‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:40 am,

Star Trek Into Darkness Captain Kirk Commander Spock Star Trek Into Darkness Review

The result is another bold voyage for the Starship Enterprise – one that will likely wow most moviegoers (even if it irks a few die-hard Trekkies).

J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness continues the voyage of the Starship Enterprise and her crew – following the director’s 2009 origin story/alternate reality reboot of the classic sci-fi series. The sequel catches up with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) several months after the events of the original film – as they, along with their iconic Enterprise crew, begin going (“boldly”) where no-one has gone before. In Kirk’s case, that means ignoring a prime directive, endangering the lives of his shipmates, and defying Starfleet regulations (not without consequence).

However, when a massive terrorist attack rocks London, Starfleet scrambles to maintain order and bring the perpetrator to justice. Ignoring Spock’s pleas for restraint, Kirk refuses to back down from the fight, putting him at odds with members of his crew, as he commands the Enterprise in deadly pursuit of the mysterious attacker – known only as John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Star Trek Into Darkness International Trailer Enterprise Star Trek Into Darkness Review

The USS Enterprise in ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

In Star Trek Into Darkness, returning writing team Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (as well as Damon Lindelof) seek to expand on their alternate Star Trek timeline and dig deeper into this version of the Enterprise crew members (along with the larger movie universe). Casual filmgoers flocked to the 2009 “reboot,” reigniting interest in the beloved sci-fi property, but in spite of the positive response, certain die-hard Trekkies were less smitten with the resulting variations of fan-favorite characters. Does Star Trek Into Darkness build upon the success of its predecessor and present a fun adventure that also pays homage to the classic series with smart additions to the expanded Star Trek canon?

Overall, Star Trek Into Darkness benefits from a much more focused storyline than its predecessor – since the franchise is no longer saddled with bringing the crew together, establishing each person’s respective duties, while also juggling an inter-connected time-traveling arc. Surprisingly, the film actually evolves key themes and character dynamics, via a journey that includes engaging riffs on the classic source material. As a result, Star Trek Into Darkness will easily please the same moviegoers who enjoyed the 2009 effort – but there are definitely going to be a few controversial choices that will irk longtime fans of the series who are not already onboard with Abrams’ rebooted take on the franchise.

Star Trek Into Darkness Kirk and Carol Marcus 570x294 Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) and Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) in ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

Chris Pine once again delivers as a young Captain Kirk, continuing to find a good balance between the traits and disposition that made the William Shatner character so memorable, without relying on imitation or caricature. Kirk’s story arc once again serves as a motor for the narrative, drawing heavily on his reckless “impulsiveness.” Thankfully, Pine is also given plenty of room to develop and grow the Captain throughout the course of the film, allowing for the kind of sincere insight and thoughtful evolution that makes this Star Trek reboot more than just a standard Hollywood cash-grab. Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) is equally enjoyable this round – especially when the filmmakers probe the ongoing conflict between his Vulcan and human emotions.

One of the sequel’s biggest strengths is its management of the large ensemble cast. Every core Enterprise member – Dr. “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Ensign Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Lieutenant Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Simon Pegg) – along with side characters like Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) – all have their own individual arcs (as does the ship itself). Not only does each one result in fun or exciting payoff, they’re expertly interwoven into the larger Star Trek Into Darkness plot, resulting in a smartly-paced storyline. The unrelenting velocity of the film does undercut one or two key moments that deserved (and needed) a bit more time to unfold, but overall the film juggles a lot of different elements without becoming bogged down in minutia (especially considering the 132 minute runtime).

John Harrison Examined by Bones McCoy Star Trek Into Darkness 570x378 Star Trek Into Darkness Review

John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Bones McCoy (Karl Urban) in ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

Newcomers Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Carol Marcus and John Harrison, respectively) provide memorable performances in roles that had been dissected and analyzed for months leading up to release. For that reason, the characters will likely be a point of contention for moviegoers – especially anyone clinging to pre-conceived notions about Harrison and Marcus ahead of time. The pair would have benefitted from a bit more development, and some casual moviegoers will be lost on some of the film’s subtle nods – but onscreen they serve the story at hand, driving plot beats as well as juxtaposing key traits in the mainline Enterprise crew members. Harrison and Marcus might not quite live up to the pre-release hype, but moment-to-moment they’re both quality additions brought to life with nuanced performances.

