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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

May 24, 2013

8/10 Executive Decisions

Boldly going where we’ve already been before. But not really. But kinda. You know what, who cares? It’s awesome.

Star Trek Into Darkness picks up with Captain James T. Kirk being stripped of his command after endangering his crew on what was supposed to be a routine mission. Adding insult to injury, a former member of Starfleet-turned-space terrorist has gone and leveled the Starfleet archives building in future London. Things just get worse from there, so worse in fact that they reinstate Kirk’s post on the Enterprise and give him 72 space nukes to overkill this traitorous bastard on the far edge of the galaxy. But as Kirk and Co. home in, they soon find that all is not as it seems on the final frontier.

I’ve never had anything against it, but Star Trek was a show that never really grabbed my interest growing up. Never knew a Trekkie who tried to show me the light, and at the end of the day, there just weren’t enough lightsabers for little Aiden’s liking. It just sort of existed for a long time in my life, that is until the summer of ’09.

Going in, I didn’t know what to expect from that Star Trek reboot, the most I was hoping for was a fun time courtesy of the guy behind Lost. By the time it was over, I was high-fiving strangers with a mile-wide grin and throwing up the Vulcan salute on my walk home through Harlem. Four years later, it remains one of the most (if not the most) entertaining time I’ve ever had in a movie theater, the movie by which I’ve measured every summer blockbuster since.

Star Trek of all things. Couldn’t freakin’ believe it.

So yeah, Abrams had his work cut out for him with this one. And though I still haven’t done my homework by giving the show a fair shake, you can bet your ass I read the Cliff’s Notes this time.

That’s right, boys and girls, for the first time in my life, I finally sat down and watched The Wrath of Khan last week. Not only was it as good (and surprisingly moving) as everyone always said it was, but given all that it has in common with Into Darkness, it was awfully nice to have the base of comparison. The only catch to the situation is how I go about comparing the two without giving things away in turn.

For the sake of avoiding spoilers, let’s just say that there’s no shortage of fan service in Star Trek Into Darkness. I can appreciate the appeal of throwing tribbles into the mix, but the more the story progresses, the more these nods to the source material start taking on a life of their own. For a majority of the movie, I was under the impression that it was more a reimagining than anything else. Just as he did with the whole Kobayashi Maru thing in Star Trek, it’s awesome to see Abrams create something that’s both recognizable yet new. The arguable downside to the situation is that it eventually starts to feel like a full-blown remake.

Not that it isn’t handled well enough, it’s just an easy road to take.

But all that aside, the fact remains that this was over before I knew it. The pacing here does not slow down and I couldn’t believe how the writers managed to keep raising the stakes to the heights that they did. Every other plot point is one of imminent life or death, each one carries an impossible solution, and before long, the flop sweats in my theater were well under way. It’s a freakin’ rush, man, and even though the wildest scene of the movie is oh so suspiciously similar to the wildest scene from Star Trek, there’s no use complaining about it. Familiar fun is fun all the same. Don’t quote me on that.

So yeah, the adrenaline rush most definitely comes standard and the good news doesn’t stop there. The other big perk of watching Khan was that I had a better understanding of the rapport between Kirk and Spock. Throughout all the space battles and plot twists, the friendship between these two makes for the emotional cornerstone to this story. I still think this new Spock is laying it on too heavy with the logic, even by Spock standards, but it’s nice to see them both get an equal an equal amount of time in the spotlight. After all, it’s that very friendship that ultimately made Khan so special.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about John Harrison, one of the best movie villains I’ve encountered in a while. Now, I appreciate Khan from Khan as much as the next nerd and there’s good reason why he’s widely considered the Enterprise’s greatest foe. But for all the terror he caused with his glorious pecs of steel, he was strangely flawed by his thirst for revenge given his superhuman intellect that he just had to remind everyone about. Dare I say he was one-dimensional, a quality that’s non-existent in John Harrison.

Since we’re already kind of but not really on the subject of Lost, Harrison reminds me a lot of Ben Linus, the best damn character to come out of that damn island. He’s the silver-tongued devil who’s playing all the angles before anyone else realizes there are angles to be played, and it’s a thing of beauty to watch him work his magic. He’s easily the most intriguing character of the bunch, and since that clearly wasn’t enough of an edge, the writers decided to give him superhuman strength to boot.

Did I forget to mention how fantastic Benedict Cumberbatch is? Lord almighty, does Cumberbatch destroy. Go watch Sherlock, you’ll get what I mean.

Although as caught up in him as we get and for all that he keeps us guessing ’til the end, the end felt a wee bit anticlimactic for such a daunting individual as this. Maybe it’s just me being the bloodthirsty bastard that I am, but it seems like Abrams decided that 10 was good enough just as he was about to turn things up to 11. Not sure what that was about.

Then again, bless his little heart for giving Peter Weller some much-needed work. The world is seriously lacking in the Peter Weller department.

