In 2009’s franchise reboot, director J.J. Abrams played fast and loose with the Star Trek universe, and the results were spectacular.
He offers more of the same with “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Recycling a popular old “Star Trek” story line, “Into Darkness” is a witty and energetic action adventure. There are some improbabilities and logical holes that may have bothered the old Mr. Spock (though Leonard Nimoy does make another cameo), but the film should be fun even for non-Trekkies.
This time around, a member of Starfleet has turned terrorist, and it’s the job of cocky, impulsive Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) to find and eliminate him — at the risk of starting a war with the perpetually angry Klingons.
The story is good, with a dose of old-fashioned “Star Trek” moralizing, and the action is top-notch. Above anything, “Into Darkness” is a triumph of its young cast, gathering strength and cohesion while taking iconic roles and transforming them into their own.
Pine, as Kirk, and Zachary Quinto, as logical sidekick Spock, are superb as the headliners, blending a touch of the familiar Shatner/Nimoy dynamic with their own interpretations of the characters.
Easily the most fun in the movie is provided by the bickering of the characters among themselves, particularly the back-and-forth between Kirk and Spock.
Those two are not alone, however. Zoe Saldana gets some butt-kicking opportunities as Uhura, even as her romance with Spock hits some rough spots. Simon Pegg gets a lot of good comic run as Scotty.
It was also nice to see Peter Weller (“Robocop”) as a Star Fleet admiral with a beautiful but troublesome daughter (Alice Eve).
Especially impressive is Benedict Cumberbatch, so good in the BBC’s “Sherlock Holmes,” who gives a magnetic performance as the bad guy, the unnaturally strong and clever John Harrison. But is he really a bad guy? Let’s not spoil that.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” is not without flaws, but it certainly will leave viewers clamoring for another sequel.
Rental Recommendation: There are absolutely no Borg in “Into Darkness,” but there are plenty in the Next Generation’s “Star Trek: First Contact,” including the oddly alluring Borg Queen. Grade: B+
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Star Trek Into Darkness
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana
Rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence)
Running time: 132 minutes