Those who didn’t make it to (or thru) the 2009 STAR TREK reboot (hands, please) may not be converted by the sequel, but may find enough reasons to stick with it. Okay, make that one reason, Benedict Cumberbatch in a villainous turn for the ages. This guy sells evil genius like nobody’s business, wiping the floor with the entire Starship Enterprise crew. Yet, while he makes it look like child’s play, he doesn’t coast, but works up something special, something psychologically playable in every shot. For the rest, the youthful replacements for the original tv gang remain hit-and-miss. Best is Simon Pegg, getting big laughs out of stale gag lines as a most irascible Scotty. Compare him with the poor guy who plays Bones (Karl Urban). They share the same Borscht Belt jokesmith, but not the timing to make these clunkers land. At least, Urban's a good physical match-up with dear old DeForest Kelley. Everyone else is a bit of a bore; and for some reason, the men all have lousy skin. A condition made worse by director J.J. Abrams who has his camera Push-In on every shot in some scenes. Sure, he coordinates well with the CGI specialists, but when it comes to working with actors, his thin theatrical output betrays him. No one connects. And his idea of dynamic staging is to stick a faceless extra (or an alien crew member) on a separate visual plane, carrying something useless in the background. But the main problem, and it may not be fixable, is Chris Pine as the young Captain Kirk. No worse an actor than William Shatner, though never as amusingly distinctive, his face doesn’t ‘take’ the light. An ensemble guy in a star spot.
DOUBLE-BILL: Might as well follow up with STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN/’82 for reasons that will be obvious from INTO DARKNESS.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: After the famously unflattering costumes in STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE/’79, the uniforms were much improved for KHAN. But DARKNESS brings out a mesh thermal underwear look. They’ve got to strip the leads to show them off.