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Star Trek Into Darkness

The beloved franchise trades Sci-Fi for action in this bombastic sequel

Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk, Zoe Saldana as Lt. Uhura and Zachary Quinto as First Officer Spock. <<© Paramount Pictures>>

After a routine mission goes awry, the Enterprise is called back to Earth and cavalier captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine: Rise of the Guardians) is demoted for his disregard of the Prime Directive. Kirk’s disciplining is put on hold, however, when terrorist John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch: The Hobbit) brings Star Fleet to its knees.
    With many commanders dead or injured, Kirk is reinstated to his ship and tasked with chasing down Harrison deep into Klingon space, risking an inter-stellar diplomatic incident. Though Kirk is gung-ho, first officer Spock (Zachary Quinto: American Horror Story) is concerned.
    Could Harrison’s terrorism have a motive? Will Kirk and the Enterprise succeed? How much lens flare can director J.J. Abrams (Super 8) fit into one movie?
    Star Trek Into Darkness isn’t a bad action movie, but it isn’t much of a Sci-Fi flick. Eschewing its roots in science-based philosophy, the reimagined Star Trek series is content to blow up space instead of understanding it.
    Abrams’ direction doesn’t help matters. Action sequences are a jumble of noise, gunfire and explosions. This type of nonsensical action belongs in Fast & Furious, not a Star Trek film. Abrams, it seems, has chosen to appeal to action fans first. You can imagine him counting the box office receipts with every gritty, discombobulated fight scene. The problem? When emotional moments come, the characters don’t have the pull they need.
    From a female perspective, I find it troubling that Star Fleet — one of the most progressive scientific and exploratory bodies ever to appear on the screen — forces female officers to dress like 1960s stewardesses. Yes, it’s a nod to the original show’s costuming, but if moviemakers are able to update the effects and the makeup for the 21st century, then why not allow the ladies to slip off the GoGo boots and don a pair of pants?
    Naturally, the beautiful Uhura (Zoe Saldana: The Words) throws hissy fits during work hours when she’s mad at her boyfriend. Chicks, man, they’re so emotional!
    Another reference to the original series is the casting of Pine who, like predecessor William Shatner, seems incapable of authentic emotion. Kirk gets some of his most emotional work to date, but Pine can only squint and widen his striking blue eyes.
    Still, all is not lost in the depths of space. Solid supporting work edges Star Trek Into Darkness back from the brink of disaster. As Spock, Quinto is able to convey more emotion in his flat, Vulcan affectation than Pine can muster with even his loudest voice. Spock remains one of the most enjoyable characters of the remake, a fascinating mix of infuriating logic and repressed emotion. As Bones, Karl Urban works his eyebrows overtime, wringing every last bit of cynical humor from his part. The star of the movie is villain Harrison. Cumberbatch conveys Harrison’s controlled rage and looming danger.
    While I’m not sure the film lives up to The Wrath of Khan, the undisputed champ of the franchise, it’s light years better than The Final Frontier, a movie so bad, only William Shatner could have directed it. This Star Trek is a highly watchable popcorn flick.

Fair Sci-Fi • PG-13 • 132 mins.