Paramount is going to release director J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness into U.S. theaters later this month. It will arrive four years after Abrams proved able to breath fresh life into the geek-favorite sci-fi franchise – which is nearing the 50 years of existence (and relevance) benchmark – with his critically-acclaimed and lucrative cinematic reboot.
Does the final result justify the, by and large, highly-secretive marking buildup (maybe less secretive in recent weeks)? We’ve collected together informative excerpts from the initial wave of Star Trek Into Darkness reviews to arrive online, so you can hear it straight from the horses’ mouth.
For the full reviews, click on the respective links below (NOTE: These excerpts are all SPOILER-FREE):
Director JJ Abrams has followed up his sensational 2009 Star Trek reboot with a sparkling 3D sequel… And the flashes of crackling, knowing comedy have been retained, punctuating the shuddering fight scenes and chase sequences that are the very currency of the action blockbuster… Everyone is a little more battered, a little less dewy-eyed. People are unlikely to charge out of the cinema with quite the same level of glee as they did in 2009; but this is certainly an astute, exhilarating concoction.
‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ is a brisk, no-nonsense sci-fi action sequel built around a conflict between the crew of the Starship Enterprise with a slick, slippery new villain, John Harrison [who’s] played with relish and poise by Benedict Cumberbatch… The result [this time] is a stop-gap tale that’s modest, fun and briefly amusing rather than one that breaks new ground or offers hugely memorable set pieces.
[The 2009 'Star Trek' reboot] represented a fresh start for the Trek canon, and was fired by a swashbuckling spirit and full-blooded sense of adventure… This sequel starts in the same confident frame of mind, but after around 45 minutes it finds a comfortable spot [and] reverts to old bad habits…. A large portion of Star Trek’s audience may well be satisfied by a film that amounts to not much more than an incredibly pretty and sporadically funny in-joke. [But] that pioneer spirit? It’s gone.
And so, after all the hype, the secrecy and the manipulations of the marketing machine, the final question remains; is the film any good? Thankfully the answer, for the most part, is a resounding yes… Visually, Star Trek Into Darkness is stunning… And yes, J.J.’s trademark lens flare runs rampant once again, which occasionally plays havoc with the film’s otherwise impressive 3D transfer… [This] is a big film, building on the foundations of its predecessor and holding true to the nature of the franchise. Combining humour, action and drama, Abrams once again delivers an original experience that feels nostalgic without any hint of being either stagnant nor stale. It’s an impressive feat, and one worth catching on the big screen.
Cast members describing Into Darkness as “relentless” weren’t kidding… A tad more calm interspersed with the storm wouldn’t have gone amiss, but when those rare quiet beats come, they matter… It feels like Abrams still not quite trusting his own rebooted universe, where in every other instance he treads the line between new ground and nostalgia with supreme confidence. Star Trek Into Darkness earns its title, but the dark shades are still primary colors… It’s an exhilarating, emotionally rich and utterly pleasurable journey that wears its love for Trek fans old and new on its sleeve.
Star Trek Into Darkness… is by no means flawless [but director J.J. Abrams] has made another fine, and fun, Star Trek film… [The sequel] is permeated with Trek lore, some elements expected, others not, but more often than not the story is served well. The excitement, however, comes from the new… The trip into darkness is as good as its predecessor [but] it misses the greatness it might have achieved if it had kept to the crooked path it was leading away from its past.
Mostly, ['Star Trek Into Darkness'] is fantastic fun: a two-hours-plus blockbuster that doesn’t bog down in exposition or sag in the middle. There are reversals and rug-pulls galore, most of them executed with whiplash skill. Trouble is, at a certain point peril-fatigue starts to creep in, putting the story (like the overtaxed Enterprise) at the risk of burning out… But man of the match is, of course, [director J.J. Abrams]. His aim with Into Darkness was to mint a standalone adventure, one that welcomed total Trek neophytes at the door. Mission accomplished…
The J.J. Abrams chorus of writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof aren’t in a rush to progress their characters to their ‘mythic’ status… This isn’t repetitious or laborious, in fact it’s a great device to reveal and explore the essential ingredient of each of the individual iconic crew members… J.J. Abrams applies that big-budget action spectacle to the Trek franchise, whilst staying true to the brand… Star Trek Into Darkness isn’t ready to stretch to the unknown pockets of the universe just yet; instead it relishes in the evolution of the key characters in the wake of their defining challenge. It’s a rousing adventure and Abrams has laid the platform for a healthy and long lasting franchise.
So, to summarize, the early consensus is:
Star Trek Into Darkness isn’t a franchise game-changer along the lines of The Empire Strikes Back or The Dark Knight, but it offers as much – if not more – entertainment value than J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot.
The sequel blends earnest nostalgia for classic Trek lore with innovation and plot/character development, but not always in well-balanced portions.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.