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Gavin Grades The Movies

Star Trek: Into Darkness

In life, you're one of two people; a Star Trek or Star Wars person.  I fall firmly into the Star Wars category since it just appleaed to my child mind more growing up.  To date, I have only seen two Star Trek films and zero episodes of any of the show's variations.  However, director JJ Abrams (Super 8, ABC's Lost) has done something that I never thought anyone could do; he's made Star Trek movies that appeal to both Trekkies and those of us who've had sex.  What raises the stakes this second time around with him in the captain's chair is the news that he will also be taking over the Star Wars series for Disney in two years.  So this was like a small audition for what he'll do with a franchise I hold dear.

The Abrams Star Trek films are prequels and show what happened prior to the series starting.  According to my friend Dave, who is such a Trekkie he showed up in uniform to the screening, Into Darkness brings us up to the point where the TV show starts.  The story follows the crew of the USS Enterprise hunting a terrorist and avenging the death of a friend.  The thickness of the plot comes from who the mysterious terrorist is and what his motives are.  He's played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse), who has a name that already makes him sound like a Bond villain.  Make no mistake, he is at the top of a very long list of reasons to see this movies.  His performance is menacing, sympathetic and exciting.  Learn that name because you're gonna be hearing it a helluva lot after this.

The rest of those reasons on the list are also stellar.  The cast is all the same as the first one and features Chris Pine (This Means War, Bottleshock), Zachary Quinto (NBC's Heroes, FX's American Horror Story), and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) just to name a few.  Everyone in the film carries their weight but the relationship between Kirk and Spock is explored deeply and even moves the least of the Trekkies among us.  That could only have been achieved with a script that fires on all cylinders.  Not for a second does the tone stay long enough to over stay its welcome.  

Into Darkness is almost two-and-a-half hours long and feels as long as an episode of the TV show.  The action begins from the opening scene and is simply relentless after that.  Now, some movies that jam that much action into a film usually do it as a crutch to make up for a weak script and shallow characters.  That is not the case with Into Darkness.  This is a rich story that's less complicated than the first Abram's Star Trek and twice as enjoyable.  Everything about it equals entertainment and none of it lags at all.

Of course there is the JJ Abram's trademark lens flares that fly across the screen with dazziling color and distract every single time.  There's also brief moments of eye rolling with blatant pandering to Trekkie fans.  There's also moments of melodrama that I can't get into without major spoilers that feel slightly tired and on-the-nose.  But all these hiccups are minor at best and never once distract or derail from the awesomeness that is Into Darkness.  I recommend seeing it on an IMAX screen like the Esquire downtown since it's a movie-going expiereince that a home theater will never reproduce.  More refreshing than seeing a great film like this though is the knowledge that it's obvious that the Star Wars franchise is in good hands.
Star Trek: Into Darkness  (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A+

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05/17/2013 9:00PM
Star Trek: Into Darkness
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