The beginning of “Star Trek Into Darkness” was a brilliant launch for this killer movie. (Click here for Part I of my review, including the terrifying true story of 13-year-old me facing down Capt. Picard’s greatest nemesis, Q.)
“Indiana Jones” flicks may be the best example of the opening-scene move “Star Trek” pulls off. You thrust the main characters into some exciting situation that’s intense, but fun enough for comedic beats. Remember Indy kicking the diamond around during a Shanghai night-club shootout in “Temple of Doom”?
There’s this awesome “Into Darkness” moment where Kirk is running through the red foliage on some planet populated by weird-looking primitive tribes. He comes up on a big monster and phasers it down immediately. Then Bones appears and says “That’s our ride! You just stunned our ride!”
Yada yada yada… things end with the Enterprise appearing above this primitive race – a cool visual that also violates the most important rule in Star Trek lore. The Prime Directive says Federation officers are not to make their existence known on planets that haven’t evolved to the point where meeting space travelers is appropriate.
This “Into Darkness” opening is fast and fun, with worrisome underlying politics and an excuse to bust the Enterprise through a bunch of clouds in the sky above a crazy-looking planet. The events also establishes a friendship blood oath between Kirk and Spock (since Kirk saves Spock’s life) that’ll lead to “KHAAAN!!!” screaming later, and sets up Kirk’s demotion in Star Fleet and ultimate redemption. Mmmmm…. Action-driven narratiiiiive…. That’s some sweet scripting.
Again, it’s gonna be awesome to see how J.J. Abrams has fun with the Star Wars franchise. The first scene of Episode VII will probably be insane.
And how about Scotty? He wisely warns Kirk about the dangers of bringing those missiles onto the ship, making the case against militarization with “We’re explorers.” Then he gets demoted and basically kicked off his ship, little alien buddy in tow. Then Kirk calls him for help like nothing happened and he has this great action-hero subplot that makes the other stuff in “Into Darkness” work. Spock and Kirk are so well-conceived and acted in these movies, but don’t forget about Scotty.
Coming up in “‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Review, Part III”: Alternate-universe Enterprise destruction. Stay tuned!