In 2009, something of a movie miracle was accomplished when JJ Abrams and company recast, rebooted and yet did not discard the canon of Star Trek. It was a nuanced and brilliant feat. They cast a crew that is more cohesive and believably loyal to one another after one movie than the original cast was after three years of TV shows. They were set up to move in a new direction, take the training wheels off, and let this crew shine in Star Trek Into Darkness.
For the movie’s first hour, that’s precisely what you get and it is glorious. I look at Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto and I see Kirk and Spock now. That’s just astounding. The opening sequence was something straight out of the TV show (had the TV show possessed a several hundred million dollar budget). The Enterprise is quickly redirected from its exploratory activities following a tragedy in London and sent after rogue Starfleet operator John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). The manhunt for Harrison takes the crew to locales familiar to Trek fans and introduces into this new timeline old friends reimagined (in quite brilliant ways).
It is at this point that I cannot talk plot any longer. The movie has been out for less than a week and I don’t think it’s fair, when the entire debate and back and forth I want to have is on plot, to lay it all out in a review for someone who might have the experience spoiled. I don’t like having it done to me and I won’t do it to them this soon to an opening. The bottom line is: does this live up to Star Trek XI? No.
The good news in that is not because of a bad performance, bad F/X (which are stunning; you are stone cold stupid if you don’t see this in IMAX if it’s close to where you live) or any technical detail. The problem I have is quite simply I feel that there is SO much in this movie that it collapses in the second half under the weight of what it tries to take on and, as a result, cannot give the events of the second half the time and gravity they require to have any sort of lasting meaning. Benedict Cumberbatch was superb. He’s Cumberbatch. It’s that simple. You have Cumberbatch in your movie; keep him onscreen. Due to the amount of plot, he disappears for nearly an hour and that’s an extreme pacing issue. What WAS onscreen was fantastic. This crew needs all training wheels removed and it is time to let them go their own way and blaze their own trail.
I want to debate finer points. I want to sift through Trekkie minutiae. I want to hear what others thought, but let’s keep it in the comments and let others, for at least another week, have a chance to go into this fresh. I want to slap it harder on the wrist for the back half but I’m hard pressed to find a movie in memory where there was TOO much awesome. this should have been two movies at 1:45 each; not one movie at 2:15. I think concerns about getting the cast and Abrams back panicked them into packing the back-end and what should have been a solid, solid 10 is a generous: