In the second installment of J.J. Abrams' “Star Trek” reboot, the crew of the Enterprise must face a danger to Starfleet that tests the Earth's resolve to peacefully explore the galaxy.
Chris Pine returns as Captain James T. Kirk, a roguish young captain with a tendency to bend — or ignore entirely — the rules of the organization when they conflict with his conceptions of right and wrong. His first officer, the half-human, half-Vulcan Spock (Zachary Quinto), follows the rules to the letter, and makes his decisions based on logic. A disagreement on a mission leads to Kirk getting in hot water with the Starfleet brass. But Kirk's personnel issues quickly become secondary when Starfleet is attacked by the shadowy John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch, “Sherlock”), who then flees to the Klingon home planet.
Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise crew give chase, but find themselves in the middle of a mystery that puts the entire crew — and perhaps the entire planet — at risk.
Abrams is brilliant at moving along the action, and it's riveting throughout. While some Trekkers might prefer a little more time spent on the philosophical underpinnings, they are nonetheless present.
Each of the classic characters gets a moment or more to shine; Scotty (Simon Pegg) provides a moment of moral certitude; McCoy (Karl Urban) finds a solution in the darkest hour; Sulu (John Cho) shows his nerves of steel. Zoe Saldana's Uhura gets to show both her resourcefulness and her depth of emotion in a pair of scenes during a covert mission. While remembering these characters from their previous incarnations does help to fill in context, the movie works without that layer.
Cumberbatch is simply fantastic as the villain; his gravitas gives this “Star Trek” a boost. Pike and Quinto's chemistry as captain and first officer and as friends and crewmates drives the film. In many ways, it's Quinto's film to carry, and he does so marvelously. While the headstrong Kirk developing into a leader and captain is compelling, the development of Quinto's Spock as a man of two heritages navigating a brave new world is, in a word, fascinating.
“Star Trek Into Darkness”
PG-13 2:03 3 1/2 STARS
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin
(Intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence.)