The reboot Star Trek finally gets a sequel, and it’s pretty much what everyone should have expected from a sequel to that movie. All the problems big Trek fans had with the first are still there, as are all the things non-fans loved. I am more of the later than the former, so again I enjoyed this movie for what it was, a finely executed summer action movie. Still, there are some parts, which fair warning I will spoil later, which are at the very least problematic.
Though I am far from an expert on these characters, Into Darkness does a great job of portraying the crew and of letting each member have a moment to shine. While the stars are definitely Kirk and Spock, everyone else has their role to play. Chekov gets to put in an uncomfortable position as head of engineering because Scotty sticks to his guns when Kirk is being reckless. Of course, Bones goes around being grumpy everywhere.
Abrams again directs. While I don’t remember it being as egregious on his signature lens flare as the previous movie, it still feels like one of his. It is competent and well executed, but ultimately feels safe. The action scenes are clear, exciting and numerous. The plot manages to be both twisty and predictable. It is just a well-made blockbuster. Not bad but ultimately forgettable.
The big deal with the movie (HERE COME THE SPOILERS) is that the villain is Khan. Just like the original Star Trek 2 had Khan, so does this one. There are two ways of looking at the second half of this movie: it is either a loving tribute to most people’s favorite Star Trek or the most craven of nostalgic pandering. All of the big scenes from Wrath of Khan are in this movie. Most of them transpose Kirk and Spock, but they are there. There’s Kirk’s plea to take him and save his crew, Kirk and Spock on opposite sides of glass while one dies, KHAAAAAAAAN!!!, etc. After first viewing the movie I was on the side of loving tribute I was one the side of loving tribute, but I am now leaning more to craven pandering. Wrath of Khan was about getting old, about the Enterprise crew, Kirk especially, accepting their mortality. Into Darkness is a little bit about growing up, which would be fitting counterpart, but it’s really not. It is yet another metaphor for the war on terror. Maybe the growing up connections are greater than I remember, I really need to see the movie again to know for sure. The Nimoy cameo, though, is absolutely pandering, and it leads me to think that the rest if just pandering as well.
Whether it is pandering or not, the crowd at the theater I was in loved it. They were annoying vocal in their reactions, cheering a clapping at appropriate moments, which I found disruptive to my viewing. Not that Star Trek Into Darkness needs close concentration. As an action movie it is an unqualified success, less so of a Star Trek movie. Not that there are many good Star Trek movies.