4. Star Trek Into Darkness (PG-13) - Runtime: 132 minutes
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch
Director: J. J. Abrams
I really, really enjoyed 2009's Star Trek reboot. It brought what I felt was a cold and sterile science fiction franchise into the 21st century with a little bit of sexy and a slightly rougher edge than previous installments. It was frankly, a breath of fresh air, to use a cliche. To say that 4 years waiting time in between these two movies is long is not doing justice to really how looooong this took to come out. And now that Abrams is off gallivanting in a galaxy far, far away, it's safe to say this is his last Star Trek movie. And boy was it a great one and not only that, is the best movie so far this year (yes I throw out that term a lot but I really, really mean it this year!). Where Iron Man 3 hit all the right notes, Star Trek Into Darkness does too, but in almost a more epic and intimate way (I was nearly in tears at one point!).
You're immediately thrown into the action as you see Kirk running through an alien forest, being chased by some crazy ass white-painted alien tribe (who sort of look like the Prometheans from Prometheus - oh Damon Lindeloff, you wrote this too, didn't you?). It's revealed that Kirk has decided to interfere with this technology-inept race by saving their collective asses from extinction, which goes against every regulation in the books. Spock agrees with all these rules and is willing to risk his life in order for that alien tribe to not catch one glimpse of the Enterprise. And this opening scene sets the whole tone and pace for the movie. At equal times funny and action packed, but emotionally resonant, the whole of this movie is summed up thematically by this opening scene. And it only gets better from there.
Enter Benedict Cumberbatch, aka Johnathan Harris, a man hell-bent on taking down Starfleet for some unknown wrong in the past. It's with this knowledge that Kirk and Spock go after this man in search of revenge for his terrorist-level attacks. What mysteries await are simply too good to spoil here. Safe to say, you'll be anxiously watching every second of this movie. It's that good. Everything about this movie - the acting, the plot, the pacing and editing are near-perfect. There's a good mix of humor and jokes, a ton of drama that hits all the right notes and you can see the characters grow throughout this movie. Kirk becomes a hero and Spock starts to understand his human half.
It's quite an accomplishment for a movie to be all things to all people and I applaud the effort. I'm sure a lot of people won't like it, but it's hard to argue that you can't get any better than this for a big-budget summer blockbuster.
And having just finished watching the first two original movies, I can safely say that Abrams handles the lore from these two movies with great care. There are changes, obviously, but they're satisfying and make sense for this "new" generation of Kirk and crew. I can't imagine long-time fans of the show not coming away satisfied at how there's so many references (probably some that I didn't even notice not having seen any of the shows!). But even if you're not a fan - this movie satisfies in its characters and humor and action - there's not one scene or story or character that seems out of place or that I wasn't in love with.
This is one of the most emotionally satisfying pieces of film that I have seen all year. Abrams has shown again he has the massive talent and genius to create something that will satisfy both fans and non-fans alike. And that bodes well for Star Wars! I went to see this in the IMAX at Henry Ford (the only IMAX that really matters) and it simply was stunning - I cannot recommend it more highly if you have the $15 to spend to go see this right now at IMAX.
Rating: See It! Twice!