Star Trek: Into Darkness Brings Balance to the Force
Star Trek Into Darkness—a film Star Wars fans have been looking forward to for a long time. J.J. Abrams’ sequel to the critical and financial hit Star Trek, has been generating more anticipation from pseudo-Jedi Warriors than Trekkies these days. This doesn’t come as a surprise since Abrams is taking up the director’s chair for Star Wars: Episode VII next. With all of this weight, can Into Darkness live up to the enormous pressure placed upon it by scores of comic con fanboys everywhere? Can we trust Abrams with Star Wars, one of the most beloved franchises in movie history? Could he really be the one to bring balance to the Force?
Balance. That’s an important word. A word that not only forms the core of the Star Wars story arc, but also encapsulates Star Trek Into Darkness. And, by all accounts, our own personal stories as well.
Into Darkness begins by thrusting the audience into the middle of what seems like a typical endeavor for the USS Enterprise crew. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the rest of the gang are tasked with saving an indigenous planet on the verge of destruction. It’s during this opening sequence, that the unifying theme of the film is introduced. Logic versus emotion. Or, in other words, Spock versus Kirk. Like a loose thread weaving through multiple pieces of fabric, the contrast between intellectualism and emotionalism forms the foundational basis for Abrams’ new outing.
After returning to earth, Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock learn of a new nemesis targeting Starfleet Command, John Harrison (played brilliantly by Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch). It’s not long before the crew of the USS Enterprise is tasked with tracking down their new foe on what they believe to be a deserted planet.
If I had to use a metaphor to describe Into Darkness, I would probably compare it to a typical Enterprise flight. The hum of the engines warming up, immediately followed by an almost instantaneous jump to warp speed. The film experiences a slow start, paving the way for an explosive burst of energy. When the hyperdrive does crank up, Abrams never lets the audience go, creating dazzling action pieces and scenes of beautiful imagery one after the other.
Lens flare jokes aside, Abrams is truly a master of blending together action, visual effects, and CGI to create a truly memorable experience. Even though the USS Enterprise could double as an Apple store in the local mall, the contrast between the starship’s clean white interior as opposed to the stark blackness of space creates a truly parabolic image.
These images prove to be a reflection of the intense struggle each character will have to endure during the mission. The crew of the Enterprise blasts into both physical and psychological darkness, doing their best to remain innocent despite the corruption all around them. The antithesis to this ideal is the character of John Harrison. The casting of Cumberbatch as a villain bent on destroying Starfleet Command couldn’t be more perfect. Each one of Cumberbatch’s scenes create a thick fog of tension simply because the audience never knows what he’s going to do next.
Despite Cumberbatch’s bleak presence though, Into Darkness isn’t all gloomy. Each of the principal characters possess their own specific niche, making it humorous to see the personalities rebound off of each other. Nowhere is this more evident than in Kirk and Spock’s relationship.
Kirk is a fly by the seat of his pants sort of guy, while Spock makes every decision by the book. As you can imagine, these two ideologies clash more often than not. One individual is governed by his heart, the other by his head. These qualities alone make the culminating climax so important (no I’m not going to ruin it for you).
The balance between heart and head forms the core of the Into Darkness narrative. This contrast also raises a number of important ideas in our world. By itself, pure logic can often become, like Spock, old, unsympathetic, and emotionless. On the opposite side of the galaxy, individuals driven by pure emotionalism, like Kirk, can be reckless, unintelligent, and self-preserving. To succeed, our world, much like the USS Enterprise, must balance each of these qualities.
We see this lack of equilibrium causing problems for society everyday. One area in question is Christianity. Often, followers of Jesus are told to fit into either the box of intellectualism or the encasing of emotionalism. One must either be driven by “faith” (what they feel about God), or knowledge (what they know about God). “Should I be governed by logic or emotion?” they ask. That answer is, and will always be, both.
Faith without the mind is really just belief ruled by what we feel on a given day. Truth becomes secondary and subjective. The mind without passion, however, is stale and heartless. It’s a commitment void of complete love.
Like Kirk and Spock, we must understand the need for both mind and heart. While each of us might be prone to one edge of the spectrum, there are moments when we must hop over to the other side of the ship. The minds needs more heart, the heart needs more mind. Abrams’ commitment to that idea, is what makes Into Darkness so outstanding.
While Into Darkness might not have the hook that Star Trek has, it is still a remarkable piece of filmmaking, character development, and visual effects. With expectations through the roof, Into the Darkness is a press statement to the world that Abrams is ready for the next level. If Star Trek is the big leagues, Abrams is primed for the World Series. We know he can bring balance to the Force, because he already has.