I’m not gonna lie, I had some major sequel anxiety going into Star Trek Into Darkness. After the stunning re-introduction and re-imagination of a beloved franchise in 2009, I knew this day would come. The assignment to review Into Darkness was tossed into our Writers’ Pit at MovieBoozer and, much like Battle Royale, many critics entered… But only yours truly survived. So you’ll probably be seeing more of my reviews than usual because I had to murder a lot of our staff to score this film… I kid! We thumb-wrestled. But I digress. I shouldn’t have doubted the minds behind this movie (I’m talking to you, Abrams) as it was everything I could’ve hoped for and more. You could hardly see through the field of nerd-boners after the credits rolled (and I have to say I had a raging case of nerd-nips myself).
The film begins roughly six months after the events of Star Trek take place and follows Captain Kirk and Co. as they dive right back into their trademark shenanigans, breaking a metric fuckton of Starfleet protocols and directives along the way. Kirk gets tossed into Captain’s Time-Out and while he’s persona-non-grata, Starfleet (along with Kirk) is attacked by a seemingly invincible foe and thrown into chaos. Reeling from the first of many shocks, jaw-drops and plot-punches, I was riding shotgun with Kirk as he began a journey of revenge, redemption and salvation that would ultimately test not only his resolve as Captain, but as a man.
While Star Trek Into Darkness was a darker film (both literally and figuratively) it held on to that trademark Trek humor in the face of adversity and tragedy from beginning to end. What could easily have been over or under-played in the quest for the supreme sequel, Into Darkness managed to hit the perfect tone throughout. From the twisted revelation that was Benedict Cumberbatch, to the stoic humor of Spock, to the wildly charismatic yet conflicted Kirk, the cast nailed their characters with a depth and precision that was breathtaking to behold.
Aside from outstanding character depth, the phenomenal pacing of Into Darkness kept a superb balance between explosive action and expositional development. For a touch over two hours in running time, I never felt a lag and was on the edge of my seat the entire film. Another fantastic element within the movie was the epic bromance between Kirk and Spock, which built over the course of the film and really explored the relationship that these two hetero-lifemates would come to rely on thoughout the years. Watching the nascent budding of broship between the pair was nothing short of spectacular. Into Darkness highlighted the disparities between the duo and how they came to respect and rely on those qualities in each other to benefit themselves and those around them. This was the Katy Perry of films; it was up and it was down and it took you along for the ride, enthralled every step of the way.
A few minor flaws kept Into Darkness from absolute perfection. One of those was the ever-present 3D that tends to ruin and /or negate any benefit it might have on most films it’s applied to. I don’t dislike 3D as a rule but I’ve found that, like the new kid on the block (shout-out to my 90’s brethren), everybody wants to play with that motherfucker whether or not they need to. I watched Into Darkness back-to-back with 3D first followed by a showing in 2D to really see which was better. The 3D was decent and didn’t detract from the experience, but the 2D was just as good and it’ll save you a few bucks at the box office (leaving you more money for drinking- it’s all about priorities, Boozers).
The plot also got a bit heavy-handed at times, detracting slightly from the emotional impact of several key scenes. It was most distracting during one in particular where uncertainty would have lent more gravitas, and the payoff would have ultimately been more rewarding, if the film hadn’t given away the inevitable outcome with several obvious hints earlier on. And the last minor flaw was that the supporting characters we’ve come to know and love (Scotty, Bones, Sulu, etc.) weren’t given nearly the screen time and focus as I would have liked. While the majority of the film centered on the epic bromance forming between Kirk and Spock (which I’m totally on board with) it would have been nice to have more than a taste of the supporting crew to balance out all that witty repartee flying thick and fast between Spirk… Kock? All of these things are very tiny gripes that held Into Darkness back from the perfection of a Toast, though the film was so spectacular that these minor complaints can almost be forgiven… Almost.
Star Trek Into Darkness was chock-full of badass whimsy and charm that left me poised and ready to dive into the next adventure with this intrepid crew. Watch it once, twice, three times (if you wanna be a lady) or more. I know I will.
Take a Drink: every time Spock says something logical yet chock-full of smart-ass savvy.
Take a Drink: anytime The Enterprise jumps into warp/the crew beams on or off the ship.
Take a Drink: each time you see Benedict Cumberbatch giving a flinty-eyed stare. Bonus Shot: whenever Cumberbatch delivers an especially villainous speech.
Take a Sip: for every lens flare (excluding battle scenes- you’d die).
Do a Shot: whenever Kirk calls Spock an adorable new nickname.
Take a Drink: anytime somebody tragically sheds a tear.
Shotgun a Beer: for the death of a bromance. You’ll know when. Hint: It’s literally near the end.
Bonus Double Feature: Take a drink for everything that happens in both Star Trek (2009) and Into Darkness. Ex. “Dammit man, I’m a doctor!” etc.