Into Darkness

I’ve been a bit too critical of the Star Trek reboot by J.J. Abrams, and have been debating the merits of the original trek movies and the revised franchise with Bruce Simmons of Brusimm’s book, movie & TV review blog. As much as I hate to say it, I think he’s right in that I’ve let nostalgia blur my recollections of Shatner and Nimoy, as the new take on Star Trek is different and has merit in its own way, without being slavish to the past. In light of this, I asked Bruce if he’d do a guest post on Star Trek Into Darkness (spoiler free), and he has put together the following review.



Star Trek Into Darkness is the 2nd movie in the J.J. Abrams reboot realm of the Gene Roddenberry sci-fi franchise. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin and John Cho reprise their roles while Benedict Cumberbatch (who has a very cool voice), Peter Weller and Alice Eve add their names to the franchise in one fashion or another.

J.J. Abrams directed and produced the movie off a story from Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof.

With such an all-star cast, the question isn’t will the actors bring their characters to life in an entertaining fashion, the question is will this movie fall into the typical sequel realm of so-so, or does it hold up on its own, or stand out above the first one?

star-trek-into-darkness-alice-eve9To be honest, Star Trek Into Darkness is an oustanding sequel, a well done story, and this life-long Iron Man fan even liked this Abrams new Trek chapter better than he liked Iron Man 3.

One gem about the movie is that one does not need to be a fan to like the movie and the tale it tells. In fact, it was so fun, that the PG-13 rating is actually appreciated and the 132-minute runtime is not noticed.

The movie starts out in a whirlwind of opening stories.

One story involves watching Kirk (Pine) and Bones (Urban) and Spock (Quinto) trying to do a good deed. I say trying! But I can’t say much more without giving it away.

Another story thread shows a distraught set of parents hovering over their sick child. Cumberbatch’s character, “John Harrison,” beckons to them by offering a cure that no other scientist can provide. But in return, dad is employed (or coerced) into doing a dasterdly deed for our villian.

Our next story thread shows Kirk getting a lecture from Pike (Bruce Greenwood) on something he did wrong. It’s Kirk, after all, and somethings don’t change regardless of reboots, as I’m sure you can imagine.

And the journey goes from there. And oh, what a journey.

header-star-trek-into-darkness-first-volcanic-clipThis movie covers so much content, with a mature story, wonderful explorations of Kirk and Spock’s characters, Uhara’s (Saldana) relationship with Spock, some surprisingly strong emotional moments and a few homages paid to the original series and movies. (Also, the history we know from the original franchise is never forgotten in this reboot of Abrams in moments here and there.)

The epic action is not over-the-top, but rather, seemingly well interspersed throughout this great story and movie experience.

One thing of note to keep an eye out for: Despite Spock being the non-emotional character, there are some wonderful moments that Zachary Quinto delivers with just his eyes, as he shows the inner turmoil of his struggles with logic versus emotion. Quinto brings a whole new level to the character I never thought I’d see.

I think this is one of the first times I’ve actually ever appreciated a PG-13 movie rating. I say that because despite the opportunity to show graphic levels of gore, J.J. Abrams still suggests some wicked action, but avoids needing to show it, and avoids ruining the energy of the scene. Implied gore is good enough because I love using my imagination to presume my own, personal comfort level of gore.

If you’re a Trek fan, go see Star Trek into Darkness. If you’re not a Trek fan, go see the movie anyway. It’s a wonderful story that does not need an intimate knowledge of the Trek franchise to enjoy.

This review provided by Bruce Simmons

23 thoughts on “Into Darkness

    • Hey, that was a really good movie. You hit the nail on the head in your review, and did a good job of sidestepping spoilers.

      There were a couple of small technical glitches (like talking to someone in a bar in real time from a distance of several light years away), but overall a really well worked story. The tie-ins to the original were exceptionally well done, and the acting of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in their rendition of Kirk and Spock had just enough character to be vaguely familiar but not so much as to be overbearing. They fit the roles beautifully.

      8/10 from me.

