J.J. Abrams, along with the rest of Bad Robot, have concocted one of the most brilliant plans in movie history. This plan, which is very obvious, is Abrams' main reason for having such success with his recently renewed Star Trek universe. With the release of "Star Trek" in 2009, Abrams took the necessary steps to ensure that both mainstream audiences were entertained while keeping Trekkies and fans of the series happy as well. The Star Trek universe itself represents a blank canvas of imagination; allowing writers and directors to manufacture brilliant science-fiction concepts that in most other structures would seem unreal. One of the most appealing aspects to the universe itself is its carefully laid out chronology that manages to take into consideration every single inception of the series every time a new film or show is conceived. Episodes and films don't contradict one another, and everything seems to happen in order. When approaching a Star Trek reboot, Abrams knew very well that a deviation from this chronology would upset fans of the series. To evade this possible outcome, Abrams created an alternate reality in the first film, allowing his versions of Gene Roddenbery's classic characters to experience new and original concepts without adulterating their original characterization and metamorphosis. In this regard, modern movie-goers are pleased with the contemporary character-types, and fans of the series are relived to find that nothing in actuality has changed or been replaced. From these obviously premeditated decisions, its easy for a Trekkie (myself) to acknowledge the fact that Abrams is actually a genuine fan. Having a fan of the series in the directors chair is more than anyone could ask for, and the brilliancy of the reboot proved that. With the release of "Star Trek Into Darkness", the method of altering is done in the same way as its predecessor, with characters experiencing "similar" things and meeting individuals that fans of the series recognize; with the film itself progressing in an entirely new way. With some well-done action sequences, great acting, a solid script, and firm direction, "Star Trek Into Darkness" is yet another formidable entry into the Star Trek arsenal.
Much like Spock promised in the 2009 release, explaining too much of the plot of this picture would in some way jeopardize one's ability to experience the film in its purest form. What can be said is that Abrams' updated characters are put to the test in ways that any fine sequel would do; while introducing some new concepts that will please everyone. Kirk is pushed to his limits in ways that he has never known; trying to get over his internal conflicts while simultaneously trying to protect the lives of his entire crew. The friendship of Kirk and Spock that has been so famous is put to test. Lives are risked, missions go into jeopardy, and the fate of the universe becomes unknown. It's classic popcorn entertainment at its finest, but at the same time manages to keep a certain measure of intellect that has made this franchise so renown.
What truly struck me in the 2009 film was the abilities of the cast. The performances from nearly everyone involved were great, and each actor managed to impersonate their predecessors flawlessly while introducing some new concepts. The same goes for Into Darkness. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are great in this picture, and what is so interesting about this sequel is the strong focus on them and their personal relationship. It is this relationship that defined an entire series, and Abrams knows the value of it. Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, and Simon Pegg reprise their roles in give great performances as well. One of the most surprising aspects and probably the best thing about this particular film is Benedict Cumberbatch, who not only does the best acting in the picture, but manages to elevate the material of the film as a whole. This excellent performance comes both mentally and physically, giving the audience great moments of well-dished out monologues and awesome flips, kicks, punches, and grunts at the same time.
The most important thing to note about the picture, as well as the film's predecessor, is the use of action sequences. "Star Trek" has never experienced quite this much action before. In the mid-90?s, Star Trek saw a major change when the crew of the Next Generation began to star in their own films. What changed drastically in these particular productions, in comparison to the films that were dedicated to the original crew, was the strong focus on visual effects and action. Star Trek has always been known as a series that focuses more on the intellectual aspects of science-fiction, rather than the thematic aspects of it. However, when the films that were dedicated to the original series began to experience some notoriety, Paramount Pictures managed to find a way to blend these two aspects of film together. The result was a series of films that contained excellent special effects, while containing the same smarts. When the cast of the Next Generation had their own films, it seemed that this formula was thrown right out the window, with directors being hired who had never even seen the series before. These directors drove the films towards over-indulgence and fruitlessness. Fans of both the original series and the Next Generation were upset by this blatant disregard for quality. However, this method of chemistry was re-introduced when Abrams directed the reboot in 2009. This same formula that has become so popular is as apparent in this picture as it was with its predecessor. "Star Trek Into Darkness" definitely has some larger than life visual aesthetics, and the film itself may be explosive in nature, but at the same time its delicate for managing to incorporate notions and methods that have made some of the films in the series work so well. This attention to quality is what makes Abrams so reliable for Star Trek.
Its safe to say that most people will be pleased with "Star Trek Into Darkness." For die hard fans of the series, this movie once again manages to incorporate the intellectual banter that had made the series so famous for so long, while simultaneously introducing visual action and special effects that will please contemporary movie-goers. Into Darkness doesn't play off like a mediocre episode of the series. It goes about itself as a whole different animal, introducing audiences with unique character dynamics that reinforce new meaning to classic conventions. When all is said and done, the most important thing about the Star Trek Universe is the characters. Its the characters that represent commentary on both human society and the human complex. The friendship between Spock and Kirk represents the relationship that we have with others. Starfleet's discovery of new worlds and species represent our discovery of new cultures and identities. What made the original film series so popular was its ability to tackle this commentary. J.J. Abrams has a perfect understanding of how Stark Trek works. He truly knows what makes it tick. And because of his understanding, "Star Trek Into Darkness" does what its predecessor was able to do. It implements wonderful aesthetics without sacrificing attention to characterization. Its the stress of humanity that has made the series so loved, and its humanity that makes this sequel so good.