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Star Trek Into Darkness Review

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If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Let me begin by saying I'm not a Star Trek guy. Prior to J.J. Abrams' fantastic 2009 reboot, I only saw one of the older films when I was a wee lad and I don't even recall what happened or which one it was. So, if you're curious about how this film handles the franchise's extensive history, you're not going to find the answer in this review. However, if you also loved the reboot and have basically no expanded Star Trek knowledge -- and I suspect that applies to many of you -- then rest assured, you're probably going to really dig this one, too. The handling of the plot is kind of a mess compared to the first, but you'll be having so much fun that you probably won't care all that much about many of the smaller details.

We begin with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew attempting to save an alien planet from destruction. One excellent transition later and his rash actions and blatant disregard for the rules have once again placed him in the hot seat (isn't that what the first one was about, though?). Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) aims to demote him but that's all interrupted when the fleet is struck by a terrorist attack. Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) gives Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) the go-ahead to hunt down and eliminate this new foe (Benedict Cumberbatch) with excessive force. And by "excessive force," I mean 72 brand new torpedoes.

Star Trek Into Darkness succeeds because of two elements: the terrific cast and Abrams' direction. Some characters don't get a moment to shine (Anton Yelchin), feel kind of pointless (Alice Eve) or are essentially reduced to comedic relief (Karl Urban), but despite that, there isn't a lackluster performance in the bunch. Simon Pegg once again gets a little more of the spotlight and, while he doesn't get much focus this time around, John Cho has a totally unexpected and completely badass moment. Pine's character is missing the charm that made him so appealing the first time around (he's slightly unlikable at times... or at least I thought so), but he still does a commendable job with his role, especially in the more emotionally demanding moments. Zachary Quinto is superb once again. Unfortunately, he's forced into a line which made me spit my coffee (luckily I saw it early and the theater was empty), but the blame certainly isn't on him for that moment. If I thought that single line was cheesy and unnecessary, I can only imagine how die-hard fans will react to it. I have some small gripes with Benedict Cumberbatch's character, but regardless, the actor still manages to give a topnotch performance and has an engaging scene (even if it is totally forced exposition). Somewhat off-topic: please tell me I'm not the only one who sometime envisioned Bones wearing Judge Dredd's helmet?

Abrams successfully moves this film from one hugely entertaining and massive set piece to the next and never really slows down the pace. You're constantly living in the moment and almost always engaged in a rather thrilling scene. Yes, the lens flare distracts from time to time, but it's really not a big deal and is just a small element which helps define this flashy new look for the franchise. During the enthralling firefights and exciting space sequences, I couldn't help but think about how J.J. is a freaking fantastic choice for bringing Star Wars back.

The plot doesn't feel as polished as 2009's film, and while I wouldn't necessarily call them plot holes, there are a fair amount of questionable decisions and smaller moments which made a question mark pop over my head. Apparently, communicators can make a call just fine across the galaxy? It's a totally minor point, but moments like that stand out to me and slightly take me out of the moment -- and there were quite a few of them. There's a huge discovery made and because of this, it really detracts from what should be an emotionally gripping moment. This new factor makes the outcome predictable and takes away from the tension. Additionally, it creates a lot of questions about the franchise's future, but we'll just have to see how that's handled in due time. Also, the movie has a lot of truly exciting action scenes, so ending it on a somewhat generic chase scene and melee felt like an odd choice.

Star Trek Into Darkness is pretty much your traditional crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster. It's big, super fun and looks phenomenal. If you're cool with not sweating the small stuff, then odds are you're going to have a blast.

Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine and IGN Entertainment. This is the part where he shamelessly plugs his Google+ and Twitter page in hopes of getting a new follower or two.

78 Comments
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Posted by Z3RO180

I will see this movie. With a panda named Charles the Cuddely XIII as my witness I will see this movie.

Posted by Om1kron

I thought the movie was awesome, didn't read a thing around it building up to the movie. I just knew dr strange was gonna be the bad guy. haha.

Posted by Dragonborn_CT

Great review, man. I can't wait to see it, it will only get released in my country next month :\

I am curious to know what line made you spit your coffee lol :P

Posted by TommytheHitman

This film is gonna be awesome. Can't wait to watch it!

Posted by broo1232

THIS FILM IS AWESOME!!!!!

