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Zachary Quinto, left, is Spock and Chris Pine is Kirk in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” now in theaters. Photo by Zade Rosenthal
Zachary Quinto, left, is Spock and Chris Pine is Kirk in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” now in theaters. Photo by Zade Rosenthal
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Film review: Abrams continues ‘Trek’s’ bold adventure

J.J. Abrams’ second installment of the Star Trek movies, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” is as visually spectacular as it is emotionally gripping, presenting the world with an exhilarating sci-fi adventure that will leave audiences wowed. 

When Abrams showcased the “Star Trek” reboot back in 2009, to say I was blown away by the experience would be an understatement. As someone who had never seen any of the films or TV series, I was amazed at the quality of its story, action sequences, visuals, humor, and character interactions, especially that of the new Kirk and Spock.

Four years later, Abrams outdoes himself once again, only with a deeper and darker edge this time around.

Having already been impressed by what he’d accomplished in the first film, I didn’t feel an ounce of disappointment upon leaving the movie theater.

When the crew of the USS Enterprise is recalled to Earth, they encounter an unstoppable adversary from within Starfleet who has attacked and destroyed everything it represents. With the planet left in chaos and a personal score to settle, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) volunteers to lead the manhunt to a war-zone planet to capture this mysterious being.

But as our intergalactic explorers are forced into the ultimate life-or-death struggle, relationships will be tested, morals will be challenged, and difficult choices will have to be made. And hanging in the balance, in the midst of this dangerous voyage, are Kirk and his crew.

As always, the visuals and action set pieces are excellent.

Some of the more notable sequences are the Klingon-Enterprise crew shootouts, the attack on Starfleet headquarters, the space battles, and Spock’s fight with the main villain, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).

What I enjoyed the most from these action-packed scenes is the immersive feeling you get out of them.

I can’t tell you how many times I felt as if I were in outer space or on an uncharted world, facing peril and excitement. Personally, I don’t think the 3-D post-conversion was necessary, so I wouldn’t waste the extra money on 3-D if I were you.

In terms of story, “Into Darkness” is as rich as its predecessor and offers a bounty of twists and turns that place our heroic characters into situations they wouldn’t usually find themselves in.

The more I learned about Harrison’s true intentions, the more I became intrigued by Kirk’s struggle to understand his position as captain.

I am also grateful that the friendship between Kirk and Spock didn’t get relegated to the sidelines, and seeing how the conspiracy element meshed well with the two characters’ story arcs was another big plus in my book.

Chris Pine embraces the already reckless Kirk’s leadership crisis with more enthusiasm than ever. Zachary Quinto never fails to achieve a perfect balance of serious and wry in his role of Spock. Zoe Saldana gets her wish to imbue Uhura with a more action-oriented personality and does so with zeal.

Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, and Simon Pegg continue to be the valuable crewmembers as they’ve always been in their portrayals of Leonard McCoy, Hikaru Sulu, Pavel Chekov, and Scotty, respectively. Bruce Greenwood does a good job of exerting his authority as Rear Admiral Christopher Pike, the surrogate father figure to Kirk.

Alice Eve brings a modest professionalism to Carol Marcus, the sexy science officer who knows a thing or two about advanced weaponry. Peter Weller, who plays her father, Admiral Alexander Marcus, has an imposing presence that is not to be underestimated. But if there were one cast member whose performance I believe will become the talking point of many moviegoers’ opinions, it would be Cumberbatch. I give him props for the chilling conviction he brought to John Harrison, who proves himself to be a worthy adversary for our heroes. He alone is reason enough to go see “Into Darkness” on the big screen.

Anyhow, in the end, “Star Trek Into Darkness” fulfills its mission parameters, and succeeds in being fantastic entertainment that possesses a heart. Prepare to boldly go where no man has gone before this summer!

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence.
Running time: 2 hours 12 minutes
Playing: General release