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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Josh Reviews Star Trek Into Darkness

I enjoyed J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot (click here for my review), though not nearly as much as most of the rest of the world seemed to.  I loved seeing Star Trek brought to life, finally, under the big-budget it always deserved, and I was incredibly impressed by how successful they were at recasting the iconic roles, something which I had believed to be impossible.  But the script was a mess, full of plot holes you could fly a Constitution class starship through.

Star Trek Into Darkness is more of the same.  The film is gorgeous to look at, epic in scale and realized with extraordinary skill and craftsmanship.  The cast is terrific, every single member of the ensemble is great, and getting to once again watch Spock and Bones bicker and a million other little moments of interaction between the members of the classic Enterprise crew is a delight.

Sadly though, this film’s story is even more nonsensical than the previous film’s was.  It’s catastrophically bad.  Star Trek Into Darkness is not only hugely inconsistent with Star Trek canon (even when you take into account the “alternate universe” setting of his rebooted film series), but it is also inconsistent with its own story-telling and narrative logic.  Even when you forget all previously established Star Trek lore, and only consider this film’s story on its own, it is wildly inconsistent and contradictory.

I am not going to reveal every beat of the movie in this review, but I will be heavy with SPOILERS as I dig deep into the film’s problems.  So if you’re going to see Star Trek Into Darkness, I suggest you hold off on reading this review until you’ve seen the film, then come back here and we can see where we agree or disagree.

The film’s opening sequence encapsulates much of what works and what fails in J.J. Abrams’ two Star Trek films.  The Enterprise crew is attempting to contain a volcano explosion that threatens to wipe out the pre-industrial inhabitants of an alien planet.  Things go wrong immediately, with Spock trapped inside the active volcano while Kirk and McCoy are being chased by the angry natives.  Things quickly build to a classic Prime Directive conundrum in which the only way to save Spock is to break the Prime Directive and reveal the existence of the Enterprise to the natives.  This is an extraordinary sequence, as beautifully realized a Star Trek action scene as I have ever seen.  It’s incredibly fast-paced, as we bounce between the Kirk/McCoy chase scene to action inside the volcano with Spock and Sulu/Uhura on an Enterprise shuttlecraft.  The visual effects are gorgeous, the action and suspense are compelling, … [continued]