Star Trek: Into the Darkness: A Nostalgic Ride

By Sandra Olmsted

For good or ill, Star Trek: Into the Darkness, director J.J. Abrams latest foray into the deep space of reinventing Star Trek for a new generation heavily, sometimes delightfully, evokes the original TV series, including the relationships, in the pace, the story references, and the acting. Central to this installment is the relationship developing between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto).

They aren’t quite a team, yet, but this film sets much of that in emotion, and seeing them arrive at the understand which is the foundation of the characters’ relationship in the subsequent logical storyline if all the version, film and TV, were put in a chronological order. By setting this fundament relationship of Roddenberry’s original concept into motion, Abrams proves his knowledge of the material.

Probably the the biggest problem in the pacing, which even with a spectacular opening and equally exciting second and third action sequences, the pace slows and drags, much like the TV series episodes often did. However the CGI effects and 3D are well done and not over done. Although the filmmakers can’t resist somethings coming into the audience and verging on the cheapest of 3D tricks, they don’t use that too much.

When action sequences, such as the fight scene atop flying cars, combine live action will CGI effects, the two are seamlessly combined. The big set piece CGI scenes like the volcano eruption and demolishing of cities, buildings, and space ships also seamlessly integrate CGI effects and live action. Of course, high quality special effects were never part of the original Tv series, which relied instead on the inventiveness of the TV crew to create effects as cheaply as possible and still make them believable.

There are many reference to the original series, including a cameo appearance by a Tribble and Kirk being a womanizer.  The previous commander of the Enterprise, Pike (Bruce Greenwood), is in the film briefly, but what happens to his character doesn’t match Pike’s fate in the TV series. The villain that Enterprise and its crew is sent to fetch is John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is a terrorist who lures the Star Fleet Command to call a meeting and than attacks and who is later revealed to be another famous villain from the franchise. Fortunately, Kirk, who has lost his stripes and his ship, taps into his rebelliousness and engineers a solution, but not before Harrison beams himself across the galaxy and onto Kronos, the Klingon homeworld, to hide and maybe to start a war. Kirk and Spock argue and the philosophy of kill Harrison or bring home back for trial; however, their orders from Starfleet Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) are to kill him.

The problem, which will sound all to familiar to the TV series fans, is going into the Klingon territory without starting a war. Star Trek: Into the Darkness also deviates from the expected, with Spock having a romantic relationship Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and Kirk have a special love interest on the ship, Carol (Alice Eve) an ambitious science officer and impostor who lies her way on to the Enterprise. This relationship seems to point to additional story developments in subsequent films.

Fortunately, the original favorite cast members are represented here with Bones aka Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) all nicely set up their characters future relationships and personalities.  The actors playing younger versions of these well known character were obviously chosen as much for acting as appearance, and generally, the casting choices are in keeping with the looks of the actors who later played the roles, except for Khan. It’s a mystery how the character evolves from one played by a BBC Sherlock Holmes to the Khan played by a mid-20th century Latin Lover in other installments.

The acting is more natural than the original series’, probably because the writing is better; however, turning out a weekly TV show requires a different type of writing than a feature film that was announced in March 2009 and hit the screen 4 years later. Screenwriters Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof pay homage to Roddenberry’s original concept and characters without going too far a field, yet they adapt and update the franchise to pull in the next generation of fans who dream of going “where no man has gone before.”

Abrams’ Star Trek: Into the Darkness , a Paramount Pictures release of a Skydance Productions and Bad Robot production, is in theaters now and worth the time and ticket price. The film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and runs 132 minutes. More of Olmsted’s reviews are available at


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