The Good: STAR TREK Into Darkness pretty much has it all. Great action, a compelling story from beginning to end, and excellent characters. Following the previous Star Trek film of 2009, where JJ Abrams achieved the delicate balancing act of establishing all the major characters with an exciting plot, Star Trek Into Darkness has a feeling of unleashed energy and freedom.
The much anticipated back-and-forth between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (Karl Urban) pays off, but that's only part of the fun. An excellent script, dialogue, and unpredictable plot twists will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding as the villain, with an onscreen gravitas that is 100% authentic. We're treated to some good old fashioned acting skills that stand out despite the gorgeous special effects.
And that's another thing - the digital effects, as amazing and realistic as they are, never become a distraction (unless you're bothered by lens flare). The effects are noticed, all right, but they never outweigh the overall story and chemistry between the human actors.
The Bad: Not much to pick on, thankfully. Although from a logical standpoint, the set design is a bit ridiculous in places. The engineering deck of the Enterprise, for instance, reminds me of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, only with more chemical/radiation death traps (and fewer Oompa Loompas, unless you count that weird thing that hangs out with Scotty all the time).
And I found it odd that, in the 23rd Century, where transporter technology can beam you from planet to planet, people still drive cars and travel in little flying vehicles. But these are really minor gripes that don't diminish the story.
However, with room for a sequel, I'm not sure how JJ Abrams will be able to top this...
Who would like this movie: Like its predecessor, STAR TREK Into Darkness is for action movie fans. You don't necessarily have to be a die-hard Trekkie in order to understand everything that's going on. However, I will say that fans of the Star Trek movies of the 1980s will definitely find more to appreciate as there are numerous clever references.
There's a lot of genuine emotion, and the chemistry between the major characters has definitely improved since the last movie. The cast seems more at ease in their roles, and their often humorous exchanges are genuinely funny and touching.
JJ Abrams makes some really bold moves with the story. The movie definitely respects the fans and pays a lot of homage to the original Star Trek that many of us grew up with.
But he's not afraid to make potentially controversial decisions that will undoubtedly light up nerd chat rooms all over the net. For me, personally though, I thought the big plot twists and character reveals worked out very well.
Very much a character-driven piece, STAR TREK Into Darkness grabs you from the start. For older fans, this movie comes awfully close to allowing you lose yourself in a Star Trek movie the way you used to when you were a kid.
(4 out of 4 stars)
Review written by: Joe Yang