Star Trek Into Darkness continues to take us into the JJ Abrams view of the Roddenberry created world…and Abrams continues to surprise us with every turn.
The story arrives several years after the events of the first movie. The universe that we knew with Shatner and Nimoy no longer exists; time changing events in the first film have significantly altered the reality of these characters, and the universe they live in. And those changes have wide ranging ripple effects that leave us without truly understanding the reality as it ‘currently’ exists.
The primary villain is John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is waging a war against the Federation for reasons that are unknown at the beginning. When those reasons become known, all hell breaks loose.
Our main characters, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) have grown into the close friendship that defined the original Star Trek series. And at the core of this movie is their relationship…and how it grows, but differs, from the original time line that we know so well.
What has also changed in this Abrams Universe is the underlying character of Starfleet. Roddenberry’s Federation and Starfleet were about utopian ideals; Abrams’s version is about hard realities in a new universe where the technology to destroy planets and kill billions exists. All of a sudden, we are dealing with ‘weapons of mass destruction’ on a global scale.
Headline that difference is Peter Weller playing Admiral Marcus, the father of Carol Marcus. Carol Marcus is a character well known to Trekkies, but in many ways, her appearance in this film is almost a distraction to the underlying reality of what is going on.
There are major spoilers, especially about specific characters, that I will leave out. And that makes it difficult to talk in any detail about the plot. But ultimately, what Abrams has created is a universe that is almost a ‘Bizarro’ version of the original Star Trek.
The characters, at their heart, are the same. But nothing else is. The utopian nature of the Federation is no more. There is technology that now exists that should not. And with the Vulcans basically wiped out, their calming influence on Starfleet is sorely lacking.
I have read many reviews about this movie. It simply breaks down as follows: if you are not a Trekkie, this is a simple action/adventure with space ships and guns, and nothing more. A good, but not great, film.
However, if you are a Star Trek fan, and love the original series, this is a fascinating take on the original. How can one incident change an entire universe? Can one moment in time have such a wide ranging effect to basically change the nature of all existence?
Abrams basically says yes.
So as a Star Trek fan, I highly recommend this movie. If you are not a Trekkie, I still recommend it, but you simply won’t understand or appreciate much of the nuance and irony. But still, an excellent sequel, and another must see for what is shaping up to be an excellent summer movie season.