‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ feels like fitful flit through series’ top moments

“Star Trek Into Darkness” is like fan-boy fiction on a $185 million budget. It’s reverential, it’s faithful, it’s steeped in “Trek” mythology.

It’s also an excessively derivative what-if rehash of themes and interactions that came before, most of the characters lesser copies and even caricatures of the originals. The scenario’s been hijacked and rejiggered from better “Trek” plots of decades ago, the best verbal exchanges lifted nearly verbatim from past adventures.

In short, the new chiefs of Starfleet aren’t coming up with much to call their own.

They pile on the spectacle in a way that’s never been seen before in “Star Trek,” whose old big-screen incarnations were so notoriously underfunded they had to go back and borrow props, miniatures and visual effects from previous installments. The action in “Into Darkness” is top-notch, the visuals grand, though the movie’s needless conversion to 3-D muddies the images.

But the heart is, well, halfhearted, as though the people of the 23rd century are there to mouth the standard logic-versus-emotion, needs-of-the-many-versus-needs-of-the-few patter of “Star Trek” to count time before the next space battle or ray-gun shootout.

Director J.J. Abrams was most definitely not a fan-boy for this franchise when he made 2009’s “Star Trek,” which reintroduced Kirk, Spock and the rest of the starship Enterprise gang with a time-travel twist that allowed the William Shatner-Leonard Nimoy original to coexist with an entirely different destiny for the new players.

Abrams grew up a fan of “Star Wars,” the next space saga he’ll be reviving with the launch of a third trilogy. But his key collaborators, screenwriters Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof, are “Trek” fan-boys to their marrow. They know this world, they love this world, and like many fans, they have a particular fixation on 1982’s “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan,” the best that the franchise has ever had to offer, on the big-screen or TV.

The 2009 reboot replayed and tweaked elements connected to “Wrath of Khan,” and “Into Darkness” mines that vein further. Some of that revisitation is cool in an alternate-history way, but the filmmakers remain so closely in orbit around yesteryear’s “Star Trek” that they wind up zigzagging fitfully through the Enterprise’s greatest hits.

“Into Darkness” opens with a splashy action sequence to again show the cockiness of Capt. James Kirk (Chris Pine) — with his willingness to flaunt the rules — and the icy intellect of half-Vulcan First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto), who’s willing to sacrifice his life to stick to the Starfleet playbook.

It’s clear these two young’uns don’t play well together, but just as the space brass is about to split them up, Starfleet is hit by savage terrorist attacks by mysterious desperado John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). Kirk, Spock and their Enterprise crew are dispatched to take Harrison out with weapons that could prove the mother of all drone strikes, maintaining the usual see-how-relevant-we-are conceit of the “Trek” cosmos.

But loyalties slip and shift as the Enterprise uncovers the strange history of Harrison and his connections to a hawkish Starfleet admiral (Peter Weller).

Along the way, Spock hits some speed bumps in his romance with Zoe Saldana’s beautiful and brilliant Lt. Uhura, while Kirk meets Alice Eve’s beautiful and brilliant Dr. Carol Marcus (“Wrath of Khan” fans well know who she is and her importance to “Star Trek”).

The rest of the gang keeps up their routines. Curmudgeonly Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban) gripes and moans, helmsman Sulu (John Cho) ably steers the ship, navigator Chekov (Anton Yelchin) does his precocious shtick and engineer Scott (Simon Pegg) works his technical miracles.

Fine acting has rarely been a cornerstone of “Star Trek,” but much of the “Into Darkness” cast seems to have taken ham lessons from Shatner. Urban maintains the same grouchy, stick-up-his-butt expression throughout, while Chekov with his almost incomprehensible Russian accent and Pegg with his “Shrek”-thick Scottish brogue become downright cartoonish.

Though they squabble like bratty teens early on, Pine and Quinto eventually show sparks of the Kirk-Spock fraternal love at the core of “Star Trek.”

The big find here is Cumberbatch, who joins Ricardo Montalban, Christopher Plummer and Alice Krige in a fairly limited roster of great “Trek” villains. With his rumbling voice and stony stare, the star of Britain’s detective update “Sherlock” is fearsome and relentless, a one-man army who truly seems like more than a match for the poor Enterprise, all on his own.

As Abrams moves on to “Star Wars,” it falls to some next-generation filmmaker to carry on “Star Trek” should more sequels follow. Abrams hasn’t really guided the franchise into deep space, but he leaves it in a good place for successors to tell some rip-roaring sci-fi stories, without relying on reruns of old “Trek” moments.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like