‘Into Darkness’ attracts more than Trekkies

“Trekkies” and “Trekkers” of all generations are in for a stellar experience in the sequel to director J.J. Abrams 2009 “Star Trek” with “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

At times the film plays out like a classic episode of the original 1960s series with a contemporary twist. The addition of breathtaking special effects, exhilarating action sequences and nerve-racking drama that, when coupled with the iconic characters, create a film the franchise’s original creator and producer Gene Roddenberry would be proud of.

Longtime fans can expect several familiar sights, including a brief appearance by the original Spock, Leonard Nimoy, which tie seamlessly into Abrams’ alternate universe. Fans of the 2009 movie can look forward to the return of the entire reimagined crew of the USS Enterprise, including Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as the dynamic duo of Captain James T. Kirk and Spock, respectively.

The film opens with Spock trapped inside a volcano and Kirk and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban) running for their lives on an alien planet. While Kirk’s reckless behavior and disregard for the rules of the United Federation of Planets save the life of his first officer and the alien planet from destruction, they also land him in trouble with the federation and cause him to lose his title as captain.

However, when a rouge officer of the federation launches an attack on the federation itself, Kirk and his crew are launched back into action to hunt down a single deadly opponent unlike anyone the crew has faced before: John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Led to the edge of enemy territory with astarship full of classified weapons and at the mercy of an enemy from the distant past, Kirk finds himself questioning himself as a leader and the very organization he stands for, finding himself in a battle that could cost him his ship, his crew, his planet and his life.

The chemistry between the characters makes for excellent and vibrant scenes. The way Pine and Quinto play off of each other as human and Vulcan resembles the relationship created by William Shatner and Nimoy in the original series. The friendship between these two main characters is better established and more highly pronounced in this film than its predecessor, and even breaks through the Vulcan emotional blocks at times.

Supporting actors such as Urban bring original characters to new life, performing the mannerisms of the sarcastic wingman Bones authentically. The relationship created between Lt. Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Spock returns in this film with the same inconsequential effect on the story line as in the first movie, but as an added dash of romance. Saldana brings a contemporary freshness to Uhura, making the character slightly more intense and more appealing to a modern crowd. Simon Pegg brings his trademark humor — made famous in such movies as “Run, Fatboy, Run” — to the screen as the ship’s Scottish engineer, “Scotty,” while staying true to the character.

Unlike its 2009 predecessor, “Star Trek Into Darkness” boldly goes beyond expectations with authenticity and visual effects that arguably make it one of the best movies in the franchise. Abrams significantly dialed down lens flares and upped the homage, including mentions of the Gorn and Tribble aliens.

The Enterprise, while still easily identified as theiconic starship, takes on a more detailed and larger-than-life appearance, along with the rest of universe, thanks to updated cinematic technology that makes this movie a must-see.

Grade: A