Edited by k4tzm4n

@dragonborn_ct said:

Great review, man. I can't wait to see it, it will only get released in my country next month :\

I am curious to know what line made you spit your coffee lol :P

Thank you! If you really want to know...

Spock screams "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!"

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Posted by leokearon

A great if unoriginal film.

Also Leonard Nimoy's cameo was pointless

Posted by dreamfall31

I liked it a lot, but the first one is much more fun.

Posted by Uncle_Yusuf

In shaa Allah, I plan on seeing this movie with my mum tomorrow.

Posted by Mucklefluga

Loved it, loved it, loved it. 9/10 for me. Cumberbatch steals the show.

Edited by drgnx

To be honest the plot seem pretty flat, the twist was predictable pretty early on and their attempt to imitate the old characters got stale by the end of the first movie.

They seemed to forget the allure of a space based movie is about travelling through space. They went one place for like 10 minutes then back to earth. Very little of their actions had to do with where they actually were at any particular time other than Earth (which would have been fine if not for one of the plots).

They tried to have 2-3 plots but they all came up shallow, even if they were decently tied in together (and I thought they were), they really didn't need to be and probably would have made for more interesting stories if put in 2-3 different movies.

The Plots:

  1. Power Hungry Warmonger Admiral trying to spark a Klingon-Federation war
  2. Jim coming to terms with his not being exempt from the federation regulations
  3. Human Genetic Enhancements (Khan)

The effects and fights were beautiful so as an action movie it fulfills its obligation of providing awesome action scenes. The plots, while shallow, and in one case, cliche, were at least fluent and seemingly lacked major conflicts.

All in all, I did enjoy the movie, but felt it was found slightly disappointing ....

Edited by Barkley

communicators can talk across the galaxy in Mass Effect 3....they are bound to do so in star trek....and transported great distances in the 2009 star trek future spock gave them the tech so it bound be tech that lets do that with communicator history has been changed in this timeline and Pine/ kirk is bit more of an ass...he his lost father early on.. his chip on his shoulder much bigger than shatner/kirk

Posted by CitizenJP

Like the first thing Greg says, I'm not a Star Trek kinda guy either. I always grew up with Star Wars as a kid. BUT I LOVED THIS MOVIE. It was real cool and it looked amazing at IMAX.

Posted by The Mast

I didn't think this was typical second sequel stuff. As in, more of the same but extra action since characters have been established. I loved the first, but very much thought it was so well-received due to low expectation.

This was better, by far. I think.

Posted by new_onslaught

@k4tzm4n: "...you probably won't care all that much about many of the smaller details"

you know you talk to geeks, rights? :p

Posted by k4tzm4n

@k4tzm4n: "...you probably won't care all that much about many of the smaller details"

you know you talk to geeks, rights? :p

"Probably" is there for a reason ;)

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Edited by DocLuthorVonDoom

If you're not a Star Trek fan then why are you writing a review of the new Star Trek movie? Oh, I get it, so we can get the perspective of one of those Abrams fans that this dumbed down shootout/running from explosion perversion appeals to.

Posted by The Stegman

I will be watching it tomorrow hopefully!

Posted by DocLuthorVonDoom

Also "Succeeds due to it's terrific cast". Seriously? They're celebrity impersonators, at best.

Edited by k4tzm4n

Also "Succeeds due to it's terrific cast". Seriously? They're celebrity impersonators, at best.

Subjective, and many of my peers who are critical of the film think the cast is solid as well. But hey, to each their own.

If you're not a Star Trek fan then why are you writing a review of the new Star Trek movie? Oh, I get it, so we can get the perspective of one of those Abrams fans that this dumbed down shootout/running from explosion perversion appeals to.

Please forgive me. I was unaware that every review had to share your opinion.

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Posted by clayscarface

@dragonborn_ct: my guess is the line was 'KAAAAAHHHHN' but it was really more a tribute than anything else (if you're familiar with his last appearance in the franchise)

Posted by Dingle_Fairy
Posted by BlueLantern1995

I've heard this movie is excellent, thanks for the good review, this coupled with some other good reviews makes me want to see the movie all the sooner.

Posted by nappystr8

I hope those communicators can work across the galaxy...seeing as they are bigger than the cell phones of current times. I thought this movie was on par with the 2009 one, and it makes me want to go back a watch the episode and movie with Khan.

Edited by Saren

That scene near the beginning where a couple wake up, travel to a hospital in a hovercar and visit a comatose child is practically identical to one of the early scenes in AI: Artificial Intelligence. I wonder if that was intentional since Abrams is a major Spielberg fan.

