Movies
6:26 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness
Grade: A
Director: J.J Abrams (Star Trek, 2009)
Screenplay: Roberto Ord (People Like Us), Alex Kurtzman (The Island), Damon Lindelof (Prometheus)
Cast: Chris Pine (This Means War), Zachary Quinto (Margin Call)
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 132 min
by John DeSando

“You think you're safe. You are not. Is there anything you would not do for your family?” John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch)

If a good story has believable, changing characters and good sci-fi has believable travel and action, Star Trek Into Darkness is good and then some. Before James Kirk (Chris Pine) becomes the seasoned leader we’ve come to know and love, he is cowboying around early on, saving Spock (Zachary Quinto), losing his command, and generally testing his father-figure, Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who has been the catalyst for the cocky young officer’s career.

If photons and beams were all there is to this opera, then I would have little to report except that director J.J. Abrams has the CGI technology down just right to make the travel and the warfare believable. But character and morality trump the action to such a fine extent that this episode could serve as talking points for a graduate seminar on leadership.

The opening episode has to do with Kirk choosing to save Spock’s life to follow the Prime Directive not to interfere in other civilizations. Kirk’s choice is emblematic of the film’s humanistic core, where saving the friend forces Kirk to violate orders, as he frequently does, in favor of love. If James Carvel had to say it, he would proclaim, “It’s the people, Stupid.” The introductory quote serves as a reminder that Star Trek is always about people and family, the latter encompassing as well the crew as “family.”

So many villains have visited our audiences that to have one stand out, say like Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, is rare. However, one of the best bad guys ever is Khan, played with menace and charm by TV’s Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch. His physical presence, bass voice, and imposing eyes alone demand respect. He’s not a good guy, but you want him to be around just the way we wanted the original Khan, Ricardo Montalban, decades ago.

Study the delicacies of command and the complexity of the personal with Star Trek Into the Darkness. If for nothing else, the constant struggle between the logical and the emotional (Spock and Kirk) is as satisfying at times as those clashes on Shakespeare’s Tempest:

“Mr. Spock. The mind of the Enterprise. The fearless genius who ensures a calm force of intelligence guides their every mission. But look deeper and you will see an outsider who does not belong, a man of two worlds. This tears him apart, the constant battle between what he thinks and what he feels. What does he do? Does he follow his head, embracing logic and the path of reason? Or does he follow his heart, knowing the emotions he cannot control may destroy him? I will help him decide...”John Harrison (Khan).

Star Trek Into Darkness is a satisfying summer delight that has razzle-dazzle effects with enough humanity to start a brave new world.

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at WCBE.org. He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com