Could this be the end of Spock? Captain James Kirk and Dr. “Bones” McCoy are running through a blood red forest on the planet Nibiru. They’re trying to leave while being chased by its inhabitants. They jump off a cliff and dive into the water below where the Starship Enterprise is hiding deep on the ocean floor out of sight. Meanwhile Spock has been lowered into a volcano with a cold fusion device. He intends to stave off a volcanic eruption there in an effort to preserve the planet and it’s denizens. But now Spock has jeopardized his own life. Kirk wants to save him but to do so he would have to break the Prime Directive and expose their technologically advanced ship to this primitive civilization. This would alter history, a definite no-no. The alternative is to remain hidden and allow Spock to die, something Spock himself is advocating.
That‘s an incredibly heart pounding cliffhanger for the climax of a film. But that‘s merely the opening prologue. It’s but one of many set pieces in a relatively uncomplicated saga that concerns a terrorist that must be stopped. 2009′s Star Trek director J. J. Abrams is back along with producer Damon Lindelof (TV’s Lost) who also contributes to the screenplay this time. The producers have continued their gentle re-invention of the series much in a similar vein as the previous entry. The script doesn’t attempt to appease purists of the series. Chances are if you liked the last one, you’ll enjoy this. If you didn’t, then I’d stay clear away. The key players are back. Captain Kirk and Spock’s bromance seems to be even closer this time around as embodied by Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine. They have palatable chemistry. Plus, there are a couple of pivotal additions to the cast. I dare say that the already attractive ensemble gets just a little bit sexier. Hello Alice Eve! It’s got a spectacular villain in Benedict Cumberbatch. My goodness this man has a voice! The British thespian’s intonations resonate with all the power of a great orator. The plot works because the filmmakers start with good characterizations first and then build interesting situations from that.
Star Trek Into Darkness is a model of how to create excitement. Abrams has wisely fashioned this adventure in the grand tradition of Hollywood blockbusters of yesteryear. That means it’s more concerned with classic narrative elements and character development than it is with lots of noisy action set pieces. Although there are some satisfying ones that take place in London and San Francisco. The chronicle is gripping. I was never bored, always captivated by what would happen next. There’s plenty of action, but it’s never at the expense of a coherent account that you generally care about. The script is quick and witty with a clear eye toward creating dramatic tension with pauses for the audience to catch their breath and delight in the repartee between these people. Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Bones (Karl Urban) have the funniest temperaments. It’s also a very pretty movie. It’s got plenty of attention grabbing cinematography with affected lighting techniques. Lens flares abound! Yes there are some admittedly cheesy (and familiar) story ideas: someone unexpectedly cries, people tenderly touch hands on either side of a glass wall and automatic seat belts looks like black square-shaped bugs crawling over the actors. But more often than not, the emotional connections to these well known personalities push this actioner into the realm of a drama that is extremely engaging. At one point, Spock selflessly commands the crew to teleport out of the ship to safety. When Sulu responds “With all due respect, sir, we’re not going anywhere!” I think I kind of shed a tear.