Monday, May 27, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

I have finally laid eyes upon one of the biggest movies of May. A movie that needs no introduction. This is a big one fore me, precisely because I loved the first film so much. The only Star Trek knowledge I carried prior to this new series were old memories of Next Generation. I also delved into some of the older films with Shatner and Nimoy. I want everyone reading to understand upfront that I am by no means a "Trekkie," which may have swayed my opinion as I watched J.J. Abrams new film.

The two big opening scenes I remembered from December. If anybody saw The Hobbit in 3D they saw the big opening sequence, it put a smile on my face before and it put a smile on my face again. It was a great way to open the film, a film which I have already thought a lot about after seeing it earlier this afternoon.

What I think is funny about the film is how reminiscent it is to "Iron Man 3." Both films feature villains who are not who they seem, both films feature an extra villain hiding in the shadows and both films feature altercations in characters who are big in their mythologies, which could anger hardcore fans. With all that said, I think "Star Trek Into Darkness" has all the strengths "Iron Man 3" didn't have, plus very few of its weaknesses.

The film opens with James Kirk (Chris Pine) bidding frantically about a 5 year expedition, it would be the first big mission for the USS Enterprise and he wants it really bad. Even though he is still overly ambitious and still a bit of a hothead. Which makes his first Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) very nervous. Something distracts the team however from the expedition, two terrorist attacks on Starfleet involving a mysterious man named John Harrison (played to perfection by Benedict Cumberbatch).

Kirk and his crew get the mission to track down Harrison and bring him to justice, which is harder than it sounds as Harrison is located in Klingon territory, an alien race which is struggling for peace with Starfleet. Kirk understands that he must be very careful in finding Harrison without starting a war. Lots has changed in Starfleet since Nero's shenanigans from the first film. The organization is walking the fine line between being a discovery organization and a militaristic organization.

That what the title "Into Darkness" means. When it was announced that the sequel would be titled "Star Trek Into Darkness" I cringed. Hollywood is currently going through a phase were all movies need to be dark, moody, gritty and realistic. No action movie nowadays is swashbuckling or adventurous...they are dark and moody. That can sometimes put a dapper on going to the movies, especially when you want to be entertained. So I was taken aback in a good way to learn that there is a very deep meaning to the film's title. I like that, I like that a lot.

There are moments where every team member shines, but deep down, this is a movie between Kirk and Spock. It plays like a love story, however not a romantic love story but platonic, brotherly love. That close relationship between Kirk and Spock that you see in the old TV show isn't quite shared between the characters at the beginning of this film but as the film draws to close, its there. Kirk in particular has finally learned what it means to be a determined and honorable captain. The Kirk-Spock relationship is the glue to the whole movie, and I give both Pine and Quinto all the credit in the universe. They have become these characters, and it is delightful to watch.

Karl Urban as Bones is just glorious again. He has his funny moments and moments of great dramatic profoundness. There are scenes Bones shares with Kirk and Spock that will make all Trekkies nostalgic for the old show. Zoe Saldana is an actress I look out for now and she gives another wonderful performance as Uhura. Scotty has a much bigger role to play in this new film and he has a scene in particular where he is crucial to saving the day. Simon Pegg nails the character in a truly great way. Alice Eve appears as Dr. Carol Marcus and she does very good work in the film.

Sadly, Sulu played by John Cho and Chekov played by Anton Yelchin are for the most part absent from most of the action. They play pivotal roles in the mission and in the movie, but I would have loved to see more of them. The shortchange of those two characters was the biggest peeve of mine throughout the whole movie. 

Now lets talk about the big stuff the movie features. There has been lots of mystery surrounding Benedict Cumberbatch and his character. I won't reveal too much in this review but all I will say is that there is a big twist and some huge reveals regarding his character. Those twists I feel could piss off some die hard Trekkies. Me? The twists didn't bother me, I was so engulfed by the masterwork of Cumberbatch to really care. Plus, as I stated above, I am not a super huge "Star Trek" fan but I do like this particular character quite a bit. But I let some minor characterization changes slide because I was having too much fun. 

I will say though that I was annoyed by one particular choice in the movie. A major character from the "Star Trek" mythology appears for one quick scene and then leaves. They didn't play that big of a role in the movie and his entire scene felt like one that could have been deleted in post-production. In the first film, Abrams did the same thing. I felt that was a lot different because the character was important to the plot of the first film. In the sequel, the character feels like a production note.

There are plenty of colorful aliens, great special effects and a lot of action. This film will definitely satisfy the Friday night popcorn crowd. There is so much in this movie that will delight audiences that I could spend all night listing them. What really sealed the deal for me was the Kirk-Spock relationship. The character development this time out is a lot stronger and I hope with upcoming entries, that they keep that development strong. 

So at the end of this very long weekend, I am a very happy boy. I am happy because I saw a great "Star Trek" movie. I am happy because this summer movie season may turn out to be great. I am happy because I am so excited to see what Abrams does with "Star Wars." I hope that Paramount doesn't stop now that Abrams is moving on. "Star Trek" can be the next "Harry Potter" or "James Bond" series, where different writers and directors take a stab at these characters and their stories. Today is a good day to be a film fan and I hope you get out and enjoy this movie.

Final Grade: A

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