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Star Trek Into Darkness

by Leonard Maltin
May 16, 2013 12:00 AM
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Star Trek Into Darkness-1-485
Photo by Zade Rosenthal - Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Here’s the good news: J.J. Abrams and his writing team haven’t dropped the ball. This sequel to their 2009 reboot of Star Trek is lively, well-made popcorn entertainment. Chris Pine continues to impress us as the maverick Captain Kirk, and his castmates come through with flying colors, even if some of them don’t have a great deal to do in this installment.

On the other hand, Abrams and company have followed a Hollywood truism in the comic-book movie field: if you want to have a really good villain, hire a Brit, in this case the versatile Benedict Cumberbatch. He manages to underplay even potential moments of scenery-chewing, to good effect, and makes a worthy adversary for Kirk and the Enterprise crew.

Writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (who worked on the first film) and Damon Lindelof (another longtime Abrams cohort) have neatly woven moments of humor and personal interaction into their narrative, which makes a nice contrast to the almost constant crises the story hurls in the heroes’ path. If there’s any criticism to be leveled at the screenplay, it’s that every new incident is a matter of life and death. There’s no real sense of perspective.

Benedict Cumberbatch-Star Trek-325
Photo by Zade Rosenthal - Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

That also means that there’s never a dull moment in Star Trek Into Darkness, which is infinitely preferable to the alternative. It’s hard to nitpick too much when you’re being so roundly entertained. The film has most sequels beat by a country mile; all that’s missing is the sense of discovery we shared when we saw Pine and the other actors inhabiting their iconic roles for the first time.

I saw the film in IMAX 3-D, and while it looked great I can’t say the 3-D added much to the experience. But Abrams apparently shot much of the feature in 65mm, which makes IMAX an ideal way to appreciate the handsome production design and outstanding visual effects.



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  • Jesse Burleson | June 5, 2013 5:15 PMReply

    This was a solid sequel. In fact, it didn't feel like a sequel at all. It felt new, fresh, and exciting. I agree with your review 100%. Check out my review on

  • Shawn | June 5, 2013 2:31 PMReply

    I refuse to watch Jar Jar Abrams rendition, its sad he is throwing all Mr. Roddenberry work so hard to fight for. you know spock, the diversity of the crew, the morality. Jar Jar has thrown that out on the cutting room floor!

  • Daniel Delago | May 18, 2013 6:40 AMReply

    'Star Trek into Darkness' is solid popcorn film entertainment... no doubt about it. I like how the bantering between the young cast (especially Kirk and Spock) is wryly funny. But, do screenwriters these days always have to resort to terrorism as the main plot point? Who am I kidding? The plot doesn't matter on this E-ticket amusement park ride.

  • Brian J Corrigan | May 18, 2013 2:02 AMReply

    Great review. I've been abstaining from trailers since one for Prometheus pretty much spoiled a main character's death. I genuinely don't know what Star Trek Into Darkness is about. I already have plans to see it. I don't need to be sold on it, and this review, which respects my choice to remain spoiler-free, got me excited for the movie without making me feel as if I've already seen it.

  • Kate | May 29, 2013 7:17 PM

    If you don't want to be spoiled, don't read reveiew UNTIL you have seen the movie/ Good advice, there.

  • Todd | May 17, 2013 2:28 AMReply

    This is a "have your cake and eat it too" sort of movie. No matter what, someone will be disapointed. But not me. This took a fresh new direction to the franchise and combined it with enough of the classic material that the fans of the original will smile (or tear up) with quotes and memories of the originals. I say Bravo JJ. Theres always room for KAHNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN !!!!

  • Jason | May 17, 2013 12:51 AMReply

    Definitely a few to many "race to the rescue" moments and the ending was a bit too neat. Though I agree it's hard to complain when a movie is this enjoyable beginning to end.

  • Norm | May 16, 2013 5:56 PMReply

    Trek along little trekkies, trek along..After the last Star Trek Blow off , I seem to think we are just being played for suckers, pretty film or not. So , I do echo the sentiments of some of the comments, screw this generation of fake pointy eared eliteists,and just watch Kirk get fat and old...Beam Me Away...

  • Jack | May 16, 2013 4:15 PMReply

    Not being a hater. Being Spock, being logical: Maltin is great, but what exactly is "substantive" or "informative" about not giving a single plot detail in the review? (I've seen it, but how can a reader learn anything about this movie if there's no discussion of plot?) But the point is: J.J. makes careless slop. Why is everybody worshiping him as the next Spielberg?

  • Shawn | June 5, 2013 2:27 PM

    bravo Jack, who says Jar Jar abrams knows what he's doing with this franchise other than burry it!

  • Dan | May 18, 2013 7:47 PM

    I enjoyed the movie for what it was, but Maltin should stick to being a film historian. His reviews are embarassingly underwritten and not much better than your average IMDb reviews.

  • Jack | May 16, 2013 1:28 AMReply

    Is this blurb a "review"? Strange. Seems more like rooting for Abrams for being the shoddy, nonsensical "director" he is. Communal insanity.

  • Tracey | May 16, 2013 4:00 PM

    It was a thoughtful review; substantive and informative. Don't be a hater.

  • mike schlesinger | May 16, 2013 3:57 PM

    This says a lot more about you than it does about Leonard. Give us YOUR review, then--that is, if you've actually seen the picture.

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