The second entry in director J.J. Abrams’ modern rebooted and retooled Star Trek series should please all but the most die hard stuck-in-the-'60s Trekkers. Purists may squawk at the relentless action and perhaps overly jokey patter, but the combination of Star Trek: Into Darkness and 2009’s first self-titled entry are light years better than all their immediate predecessors, and on par with the two best in the original movie series, The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home.
The appealing cast is completely retained from the first picture, with a grand addition of Benedict Cumberbatch (TV’s Sherlock on PBS, not CBS), as the villainous John Harrison, a turncoat Star Fleet officer whose motives have layers within layers; he’s a fantastic bad guy, with one final shocking, satisfying ace up his sleeve.
Chris Pine makes a charming and resilient Captain Kirk, if a little too unbelievably rash and reckless; but Zachary Quinto is probably the best possible Spock we could have hoped for -- he’s logical and chilly, yet his face is expressive and he gets most of the movie’s best lines,as well as its biggest action sequence. Karl Urban is a serviceable McCoy, and he seems to have lost a bunch of his screen time to Zoe Salanda’s kickass Lt. Uhura, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Simon Pegg is a bit too much the joke at Scottie, as is Anton Yelchin’s Chekov, though John Cho’s Sulu carries the gravity we expect. UK bombshell Alice Eve joins the cast as a torpedoes specialist (is that a joke?), and her snug outfits and underwear scene make her one of the film’s best special effects but not much more.
A trio of screenwriters, including one of Abrams’ buddies from Lost, twist and remix familiar details from the Star Trek canon in fresh and unexpected ways while staying within the boundaries of the franchise's primary objective: showcase an optimistic view of the future. The 3D, special effects and nearly non-stop action certainly caters to younger ADD audiences, but the film’s core should still resonate with baby boomers who grew up with the series and bring a fresh spark that both grabs them in 2013 and remind them why they fell in love with Enterprise crew in the first place.
J.J. Abrams hasn't only resurrected the Star Trek franchise, he's returned it to the creative heights of its past glories. From a thrilling pre-credit opening to a climax of massive destruction and all the fireworks in between, Star Trek: Into Darkness should keep Trekkers and non-fans entertained from beginning to end. (***1/2) -- Sachin Arora
Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) sits in a dark room; a single light illuminating his weary, bearded face. A voice pierces the silence, directed at the enervated figure: “Do you feel bad, at all, about what you’ve done?” Kuklinski remains still, save his eyes, which begin to tremor in their sockets.
Readers familiar with the story of Richard Kuklinski will have an idea of what to expect in The Iceman. In the vein of crime sagas like Scarface and the lesser-known Kill the Irishman; The Iceman is a grim, if not unfamiliar story, about a man willing to succumb to his demons in an effort to provide for those he loves. The principal difference in these stories is that Kuklinski offers very little in the way of charisma. While Tony Montana and Danny Greene might be ruthless criminals, they’re also charismatic and exciting characters. Richard Kuklinski, as the namesake suggests, is a nearly frozen presence – terrifying and chilling in his manner of conduct.