After J.J. Abrams established a new timeline with Star Trek (2009) that would allow new stories to be told with the original characters, this sequel was time for Abrams to boldly go where no one had gone before. Or, go where we have gone before, and just make the trip a less pleasurable experience. Nice choice, Abrams.
Into Darkness opens with an action sequence that sets the audience up perfectly for what is to follow: an overproduced segment taken straight from Indiana Jones, which features some of the worst makeup and costuming seen in science fiction in decades, and lets us know that this version of Kirk (Chris Pine) takes risks that ignore Starfleet regulations while Abrams takes risks that ignore the basic foundations of good storytelling.
Into Darkness consists of poor choices by all involved. From Abrams; to writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof; to actors like Zachary Quinto, who manages to utter an iconic line so poorly that it is not only an insult to Star Trek fans, but to actors as well. Benedict Cumberbatch also gives a one-dimensional performance, but it is more the writers' fault than his as he is forced to summarize the development of his character in a single, poorly delivered monologue.
Ultimately, it is poor storytelling that leads the audience into darkness. Somewhere along the line, the writers seem to have forgotten how to tell a good Star Trek story and continue to want to have a rogue Starfleet officer (Nice to see Peter Weller) have some evil agenda. You have reassembled the original characters; just go tell an original story. Instead what we get is a disjointed mess by writers and producers who seem to think that an action sequence will cause audiences to ignore that which makes little sense. Sure, let’s get blood from this guy, even though I have 72 other such guys right here.
The film looks good. The 3D is sharp and clearly enhances the film. Unfortunately all the effects in the world can’t save the ridiculous costumes from designer Michael Kaplan. Rarely have costumes been such a distraction.
Recommendation: If Hollywood can’t find someone to write a good story that features the beloved characters and allows them to explore the unknown, than it may be time to park the ship. It’s going to take much more than throwing Leonard Nimoy into a scene, which appears to be an afterthought, to make fans happy.
This is a DVD rental at best, or just wait for it on FX.