Much like its 2009 predecessor, Star Trek Into Darkness prioritizes character and sci-fi world-building over large-scale action beats. There are plenty of eye-popping effects and tense set-pieces, but compared to similar blockbusters, certain sequences are a bit more restrained. That said this is a Star Trek film, so even when action is depicted through ship-versus-ship destruction and crumbling CGI environments (instead of in-your-face hand-to-hand brawls or large-scale battle sequences), the film still offers an engaging blend of big-budget spectacle, humor, and heartfelt character moments.

Spock Zachary Quinto Uhura Zoe Saldana Star Trek Into Darkness 570x378 Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Spock (Zachary Quinto) & Uhura (Zoe Saldana) in ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

Star Trek Into Darkness is playing as premium 3D and IMAX experiences – and it’s easy to recommend either version to interested moviegoers. Abrams relied on subtle depth-of-field for his 3D approach – which definitely enhances the scale in larger action beats, while adding shape to the twists and turns of the Enterprise bridge and hallways. Viewers who are typically underwhelmed by less-noticeable 3D will not find pop-out effects (or other gimmicks) – but to those willing to invest in the added cost: the 3D post-conversion from StereoD is clean and crisp. Similarly, roughly 30 minutes of the film was shot using IMAX cameras, resulting in some genuinely breathtaking big screen visuals accompanied by an amplified soundtrack featuring booming Star Trek sound effects and Michael Giacchino’s rousing score.

J.J. Abrams has delivered a true follow-up in nearly every way imaginable – successfully exploring the iconic characters and expanded universe of his alternate timeline. The film is bigger and more personal than its predecessor, presenting another fun Trek adventure with captivating character drama that draws from the foundation established in the 2009 reboot (not to mention larger Star Trek mythos). The result is another bold voyage for the Starship Enterprise – one that will likely wow most moviegoers (even if it irks a few die-hard Trekkies).

If you’re still on the fence about Star Trek Into Darkness, check out the trailer below:

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Star Trek Into Darkness runs 132 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence. Now playing 2D, 3D, and 3D IMAX theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Star Trek Into Darkness spoilers discussion.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Star Trek Into Darkness episode of the SR Underground podcast (featuring an interview with the film’s writer Roberto Orci).

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

Follow Ben Kendrick on Twitter @benkendrick
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  1. My gripe with the movie is how not epic enough final scenes were. If this was James Cameron, spaceship sinking to earth would have been detailed and prolong to stretch your excitement till you pee in your pants. You all saw what he did w/ True lies and how epic that building scenes were and I can only imagine what he would have done w/ today’s tech on that scenarios.
    JJ doesn’t have that skills. Brad Bird also could have been awesome choice to direct that scene.

    Overall however, we enjoyed the movie.

    • Even united 93 final scene were more tension filled

      • And that also didn’t even happen!

        • Snap

    • Dude: Usage and syntax, please!

  2. i loved it and I’m a hardcore was the plot predictable in this one yes but i still loved IMHO Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the best actors out their right now, it was a bit of a shame that he didn’t have the script behind him or he could of been much better, even without it he was still excellent. Alice Eve enough said. I liked Quinto more in this one then i did in the first, still not sold on his Spock but he was better this go around. i’d give it an 8/10

  3. Irked? Infuriated is more like it…Why does JJA go through all the effort to establish an all-new franchise with the first film, then with the second, re-hash MAJOR, MAJOR portions of Star Trek II and VI? I felt like old-school Trek fans were getting a 3-stooges eye poke. I wish the franchise had been handed to Joss Whedon instead.

    • I agree with this. They reboot the entire Trek universe, then recycle old stories. Intellectually shameful.

      I still enjoyed it. But please, for the love of f’ing god, can you give us something ORIGINAL Hollywood!!! The Trek universe has not bounds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why give us Khan again? I know why. $$$$$$

      • If they were really trying to milk the alternative timeline’s ties to the original timeline, there would have been NO secrecy or misdirection regarding the antagonist.

        This was an awesome movie that explores friendship and sacrifice in a visually stunning way.

    • Joss Whedon? NOOOOOOOO

    • Exactly. I was thinking the same thing. All that praise of J.J. Abrams as the best thing since sliced bread … what a joke.

      Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a memorable classic. In contrast, Star Trek Into Darkness is easily forgettable in many respects.

  4. Always trust your reviews, Kendrick. I’m going to go see it.


    • Sure thing! Hope you enjoy it!

      • Ben, I loved your review but could you please do something about all these spoilers on this thread? People, there is a spoiler thread for this movie, and this isn’t it.

      • Ben, are you a hardcore trekkie? Or, just a casual movie going fan?

