree, the actors are what do it for the new films. Into Darkness didn't impress me story-wise. For the same reason you mentioned–they borrowed too much. the entire story felt too predictable right down til the end. The first one Abrams did borrowed from Wrath of Khan too, but in a much more discreet way. I loved that one.
    Anyway, it wont stop me from seeing more. I just hope they have new villains and new plots next time around.

  4. I remember watching the TV series and I like Syfy stuff but for some reason I just can't seem to get interested in the Star Trek movies now. Even if Sheldon loves them the best !
    I think it was the Star Trek movie when they had to go back in time with the whale that did it for me.

    But your always so excited and write such interesting reviews that makes me want to see these movies. I am going to put Thor on my watch list because of you.

    cheers, parsnip

  5. I know that one, Thor comes out in November surprise !
    When I saw Pacific Rim I saw the poster for Thor and I immediately though of you !
    I was trying to figure out if I pretended to trip on the carpet bang my cane into the glass holding the Thor poster, then as I rolled off to the side my son could grab the poster.
    And then we could send it to you.
    hahahahahaha

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