“You just made my day,” director J.J. Abrams says, exhaling with relief. He’s just been told that a particular action sequence in his new movie, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” quickened the pulse of a seen-it-all movie critic, and for a moment, Abrams can stop explaining all the laborious homework and meticulous details that go into making a film with a rabid (and vocal) fan base and simply talk about the picture as a giant summer movie, shot with IMAX cameras and post-converted to 3-D.
“The key for us was always to make a movie that was, above all else, a thrill ride and funny and entertaining,” Abrams says. “We had already done the heavy lifting (in 2009’s “Star Trek”) and established our take on the characters and our own timeline that acknowledges and honors everything that had come before, but at the same time splits off and heads out on its own direction. We could pick and choose what we wanted from the original series and leave other things alone. And it was intentionally designed as a stand-alone movie. There’s no need to have seen the first movie or the original series. They are not essential reading. But if you are a fan of the series, you’ll be rewarded too.”
Although “Into Darkness” tinkers with “Trek” canon in ingenious (some will say blasphemous) ways, the movie’s primary objective is to put on a great show, with a series of increasingly grander action setpieces that are furiously exciting.
“What J.J. does so well is to maintain a sense of fun throughout the entire story,” says Simon Pegg, who plays the engineer Scotty. “It’s important that a big entertainment like this remembers what it is and doesn’t get pretensions of high art. Not that the movie isn’t artful: It is. But there has been a tendency recently in movies to get overly serious with what is essentially kids’ stuff. Some filmmakers are trying to make comic books and superheroes and fantasy a little more somber, but I think sometimes that’s a slight misstep, because it loses the core of what makes (the genre) special. J.J. never loses touch with his inner child: He is so in touch with the experience of being thrilled and happy and excited in every way.”