  5. My vote is in: Cumberpatch as Namor the Submariner….NUFFF SAID.

    • Perfect hypothetical casting!

  6. I don’t say this often but… if you didn’t like this movie, there is something wrong with you. As a life long Star Trek fan (and ToS is my favorite) I felt this move was amazing in almost every way. It wasn’t perfect, but it is easy to overlook the flaws of an otherwise masterpiece. I seriously doubt JJ will ever make a better movie.

    • Agreed. I’m 50, and a die-hard old-school Trek fan (as is my girlfriend). We both walked out of the theater with big grins on our faces. There’s nothing wrong with rebooting the franchise, and there’s nothing wrong with making a homage to one of the previous great films. Some people are worried that this is the start of a trend where Abrams (or whoever) re-hashes old plots, but I don’t think that is likely. I think this was a one-off tribute to a fan favorite, and it worked perfectly. There’s just too much you can do with a rebooted franchise to rely on reworking old plots – although I think that continued use will be made of clever references to the original series and movies.

      • You guys said it best. May be the best reboot of all time.

        • Hold on there cowboy, don’t forget that Batman Begins was a pretty decent reboot, and if we’re talking Star Trek, technically the 2009 film was the reboot, not this, and that was pretty impressive as well.

          • This is a continuation of the 2009 reboot, so I just lumped it into the same category.

            Batman Begins wasn’t as good as the 2009 Star Trek movie to me, although that was very good, too. TDK was the shining moment in that reboot.

    • Not only should you not say that often you should never say it at all. If you don’t like a movie “there is something wrong with you”? The only thing wrong with me is that I enjoy well-written films. Unfortunately….we got Star Trek Into Darkness.

      This movie was just bizarre. After all the hype surrounding him Benedict’s character seemed almost like an afterthought…I certainly can’t remember a single memorable scene with him. And it takes more than glaring and growling to create a memorable villain anyway.

      This movie also tried to return to a very memorable scene from an earlier film….but it didn’t earn that scene at all. It felt cheap and despite Zachary Quinto’s monumental effort to bring emotion to it…it felt completely mechanical.

      The movie was all sound and fury….too bad. At least Simon Pegg was fun.

      I’m also tired of screenwriters acting like more convoluted plots equals better writing. Star Trek II (best in the franchise) had an extremely simple setup: bad guy wants revenge on good guy and also wants MacGuffin machine. Then the rest of the movie played out with the different sides getting the upper hand at different times. And it was exciting.

      But Star Trek Into Darkness suffers from one of the same problems as the recent IM3: the screenwriters don’t seem to feel like they’re doing their job if they don’t make the script as complicated as possible. What’s wrong with a film where the script isn’t CONSTANTLY withholding information? Who is Benedict Cumberpatch really? Why did he do X? Why did he do Y? What’s in the torpedoes? Who’s doublecrossing who now? What did Simon Pegg just discover? Who is that blonde girl really? Why did the Admiral do X? Why did he do Y? Was it to accomplish Z?

      So by the time we’re halfway through the film we’re still not even sure who the heck Cumberpatch is. Then we have less than half the movie for him to do anything really interesting or have an interesting conversation with anybody. And then when everything is finally in place for that to happen….everyone’s just shooting lasers at each other instead. Constantly. Ya know, the way Star Trek’s meant to be. Oh, wait…no…I’m thinking of something else…..

      A waste of a good cast. And my time.

      Why the heck is it called Into Darkness anyway? Sounds like a subtitle pulled right out of someone’s rear.

    • Agree completely!

    • It was garbage. It went out of it’s way to hit emotional plot points from the Real Star Trek Series, but with out any of the emotional background that led to those emotional moments. Garbage.

  7. I am not a hard core Trekkie by most standards. I am a fan of TNG and DS9 but never cared for TOS (their movies were decently best). I really enjoyed Star Trek (2009) and I absolutely LOVED Into Darkness. There is nothing about it I didn’t like. The cast was great, the story was great. Cumberbatch was more than decent, he was on point. People cheered during the credits. Maybe I’m just a more forgiving moviegoer than others (I don’t understand people who pay money to see a movie they really don’t want to like), but in my view, STID will go down as one of the top ten syfy flix of all time. Well done, JJA. Can’t wait to see what you do to bring SW back to life.

  8. Dude, SPOILER WARNING please!

  9. 4 stars as mindless summer fun. Maybe 2 stars as a Trek movie. It’s a disgrace that Hollywood has to resort to such lazy storytelling that they can manage to give us a single original idea when they have an entire galaxy to work in. Ugh.

