Review: 'Star Trek Into Darkness' slips out of warp drive

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comMay 16, 2013 

Film Review-Star Trek Into Darkness

This undated publicity film image released by Paramount Pictures shows, Zoe Saldana, left, as Uhura and Zachary Quinto as Spock in a scene in the movie, "Star Trek Into Darkness," from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Zade Rosenthal)

ZADE ROSENTHAL — AP

Star Trek Into Darkness is a good movie, but it is disappointing. It doesn't boldly go where Star Trek has gone before. The story slips out of warp drive and into impulse power and -- like one of the too many plot lines -- it is never able to get back into warp.

The movie beams up and into theaters with Chris Pine's James Kirk reuniting with Zachary Quinto's Spock. Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin and John Cho reprise their roles as Uhura, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov and Sulu. They take on superhuman Khan, who has attacked Star Fleet, killed a bunch of people and taken refuge on Kronos, the home world of the warmongering Klingons.

Kirk and crew are sent to kill him.

Early on, the film is good-natured fun like producer/director J.J. Abrams' first film. By mid-movie, the plot is bouncing all over the galaxy in search of a focus. Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman from Star Trek and Damon Lindelof (the head writer of Abram's Lost and one of the writers of Cowboys and Aliens) produce a story with nowhere fun to go. The clever twists that we loved so much in Star Trek are now expected and can be seen coming light years away.

Everything in Star Trek Into Darkness seems forced -- from the relationships of the characters to the plot line. Great lines and the character interaction that flowed naturally from the first film, like Dr. McCoy's awful metaphors and grumbling, are irritating. Even the play on a dramatic climax from one of the original series' movies falls flat.

What does work is the acting. Pine is perfect as James T. Kirk, and the rest of the cast nails their characters as well. However, it is Quinto who really shines. His facial features are a little fatter than Leonard Nimoy's, but the looks are dead on. Where Quinto really impresses is his ability to mimic Nimoy's voice and delivery. It is absolutely uncanny. Quinto also has wonderful comedy timing and has the film's best lines.

Of note, too, is the long unseen Peter Weller, who played Robo Cop. He does the admiral, who sends Kirk and crew on their mission.

Benedict Cumberbatch gets the unenviable task of doing Khan. One of the original series' great and memorable villains, Khan was brilliantly done by Ricardo Montalban. Cumberbatch brings zero energy to the character, isn't up to the challenge and never gets into a groove.

But neither does the movie.

The fun of any Star Trek production is the eye-popping special effects. This one is a must-see in 3D. Abrams' production is superb. The ships, space shots, action sequences and graphics are exceptional. And unlike many sci-fi flicks, the effects enhance the film rather than get in the way.

Unfortunately, there just isn't much to enhance.

While the above criticism is accurate, is it fair? Not really. It's practically impossible to repeat the all-out fun of the first film when Abrams redefined all things Star Trek. His 2009 adventure was my pick as that year's best movie. It was certainly the most fun I had in a theater that year.

Star Trek Into Darkness won't be the most fun you have in a theater this year.

Director: J.J. Abrams

Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some violence. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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