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Star Trek: Into Darkness
In Theaters: 05/16/2013
On Video: 09/10/2013
By: Bill Gibron
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Bring back Wesley Crusher or we walk.
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When he was announced as the director hired to jumpstart a dying sci-fi staple, many in the Trek nation thought J. J. Abrams was a questionable choice to helm 2009’s Star Trek. His only previous feature film experience was the more or less decent Mission Impossible III and while his fanboy credentials were impeccable, his ability to tackle such a daunting task remained dubious. One spectacular reimagining later, and Abrams is now a legend, sitting now just in the Enterprise captain’s chair but tapped to direct Star Wars Episode VII as well. Who’d of thought? As he heads back to the Millennium Falcon, Abrams’ sensational sequel, Into Darkness, argues two things: that he always knew what he was doing with Roddenberry’s baby and that his genre geek shoes will be hard to fill indeed.

After messing up a research mission on a far off distant world, Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) is demoted down to First Officer, ordered to serve with his old friend and mentor Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Without warning, a bombing at a Starfleet installation in London gets the high command in an uproar. Then the headquarters in San Francisco are attacked as well. Under the auspices of Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller), Kirk and his crew — Spock (Zachary Quinto), Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and Scotty (Simon Pegg) — are sent off to capture a rogue member of the command, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who appears to be the mastermind behind these incidents. Unfortunately, he is hiding out on the Klingon home planet of Kronos, and any interference by the Enterprise could mean war with this angry alien race.

After messing up a research mission on a far off distant world, Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) is demoted down to First Officer, ordered to serve with his old friend and mentor Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Without warning, a bombing at a Starfleet installation in London gets the high command in an uproar. Then the headquarters in San Francisco are attacked as well. Under the auspices of Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller), Kirk and his crew — Spock (Zachary Quinto), Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and Scotty (Simon Pegg) — are sent off to capture a rogue member of the command, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who appears to be the mastermind behind these incidents. Unfortunately, he is hiding out on the Klingon home planet of Kronos, and any interference by the Enterprise could mean war with this angry alien race.

And that’s it. That’s all the plot development we can safely say without giving away Star Trek: Into Darkness‘s biggest secrets. Sure, we could play spoiler, divulging the core conceits like the numerous irritated, all-knowing nerd sites have shouted over, but we won’t do that. Instead, you simply need to know one thing about this sequel before sitting back and letting Abrams’ lens-flare-defiant epic wash over you like the amazing bit of pop culture reconsideration it is. If you go in with your mind made up about what is and what is not a sacred cow in the Star Trek mythology, if you can’t imagine seeing some beloved characters reconfigured for a new age, then you probably didn’t like the first film either, so why do you care now?

And that’s it. That’s all the plot development we can safely say without giving away Star Trek: Into Darkness‘s biggest secrets. Sure, we could play spoiler, divulging the core conceits like the numerous irritated, all-knowing nerd sites have shouted over, but we won’t do that. Instead, you simply need to know one thing about this sequel before sitting back and letting Abrams’ lens-flare-defiant epic wash over you like the amazing bit of pop culture reconsideration it is. If you go in with your mind made up about what is and what is not a sacred cow in the Star Trek mythology, if you can’t imagine seeing some beloved characters reconfigured for a new age, then you probably didn’t like the first film either, so why do you care now?

Instead, you should simply let Abrams and his skilled team of movie magicians get you started on this slick summer season rollercoaster, and then ride that sucker for all its worth. Erase the past and embrace this ridiculously fun reboot. This is an amazing experience, both giddy in its dedication to the beginnings and arrogant in its desire to mess with everything the previous franchise worshiped. With a cast that is simply getting better with time (especially Pine and Pegg, who really own this installment) and a villain who can (again) stand against the best the series has to offer, the end result is an edge of your seat amusement that leaves one wanting more. Even the action scenes in their over the top, excess exuberance beg for second helpings.

Instead, you should simply let Abrams and his skilled team of movie magicians get you started on this slick summer season rollercoaster, and then ride that sucker for all its worth. Erase the past and embrace this ridiculously fun reboot. This is an amazing experience, both giddy in its dedication to the beginnings and arrogant in its desire to mess with everything the previous franchise worshiped. With a cast that is simply getting better with time (especially Pine and Pegg, who really own this installment) and a villain who can (again) stand against the best the series has to offer, the end result is an edge-of-your-seat amusement that leaves you wanting more. Even the action scenes, in their over-the-top, excessive exuberance, beg for second helpings.

Will the devoted have issues with what Abrams does here? Definitely. Does it really matter? Not when the results are this good. Star Trek: Into Darkness may be the filmmaker’s swansong as he travels over to the domain of Luke, Leah, and Han, but he leaves us with a brilliant goodbye. Just feel sorry for the next auteur who takes on the Trek mantle. He or she has one helluva an act to follow.

Will the devoted have issues with what Abrams does here? Definitely. Does it really matter? Not when the results are this good. Star Trek: Into Darkness may be the filmmaker’s swan song as he travels over to the domain of Luke, Leah, and Han, but he leaves us with a brilliant goodbye. Just feel sorry for the next auteur who takes on the Trek mantle. He or she has one helluva an act to follow.