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Posted by Master_Thief

KHAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!!!

Posted by Deranged Midget

Into Darkness was INTENSE! My biggest gripe may be that the film juggled it's main plot around a little too much and unintentionally didn't know what path to directly follow but the acting was incredible, especially from Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Simon Pegg! And man... the banter and interactions between Kirk and Spock were easily the highlight of this film alongside the brilliant performance brought on by Cumberbatch's role as the villain.

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Posted by Icon

That scene near the beginning where a couple wake up, travel to a hospital in a hovercar and visit a comatose child is practically identical to one of the early scenes in AI: Artificial Intelligence. I wonder if that was intentional since Abrams is a major Spielberg fan.

I'm thinking it was intentional for that reason. Abrams is always riffing on Spielberg. The opening sequence of the film was also lifted from Raiders of the Lost Ark for instance. Then there was Super 8... XD

Edited by DocLuthorVonDoom

@k4tzm4n: I just don't understand why you would write a review of such a coveted franchise when you've never seen any thing that made that franchise so memorable? It's not that you can't do it, obviously, physically, you can, it's just why? It's like writing a Skyfall review when you've never seen a Connery Bond, or Dark Knight Rises when you've never read a Batman comic, or Game of Shadows when you've never read any of Doyle's stories. Like you can write a review, have an opinion, but you have no basis for comparison, so who cares what you have to say about it? Maybe instead of writing reviews, you should spend the time getting your Shatner on.


Posted by DocLuthorVonDoom

@dingle_fairy: Thanks! I like your views on the spiderman movies!

Edited by kcvic

Better than the first ....how was it dumbed down? Most movies have more than one plot and they go no where what's the problem?

Edited by k4tzm4n

Hey Doc, while I understand your disappointment, this new take on the franchise has clearly made a strong effort to attract new fans, and based on the success of 2009's effort, there's a considerable amount of people in my situation. While this review is basically useless to you and other die-hard fans, I at least hope it's useful to the casual crowd -- and as I said, there's quite a lot of them. This is exactly why i included all of this in the intro, after all.

Perhaps you can post your own review to give a "true fan's" perspective?

Apologies for being brief, but I'm replying via mobile and it's an absolute pain.

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Posted by Walzo

@k4tzm4n: I

just don't understand why you would write a review of such a coveted franchise when you've never seen any thing that made that franchise so memorable? It's not that you can't do it, obviously, physically, you can, it's just why? It's like writing a Skyfall review when you've never seen a Connery Bond, or Dark Knight Rises when you've never read a Batman comic, or Game of Shadows when you've never read any of Doyle's stories. Like you can write a review, have an opinion, but you have no basis for comparison, so who cares what you have to say about it? Maybe instead of writing reviews, you should spend the time getting your Shatner on.

Didn't know he couldn't watch a movie that is designed to attract new fans.

Posted by DocLuthorVonDoom

@walzo: Didn't I already address this?

@k4tzm4n:

It's not that you can't do it, obviously, physically, you can, it's just why?

Remember, like, thirty seconds ago...

Edited by PrimeDirective

Does anyone else wonder if all the futuristic knowledge that Spock brought back is gonna push the Federation so far ahead that they end up mopping the floor with the Dominion and Borg later on?

Edited by Novemberx2

cannot be worse than iron man 3

Edited by ltbrd

@docluthorvondoom: I'm assuming he wrote the review because a) ITS HIS JOB! and b) because he didn't write a review in any way comparing this film to anything but the 2009 film. There was no talk of the Shatner era, no talk of previous character incarnations or plot linse. It stuck entirely to cast performance, pacing, visual effects, and actual movie critiques.....you know, like real movie critics and not internet trollers who want to complain about anything they can.

Maybe instead of being a fanboy who thinks he knows it all a$$ you would do us all mortals and imbeciles the favor of actually reading the given review before commenting and saving us the precious few seconds of our obviously more productive lives it takes to forget your unnecessary contribution to a real discusion.

Edited by Ashr

The visual effects and action sequences were top notch. Although a few issues with the plot existed, the dialogue and interaction amongst Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Sulu and Scott was excellent. In all honesty I'd rate this film higher than Iron Man 3 and readily recommend it to any longtime Star Trek fans. I can only hope the franchise will move forward with the same cast and quality as we've seen in the past two films.

