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‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ review: Boldly takes audiences on a fun and exciting ride

Zachary Quinto (left), Benedict Cumberbatch (center) and Chris Pine (right) star in "Star Trek Into Darkness." The sequel to the 2009 film. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Zachary Quinto (left), Benedict Cumberbatch (center) and Chris Pine (right) star in “Star Trek Into Darkness.” The sequel to the 2009 film. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Now this is how you make a summer movie! (I am looking at you “Iron Man 3.”) This movie is definitely going to irritate some people, but for everyone else, this movie is a fantastic ride.

Director J.J. Abrams starts “Star Trek Into Darkness” in high gear, dropping the audience in the middle of the action as our favorite Starfleet crew tries to pull off its assigned mission. The film’s first sequence is intense, funny and action-packed. It perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the film and gives the audience everything they have come to expect from the last film.

All the main players from the 2009 film are back and they pick up right where they left off. Everyone seems comfortable in their roles. Chris Pine (Captain James T. Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (Dr. “Bones” McCoy), Simon Pegg (Scotty), Zoe Saldana (Uhura) and the rest of the cast all get their moments to shine here. Once again, we focus in on the Kirk and Spock relationship that this franchise has built off of since the beginning.

It is not an easy task to balance out screen time for so many characters, but Abrams and writer/producer Damon Lindelof use their experience on the television show “Lost” to keep all the characters involved. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci — co-writers on the first film with Lindelof — also return.

There are new additions to the cast as well. The lovely Alice Eve (“She’s Out of My League”) joins as Dr. Carol Marcus, a weapons expert who finds her way onto the Enterprise. Her role is not too large. Being that she was one of the only new characters added this time around, she could have used a little more development. What we get is not bad, but she would have benefited from a little more screen time to become a fully realized character.

The villain this time around is certainly a step up. Eric Bana’s Nero from the last film was a serviceable bad guy, but this time Abrams is not messing around. Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock) plays John Harrison, a Starfleet agent gone rogue. His voice alone adds a menace that the first film just did not quite have. Cumberbatch’s performance makes the audience fear for the Enterprise crew from the first moment that he meets Captain Kirk. It quickly becomes clear that there is more to Harrison than meets the eye.

This is an easy movie to spoil, so I will not go to in depth with the plot. However, it is the Harrison character and the events surrounding him where the film could become most divisive for diehard fans of the franchise.

Abrams and the writers have guts. There is no denying that. They made the movie they wanted to make regardless of what the old school fans were going to think. They boldly go where other films in the franchise have gone before, but put their own stamp on it.

The script is not perfect. A few time jumps in the story lack explanation. They seem to be there largely to help the pacing of the film, which comes in at a little over two hours, though it honestly feels shorter. This could have been another twenty minutes longer and I would not have had a problem with it.

What is here though is excellent.

Abrams’ often-mocked style from the first film is back again, and as easy as it is to make fun of, it works. From the first scene, lens flares abound, reminding you who is in charge here. Abrams uses every inch of the vast theater screen, keeping the audience glued to the film with breath taking images. What he creates makes for a great time at the movies.

Abrams has done great work in rejuvenating this once dying franchise. It is a joy to know that he will also get to add his touch to the “Star Wars” franchise in a few years.

Essentially, what it comes down to is that 2009’s “Star Trek” was good, but “Star Trek Into Darkness” is great.

“Star Trek Into Darkness,” a Paramount Pictures release, is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence. Running time: 132 minutes. A

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