‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ is a Fun, Flawed Ride

I’m going to start out this review with a gripe session… I’m so tired of whiny Star Trek fans moaning and groaning “Oh, this isn’t Star Trek! It’s a fun movie, but where are the ideals? Where is the exploration of the human condition?”

Shut your noise holes, would you? Try paying attention for once.

In Star Trek Into Darkness, the new versions of the old crew are back just in time for a domestic terrorist named John Harrison to begin bombing the Horta poop out of Starfleet installations.  After a particularly nasty attack on Starfleet Headquarters, Kirk is assigned to bring in Harrison at all cost, but soon it becomes obvious that the evil facing the Enterprise crew is bigger and closer to home than they imagined.

The very idea behind Star Trek Into Darkness is the exploration of the human need for revenge (or at least the illusion of the need for it) and how that need will ultimately be your doom. I’ll be darned if that isn’t a classic Star Trek exploration of the human condition and only goes to prove that some Star Trek fan whiner babies that won’t ever be satisfied.

Obviously, I loved the movie. I loved it more than I loved the clever reboot that was released nineteen years ago…. at least, it feels like it was nineteen years ago. Thanks for that, JJ. Way to strike while the iron is hot.

I enjoyed so much about this movie. It was big, it was action packed, and it wasn’t devoid of character moments. Seeing Kirk and Spock get angry with each other was great because it highlighted their differences, but at the same time you can see how those differences balance them and make them more of an effective team. Kirk’s brashness is eventually tempered by Spock’s logic and reason. Had Kirk given in to that vengeance he was feeling after Pike was killed, the day would have been lost.

Speaking of the Pike scene… Dear God, that hurt. I liked Pike so much and his death scene was so amazingly shot. Chris Pine really sold it with his reaction as well. Both attack scenes on Earth really played up to 9/11 paranoia. Oh wait… is that ANOTHER Star Trek staple? Putting contemporary issues in a science fiction setting?

Would you whiny fans like a tissue for cry?

Into Darkness is not only a story of vengeance, but also a story of family ties. Kirk has his family on the ship, there is the story of Doctor Marcus and her father, and the villain and his own family who he would do anything to protect. It could have been easy to just make Harrison into a rampant scene chewer, but the man that we are presented with is surprisingly relatable. I completely understand why he’s doing what he’s doing and, in a strange way, almost want to see him succeed. It makes his and Kirk’s brief alliance believable and puts a different spin on the  dynamic. The strange thing is, you can argue that the bad guy actually gets what he wants at the end.

Back to vengeance… The bad guy seeks vengeance and is doomed by it, but the real character trial comes down to Spock. He goes off on a quest for vengeance as well and not only almost dooms himself, but also almost dooms his best friend. It’s a nice twist to see a character taken this far out of his comfort zone.

So yeah, the humanity is there, the ideals are there, the action sequences are there, humor and heart are there… It was a terrific Star Trek movie, but…

…not a perfect one.

It wasn’t as strong of an ensemble piece as the ’09 version. Something I liked about that one is that all of the characters had something meaningful to do. Here, Chekov is sent to work downstairs in the basement while Scotty is, once again, absent for too much of the movie. Uhura has fallen into the female character trap of the only thing coming out of her mouth is about a relationship. McCoy… Again, didn’t seem to be part of the Spock-Kirk dynamic which is something that hasn’t carried over from the classic series that I really wish would.

And yes… the ending resolution was a remarkable bit of lackluster writing. 

Also… how can the Enterprise be pulled down to the Earth’s surface when the thing is drifting around the moon? Where the heck are all of the other starships while this stuff was going on? Did they honestly cure death?

Still, good movie…

I would even venture to say that Into Darkness may not be the best Star Trek movie, but it is probably the most fun Star Trek movie to date and that it really saying a lot.

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