Posted by weaponx

Great movie. I'd give it an 8.5 or 9 out of 10. It was really brilliant, full of action and really exciting and engaging. I disagree with some of the complaints: The line that made k4tzm4n spit out his coffee wasn't really that cheesy in my opinion, it served a purpose, namely, to show that Spock was feeling and letting out his emotions/human side. .and someone said Leonard Nimoy's cameo was pointless, well it was nice to see him be involved, and in terms of plot, it let young spock know that Khan couldn't be trusted and should be taken out as quickly as possible. . Also sure there is a lot going on, but it really wasn't too difficult for me to keep up with what was happening. The ending chase scene and fight really wasn't a bad way to end it, and I thought it was a good way to further the above spoiler/blocked out statement above. I though they did a great job with this film, and if the minor details bothered you on this one, then how could you stand Iron Man 3??

cannot be worse than iron man 3

You are right. And it wasn't!

Edited by weaponx

@k4tzm4n: Good review, I agree with most of what you said. I too remember thinking during/right after the film that JJ was indeed a great pick for Star Wars. How did you like this compared to Iron Man 3? I don't remember what you rated it as, but I feel that this was a much superior film.

Posted by LiveForever

@k4tzm4n said:

Hey Doc, while I understand your disappointment, this new take on the franchise has clearly made a strong effort to attract new fans, and based on the success of 2009's effort, there's a considerable amount of people in my situation. While this review is basically useless to you and other die-hard fans, I at least hope it's useful to the casual crowd -- and as I said, there's quite a lot of them. This is exactly why i included all of this in the intro, after all.

Perhaps you can post your own review to give a "true fan's" perspective?

Apologies for being brief, but I'm replying via mobile and it's an absolute pain.

Bravo for not snapping at "Doc" like I would have. What an asinine comment he made.

This review is REALLY helpful for me, who is in the same situation as you. Didn't like the "old" Star Trek, very interested in the new.

Keep up the GREAT work on the site, Gregg.

Posted by k4tzm4n

@k4tzm4n said:

Hey Doc, while I understand your disappointment, this new take on the franchise has clearly made a strong effort to attract new fans, and based on the success of 2009's effort, there's a considerable amount of people in my situation. While this review is basically useless to you and other die-hard fans, I at least hope it's useful to the casual crowd -- and as I said, there's quite a lot of them. This is exactly why i included all of this in the intro, after all.

Perhaps you can post your own review to give a "true fan's" perspective?

Apologies for being brief, but I'm replying via mobile and it's an absolute pain.

Bravo for not snapping at "Doc" like I would have. What an asinine comment he made.

This review is REALLY helpful for me, who is in the same situation as you. Didn't like the "old" Star Trek, very interested in the new.

Keep up the GREAT work on the site, Gregg.

Wow, thank you very much for the kind words, liveforever. It means a lot to me.

@weaponx said:

@k4tzm4n: Good review, I agree with most of what you said. I too remember thinking during/right after the film that JJ was indeed a great pick for Star Wars. How did you like this compared to Iron Man 3? I don't remember what you rated it as, but I feel that this was a much superior film.

Thanks! I gave Iron Man 3 a 4 as well. If I had the ability to give half stars, I'd give this a 4.5.

Honestly, I think this is a superior film, but I still adored Iron Man 3. I wish it took a more serious road, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a smile on my face the entire time.

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Posted by veeeSix

I just came back from watching it tonight, and it is such an amazing movie. I agree, the lens flare thing was a bit distracting in a couple of scenes on the bridge, but for the most part it really gave the entire movie of being from the future. I haven't watched the original Star Trek series, but am familiar with later franchises and movies. That being said, I probably missed some cues/references to the original crew, but I think I knew enough to follow along and really appreciate the characters and the entire reboot.

I'm not going to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet, but all I will say is that this is a very entertaining movie all-around. Fun for everyone, and will be re-watched by many (myself included).

Posted by k4tzm4n

@veeesix said:

I just came back from watching it tonight, and it is such an amazing movie. I agree, the lens flare thing was a bit distracting in a couple of scenes on the bridge, but for the most part it really gave the entire movie of being from the future. I haven't watched the original Star Trek series, but am familiar with later franchises and movies. That being said, I probably missed some cues/references to the original crew, but I think I knew enough to follow along and really appreciate the characters and the entire reboot.

