On May 17, “Star Trek into Darkness,” the long-awaited sequel to 2009’s “Star Trek,” hit the theaters. Although J.J. Abrams’ latest film has a respectable 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, “Star Trek into Darkness” was a rather boring movie. It wasn’t without bright spots, including a few references to the 1960s TV series, overall, it falls short of any expectations I had of it. And I had a lot.
I’ll start with the bright spots. As with 2009’s “Star Trek,” the acting is excellent. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto’s chemistry as Captain Kirk and Doctor Spock is the highlight of the movie. Benedict Cumberbatch was an interesting choice for the villain, Khan. It’s not that he does a poor job, but it’s a bit of jump to go from Ricardo Montalbán to Cumberbatch. The casting of Cumberbatch is probably a distinct choice on Abrams’ part to separate his film from the one it’s based on, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of the Khan.”
In fact, this movie tries really, really hard to be different from 1982’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of the Khan.” Abrams tries so hard to distinguish his film from its predecessor that he changed the ending of the movie so that Kirk saves the day instead of Spock. If you’ve seen “Star Trek II,” it’s not worth seeing “Star Trek into Darkness.” Abrams’ film is really more of a bad remake than anything else. It’s so predictable that it becomes boring after a certain point.
“Star Trek into Darkness” isn’t a bad movie, per se. It’s just not a good movie, either. The reason for this probably rests in Abrams’ feelings towards the original series of Star Trek. In an interview with Jon Stewart, Abrams revealed that he “never liked Star Trek.” He called it “too philosophical” for his tastes.
This is the reason I didn’t like “Star Trek into Darkness.” The whole point of Star Trek is that it’s philosophical. It’s about people of different backgrounds working together to reach some common goal. “Star Trek into Darkness” is just about Kirk and Spock being best friends and rebelling against Star Fleet, which isn’t necessarily a bad plotline, but there’s no deeper message or anything. Just a cliché storyline.
Abrams does try to make up for his distaste for the original series by making coy references to it. The USS Roddenberry makes an appearance, a reference to Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. There’s also a reference to the Star Trek episode, “I, Mudd.” It’s really not enough to make up for the poor writing, though. Kirk, Spock and Bones crank out plenty of one-liners, but only a few of them are very funny.
The most frustrating thing about “Star Trek into Darkness” is the obvious lack of research on Abrams part. I know it sounds a little silly to say it, but the technology in “Star Trek” is all based on real technology we have today. It may be a sci-fi show, but it doesn’t bend the laws of physics that harshly. “Star Trek into Darkness” doesn’t follow the laws of the physics. It doesn’t even follow Star Trek physics. The writers just kind of makes up their own laws, which annoyed me throughout the movie. It creates a lot of plot holes when you compare “Star Trek into Darkness” with any of its preceding movies or TV shows.
All in all, “Star Trek into Darkness” isn’t a bad movie. The acting is good, the soundtrack is fun and the special effects are pretty to look at. But when you dig any deeper than that, it’s a so-so movie without a deeper message or even an original and surprising plotline. I’m not sad that I saw it, but “Star Trek into Darkness” had a lot of potential that got thrown to waste.