    • Do you really think the writers for a big-budget sci-fi blockbuster just lazily adapted an old plot because they couldn’t be bothered to come up with anything new? Puh-leeze.

      • Yes. I absolutely DO believe that. YUH o’re WELCUM.

  10. DUDE!!! Seriously! WTF!??

  11. I really liked this movie. It was great, John Harrison is one heck of a villain. It’s nice to see the entire series in this Mirror Universe unfold and with this film, they opened Pandora’s box. There are some recycled areas, but if you understand what’s been explained in TNG. You can change time, and the events, but you can’t change destiny. So in other words, we are going to see recycled moments, but they’ll happen differently. throughout the coming movies. I thought it was great. I liked how they executed the action between the ships. Most of all I was really happy they portrayed the Klingons as a no nonsense shoot first ask questions later species. I was worried they would tone them down. One part irked me. (No I will not say since it’s a spoiler.)

    I thought the story was good, I loved the fighting with the enterprise. John Harrison is such a good character. I thought Cumberbatch did an exceptional job.

    It’s definately in my top three favorite Star Trek films next to Undiscovered Country.

    I guarantee there will be moments when you’ll just want to jump out of your seat and just scream with victory, “YES!!!!”

  12. Iron man 3 take notice, this is what a real movie looks like. There’s hope for star wars yet.

    • Oh absolutely! Christopher Nolan should take notice too, after that crappy third film.

      • I guess you wanted Batman fighting aliens or in space or a Batman Beyond, Nolan style, get over it, TDKR was total enjoyment just as much as I enjoyed “Star” Trek. Cant even bring myself to see IM3 after what I got from IM2.

  13. just saw it. it was a very enjoyable and good movie i give it 8/10

  14. Saw this twice already, don’t care for the 3d version, but overall 12 out of 10 stars, best movie of the year

  15. *facepalm* Glad I saw the movie already. What were you thinking? Oh that’s right, you weren’t.

  16. Saw it yesterday, and as a sci-fi film, I would give it a solid 4.5/5, but as a Trek film, 3/5. I guess that’s 3.75/5.

  17. I’d give it a “7″ entertaining, but unoriginal. It’s as if movies have gone from one extreme “When are they going to cut to the CHASE?” to the opposite; “When is this chase scene going to END?!!”

    Abrams’ Star Wars sensibility goes beyond just phasers shooting bolts instead of beams, and into SW prequel territory with magical blood with midichlorian-like plot defying powers and a primal yell as cheesy and awkward as Vader’s “NOOOOOOOOOOoooooo!”

    The cast is still solid, but the franchise needs a producer at the helm who cares enough about Star Trek to get a few more films made before Pine and Co. are needing hairpieces and girdles.

    • How dare you talk about Star Wars. This feed is about Star Trek. I know the two are connected by JJA, but don’t spit out a sentence that claims the film was “unoriginal” and then talk about Star Wars. Hmm. Hard to be ground-breakingly original when you are MAKING A REBOOT.

      • Not wasting time on a pishing contest over who is the bigger Trek fan.

        I used the SW comparisons so I could discuss elements of this film that I found questionable without spoiling the actual scenes. I wouldn’t be so careful if the film weren’t worth watching.


    I am a die-hard Trekkie, like the kind that couldn’t care less if I am referred to as “trekker.” All you ridiculous people who claim fandom and then say that the film was something akin to “Intellectually shameful” are unbelievable. JJA recreated the greatest Star Trek Movie ever made: The Wrath of Kahn. Not only that, they managed to wrap in the TOS episode and WOK all in one movie. And it actually worked, it worked extremely well. And I feel that the reveal was amazing and for the first time in so long, I wasn’t completely robbed of that experience by the trailers. He gave real fan-service this time around and really tried to establish this continuation of the Star Trek Universe in the minds of longtime fans. Can you even imagine another universe where a Star Trek reboot would be possible at all? And profitable? And good?!!

    I’m convinced that everyone who talks about movies nowadays are so damn calloused that they can’t even see a gem right in front of their faces. And another thing: Who cares about non-trek fans? If you always hated the franchise and you like these movies then good for you, but they weren’t made specifically for you. They were made for the people who LOVE the TREK, while attempting to seek out new fans and bringing Trek into the 21st century. JJA simultaneously paid off the real fans and brought the franchise into modern culture, TWICE! And though I really enjoyed the 2009 release, Into Darkness was so much better I can’t even believe it.

