Thursday Night Movie Club
Star Trek Into Darkness
star rating graphicstar rating graphicstar rating graphic½
Release Date: 16 May 2013

Director: J.J. Abrams
Chris Pine
Zachary Quinto
Zoe Saldana
Karl Urban
Simon Pegg
John Cho
Benedict Cumberbatch
Anton Yelchin
Bruce Greenwood
Peter Weller
Alice Eve
Noel Clarke
Nazneen Contractor
Amanda Foreman
Jay Scully
John Harrison/Khan
Thomas Harewood
Rima Harewood
Ensign Brackett
Lieutentant Chapin
Star Trek movie poster Star Trek movie poster Star Trek movie poster
Starship Enterprise in Star Trek Into DarknessStar Trek Into Darkness boldly goes where Star Trek has already gone before, twice before. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. No, wait... the names haven't changed. In fact, some of the dialog is the same. Director J.J. Abrams wanted to title the film "Star Trek: Wrath of Khan" but that title was taken.

Star Trek Into Darkness is a very good film. There is plenty of action, plenty of intrigue, plenty of double-crosses and plenty of humor. However, when all is said and done, the film is a retelling/re-purposing of elements used in previous Star Trek films. But there are enough surprises to keep the audience guessing what is going on until the end.

Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the starship Enterprise are undertaking a survey mission on Planet Nibiru. A volcano is on the verge of eruption. Despite the Prime Directive, Kirk decides to save the lives of the primitive/developing humanoids by detonating a bomb that will shut down the volcano. In the process, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is trapped inside the volcano. The only way to rescue Spock is to reveal the presence of the starship to the native people.

Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine in Star Trek Into DarknessBack on Earth at Federation headquarters, Kirk and Spock file different reports to Admiral Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). As a result of his actions, Kirk loses his rank of captain. Pike is assigned to helm the Enterprise. He selects Kirk as his First Officer. Pike, as well as the Federation, is well aware of Kirk's leadership abilities. However, Kirk is reckless. He does not follow orders or regulations. He consistently places his ship and crew in jeopardy.

Shortly thereafter, Starfleet agent John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) bombs Starfleet's records archive in London. Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) convenes a high-level meeting of starship captains and their first officers. While Marcus discusses Harrison's background, Kirk becomes suspicious. Why bomb an archive? What does Harrison hope to achieve? Too late, Kirk realizes the target is Admiral Marcus and everyone currently attending the meeting. Harrison attacks killing several high-ranking officers, including Admiral Pike.

Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch and Chris Pine in Star Trek Into DarknessStar Trek Into Darkness takes flight. Kirk, hell-bent on avenging Pike's death, persuades Marcus to send him to the Klingon home world of Qo'noS where Harrison is in hiding. Once there, Kirk will launch a new type of missile from the neutral zone and kill Harrison. The story's intrigue kicks into high gear. Kirk's mission and the Federation's involvement in this mission must not be discovered by the Klingon's or the Federation.

However, Kirk does what he does best... he ignores his orders. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg) is suspicious of the weapons. He strongly urges Kirk to not fire the missiles. Instead, Kirk takes the risky course of going to Qo'noS to capture Harrison and bring him back to stand trial. Kirk becomes more suspicious of his mission when Harrison surrenders only after he learns the Enterprise has exactly 72 of the new missiles. There is something going on behind the scenes.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Carl Urban in Star Trek Into DarknessFrom this point of the film to the end, Star Trek Into Darkness boldly goes where Star Trek has already gone. Rumors abounded prior to the film's release concerning the true identity of Benedict Cumberbatch's character. The rumors are confirmed, for any true Trekkie, with the telling number of missiles: 72. John Harrison is actually Sun Noonian Khan portrayed by Ricardo Montalban in the original series and in the film "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan". The 72 missiles are not missiles. Khan converted them into life pods housing Khan's followers who are also genetically engineered humans. Events and actual dialog in this film are blatantly stolen directly from "Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan". Dirty, rotten shame!