    • there’s lots of punching style violence and a death scene, but no blood or gore. And the action moves at a pace. My kids are 11 & 12 and they loved it.

  1. Even taking it as a movie without trying to fall back on everything-that-came-before, it still felt like a season finale of a TV series. Yeah, I had issues with the movie…
    BUT, I’ll give credit to the rather spectacular way they pulled the whole thing off, It’s visually beautiful, the action rocks well and the stars do a fine job with their roles.

    • Interesting you say that. There’s a trend in both television and movies of one-up-manship, where the focus is on outdoing the last guy, and things go silly/absurd. Case-in-point is the “living” zombie pyramid climbing an insanely high wall as depicted in the trailer for World War Z. I call it tangental story telling, where writers feel compelled to up the ante with each new story. Not only is such an approach unsustainable, it inevitably leads to glaring plot holes and lowers plausibility, leaving the audience jaded (as you clearly felt). Staying with World War Z as the example, the zombies run faster than Hussain Bolt and can topple a bus just by piling into it, and so the story loses all credibility. These writers need to step back and think about what made movies like 28 Days Later so good, it wasn’t a rabid story line trying to outdo everyone else, it was original story telling with good character development. So I understand what you mean in terms of Star Trek, the bad guy ship was insanely more advanced, etc, but it wasn’t just that, talking in real-time to someone in a bar several light-years away, urgh, that’s just lazy writing… they needed to stop and think a little deeper on that one.

      Back to basics, I say 🙂

      • Thanks for the link, that was actually a fantastic – if spoileriffic – review of the movie.
        There are certain aspects of movie that I would let go, particularly in the realm of ‘fiction’ – especially if needed to serve the story (simply assume their communicators are quantum entangled or something which would allow instantaneous communication across vast distances)… but even that would only go so far at times. Particularly if the pedigree is an A-grade movie like Star Trek. Anything lower than a B-Grade sci-fi (or SyFy) movie, I can tolerate it.

    • Ouch! Acting does tend to get over-emphasized (as is apparent from the absurd sums of money actors like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt can demand), and these guys probably hope they’re on a roll with the Trek movies and headed for superstardom, but I take your point. I’m a big fan of Simon Pegg, and loved Zachary from his evil role on Heroes. As for Cumberbatch, he really can act. I hated seeing him in a one-night-stand bad-guy role, as he’s got so much more talent. So, perhaps not all-star ala Ocean’s Eleven, but a good, spread of cast members, not a focus on a few big-name stars.

      • If you like Cumberbatch, you should check out the Sherlock series (two seasons, 3 feature length episodes each) and there was that other mini-series, Parade’s End (not as good tho)

  2. Hey there, Peter. I saw Into Darkness a couple of weeks ago and I checked out the io9 review as well as others from various sources. Since then I have kind of been stewing on my thoughts regarding both the movie and the love/hate relationship we have with the series and how it has been done starting with the original and moving on to TNG, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, the earlier movies and now the reboot and apparently the timer went off and I’m done. I have been watching Star Trek since I was a little girl with my Dad, a very patient engineer who answered a million questions about Star Trek and other science fiction shows and books, and it has always fueled my dream of us going to space as an everyday thing. If there was a way to join Starfleet in real life, I’d be there.

    So, I saw Into Darkness with some friends and visually it was stunning and I enjoyed it for the action flick it was and for its humor. I love Karl Urban and think he does a good job as Bones and I like Zachary Quinto from Heroes as our funnier and a little more emotional Spock (even though I’m still adjusting to that), and I don’t even mind the new Scotty as many seem to, though I think it’s funny that I keep reading reviews saying he’s not even Scottish because James Doohan was Canadian with parents that emigrated from Ireland so he wasn’t Scottish either. Anyway, there is quite a bit of discussion about the difference between the more philosophical (sometimes) older version of Star Trek and the reboot. I enjoyed Into Darkness. In fact, a few little geek tears even welled up during the homage to the original Wrath of Khan in reverse (I’d say, but don’t want to mess it up for those who haven’t seen it).

