Review by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Alice Eve, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Karl Urban, Peter Weller
Running time: 127 minutes
With an opening sequence that makes the price of IMAX 3D worth it—Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and crew attempt to save a vividly colored red planet of chalky people from a world-destroying volcano—it's easy to get hyped expecting the same kind of detail from the rest of the movie. However, once back on Earth, the entire film is coated with a glossy blue hue, punctuated by the occasional flare. The change in palette sums up the movie: It's cool, and ultimately everything feels the same.
The central conflict focuses on rogue Starfleet officer John Harrison's explosive encounters with members of Starfleet, who are trying to protect themselves from total destruction. To give away why he's pissed would spoil the big reveal (although it's only big if you've managed to stay off the Internet for two years). Let's just leave it at this: Imagine the War on Terror, and insert Starfleet members where they fit, with Admiral Marcus (a yawn-inducing Peter Weller) as Dubya.
But just when those epic set pieces and action sequences become nail-biters, director J.J. Abrams cuts to a quip or two from the funniest crew members of the Enterprise: Spock (Zachary Quinto), Scotty (Simon Pegg) or the one character whose humor hasn't evolved since the '70s, Dr. Leo "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban). Zoe Saldana's Uhura is there to sweetly remind us that Spock is part human. Not that they're obnoxious at all. Ultimately, the palling around, especially in the bromance between Kirk and Spock, is what makes the popcorn taste better.
After the final climax peaks, you should only feel slightly cheated. At some point in the past hour and a half, you must've realized that the movie's never going to travel that deep into its titular darkness.
If there's one thing you'll say (or, well, remember) about the movie five months from now, when a friend asks if it's worth renting, this will be it: "Benedict Cumberbatch? You know, the guy who plays the main villain? That dude's scary as shit. He's gonna be a huge star." The rest of the movie was OK.