Star Trek Into Darkness

Once, long ago, someone spoiled the twist ending of The Sixth Sense for me, and ever since then I've tried hard not to be That Person. So this review will be very carefully worded, and I refuse to confirm or deny any theories you and your friends may have formulated based on the previews. But the whole crew is back, which was nice to see, and I'll just take this opportunity to link to the first movie in the new series so I don't have to worry about it later.

When we last saw Captain Kirk (Chris Pine, Unstoppable), he was looking for fresh trouble to get into, and of course he has absolutely no trouble finding it. Or it finds him, whichever. The point is, Kirk and Bones (Karl Urban, Priest) are, um, distracting a group of natives so that Spock (Zachary Quinto, American Horror Story) can disarm a volcano. Yes, you read that right; in the far future, there are cold-fusion gadgets that will stop volcanoes from erupting. It seems to me that stopping one eruption would only make for a bigger one later someplace else, but I've only taken one basic geophysics class and we didn't cover that.

The problem is that the Enterprise was just supposed to chart the planet and observe, and instead they end up breaking the Prime Directive into tiny little pieces. This is hardly a shock to the audience, but Pike (Bruce Greenwood, Super 8) isn't happy. Spock is set to be transferred to another ship, and Kirk is being sent -- wait for it -- back to the Academy. I don't know why they think he'll pay any more attention the second time around, but that's their problem.

Except of course neither of those things happens, because there's a crisis -- a Starfleet archive has been blown up by a man named Thomas Harewood (Noel Clarke, Mickey from Doctor Who, now one of about two dozen actors to have appeared in both franchises). But Thomas was forced to do it, by a man called John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). This is at least his third instance of playing an intelligent but amoral character who demonstrates almost zero emotion and has few, if any, likable traits -- besides this movie, he's also the Necromancer in The Hobbit, and of course Holmes in that Sherlock series.

Now I have to be careful again. Simon Pegg (Paul) as Scotty gets a lot more screen time this go-round, which I liked, though I'm still unsure about his little alien sidekick who never speaks. Sulu (John Cho, Total Recall) gets to sit in the captain's chair for a bit, while Chekov (Anton Yelchin, Terminator: Salvation)... doesn't get to do a great deal, actually, but it is a pretty crowded movie. Uhura (Zoe Saldana, Takers) does a little better at getting some scenes, and also gets to practice her "rusty, but good" Klingon. There isn't much of the Klingons here, but I suspect that the next flick, in about three years, will change that. They give them a good look, I thought.

Then there are new characters Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller, Star Trek: Enterprise) and Alice Eve, (Men in Black 3) as Carol, and I think that's everyone I'm allowed to mention. Whew! The good news is, it has far, far fewer plot holes than Iron Man 3, though I'm not sure any single movie could possibly have more plot holes without serious effort on the part of the filmmakers. The bad news is that it does have a couple of glaring oversights -- I can't imagine that the Klingons would be nearly as trusting as they seem here, for example -- and as previously hinted, they try to jam a little bit too much into one film. And they're also dragging in a little too much of the old, established history, which I sincerely hope they do less of in the third installment.

Overall, it was a fun, entertaining ride, despite the casting of John Harrison. He's a good actor, but I really didn't think he was right for the part here. It seemed to me like it would have been better to make him less obviously villainous and a lot more charming -- where you want to trust him, but you're never quite sure that you should. However, it still gets four out of five. It even looks like they'll finally get the Enterprise out on that five-year mission for the next movie... since up until now they've kind of forgotten that part.

The Enterprise surfaces dramatically from her underwater hiding place.


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