    • I agree this movie was done very well. Saw it 2X already, didnt care for the 3D version but loved it already. What does TOS and WOK mean?

      • TOS=The Old Show
        WOK=Wrath of Khan

        • @Kahless
          Actually, TOS = The Original Series

          • Don’t make me kill you for your suggestion!!


            You are correct, sir.

    • Two Things.

      1 When saying a SPOILER ALERT. Do not put two lines between SPOILER ALERT DO NOT READ as the crux of your post. Use filler to give people a chance to scroll past your post.

      2 There is a Discussion for the movies over in the SPOILER DISCUSSION Thread.

  19. This movie not only successfully rebooted the best sequel in movie history, but added the twists. People forget that the first film altered the Star TRek universe and they could go in any direction they chose.

    I honestly think that ANYONE that has a gripe with this movie are people justr looking to complain about anything. This movie was done in a way that no matter where I am in the future, if it is on tv, i will sit down and watch it

    • So if you enjoy it, everyone must enjoy it? I did enjoy the film but I do see the flaws. Not every film will have 100% viewer satisfaction.

  20. We clearly did not see the same film.

  21. Just saw it, and what a great movie. Cumberbatch was awesome as was the whole cast. The characters were interesting and entertaining. A real action movie the whole time and very good use of CGI and 3D. The end was a bit predictable, but not much to complain about beyond that. Been watching Star Trek for over 30 years now and this is one of the best in the series. 4/5 stars.

  22. I liked the film a huge amount. Benedict Cumberbatch made it for me, chewing up the scenery whenever he was on screen like the acting behemoth he is. Also I liked how the film may have referenced previous cannon with negacting telling new stories with new twists and turns. SO.. When is Trek 3 being released?

  23. Really enjoyed the movie. Benedict stole the movie. I loved the scene on kronos. Wish there was more klingon action. Two things I didn’t like:
    1 – Bones using too many metaphors.
    2 – It was not necessary to bring in Leonard Nimoy. Scene was pointless.
    Other than that it was a great flick.

  24. At age 53 and Trek fan since I was 11, this was the best movie since Wrath of Kahn. I went with my 24 year old daughter, who is not a long time trek fan and she thought it was great. Concerning the alternate timeline, I thoroughly enjoy how they are working it so the alternate timeline has elements of the original. Why wouldn’t it? The first enocounter with the future Romulans occured at the time of Kirk’s birth. It wouldn’t have affected everyone equally.

    If you are a Trek fan, there are many references from the other timeline, one example, the Klingon’s are flying the same model bird of prey as the one that destroyed the Enterprise D in their first movie. Admiral Marcus played the villian in the second to the last episode of “Enterprise” as well as Gary 7 in TOS.

    I loved this movie, it was my first 3D experience in the current era. 15 minutes into the movie I didn’t even notice it, I was just immersed in the film.

    • @jgh59

      You’re thinking of Robert Lansing as Gary Seven, and those Klingon ships were more like small, snub-nosed troop carriers than any Bird-of-Prey we’ve seen before.

      I went to a standard screening, so I’m glad to hear the 3D was of the more immersive kind. Think I’ll go for that if I see it again.

      • The configuration was not the same but the designation that they gave them was the same (I think) lots of years and versions of trek to remember, I would have to watch “Generations” again to be sure. Guess I need to google the Gary 7 thing, I would have sworn…..


    I was very excited to see this movie, being a big fan of the ’1st’ movie…….however, while the movie was entertaining, I found the whole thing rather predictable. I’d say it was a good movie, but not a great one. There were some points where I wanted to cringe (Spock yelling Kahn into space much like Kirk did in the original movie 2, Tribbles, and escpecially the scene where Kirk dies, so reminescent of the sacrifice Spock made in the original was both touching and at the same time weak, since we knew Kirk wouldn’t die due to the amazing Khan blood, …and enough with the little green Scotty sidekick already.)

    I thought the movie was more like a Wrath of Kahn remake than a re-imaging of the Star Trek universe.

    BTW, my 15 year old daughter (who hasn’t seen the original movies) loved it..she’s ready to buy it on DVD already.

    • Those complaints below are not due to my post~! lol (his was removed I believe)

  26. Awesome!!! I loved this movie.

  27. Just saw this movie today and I loved it! I have always been a Star Trek fan from the first TV episode and I think they did a great job with Into Darkness.

  28. Good acrion Movie but what a disappointment for female fans with some hope for the two women. One has to talk about her relationship and the other one takes her clothes off…