    Nevertheless, my point here is that though there are plenty of us with old Star Trek shirt pins, the remaining original stars are let’s just say reaching the end of their days as plausible space explorers and even for the TNG series it wouldn’t be what it was without Jean-Luc Picard and unfortunately Patrick Stewart has also reached retirement age for the captaincy. So what’s to be done? Let the series die or reboot it for a generation that judges such films by how much crap can be thrown onto an IMAX screen in 3-D? I understand the point about plot holes, but let’s also not forget that at this very moment there are more web pages than I care to count that examine the plot holes in Star Trek from its very beginning.

    Personally, I think it was a great idea to reboot Star Trek into a new timeline and freshen it up so that it would continue. The new movie doesn’t lessen my love for the older version (though my favorite movie is the original Star Trek The Motion Picture and not the Wrath of Khan because I loved the whole idea with V’Ger lol), but it may offer me the opportunity to see future installments with my new granddaughter who is is due at the end of July and instill in her that same love and idea of going to live in space. J.J. Abrams does a great job being him and Star Trek is profitable again, which may give the opportunity for more directors throughout the years to perhaps revisit that philosophical viewpoint again. Star Trek did have some philosophical moments, but it was also one of the cheesiest shows out there with tribbles, Kirk’s girls from various ports and such, and I have a hard time downing the two new movies done by J.J. Abrams for not being philosophical enough. Thanks for letting me kind of rant in response here after digesting the movie a ton of reviews, etc.

    • Ha ha… no problem.

      I expected something different from the first reboot. You’re right in that TOS is cheesy by our standards, but in its day it was groundbreaking. For me, the best Star Trek stories were the later movies, such as Final Frontier and The Undiscovered Country. As they embodied the principle of boldly going where no one had gone before as opposed to banking tie-fighters and swinging lightsabers.

      Star Wars was the Westerns of old brought to life as space opera, the swashbuckling adventure on the high seas, whereas Star Trek was always more of the old WWII battleship movies, relying on strategy and cunning over heroics, and you see that in The Undiscovered Country.

      I remember being absolutely enthralled by The Final Frontier. Instead of Mission Impossible in space, I was taken on a journey beyond imagination, and for me that’s the appeal of Star Trek, it’s a journey, not a war.

      I enjoyed Into Darkness, but I think that’s because I revised my expectations. Not that I expected less/more, but I had wanted different. I hope JJ Abrams takes us on the five year voyage and explores new worlds.

  3. No doubt. I agree that it should be a journey rather than a war and I would really love to see the five-year voyage continue because it was always when out meeting new folks that the most groundbreaking and interesting of things happened anyway. I agree that I perhaps revised my expectations somewhat too after Star Trek 2009 and was prepared for a J.J. Abrams brand of Star Trek film when I sat down to see this one. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed it. One of my favorite episodes of the original series was the one with the people with half black and half white bodies split down the middle and how much they hated one other depending on which color was on which side and there certainly wasn’t any of that in this new movie. I can’t remember the episode name and am too tired and lazy to look it up right now, but I’m sure ever Trek fan has seen it and it certainly stuck in my mind when I was young. It’s true that things like that were groundbreaking at the time and Trek has certainly continued to pick up the social issues and causes of the day throughout the years. You know I even enjoyed The Voyage Home as they tried to remind us that environmentally once something is gone it may never come back and it may have been more important than you thought. It would be nice to see some of that come back. Let’s keep our fingers crossed 🙂

  4. Late to the party, but things always get late here. Great movie. More focus on characters that I loved, although some of them were just glimpses. Most bad ass villain ever, as said with a bad ass voice. Finally a white guy that can beat Morgan Freeman in narration. We need more Cumberbadass in films, he’s fucking good.

