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‘Star Trek’s’ ‘Darkness’ fun, but time to explore new worlds

5/23/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Zachary Quinto (Mr. Spock), at left, and Chris Pine (Captain James T. Kirk) star in “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures
J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness” scoops up a big chunk of “Trek” lore, reshapes and remolds it into a story that’s exciting and fun, with loud echoes of the adventures of the original cast.

Abrams and his writing team cleverly repurpose some of the franchise’s signature moments into a slam-bang action thriller.

Wonderful. Very satisfying. But please, Mr. Abrams, don’t do it again.

“Darkness” is a heck of a romp, with spectacular action scenes, a great cast and an intriguing villain. But Abrams and his team accomplish their mission by throwing into a blender bits and pieces of earlier “Star Trek” adventures and hitting the “mix” button. Once we see where the movie is going, it becomes a game to guess which old “Trek” scenes will be given a modern-action-movie reworking. “Ah, there’s that line.” “Oh, yeah, I remember that one.” “Do you think they’re going to — yeah, they went there!”

I can’t say where they go, not without giving away too much. Just know that they go there, boldly.

As we rejoin the brave humans and humanoids of the Starship Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Lt. Uhura (Zoe Saldana) are up to their necks in trouble. The Class M planet they’re observing needs assistance, and to save the day, rules will have to be broken. That’s not a worry for Kirk, a serial rule breaker, but it will cause him problems with his superiors upon his return to Earth.

But Kirk’s comeuppance is interrupted when Starfleet is rocked by an act of terrorism. The man behind the carnage is a mysterious gent named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is strong, smart and devious to a frightening degree. Kirk is instructed to stop him, with the words “bring him back alive” noticeably absent from his orders.

Not surprisingly, there will be complications. Disasters will be averted at the last second. Combat, both hand-to-hand and between spacecraft, will ensue. Mr. Scott (Simon Pegg) will alert the captain to many things that can’t be done and should not be attempted.

Pegg, as the ever-exasperated chief engineer, is a riot, and the rest of the crew is tops as well. Pine shines as the humility-free Kirk, and Quinto captures the inner turmoil of Spock, who, even if his home planet hadn’t been blown to bits, would have a multitude of issues. Among them is his relationship with a tough and savvy Uhura, who wants answers from the always guarded Vulcan.

Spock also engages in debate with “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), in the best tradition of the original “Star Trek.” Such banter will be welcome in the third, fourth and 50th episode of this reboot. But let’s have some new adventures, not old adventures spun in new ways. It’s a big universe, and Abrams — or whoever is at the helm of the next “Trek” movie — should be able to find something new under a sun.

The movie, currently in theaters, is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence

Three Stars (out of four)


Craig Marks is a cartoonist and editorial, sports and entertainment writer for the West Side Leader.

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