While it doesn’t quite reach the giddy heights of its 2009 predecessor, this new picture is terrific popcorn entertainment, the sort of bright, brawny blockbuster that used to define the summer movie season.
-Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

A safe sequel which, while certainly engaging and entertaining enough to recommend, fails to live up to the franchise’s daring, appointed mission ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before.’
-Kam Williams, KamWilliams.com

You think your world is safe? It is an illusion. A comforting lie told to protect you.
JJ Abrams is a pretty divisive director. He has been behind some pretty big busts throughout the last decade: Alcatraz was a disaster, Super 8 a glorified Spielberg ripoff, Cloverfield was a mess, The Undercovers failed right out of the gate and Revolution is an overproduced imitation of a good show.

Despite these failings, he is also the mind behind some of the most creative and memorable properties of recent memory. Fringe was mostly fantastic, Lost was great until the screenwriters ran the show into the ground in the final season. He has really put his own stamp on the last few entries in the Mission: Impossible series, directing the impressive 3rd installment and producing the instant action classic, Ghost Protocol. 2009’s Star Trek was a borderline genius way to revamp the stale property in a way to not alienate the fans of the original. Clearly, his work is hit or miss, which is how I could sum up his latest film and second go-around into the Star Trek universe, Star Trek: Into Darkness

JJ Abrams second turn at directing Star Trek on the big screen plays it safe. A much more self contained and inconsequential movie than his first, Into Darkness is a lot of fun but has much smaller stakes than you would think for a film set in the expansive universe that the Star Trek mythology provides.

The latest incarnation of the USS Enterprise
Along with Abrams as director, the entire crew of the USS Enterprise is back and we get the same great performances from them this time around. Simon Pegg as Scotty and Karl Urban as Doc Bones were great in comic relief. Zachary Quinto is remarkable as Spock. Channeling his inner Leonard Nemoy with great nuance, Quinto shows an appreciation and respect for the source material that is very refreshing to see.
Zachary Quinto, doing his best Leonard Nemoy impression
The same crew is back, but this time facing off against a new mystery villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Most known for BBC’s Sherlock, Cumberbatch puts on a great menacing performance as a one man weapon of mass destruction, laying waste to Star Fleet however he can. Expect to see him get more high-profile roles after this one as he does a remarkable job.
Enjoy these final moments of peace. For I have returned to have my vengeance. So, shall we begin?
Into Darkness is full of great action sequences and visuals, there is a scene with the Enterprise crashing into the earths atmosphere that is absolutely breathtaking. This films weaknesses lie at the script level. The story has great momentum and flows pretty well until the third act, where it becomes fairly predictable and problematic. At one point the film backtracks out of a pretty important and major plot development in a way that is telegraphed and poorly executed.

Captain Kirk runs for his life
Great acting and visuals aside, Into Darkness is not as good as JJ’s first effort in the Star Trek Universe. This film isn’t going to blow your mind but it’s a solid action/sci-fi film and competently directed. It’s a fun summer action movie, but don’t get your hopes up for the groundbreaking storytelling of the 2009 Star Trek.

Spock, setting his phaser to stun

FilmFire review:
3.75/5 forms