Abrams goes into overdrive filming Spock during the sequence, his camera swooping down from a high angle to a low angle several times, as lava percolates and flows throughout the frame. It’s overkill for a scene that has inherent drama and uncertainty - more exhausting than exciting - although the film settles soon thereafter into a more measured pace (by summer-movie standards).

When the consequences of Kirk’s efforts to rescue Spock lead to Kirk losing command of the Enterprise (never try to cover up the details of a mission centered on a Vulcan who can’t help but tell the truth), Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood, Dinner for Schmucks) gives him a second chance. Kirk will have to prove himself while serving as First Officer to Pike, who will again captain the Enterprise. Before they can embark, however, all of Starfleet is given an emergency mission: find John Harrison (Cumberbatch), a rogue member of Starfleet who has a score to settle.

Though the storyline of this Trek is again revenge-driven, the screenwriters effectively tack on a point about the futility of vengeance, and they make a less successful stab at communicating a message about the dangers of forgetting "who we are." The dialogue in the film’s closing moments sounds more like talking points left over from the George W. Bush era than a thematic summation that grows organically out of all that’s come before, but it’s to the film’s credit that this Trek chapter at least tries to deliver some sort of moral to its story. Into Darkness feels closer in spirit to the Star Trek TV show and earlier films—something that wasn’t much of a concern in the previous Abrams-helmed Trek.

Quinto’s Spock has the meatiest role here, and his lover’s quarrel with Uhura gives the film some needed laughs, as does Urban’s Bones. Pegg’s Scotty has an important role to play in the story, even though his lines aren’t up to the actor’s notable comedic talents. Greenwood, as he did in the previous film, provides gravitas, as does veteran actor Peter Weller as another Starfleet admiral.

Those who catch Into Darkness likely will find enough to enjoy here, but this new installment in the long-running franchise continues to show unfulfilled promise. But disappointed fans can take heart: there’s little doubt Into Darkness will be a huge hit that leads to additional sequels—and more chances to deliver stronger stories with better integrated themes.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: “Dam-”; “a-s”; “b-sta-d”; “oh, my God”; “hell”; “piss you off”; “holy sh…”; “God help me”
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Drinking and drunkenness
  • Sex/Nudity: Kissing; Kirk pops up from under some bed sheets, followed by one woman, then another; a woman in her underwear
  • Violence/Crime: Deadly explosions, gun fights; punching and fighting; a snapped limb
  • Religion/Morals: Alien species bows down before a volcano and are later seen, in awe, drawing a picture of the Enterprise; a character says, “It’s a miracle,” to which Spock responds, “There are no such things”

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.

Publication date: April 16, 2013