In 2009, J. J. Abrams relaunched the Star Trek film series with a cheerful movie that heavily honored the original series while reinventing it at the same time. While it was action-packed and marked with some tragedy, that movie was largely light-hearted as the members of the famous crew got to know each other and became comfortable with one another.
For its sequel, Into Darkness, Abrams drew on the Khan mythos central to the iconic second movie to create a much more somber film experience that still includes plenty of fun moments of camaraderie among Kirk, Spock, Bones and the rest of the Enterprise crew.
As before, the movie stars Chris Pine as hot-blooded captain James Kirk, Zachary Quinto as rational first officer Spock and Karl Urban as acerbic ship’s doctor Bones. They and others must square off against the menacing super-villain Khan, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. New shades of character interactions from the first reboot, particularly the romantic relationship between Spock and Uhura (Zoe Saldana), come into play as the crew races against time to defeat this formidable foe.
As in the first movie, the characterizations are excellent, as are the special effects. On the big screen, it truly feels like a journey into outer space, and even though these aren’t the actors that so many Trekkies grew up with, they embody the characters beautifully, so it feels like a voyage with friends. There is a certain level of convoluted structuring in place due to the alternate universe scaffolding Abrams built in the first movie, and that can get confusing for viewers who think about it too much. However, for the most part, the movie is reasonably easy to follow.
What may be a bigger disappointment to some fans is that the film truly does fit the title and thus has a much darker feel to it than its predecessor. Those looking for a frothy summer romp may be a bit disturbed at some of the unpleasantness that develops, while more cerebral viewers may consider it a step up into more serious territory. Either way, it seems the new Star Trek is here to stay.