Star Trek Into Darkness is a sometimes fun summer blockbuster featuring a great cast, decent story (even with some of the lazier plot points) and amazing visual effects. It’s a nice addition to the Star Trek franchise though my hopes any problems with the plot, or lack of originality, is corrected with the upcoming Star Trek Beyond.
Star Trek Into Darkness
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action, Adventure
Paramount | PG13 – 131 min. – $47.99 | June 14, 2016
Date Published: 06/23/2016 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Note: This review contains spoilers about the plot and portions were taken from previous reviews.
J.J. Abrams’ follow-up to the successful 2009 reboot of the popular franchise, Star Trek Into the Darkness follows in the footsteps of many sequels along the lines of The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight: darker and finds the lead characters going up against a seemingly multipurpose antagonist who goes beyond just being the bad guy.
When our story opens, Captain James T. Kirk (CHRIS PINE) is back getting into troubles as he, along with Dr. McCoy (KARL URBAN) are being chased by an indigenous tribe as, for some reason, Kirk has taken/stolen some kind of sacred scroll, though he ultimately leaves it behind to facilitate their escape off a cliff and into an ocean where the Enterprise is currently hiding as not to alert its presence to the people.
Spock (ZACHARY QUINTO), meanwhile, is on a shuttle pod along with Sulu (JOHN CHO) and Uhura (ZOE SALDANA) entering inside a volatile volcano set to erupt which will wipe out the entire planet’s population. Spock manages to get to the surface of the volcano to set off some sort of device which would freeze the volcano’s eruption, but is trapped with the pod in rough shape thanks to the pod and those on the Enterprise unable to transport him out due interference from the volcano. So, Kirk makes the decision to take the Enterprise to rescue Spock and in turn expose the ship to the people which would violate the Prime Directive, a code by the Federation that says there shall be no interference with the development of an alien civilization, an order which has been skirted around, if not completely ignored, throughout the franchise’s history.
The civilization sees the Enterprise streak in the sky and they toss their sacred scrolls and have a new object to worship.
We next open on a couple whose daughter is gravely ill but the father receives an offer from a man named John Harri— oh, who am I kidding… his name is Khan (BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH) to cure the daughter in exchange for something deadly: the father, once he sees his cured little girl, goes to work at the Federation and explodes a bomb killing 40 plus in the process.
Kirk, still being a wise-ass, fails to enter this into his official report but Spock does and Kirk gets the third degree from mentor Captain Pike (BRUCE GREENWOOD) and he his stripped of his command of the Enterprise and Pike has been put back in charge. Lucky for Kirk, Pike still believes in him and Kirk is placed as the First Officer. This won’t last long because as part of his plan, Kahn knew Federation protocol that senior officers, led by Admiral Marcus (PETER WELLER), would be gathered in one place thusly staging an ambush which results in Pike’s death.
So, let’s recount so far: Kirk wasn’t grown up enough to be captain gets demoted to first officer, Pike gets command of the Enterprise, never steps on board, gets killed resulting in Kirk ultimately becoming Captain of the Enterprise once again. Yep, this whole thing occurred over the span of maybe 15-minutes. Oh, and Spock, who had been reassigned to another ship, gets his old position back at Kirk’s request. And in all fairness, I suppose Kirk grew up a little bit seeing his mentor and friend, the only one who believed in him, die, so there was motivation.
And that motivation leads Kirk to be granted by Marcus to find Khan, – located in a desolate area on the Klingon’s home planet of Kronos – and kill him with 72 new photon torpedoes, kind of overkill even for a terrorist… Unfortunately Scotty (SIMON PEGG) is not comfortable putting these torpedoes on board as he not allowed under the hood and finally resigns where upon Kirk promotes Chekov (ANTON YELCHIN) to Chief Engineer.
So Kirk with his faithful crew take the Enterprise into dangerous territory where, after landing a shuttle pod to the surface, due to a malfunction in Enterprise’s engine core, and failing to outrun their ships, we finally are introduced to this new timelines version of the Klingon and honestly, not that bad sticking to the same features but giving them a spruced up, Abrams-afied style. And just when the Klingons are about to obliterate the shuttle crew, comprised of Kirk and Spock, it’s none other than Khan who comes to their rescue and, after the fighting stops, easily surrenders despite having a physical and intellectual superiority over Kirk.
Khan is brought on board the Enterprise which is still dangerously stuck in Klingon territory and Kirk suspects its sabotage. No sooner that Admiral Marcus comes out of warp in a newly constructed U.S.S. Vengeance ship made for minimal crew and, most of all, created for war rather than exploration. You can guess what’s up here…
Now it’s up to Kirk, his crew and an uneasy alliance with Khan to thwart Marcus’ plans, which I won’t divulge here. We also get another cameo by Spock Prime (LEONARD NIMOY), called upon by the new Spock for guidance on Khan. And despite SP wanting his counterpart to find his own destiny, still manages to give some key advice, yet another convenient plot point and downright lazy writing, though it does serve well to give fans a thrill.
Plot elements aside, though, Star Trek Into Darkness still manages to be a fun blockbuster flick, entertaining to fans and general population alike. The main cast share wonderful chemistry with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto once again showing great friendship no better demonstrated in one key scene, while the rest are serviceable, especially Karl Urban who is primarily reduced to quips and one-liners, albeit he does make a discovery at the end, which is a bone of contention for me and made a monumental scene feel a bit cheap.
