Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness (Spoiler Free)

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Beyond the darkness, lies greatness.

Good sci-fi has always been about the discussion of sensitive issues in a “safe” environment.  Issues like race, morality, bigotry, and inequality.

The original Star Trek series was able to subtly subvert the societal norms of its day and really play with tough issues with episodes such as Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (January 10, 1969), which tackled racial superiority in a supercharged racial climate.  That was part of the charm, character, and importance of the original series.

Knowing what we know about the original series, does Star Trek Into Darkness make an effort to say something about our political day, or is it all spectacle and lens flare?  Read on to find out.

The outstanding cast from Star Trek (2009) is back.  Chris Pine returns as the headstrong and likeable Captain James Tiberius Kirk.  Pine has a swagger and brandish way about him that deservingly brings the role of Kirk to life for a new generation.  Kirk believes the rules don’t apply to him, and the audience believes him.

Zachary Quinto, again, is able to capture the part of Spock in a new and refreshing way, but still remains loyal to the original performance by Leonard Nimoy.  Quinto nails the duality of Spock nicely with a kind of painfully-contained emotion.

The performance that has fan-boys and girls guessing about is the character played by actor Benedict Cumberbatch.  The villain for the film, Cumberbatch is a terrorist manipulated by forces unseen, prompting an overly aggressive and unethical response from Kirk and Star Fleet.

This point is where the film truly shines as a mirror to today’s tough societal issues.  There are incursions into non-Federation space in attempts to capture the bad guy at the risk of igniting a larger war.  This rings awfully similar to the ethical questions posed by the United States’ ventures into the Middle-East to find Osama Bin Laden.

Seen in IMAX 3D, Into Darkness is visually astonishing.  Set almost 250 years into the future, Into Darkness doesn’t suffer from the “unfamiliarity” that some sci-fi films do.  Technology has moved on, but people remain the same.  People still get sick.  People still have relationship problems.   And above all, people still have the choice between right and wrong.

Should you take the kids to see Star Trek Into Darkness?  As always, that is for the parents to decide.  However, here are some things you should consider.

There is light sexual content in the film.  Kirk is seen in bed with two cat-tailed alien women.  A female character changes clothes and we see her in a bra and underwear.

There is mild “action” violence in the film.  There are several firefights, ship to ship battles, and hand to hand combat scenes.  A building is blown up by a terrorist.

There is light profanity in the film, but it is noticeable in some scenes.  It is most often used as a reaction or for emphasis.

Into Darkness is a perfect balance between moral lecture and summer blockbuster.  The movie is highly focused on societal questions, solving them in elaborate action sequences, but none the less engaged.  If you’re expecting the movie to be like Star Trek (2009), you will be happy to know that Into Darkness goes above and beyond.

Into Darkness gets 5/5 stars.

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