Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review 162: "Star Trek Into Darkness"

Okay a couple of things first off. One, I know this was supposed to be another Shared Birthday review, but the DVD I wanted from Netflix had actually been broken by the previous recipient  I guess he wasn't happy with the movie. So, to move on, I did see Star Trek, so why not talk about that. Two, happy birthday Cinema Won!

Spoiler Free-Ish

      Okay, here's the deal. In order to talk about the new Star Trek movie in detail, I'm going to have to give up so major spoilers about what happens and who plays who. So, if you still haven't seen it, I'll sum up my thought quick here and then get on with the review after the first picture. Basically, it's fine, perfectly entertaining and worth a trip to the theaters, but overall not as good as the first and it's time for Abrams to give up the reins before he really does some damage. Which he will if he makes the third movie. J.J. Abrams (Lost) directs the film, which is written by writing team Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (People Like Us) as well as by Damon Lindelof (Prometheus). The film follows Captain Kirk (Chris Pine, Bottle Shock) as he leads his crew, which includes Spock (Zachary Quinto, Heroes), Uhura (Zoe Saldana, Avatar), Sulu (John Cho, Go On), Scotty (Simon Pegg, Hot Fuzz), Carol (Alice Eve, Sex and the City 2) and Bones (Karl Urban, Dredd) as they are tasked by Starfleet Commander Marcus (Peter Weller, RoboCop) to track down and kill the mysterious terrorist Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock). And as I said earlier, everything after this picture is filled with spoilers.

The People Zoo never really caught on.

Mystery Obnoxious

      Benedict Cumberbatch plays Khan. That's really the big twist. Seriously. The character everyone thought he would be playing, as it turns out, is the character he plays. Surprise! Abrams likes to build his movies around the idea of the "mystery box", basically having a central mystery teased in the marketing for a film that makes people want to see it. The problem with this is that A. teasing the fact that there is a twist makes the twist not as exciting and B. Abrams has never actually used it well. Remember when everyone tried to figure out what the monster from Cloverfield when it turns out to really be... a monster? Here it's the same kind of deal. It's not that hard to figure out that Cumberbatch is Khan and unfortunately Abrams isn't clever enough to makes for any good use out of it. His first Star Trek was solidly entertaining and one of my favorite films of 2009. It did it's own thing well, even if that did seem to go in the face of everything Star Trek stands for and would have been a great sci-fi movie if it didn't have the name attached. But here, it's not the name causing problems.

The Wrath of Yawn

      Basically Abrams is doing The Wrath of Khan. Again, just like everyone thought he was. And while the first one could stand on it's own, this one feels too much like last week's Great Gatsby. A filmmaker paying tribute to something they love, but without the understanding of what made that thing great. Here, the film attempts to play with Star Trek lore but doesn't actually seem to understand any of it. I haven't even seen much original Star Trek or even The Wrath of Khan, but I still know the movie feels like a bunch of winking references to the fans. Khan is literally a walking reference to a characters from the originals. He doesn't fit the personality and only does what the plot needs him to do. Abrams fails to make good use out of the things he's given. The cast is still great and the new editions, while shallow, are likable. The music is awesome and the sets and visuals are sometimes breathtaking. And he remakes Wrath of Khan? Oh wait, I forgot. This time Kirk dies and Spock gets to yell Khan. And then they save Kirk. With magic healing blood. That's not a  goddamn joke. But, I still cannot deny that the passion is there, albeit misplaced, and as a result, the movie is still solidly entertaining and fun to watch some brainless action. But that's the problem. This is Star Trek. I shouldn't be waiting for the smartness of the goddamn next Fast and Furious movie over a Star Trek movie!

Alice Eve's entire role in the movie.
The Verdict

      As odd as it is and as harsh on the movie as I just was, I still did enjoy it. It was fun and it was entertaining and I would recommend it. But that's not what I want in a Star Trek movie. Abrams seems more interested in making a stupid twist than a Star Trek movie. It wasn't even a good twist. Everyone saw it coming and know it does nothing but draw comparisons to Wrath of Khan and waste a good performance by Cumberbatch. Abrams has been given the keys to a franchises and he officially doesn't know what to do with it. And now he has Star Wars too. I hope we're happy. Star Trek Into Darkness gets 4 stars out of 6. 


  1. Dearc-1: I respectfully disagree with the critique of khan as a concoction of fanboyisms. Sure, the character had his problems, but most if them came because there was so little silence in the movie, so it's hard for khan's menace to grow. More demonstrations of mental/emotional superiority would have been nice. But still, st is an ensemble pleasure, and most thematic development comes via groupwork and (often cheesy) plot motifs.

    1. I had more of a problem with the fact that the Khan character seemed to only be what the film needed him to be. He had no real personality other that was the plot needed at that moment in order to move forward.