In regards to Benedict Cumberbatch, he makes for a excellent villain, a challenge for our heroes and somebody who isn’t one-dimensional. He’s not terribly memorable in the role, compared with the illustrious performance by Ricardo Montalban in The Wrath of Khan and I can’t say Cumberbatch has any standout moment or line either. Still, he makes for a perfect counterpart to Kirk and is distinguished enough to make him his own character (not unlike Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight).
Once again under the direction of J.J. Abrams, it’s more of the same that we saw in the 2009 reboot/re-imagining. You get plenty of lens flares which only serves to annoy the Internet population, personally I never had a big problem with it, although Abrams hopefully will tamper it down. Outside of the flares, Abrams weaves a good and somewhat compelling story that even when the plot gets wonky, it still manages to keep one’s attention through the relatively lengthy 130-minute running time with each moment having a purpose.
In the end, Star Trek Into Darkness doesn’t quite measure up to the 2009 version, but it is wildly entertaining with top notch visual effects, two main characters with great moments and a villain who stands out from most. Some of the plot points are a bit lazy and due to the amount of time devoted to other things, some of the supporting players are one-dimensional, but it makes for a solid sequel that hopefully will lead to a third, and possibly final, entry with this cast.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.75/5
This 3-disc release comes in the 4K black slim case with a semi-glossy, title-embossed slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Enhanced Commentary – What was originally available only via iTunes now is on the disc itself where J.J. Abrams and company watch the movie and are able to stop, rewind and basically control it as they chat.
The Voyage Begins…Again (2:28) is a short featurette that I’m thinking was a teaser for fans than anything in-depth as it shows some of the sets and first day shooting footage.
Creating the Red Planet (8:28) – This featurette delves into filming the opening sequence as Kirk and McCoy run through the red forest and jump into the ocean.
Introducing the Villain (2:16) looks at this new incarnation of the diabolical Kahn.
Rebuilding the Enterprise (5:31) covers the re-construction of the Enterprise with some changes from the previous movie and also building it on one large sound stage with interconnecting hallways.
National Ignition Facility: Home of the Core (4:32) is more BTS, on-location shooting for the core of the Enterprise at the National Ignition Facility.
Attack on Starfleet (5:25) looks at the early action sequence as the villain attacks the senior leadership at Starfleet.
Aliens Encountered (6:54) covers the various aliens serving on the Enterprise and elsewhere and getting into the make-up process.
The Klingon Home World (7:30) provides insight into the planet Kronos and meeting the Klingons for the first time in this version.
The Enemy of My Enemy (7:03) is about including Kahn as the villain and casting Benedict Cumberbatch into the role and shows the relationship between Kahn and Kirk.
Vengeance is Coming (4:28) delves into building the bad starship featured.
Ship to Ship (6:03) explores the sequence where Kirk and Kahn fly from the Enterprise to the other ship showing it from pre-viz to filming.
Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock (4:08) is a fun little featurette on the make-up artistry for Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto stops by.
Down with the Ship (6:09) goes through some of the stunt work done during the ship crash sequence.
Kirk and Spock (5:36) examines the friendship, and tension, between the two.
Brawl by the Bay (5:44), as you might imagine, examines the fight sequence between Spock and Kahn looking at the storyboards and necessary stunt work.
Fitting the Future (5:03) goes through the costume designs.
Property of Starfleet (4:53) examines the props from the buttons to the phasers.
Unlocking the Cut (5:10) looks at the editing process.
Visual Affection (9:03) is about the visual effects in the film, breaking down the scenes.
The Sound of Music (and FX) (5:26) covers the score and sound effects.
Safety First (2:27) is a practical joke done by Simon Pegg on his fellow cast members.
The Mission Continues (1:29) is a salute to the soldiers who came home and helped build the Interstate Highway and other infrastructure for their country.
Gag Reel (5:48) has some fun on-set antics, flubbed lines and the like concluding with some nifty dance moves.
Deleted Scenes (5:26) – There are 7 deleted and alternate scenes included and eventually cut most likely for time or pacing issues.
Last up are the Theatrical Trailers (5:37) including an announcement, teaser and regular trailer.
VIDEO – 5.0/5
|Star Trek Into Darkness gets the UHD treatment and even though the original 1080p HD version was amazing, it gets taken up a notch with the 2160p UHD. Colors are even more vibrant compared to its Blu-ray counterpart while definition is incredibly sharp throughout from the natural environment to the sterile, electronic-filled Starship Enterprise. Is this is significant upgrade over the Blu-ray? Probably not, however one should have no problem showing off their home theater system.|
AUDIO – 5.0/5
|Not to be outdone, where the Blu-ray has an incredible TrueHD 7.1 track, this gets a decent boost with the Dolby Atmos track which shows off a variety of aural experiences throughout from the low humming on the Enterprise to the numerous action sequences showcasing this track’s depth and robustness. This is as close to the big theater experience as one could get… and you don’t have to deal with the talkers and cell phones!|
OVERALL – 4.5/5
|Overall, Star Trek Into Darkness is a sometimes fun summer blockbuster featuring a great cast, decent story (even with some of the lazier plot points) and amazing visual effects. It’s a nice addition to the Star Trek franchise though my hopes any problems with the plot, or lack of originality, is corrected with the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. As for this 4K UHD release, the video and audio transfers are amazing and combined with the features ported over (on Blu-ray), this is one heck of a release, albeit the price tag is on the high side unfortunately.|