“Star Trek Into Darkness” Fast, Funny and Touching
By Skip Sheffield
If you liked the 2009 reboot of the “Star Trek” series, you are going to love the sequel “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
When director J.J. Abrams re-imagined the science-fiction space odyssey that began as a cheesy 1966 television series, he cast a group of young actors who resembled the original cast, only better-looking.
William Shatner brought a blustering egotism to his Capt. James Kirk, commander of the spaceship U.S.S. Enterprise.
The new Kirk is Chris Pine, a ridiculously handsome guy with magnetic blue eyes and a more modest vulnerability that makes him more palatable to a new generation.
As his first officer Spock, Zachary Quinto could be the real-life son of Leonard Nimoy, who (spoiler alert) makes a cameo appearance for the sake of tradition.
The list goes on. Zoe Saldana brings a smoldering sensuality to officer Uhura, the possible love interest of dispassionate Spock. Brilliant British writer-comedian Simon Pegg infuses a new life to the excitable engineer Scotty. Justin Cho is stoic and solid as office Sulu, who is asked to step up in this episode.
The movie begins with a splash of the color red with the
scurrying about a forest of red trees inhabited by white, clayish-skinned
creatures that look like something out of a Kabuki theater. It turns out Capt.
Kirk has been a bad boy and he violated the rules by allowing himself to be
seen by the white creatures. The Enterprise
is ordered back to Earth, where Kirk is reprimanded and busted down in rank,
and Spock is transferred. Kirk’s disobedience is overshadowed by a terrorist
bomb explosion in London,
killing dozens of innocent people. A second attack follows in scenic San Francisco. It is theorized that the perpetrator is one
of Starfleet’s own. Admiral Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) orders Kirk to
the hostile planet Kronos, where it is thought a turncoat named Harrison (astute
British actor Benedict Cumberbach) is hiding out.
It is impossible to watch the latest “Star Trek’ without thinking of the current volatile world situation, where entire countries are cowering in fear at the threat of terrorist attacks as drones scan the skies and politicians argue double cross one another endlessly. This story is old-fashioned in that it is about honesty, integrity and courage versus cruelty, deceit and random violence. What makes it even more appealing is its deft use of comedy to defuse dire circumstances. This is the funniest and fastest-paced “Star Trek” yarn I have ever seen, yet it does have emotional moments that tug at the heartstrings.
I am not now nor have I ever been a “Trekkie.” I thought the original television series was pompous and silly. The movie reboots were more of the same, with the exception of "Wrath of Khan" (love that rich Corinthian leather).
This sequel is hip, smart, funny where it needs to be and emotionally involving when it counts. That’s quite an achievement for a summer season blockbuster. It looks like the Star Wars franchise is secure for the foreseeable future.