    Same science issues with the first, but the entire experience was worth the wait and midnight drive to movie theater. This time Quinto and Pine really brought what Asimov suggested to Roddenberry. Great interactions, funny, fun but mature. Many people complain of it being dumbed down, well that was great enough to bring in new fans and possibilities. The incosnistencies as I pointed before is to blame on Lindelof (can make great story, but can’t keep it together). If Abrams direct a sequel after he’s done with Star Wars he could go with the old themes like discrimination, greed and excessive ideology (klingons fit perfect with that, maybe).

    Hey tjhapney, if HBO can bring fantasy and vampires for mature audiences (sort of, the latter) what do you think they could do with Star Trek? We really need a space opera with the old features that sci-fi shows used to have – and Galatica really raised the bar for me.

    • Hey Blood Hawk. Right now I am so worn out on the vampire thing that I’ve just decided to mostly ignore them. I did see Daybreakers with Willem Dafoe a while back. It took on a different way of looking at the vampire problem and it was a pretty good flick. Anyway, back on topic. I would be curious to see what HBO or someone like that could do with Star Trek given a good budget and agree we need something that will have us waiting for the next episode. I tried watching Defiance, but it was too western-like and just wasn’t holding my interest. I recently re-watched the newer Galactica series so it’s funny you should mention it. I’d love to see something along the darker lines of Babylon 5 since it was one of my favorites or even Andromeda as it was pretty interesting. Needless to say, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a series that kept my interest and would be willing to watch one.

      • Like you, I cringe at the possibility of more sparkly vampires, although I’d love to see Fiends of the Eastern Front made as a movie. The premise is that the bloodiest fighting between Germany and Russia during WWII involved a pack of vampires working for the Germans. The hero that finally defeats them is a German, so it’s an interesting play on good vs evil when they’re both present on the same side. The original is a bit dated these days, but I suspect a reboot by a really savvy director like Tarantino would be brilliant.

    • You’re fashionably late, Bloodhawk, and with great observations. Yes, move over James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman, Cumberbadass has arrived 🙂

      And as for the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, it was extremely well done. Haven’t seen anything else come close in a long time. I enjoyed Caprica, but felt it tried too hard to live up to BSG. Had some great ideas, just needed a little more work on the drawing board before being put into a script.

      • You are both right in the sparkly vamps part. I wanted to see the strugling, philosophical monster. Daybreakers is a must see for me. Everytime it’s on I’m out of the house on chores. Gemma Arterton is working on a vamp flick that appears to be on that route and no sparkle. I hope the sexy sparkle trend die off soon. We need monsters.

        Caprica was hard for me to like. They introduced so many groups at once. Had they focused on a group at a time or introduced them later seasons, that show would have taken off for 6 years. Defiance sounds like a waste of actors. Never hear good things about it, but it has people trying to like it. Only good sci-fi western was Firefly, but Fox fuck that up.

        tjhapney Babylon 5 is the best written show ever. I’ve mentioned it here so many times, I’m pretty sure Mr. Cawdron is getting sick of it. Maybe we could get Ronald Moore to talk JMS into convincing TNT to make a spin off. If Ronny could do BSG, B5 spin off should be easy. With more Victory class destroyers, even dreadnoughts (see being japanese I got spoiled by anime sci-fi with gigantic ships in it – oh, and robots).

        A HBO Star Trek would be dark, gritty and human focused, with exploration and battles on the background. And the capitains making cameos. Canon from the shows, maybe around a new class of more militarized exploration ship (small crew means more human interactions and characters to fully explore) with romulans and klingons more nice to each other and fighting a common enemy and drag the Federation along “by accident”. Wishful thinking, we are not getting any new show anytime soon if what I heard is true. An HBO sci-fi space opera would be great though. They made Jersey mobsters great.

      • I hope someone pays attention to the phenomenon that is Sherlock (UK TV series), Elementary (US TV series) and Sherlock Holmes (two movies). I hope they realize there’s plenty of latitude to do spin-offs rather than reboots. I’ve been particularly impressed by the two contemporary TV shows and how they’ve managed to reinvent the same characters in entirely different settings without any conflict or detraction from the original whatsoever. Sheer Genius. Let’s see that with Star Trek!

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