‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ more like ‘Into Dumbness’


Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are not very colorful in "Star Trek Into Darkness" (PHOTO CREDIT: Paramount Pictures)
Chris Pine (Captain Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) are not very colorful in “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Credit: Paramount Pictures

‘Star Trek Into Darkness’
Director: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch
Rated: PG-13
2 (out of 5) Globes

The summer of 2009’s most unexpected delight, director J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” revived the moribund franchise, exploiting a canny time-travel loophole so a fresh-faced cast could take on familiar roles unburdened by a half-century’s worth of sci-fi mythology. The film’s great pleasure was watching these flinty Starfleet cadets gradually assume their rightful positions on the bridge of the Enterprise, finally blasting off for adventures unknown. It was terrific pop entertainment.

“Star Trek Into Darkness” is as glum and mechanical as its predecessor was buoyant. After spending an entire movie getting the band together, Abrams — along with returning screenwriters Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci — promptly bust them up and drag the action back down to Earth, ditching the space exploration for a joyless, been-there-done-that revenge plot. Demoted to First Officer for violating the Prime Directive, Chris Pine’s blustery James T. Kirk finds himself investigating an act of domestic terrorism by Benedict Cumberbatch’s rogue officer John Harrison — but he might go by another, more familiar name. An assassination sequence heavily indebted to — of all things — “The Godfather III” follows. A close friend is among the dead: This time, it’s personal.

An itchy admiral, played by Peter Weller, turns the Enterprise into a warship, much to the displeasure of peacenik Chief Engineer Scotty (Simon Pegg), who resigns from his post in protest. Kirk and crew are dispatched on an illegal mission of vengeance, accompanied by Alice Eve’s mysterious Carol Marcus, whose name might raise an eyebrow for “Wrath of Khan” fans.

In fact, there’s a lot that deliberately stokes memories of “Trek”’s 1982 high-water mark first sequel, including a mid-movie reveal that’s probably the worst-kept secret in the history of franchise marketing.

“Darkness” eventually replays an entire sequence from the beloved “Wrath of Kahn” film, except with a couple of key roles swapped. (Here it’s worth mentioning that with those original “Trek” movies, the even-numbered films delivered while the odd-numbered installments were notoriously lousy. Nifty of Abrams to keep the reversal theme going by inverting that particular axiom.)

Shot on film and then post-converted to digital 3-D, “Star Trek Into Darkness” is the muddiest-looking movie you’ll find in theaters right now. (Perhaps the title refers to the cinematography?) The vibrant colors of the crew uniforms and Abrams’ beloved fluorescent lens flares appear to have been submerged in murk.

The charming supporting cast is sidelined, and Michael Giacchino’s rousing score can only feign excitement for so long. This sorry sequel feels rote and hopelessly derivative, timidly going where we all have already gone before.


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.


Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.


Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.


Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.