Review – Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness Teaser Poster

If you’re a big Trekkie like me, then you have probably been eagerly awaiting the sequel to J.J. Abrams’s reboot of the franchise, Star Trek, released back in 2009. That was an exciting rebirth of the familiar tale of Kirk and his crew, an exploration through space that has become iconic and beloved across generations. I loved the first rebooted Trek film, though there were a few nitpicks I had here and there, and at times it felt like it had more flash than substance (Nero looked cool, but not like a Romulan, and his character just felt like a cardboard cutout to me). But I truly loved the reboot, despite any negatives, so I have been dying to watch the next installment. And now it’s here! Star Trek Into Darkness. Does it live up to all of our hopes and dreams? Well, not quite. Major spoilers ahead, Captain.

Kirk, Uhura, SpockI’m going to start off with the good. The heart of this movie is the relationships between the crew. That is also my favorite part, even though character development was not as strong as I would have liked. The interactions between everyone, though, were great and the dialogue snappy. And everyone got their chance to shine: Kirk and Spock of course dominated the vast majority of screen time, so to mention their best parts would be to quote half the movie, but watching their relationship grow was a highlight for me. Bones got to save the day in the end by coming through with the (really, really obvious, so much so that I had to stop myself from yelling at the screen) cure. Uhura got to show off her communications skills by talking to Klingons (also showing off her bad ass skills). Sulu got to be acting captain, alluding to his destiny to become a captain himself. Scotty got to save the day too by finding the big secret project at the center of the plot. And Chekov got to act as auxiliary-Scotty by taking command of Engineering (though why they thought that putting their youngest crewmember in charge of an entire department, especially one as vital as Engineering, doesn’t quite make sense).

Alice Eve as Carol MarcusOn the other hand, the characters, and the film in general, at times felt like they depended too much on what had come before. There was a heavy dependence in particular on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which I will go further into detail on later. It’s sort of the same problem I had with BBC’s Merlin. We were constantly told that legend foretold that the characters were destined for greatness, but for the most part the writers failed to show that on screen. In this film it’s not as bad as that, but there were times when it felt like the writers made things happen because they happened before, and not because things had actually developed to a point that it should happen.

Somewhat related to this is the introduction of Carol Marcus. Her character only briefly has a purpose and then she just gets pushed off to the side. She felt almost unnecessary to the story, like they were just trying to shoehorn her in because you know who she is from previous movies, and not because she served an actual purpose. Also, and I know this is just a nitpick that will probably be explained away by a deleted scene on the DVDs, but why was she English? I know Alice Eve is English, but Carol wasn’t in the original timeline and her father wasn’t in this parallel universe either, so what gives? It bothered me because it was jarring. It didn’t fit with what had been previously established, and there was no explanation for the change. It is nice that she joins the crew at the end, because so far Uhura is the only female character with a major role. Speaking of which, the treatment of female characters was far from perfect in this movie, and at times I kind of cringed at a few things. I suppose it could have been worse, but I was hoping for something more from a franchise that started out promoting equality between genders, races, religions, and everything else.

Plot-wise, my first reaction to the goings-on of a conspiracy within Starfleet was to think that that would never happen. Starfleet is this perfect ideal that I have always hoped society would one day achieve. Then I remembered that no, wait, there is a darker side to Starfleet, something developed in later iterations of the franchise. Conspiracies have in fact happened before. Section 31, first introduced in Deep Space Nine, was brought into this story and the conspiracy to bring about a war with the Klingons reminded me a bit of the conspiracy to keep the war with the Klingons in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Starfleet has been shown before to have certain members willing to engage in shady stuff in the name of protecting their people, so the plot didn’t feel completely out of character for the series after I thought about it, and some of it could also be blamed on the fact that this is an alternate universe. It leaned toward a suspense/thriller sort of plot that I think worked, except that I could see some of the twists coming.

1 2