Star Trek Into Darkness is not much of a science fiction movie. The film is full of intrigue, double-crosses, mystery and deception. It's a classic "who-dun-nit" except the location has been changed to outer space. The first half of STID is fantastic. Captain Kirk is reckless as a ship's captain. He places his ship and crew in grave danger to rescue Spock. Kirk matures rapidly through the remainder of the film. Circumstances force Kirk to make some very difficult decisions yet Kirk begins to listen to his crew for advice. He learns to trust others. He learns the ultimate lesson of placing his ship and crew first.

Zachary Quinto and Carl Urban (Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy) really shine. Their opposing traits of Id and Ego take root. The two actors relate as though they have known each other for a while. The humor is wonderful yet not tacky, reminiscent of the byplay in the original series, then after a quick breath, Urban is back to business as the ships Chief Medical Officer. Quinto is even better this time as Mr. Spock. Spock calmly relates his mission summary to Captain Pike while an exasperated Kirk rants and raves that Spock has the gall to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Greenwood excels in this sequence as the executive officer mediating between a "squabbling, married couple. Excellent writing and acting are on display.

Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison in Star Trek Into DarknessBenedict Cumberbatch steals the show. He can convey more through his baritone voice alone then every other actor with a full range of motion and expression. Even having the foreknowledge that Cumberbatch may be portraying Khan only enhances his mystique. The "new" Star Trek opened up an alternate universe with a myriad of possibilities. Is Khan an evil psychopath out to wreak havoc? Is Khan a sympathetic character who is motivated to attempt to save his followers no matter what the personal cost is for him? Cumberbatch keeps the audience guessing. His voice implies treachery within the Federation. The information he provides Kirk turns out to be the truth. Cumberbatch keeps everyone on edge, conveying concern for his crew. But his delivery of lines constantly blurs the line between what he says and, more importantly, what he doesn't say. Apparently, Cumberbatch is so good at fueling confusion, the script writers have Spock contact Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) for information on Khan. Once again, the film takes the easy path to reveal Khan's ultimate goals. Give Kirk a chance to out-think his adversary in the "chess game of life!"

Alice Eve in Star Trek Into DarknessThere are plenty of surprises. The classic creatures Tribbles make an appearance and end up saving the day. New to the crew is Alice Eve as Carol. Carol sneaks aboard the Enterprise on a ruse as a specialist assigned to safeguard the suspicious missiles. She is actually the daughter of Admiral Marcus. She is suspicious of her secretive father. She wants/needs to know what her father is scheming. Actress Alice Eve does a great job of hiding her character's true identity. Her character will be fun to watch develop. Finally, there is a nice touch of reintroducing Area 31, first shown in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series. Area 31 is a super-secret faction of the Federation who will stop at nothing to protect the Federation from all perceived enemies, no matter if they are foreign or domestic.

Special Effects continue to make leaps and bounds. The space scenes are gorgeous! The film gives the reality of actually looking at the starship "Enterprise" in orbit above planet Earth. Good Old Faithful NCC-1701 has taken a beating in the first two reboot films. The Enterprise making it through a film in one piece would be a novel idea for any sequel.

All things considered, Star Trek Into Darkness is an excellent film. Unfortunately, this is not a science fiction film. When all is said and done, this film is simply an intriguing mystery. Marcus has his own agenda. Khan is in his way and must be destroyed. Khan is set upon the destruction of the Federation in order to insure the safety of his followers. Kirk is stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle. Does he follow orders? Does he trust his gut? Does he trust his crew? Does he trust Marcus? Does he trust Khan?

Starship Enterprise in Star Trek Into DarknessQuestions abound. The questions are answered. Unfortunately, the final resolution takes the easy path. Lets hope the next Star Trek film will embrace the science fiction elements and social commentaries from the original series. Some suggestions for something new: a giant planet-killer is on a direct heading towards Earth; an early NASA probe returns to Earth determined to join with its creator, Jackson Kirk; Scotty, under the influence of a killer alien entity, leaps through a gateway to London of the past. Scotty turns into "Jack the Ripper". Meanwhile, Kirk falls in love with the Ripper's last victim. Kirk must stand by helpless as she is eviscerated by Scotty.

These are just a few "ideas" for Star Trek to boldly go where no Star Trek has gone before. Only time will tell.