I will spare you the platitudes, drawn-out metaphors and historical perspectives and get right to the point. Star Trek: Into Darkness is an above-average summer popcorn movie. It delivers everything you want from a franchise blockbuster sequel and, from THAT perspective, actually delivers more than you would expect, considering some of the recent sequel disasters (Iron Man 2 and Hangover 2, I’m looking at you). I found the story to be boring and laid way too heavy with stock story tropes—writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof (be careful whenever there are more than two writers) obviously weren’t concerned with being original, interesting or challenging—but it still works as a summer escape movie, loaded with action and screen-filling effects. I thought for sure director J.J. Abrams would find a way to use the 3D technology in this big space adventure movie to wow me with something I’d never seen before, but, instead, it was distracting and so not worth wearing those glasses or forking out the extra cash. While I don’t hate 3D, I haven’t seen it actually add anything to a movie since Hugo.
But, even so, the movie was as entertaining as the opening-night crowd I watched it with—I guess “Trekkies” still exist—mostly because of the tremendously watchable cast. From the totally underappreciated Bruce Greenwood to the comic-relief-with-purpose Simon Pegg to the reasons-to-shell-out-money-in-the-first-place Benedict Cumberbatch and the most-engaging Zachary Quinto, there isn’t a weak link in the movie. Cumberbatch is the next big thing and you’ll understand why when you watch this movie. And Zachary Quinto? Well, I discovered just how good he is out of the pointy-ear makeup on FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum last season and he is equally good in a completely different role as Spock, with his dry delivery and quiet eyes. It’s too bad I don’t love Chris Pine more as Captain Kirk, but his frat-boy demeanor does play off Quinto’s Spock well enough to make one of sci-fi’s most loveable bromances believable and fun.
There’s a lot of humor here, which is good, and the action scenes are well shot. J.J. Abrams better get to know his way around space, since he’s the one tapped with resurrecting Star Trek’s blockbuster space adventure rival, Star Wars, in 2015. But, until then, Star Trek is doing a fine job pleasing the fan boy masses and Star Trek: Into Darkness is a fine way to spend a summer evening.