Star Trek: Into Darkness Review – J.J. Hits Another Home Run


William Shatner recently crapped on J.J. Abrams for being a science fiction movie hog after he was named as the director of Star Wars: Episode VII, which put him at the helm of another long-standing iconic geek movie franchise. Shatner didn’t believe that one man should be in control of both the Star Wars and Star Trek movie franchises, but after seeing Star Trek: Into Darkness, I have to politely say that Mr. Shatner should just shut the hell up.

Abrams has once again created a fantastic Star Trek movie that ranks up there with other high-quality science fiction films of the past few generations, and he has proven to geeks around the galaxy that he’s more than capable of creating excellent movies based on time honored franchises. Lens flare controversies aside, this guy is a brilliant director, and the team he has built up at Bad Robot has become a machine that specializes in awesomeness. If their work is anything like what has been done for the first two Star Trek movies, Star Wars fanboys will have nothing to worry about. Ok, enough with the J.J. Abrams man love, time to break down why Star Trek: Into Darkness is a must-see summer film.

Lens flares or not J.J. Abrams is the current King of Sci-Fi movies
Lens flares or not J.J. Abrams is the current King of Sci-Fi movies

Star Trek: Into Darkness is a film that is best seen with no real idea of what it’s about, because it’s full of homages to the original Star Trek movies, and also contains some very large twists that are best experienced without prior knowledge of them. It’s hard to avoid spoilers these days for movie’s of this nature, but I can promise you that Into Darkness will be much more special if you see it without ruining it for yourself by scanning the Interwebs for plot details. I followed this mantra, and was absolutely entertained by the film’s story, so much so that I walked out of my screening giddy as a little kid, because of the thrilling ride of emotions and big budget effects that I had just witnessed.

Into Darkness opens with a high-octane action sequence and the intensity doesn’t die down until the climax of the film. Abrams barely lets your heart and imagination rest throughout the entirety of the movie with his spot on take of the Enterprise crew, and their penchant for getting themselves into sticky situations as they boldly go where no man has gone before. This is a movie that you don’t want to see end, and when the credits do roll, you won’t realize that you just spent over two hours sitting in a dark theater with a bunch of strangers who make too much noise eating popcorn and slurping gallon-sized cokes.

This movies’ action set pieces are made for the big screen, and were breathtaking in IMAX 3D. The space battles are some of the best I’ve seen, and the ground based action is also intense.

Some amazing battles take place in space as seen by the Enterprise's damaged frame
Some amazing battles take place in space as seen by the Enterprise’s damaged frame

Both locales looked realistic, even with all of the CGI and green screen work that J.J. used to bring a movie of this genre to life. It never felt fake, which is huge for movies that aren’t set in our immediate reality. Science fiction properties are some of the most imaginative types of stories ever told, so it’s always nice to watch one that doesn’t feel fake, or artificial like the Star Wars prequels. There’s something to be said about the overuse of technology in film making these days, but Abrams did a great job balancing it with practical effects and sets in Star Trek: Into Darkness.

J.J. has proved that he’s the maestro geeks have been looking for when it comes to making new Star Trek films, but his cast is also a big part of the magic formula. Chris Pine once again nails the character of Captain James T. Kirk and his swashbuckling tendencies. Chris is great at delivering his comedic lines as well as playing a strong leader when things get more serious for the crew of the Enterprise. Pine is a believable action hero, and his skills are put to the test on more than a few occasions in Star Trek: Into Darkness. Shatner will always be the original Kirk, but Chris Pine has definitely put his stamp on the role, and just may be a more entertaining version of the infamous Enterprise captain.

Although, without Zachary Quinto’s Spock, Chris Pine’s Kirk wouldn’t be so memorable. Quinto’s performance of the young Spock could be the best of the entire movie. This guy has managed to faithfully recreate all of the idiosyncrasies of a character who believes in logic over emotion, and he does Nimoy’s version of the same character supreme justice by doing so. His monotone delivery and lack of emotion ooze Spock, and he even manages to bring some feeling to the character during scenes with Kirk, and his lady friend Uhura played by Zoe Saldana. If there’s a reason to see Star Trek: Into Darkness, a case could be made to see Zachary Quinto in action, because he’s one of the most memorable characters in the Abrams reboots.

Quinto and Pine steal the show in Into Darkness
Quinto and Pine steal the show in Into Darkness

There’s plenty of other fine performances by the cast, such as Simon Pegg’s Scotty, but the main theme throughout Into Darkness (and every other Star Trek movie) is the relationship between Kirk and Spock. The respective actors manage to capture the essence of this friendship perfectly, and their chemistry is what makes this movie so damn fun. By the end you’ll experience a wide range of emotions watching these two occasionally but heads over how things should be done, but it’s these moments that make the movie work, and also help to tie it to the previous Star Trek entries.

Quinto and Pine have masterfully channeled their Enterprise alter egos, but their performances would be for not without a great villain to challenge them. Luckily, Benedict Cumberbath’s character does just that, and he does it with bravado, making him one of the cooler science fiction villains to grace the silver-screen in quite some time. I’ve never seen any of Benedict’s other work, but I can tell you that after seeing him in action in Star Trek: Into Darkness, I now realize why everyone makes a big deal about him. This dude can act, and he plays a brilliant bad guy. I’d love to share more details about his role, but doing so would let a few very big cats out of the proverbial spoilers bag, so I digress.

Cumberbatch's character doing a little building reconstruction
Cumberbatch’s character doing a little building reconstruction

Star Trek: Into Darkness is an all around kick ass summer science fiction movie experience. J.J. Abrams has proven himself to be a master of storytelling, especially with previously established franchises, and this trend continues in his Star Trek sequel. His form of film making is perfect for these types of properties, and as of right now he can do no wrong (in my mind fanboys ;)).

Into Darkness is a visually stunning piece of work that features a magnificent cast, and an entertaining plot to boot. Its brass heavy soundtrack will resonate in your mind hours after it ends, and gives this franchise some theme music that might one day be as iconic as Star Wars’ opening crawl. The cast has made the characters their own, but also left hints of the former Star Trek casts’ work as well, so fans of the original series shouldn’t feel completely abandoned.

Its awesome action, emotional story, and great production value earns Star Trek: Into Darkness 10 out of 10 Buddhas! It definitely made this science fiction fans’ day, and deserves the praise given to it.


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Tags : Movie ReviewStar Trek
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.