“Star Trek Into Darkness”
Man, this movie was fun. The CGI stuff is great, but the
characters are strong, also, and it even throws in a little original humor.
Of course, all the Trekkies will love it, particularly the video-cameo
appearance of the original Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy). But this sci-fi
action/adventure flick has enough savvy to appeal to a much broader base than
just the tech nerds. But, for the uninitiated, a bit of explanation:
It’s the future. Space travel is assumed. Earth is
governed by a Federation which operates a Starfleet, and one of the spaceships
is the “Enterprise,” captained by James Kirk (Chris Pine). His first
officer is Spock (Zachary Quinto), who is half-Vulcan, the only survivor of an
extinct race with human-like appearance (except for the pointy ears), but they
supposedly operate on a purely rational, rather than emotional level.
(The tension between the rational and emotional is a constant interplay among
the characters.) The good ship Enterprise is entrusted with the
exploration of the space frontier, to “boldly go where no one has ever
gone”----and that, of course, makes plenty of opportunity for wide-open
Captain Kirk decides to rescue Spock from a particularly dangerous
mission of “freezing” a volcano to save a primitive civilization on a
distant planet, but in so doing transgresses the Federation “protocol” of
not interfering, so Kirk is disciplined with demotion and Spock re-assigned.
But a new crisis emerges: it seems that a previously-frozen cryogenic
specimen has re-appeared, after 300 years or so, and this powerful “Khan”
(Benedict Cumberbatch), thinking he is avenging his crew’s capture, wages a
private war against the Starfleet Federation headquarters in San
Francisco----the future’s version of terrorist attacks on unarmed civilians.
Meanwhile, Marcus (Peter Weller), the Admiral of the Starfleet, has
surreptitiously constructed a secret space station that is purely military in
nature, designed to wage war against the rival Klingons. Marcus is one
of those militaristic commanders so itching to have a war that he will
actually start one so he can gleefully be in charge of conducting the
hostilities. And he’s not afraid to manipulate supposedly obedient
underlings---like the recently-demoted Kirk----to get what he wants (a
not-so-subtle political diatribe against putting egotistical warmongers in a
position of having too much power with too little oversight).
So our intrepid Captain Kirk must not only save his own crew, he has to
save the integrity of the Federation, and maybe even the well-being of planet
Earth, all while being undermined from Headquarters and having his hands full
with the evil Khan, whom he actually has to recruit for his own survival (part
of the plot is the constant morphing about who is manipulating whom).
The special effects are fantastic. The acting (once you give
permission to suspend disbelief about the sci-fi context) is so strong that
the characters become truly vivid. There’s just a hint of romance,
just a whiff of tongue-in-cheek self-parody, just enough “teaser” to set
up a sequel, and lots of soaring imagination. “Star Trek Into
Darkness” is no less than the blockbuster hit of the summer of 2013.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving,