Star Trek: Into Darkness is a familiar ‘enterprise’ for fans

by Mark Burger

With the new Star Wars film next on his busy agenda, filmmaker JJ Abrams revisits his previously resurrected franchise with Star Trek: Into Darkness, the follow-up to his’ 2009 blockbuster, which successfully “rebooted” big-screen Star Trek — at least in box-office terms.

The gang’s all here, back aboard the Starship Enterprise: Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), McCoy (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). Despite an effort to give all of the iconic characters something of substance to do, a few of them (primarily Sulu and Chekov) tend to be relegated to the background throughout.

The Enterprise crew charged with hunting down Benedict Cumberbatch’s intergalactic fugitive John Harrison (not his real name), whose terrorist attacks have made him the Federation’s public-enemy number one. But there’s more to this mission than that, as Kirk and company find out — although it takes quite a long time to get to it, probably more than is necessary.

Fans will enjoy the many nods to the lore sprinkled throughout the screenplay (by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof), including the appearance of a possible love interest for Kirk in Alice Eve’s scientist Carol Marcus — a name that should be familiar to devotees, be they Trekkies, Trekkers or whatever the politically correct designation these days.

Before it morphs into an ersatz redux of one of the earlier Star Trek films — one of the very best ones, actually — Star Trek: Into Darkness has its share of twists and turns, and more than its share of loose ends (possibly to be addressed in a future installment?). The film is flashy and well-made, and never betrays its source material, but nor does it expand the mythos beyond incorporating fancier special effects (and 3-D effects, for those who care). Then again, this is after all the 12 th Star Trek feature film, and admittedly it’s not the worst.

The actors acquit themselves reasonably well, but the most interesting characters are the villains: Cumberbatch, and Peter Weller (enjoying his biggest and best big-screen role in too long) as a Starfleet admiral anxious to jump-start what he believes to be an inevitable war with the Klingons. There’s also a completely unnecessary cameo appearance that adds nothing except perhaps an olive branch to mollify the more traditionalist fans.

A surprisingly weak element of the film is the generically bombastic score by Michael Giacchino (an Oscar winner for 2008’s Up), which only comes to life during the end credits when it incorporates the original series theme.

Diesel express: Fast & Furious 6 is the same old crash, boom, bam

The advertisements for Fast & Furious 6 announce: “All roads lead to this.”

That would ultimately be nowhere, for despite exotic new locations (London, Spain, Moscow), the formula hasn’t changed. This is yet another round of mindless motorized mayhem, populated by actors who primarily posture and pose while the fancy cars careen, crash and carom off each other in noisy fashion.

The gang’s all here, back behind the wheel: Vin Diesel (also a producer), Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Chung Kang, Cal Gadot, Elsa Pataki and Dwayne Johnson, whose impressive biceps appear to be in 3-D without the need for special glasses. Gina Carano is a new addition as a toughas-nails federal agent and, although her character was supposedly killed off a couple of movies ago, Michelle Rodriguez has returned from the dead. Such is the magic of movies.

Luke Evans is the principal baddie here, dead set on laying his dirty mitts on some sort of new-fangled, hi-tech device with potentially devastating consequences (so much so that it is easily pilfered from Interpol Headquarters in London). The chase is on… and on… and on… and on again.

As is to be expected, the good guys (most of them) walk away unscathed to drive another day, while the bad guys meet very bad ends. Most of the cars wind up trashed, crashed or crushed. The action culminates in a car-and-plane chase that appears to take place on the world’s longest and largest runway, given how much running time it takes up.

This is director Justin Lin’s fourth (and reportedly last) go-’round with the highoctane, low-impact franchise, and like the cast members, he’s got the routine down (“routine” being the operative word in more ways than one). Simply put, we’ve been road this road before… and, if the ending is any indication (replete with a new bad-guy cameo at the fade-out), we’ll be down it again before too long.

LOG ONTO — click on the “Flicks” section. Then go to “What’s Showing”