I'm not going to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet, but all I will say is that this is a very entertaining movie all-around. Fun for everyone, and will be re-watched by many (myself included).

For sure! I plan on seeing it again this weekend, too!

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Posted by weaponx

@k4tzm4n: Fair enough! I will probably see it again too!

Posted by kantrip

Awesome movie. Things got kinda really predictable at some moments after the reveal of Cumberpatch's character name. Really loved it still and I loved the ending.

Posted by JamDamage

I never watched the show (any of them) but I did see the movies when I was a lot younger, and really loved them. When I saw the reboot tho I was FLOORED!!!! I was amazed with movie. Sure there were a few cheesy moments (young Kirk stealing the car and listening to the Beastie Boys - which is THE GREAT BAND EVER!!!!) but they were not to cheesy to get super anoid and dislike the movie. Karl Urban doing "Bones" McCoy made me laugh at how bad and good he did the interpretation of him. I almost came off as forced, but he nailed it. Chris Pine, it seemed, was the only actor that didn't seem to be doing any kind of mimic and it worked out actually by doing that. No one can do a Captain Kirk impersonation without sounding like they are doing a bad Christopher Walken. Unless you're Kevin Pollak. What ever. I thought it was one of, if not, the best movie I saw that year, and I saw a lot being a film freak. It was what I thought it had the potential to be. Pure fun. It also had an artistic touch to it with the shaking hand held camera and Martian Scorsese "to bright for lights to be" shots. It all worked. J.J. even thru in a time travel explination for the die hard Trekker fans so they wouldn't get pissed off at any continuity changes. As a comic book fan, I know how fanboys can get pissed off. I've been looking forward to this movie, and this review does a good explination of how someone like me should like it not being a true die hard Trekker, and why. There was also a comment about how, while watching this movie, J.J. is a great choice for Starwars. I was wondering if I'd see that mentioned somewhere, and I did. I know when I see this movie, I'll be asking myself that same question. I'm still convinced that the chic that took over for running the Starwars franchise after Lucas sold it to Disney, saw this movie before anyone, and then made the decision seeing how good J.J. did with a franchise as well as it's sequel.

Edited by Deranged Midget

@k4tzm4n: I

just don't understand why you would write a review of such a coveted franchise when you've never seen any thing that made that franchise so memorable? It's not that you can't do it, obviously, physically, you can, it's just why? It's like writing a Skyfall review when you've never seen a Connery Bond, or Dark Knight Rises when you've never read a Batman comic, or Game of Shadows when you've never read any of Doyle's stories. Like you can write a review, have an opinion, but you have no basis for comparison, so who cares what you have to say about it? Maybe instead of writing reviews, you should spend the time getting your Shatner on.

Interesting standpoint you have here mate. Ironically though, the majority of film critics most likely have never completed an episode of Star Trek or bothered to pick up more than a single issue of Batman. Reviews are subjective opinions, nothing more and nothing less. You don't agree with it? That's perfectly fine because you have your own opinion at hand and it's your own as is k4tzm4n's.

Additionally, I don't really see what the problem here is when JJ Abram's Trek Universe is clearly an alternate with some but clearly not all the same similarities. This is done solely to attract new audiences and breath new life into the series. With that said, it would make perfect sense for someone with little experience with the Roddenberry series to post a review for this film because for k4tzm4n and many, many others, this is their first experience with Star Trek and it perfectly aligns them with the new timeline that Abrams decided to undertake.

So yes, there's nothing wrong with someone sharing a different opinion but instead of insulting them for doing so, respectfully share your own :)

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Posted by paralaxsteve

I love Star Trek and really can not wait to get down to the cinema and watch this film.

Posted by mezz1962

I loved it. As a Star trek fan from the beginning there were some moments where you went Huh? Like WTF? cause knowing the characters and history of Star Trek the line did not fit into the lore...Similar to the first film when they were talking about Warp 4 as being the top speed....it just did not work and you felt like WTF did they NOT watch any episode in their lives....anyway those moments quickly vanished in all the action and they did a nice twist. Kirk wasn't his lovable self but in the end it will justify itself by the growth of his character over the two hours. I am disappointed that the Enterprise once again seems to be a weak ship and unlike the TV series it's not a big part of the overall movie unless you want to count getting slapped silly in every scene the ship is in. Fan or not you'll love the film and it was overall a great ride...better than Iron man in my opinion.

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