The legion of Trekkies — devotees of Gene Rodenberry’s 1960s TV series and the 12 films that followed — is sure to grow with Star Trek Into Darkness. It is a fun trip into space and into the future in which character is not sacrificed to action. In fact, the characters are multi-faceted and the action is engrossing.
This time, the story of the crew of the Enterprise opens on a primitive planet where the natives have chalky white faces. First Officer Spock (Zachery Quinto) is stuck there as a volcano is about to erupt. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) rescues him, ignoring the fact that doing so violates a Federation rule. This movie, a prequel to the TV series and kind of follow-up to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — introduces us to more facets of the characters we thought we knew— for example (minor spoiler here) a romance between Spock and Lt. Uhura (Zoe Saldana — and there’s much more humanity here.
This time, the bad guy is a terrorist named John Harrison (British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who made a splash here on the recent reboot of Sherlock Holmes that was carried on PBS). The ever-resourceful Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Sulu (John Cho) are more prominent than ever before and we may even see an original TV series actor. Anton Yelchin — with an almost too-thick-to-understand accent — is Chekov and there are the old hands like Star Fleet officer Marcu (Peter Weller) and Pike (Bruce Greenwood) who believe they are running the show.
The movie, briskly directed by J.J. Abrams from a script by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof, looks terrific — sleek and shiny and the San Francisco and London of the future are great to look at.
More important, we care about these characters. We want the crew of the Enterprise to make it through their problems and, what makes it fun is that we get to know more of their human sides — yes, even Spock’s human half.
Star Trek Into Darkness is interesting and fun. I don’t know what more one can ask of a summer entertainment. Don’t want to be obvious but my wish is for the franchise to live long and prosper.