Star Trek Into Darkness

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana star in a film written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and directed by J.J. Abrams.

By rights, all kinds of human people ought to love this film. Barring the outright haters of science fiction, J.J. Abrams’s embellishment of his genius reboot of the films that rebooted the old cult television show should delight, in ascending order, plain old blockbuster fans, dyed-in-the-wool Trekkers, and, most of all, people (like me) who secretly love Star Trek but also love to make fun of its many ridiculous science-defying motifs, like light speed and time travel, transport beams and intermingled aliens like Spock. (Who, by the way, clearly steals the show.)

Take the famous Prime Directive, for instance. Star Trek frequently reminds us that the Starship Enterprise is meant only to explore and never to interfere in any way with the indigenous populations it boldly goes to encounter. Each show then promptly spends the rest of the hour trampling that principle. Abrams spends the first 20 minutes of the new film outrageously illustrating his own amusement at that hypocrisy in an opener paced faster than a rollercoaster involving alien peoples who look like the mud people of Borneo, a seething volcano, and an apparently death-wishing Spock (brilliantly played by Zachary Quinto) in dire straits. Of course, Kirk (Chris Pine) magnificently defies Starfleet General Orders, pulling the Enterprise from its berth beneath the ocean and dazzling the space primitives (and the audience). Abrams gets a lot out of every scene he films, too. He rocks the warp-speed thrills per second, but he also sets up themes that resonate until the film ends.

The rest of the movie is too mired in possible spoilers to discuss, though most fans have already guessed the main twist. Suffice it to say that Abrams salutes (and nicely twists) everything that went before, tweaking the old narratives and playing with the funny bric-a-brac. It somehow moves at Impulse Drive while seeming to seem meditative, too. Abrams, the cinematic son of early Spielberg, shows us amazing things, makes us feel feelings, and somehow gets us to laugh at our own willing credulity. For summer movie filmmakers, these ought to be the Prime Directives.

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