Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) (PG-13)

There's something about "2001: A Space Odyssey" that makes you believe that you are in space. It's the deadness that you hear in the air—the silence that slyly smothers you. That movie was released in 1968 (over 40 years ago, for those of you keeping score) and still it remains frustratingly enigmatic and visually impossible. I found myself wondering how they managed to do some of the effects that they did...I still haven't figured it out. Then came Ridley Scott's "Alien" and George Lucas's "Star Wars" and eventually we had the technology to produce "Avatar". From then on out, we have been making great science fiction movies that look stunning ("Prometheus" for example), but don't capture the essence of space as "2001" did.
In "Star Trek Into Darkness" there was one moment that I was convinced that I was floating in space, soundless and helpless. This moment lasted less than three seconds and then the high quality sound technology blared their special effects and the movie's high-paced action resumed. Perhaps it was an homage to "2001" or just great decision making, but in that one moment, the newest installment in the "Star Trek" franchise reminded us that it has a brain as well as a huge budget.
For those of you who don't know, here's a quick run down on "Star Trek": Captain Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise travels around space and has adventures...the end. Of course, it's a little more glamorous than that, but it's the gist.
In the 2009 "Star Trek", Kirk was faced with a time traveling Romulan, bent on vengeance. In "Into Darkness", the villain takes much longer to show his face, which makes for better drama.
We open to a mission that our merry, little crew is completing on a far away planet with aboriginal type people inhabiting it. Naturally, something goes wrong and it's up to Kirk and the rest of his crew to figure it out.
From then on out, "Into Darkness" lines up one bad circumstance after the other, and our heroes have to overcome all of them.
Usually these things are easy to predict—not so with "Into Darkness".
Kirk is played by Chris Pine, whose college student cockiness is sometimes overbearing, but still true to William Shatner's rendition of the character. Frankly, for a main character, he's the weakest part of "Star Trek Into Darkness". The supporting cast members surrounding him are so good that they overshadow him.
Zachary Quinto, easily steps back into Spock's clothes and embodies the Vulcan so well. He's really fantastic in this movie. Then there's Zoe Saldana as Uhura, somewhat reprising her multilingual performance in "Avatar". This movie also features Anton Yelchin as Chekov and John Cho as Sulu. Perhaps the most enjoyable part was Simon Pegg as Scotty who is given more lines and treats them with humor.
Karl Urban as Bones is an underrated role, he's given some pretty awful lines and has to make them work—and he does.
But wait—there's Benedict Cumberbatch. As far as scene stealing abilities, there's no comparing with this man. He could be silent and still capture your attention, which he does. Cumberbatch, along with Michael Fassbender, is rapidly becoming one of the most sought after rising actors—for good reason. The strange, feline quality to his face and the passion he puts into his lines make him stand out in a striking way.
"Star Trek Into Darkness" is epic. The massive expanse of the CGI is staggering. Even to those not fans of the original series, it's inspiring to see how far technology has allowed film to expand. The special effects themselves are beyond critique, but their application is not. Sometimes it felt overdone and even disorienting.
Michael Giacchino's score is quite fantastic near the beginning of the film, but does go downhill as the movie plays out.
"Star Trek Into Darkness" is sleek and wonderful to watch. It's the most purely entertaining thing I've seen all year. It is better than it's predecessor; but it's not great enough to be perfect—yet it made a valiant effort.

Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4

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