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Movie Review: “Star Trek: Into Darkness”

May 172013
 By , May 17, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

“Star Trek: Into Darkness” — a film review by Gary Chew

Maintaining linkage with itself has to be one of the underlying secrets of success for the durable “Star Trek” franchise. The linkage with all the star trekking from its outset when Gene Roddenberry got the space fable launched in 1966 to the very motion picture that’s just been released called “Star Trek: Into Darkness” makes it clear its genesis was in broadcast television.

Star Trek: Into Darkness, Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana in Paramount Pictures’ “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

The Trek characters continue, even if they are now younger and played by others who, in many instances, weren’t yet born when the series began. At present, we remain in the prequel mode of this enduring future of which Jim Kirk and Mr. Spock — as well as the rest of the star ship Enterprise crew — serve well the importance of justice, loyalty and honor whether it be in deep space or on a dusty street in a lonesome, desert town with two hombres facing-off with six shooters instead of Phasers.

Since we’re talking sci-fi, the connections made forward and backward in time are more easily, yet cleverly employed to keep “Star Trek” up to at least Warp speed. (That, in spite of the fact that “Star Trek: Into Darkness” introduces a new space ship that makes the Enterprise look like a toy and can better the Enterprise’s “warpiness.” Wow!

Director J. J. Abrams gives us more of Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto Spock. The other, long-running likeable, familiar characters are also well cast. Most of the fresh Trek faces resemble the Shatners and Nimoys, etc., from those thrilling star dates of yesteryear — thus keeping many talented people in the movie business employed and all the world’s beloved Trekkies stoked, entertained and full of popcorn.

Star Trek: Into Darkness, Alice Eve and Chris Pine

Alice Eve and Chris Pine.

An added role to this 2013 “Star Trek” shows up as the character’s younger self; I won’t spoil you with the specifics. What’s fun watching this new adventure is that (thanks to the conceit of time travel) scriptwriters Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof have drawn from an earlier “Star Trek” and reversed characters’ lines in scenes that stage similarly to the other film.

For example: what Kirk says to Spock in one movie is, almost word for word, the same thing that Spock say to Kirk in the other “Star Trek.” It’s another savvy feat to keep veteran Trekkies on board with the new, younger actors, while giving new fans a nice, big, fat sci-fi story. After seeing it, the latter day fan can watch the older “Star Trek” story and join in on the neat knowledge about what’s been flip-flopped in the scriptwriting.

By the way, it’s difficult to write about all this without spoiling it for the old Trekkies or the new Trekkies.

Star Trek: Into Darkness, Benedict Cumberbatch and Karl Urban

Benedict Cumberbatch and Karl Urban.

Shouts outs for the new film again go to Pine and Quinto. Other significant performances come from Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Weller and Bruce Greenwood.

Since seeing the new film, I’ve watched the earlier “Star Trek” feature that connects most to the new release; and in all candor I must say that this latest edition makes the older film look like a slow freight chugging into the Neutral Zone. You must watch fast when viewing “Star Trek: Into Darkness.”

Unlike my old Trekkie friend, Mike Lazar of Sacramento, I haven’t watched every “Star Trek” TV episode or, for that matter, all the feature films; but “Into Darkness” bests the bunch I’ve seen, which includes the 2009 version with Pine and Quinto I award the new “Star Trek” 3 point 5 stars … and for myself, 5 stars for figuring out a way to tell you all you really need to know about this stunningly visual 3-D movie without using nary a spoiler.

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Gary Chew was a classical music host, programmer and producer on Capital Public Radio’s KXPR 88.9FM, Sacramento for 18 years. He retired in January 2007. Read more about Gary's long and storied career here.

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