Keep in mind, this is all coming from a relative ignoramus when it comes to all things Star Trek. At the risk of incurring the wrath of fanboys near and far, the general consensus on the last movie was that it resonated just as well with fans and outsiders alike. From what I’m hearing about this one, the reaction hasn’t been so universally groovy. Apparently some folks are miffed that Abrams has strayed too far from the roots of the franchise and turned it into something that would make Gene Roddenberry turn over in his space capsule. And while there’s only so much that I can attest to this claim, I know enough to dig where they’re coming from.

That underwear scene with Alice Eve? You trippin’, Damon Lindelof.

But as someone whose fondest memory of Star Trek was a reboot from a guy who’s now responsible for Star Wars, I had myself a damn good time. It’s not going to stick with me like the last one did, but that was to be expected. Experiences like that don’t come around too often. Still, as over-complicated as it gets, I like that I enjoyed this entry for a lot of the same reasons as the last one. And as far as memorable villains go, talk about a quantum leap from the likes of that jerk Nero.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2013 12:16 am

    I know what you mean about the “not cranking it up to 11” bit. The hand-to-hand combat felt… silly. It felt a little too… television show. We paid good bucks and given that it IS a summer action flick, it is NOT too much to expect something cinematic AND clever. It is “Star Trek,” after all.

    Still, I enjoyed the movie a lot. That final chase/battle scene just did not sit well with me. It came off lazy. And it wrapped up too quickly. Also, more Uhura please!

    • May 24, 2013 8:58 am

      Right? When that final scene just ended and things started wrapping up, it was like letting the air out of a balloon after I’d been bracing myself for it to pop for 20 minutes. But like you said, there’s still a lot to like, and more Uhura never hurt anyone.

      • May 25, 2013 11:49 am

        The more I think about it, the more frustrated I become. Is that weird? =P

      • May 28, 2013 3:12 pm

        Not at all, I’ve kinda stopped thinking about it for that very reason.

  2. May 24, 2013 3:02 am

    Good Review! I think the previous one is better but it still kicks ass! So far the best blockbuster this year.

    • May 24, 2013 8:59 am

      Thanks! Agree with you on all counts. Here’s to hoping Man of Steel lives up to its trailers.

  3. May 24, 2013 8:12 am

    I’m seriously dying to see this one. I love Benedict Cumberbatch as well, especially from his show Sherlock.

    • May 24, 2013 9:05 am

      Haha. What’s not to love? Sherlock’s the freaking BOMB! Hope you dig it as much as I did and would love to hear your thoughts once you give it a go.

      • May 24, 2013 9:13 pm

        I wonder when Sherlock is coming back on the air? Talk about leaving it on a crazy cliffhanger. British TV’s been kicking ass lately.

      • May 28, 2013 3:08 pm

        Shouldn’t be too long, hopefully. Just saw photos of them filming in London, but that’s not helping much in terms of an air date. Whenever it is, it can’t get here fast enough.

  4. May 24, 2013 9:50 am

    I haven’t seen it yet, but considering what I’ve seen in the trailers and, of course the ’09 Trek, does it feel like the style of the space battles are torn out of the Battlestar Galactica playbook and thusly cranked up?

    • May 24, 2013 9:58 am

      It actually doesn’t. The thing I really dig about Trek space battles is the way the ships maneuver like actual naval vessels. When warp speed’s not activated, it’s all very plotting and strategic. Very different from the large-scale Viper/Cylon battles of BSG, which I probably like more. Still, there’s no shortage of high-stakes action going on here. Check it out, yo.

      • August 14, 2013 11:30 pm

        One thing I’ve always noticed about Star Trek (movie and show) is that space battles are very rarely treated as something to be strung out with complicated twists and turns. The nail biting part of it is preparing for the battle because once the torpedoes start launching bit holes appear in the ships and somebody if not both comes away limping. The first Star Trek movie did it better with each of the captains we meet in turn doing their best to out maneuver Nero intellectually with the intent of not firing torpedoes at all. This is something I really appreciate about the Star Trek genre because even with later adaptations making it more of a war genre, the general rule tends to be to talk before shooting because shooting has massive consequences that you can never, ever take back. Every time you put a hole in a star ship, somebody gets spaced and it takes a long time to mend it afterwards.

      • August 15, 2013 8:27 am

        Very interesting. I really need to go back and watch both the show and the other movies before the next one comes out. Intellectual warfare is always more compelling than guns blazing. Being far more well-versed in this stuff than myself, what’d you think of Into Darkness? Just saw this on IGN and was kinda surprised by where this placed on the list:

  5. May 24, 2013 10:58 am

    Great review, definitely agree and I am glad you liked Wrath of Khan as well 😀

  6. lrstreet permalink
    May 28, 2013 3:07 pm

    This one of those weird instances where I’m glad I didn’t have to write a critical review of the movie. I still would have given it a great score because I had a lot of fun but most of the entertainment came from the cast and the action.

    • May 28, 2013 3:16 pm

      I know what you mean. there was certainly no shortage of action scenes and the cast was on point. Glad you dug it!

  7. June 18, 2013 9:35 am

    This seems to be really dividing viewers. I’ve read some positive reviews but probably the same amount of negative ones too. Glad you enjoyed it though Aiden.

    • June 19, 2013 9:02 am

      It was fun, man. Wasn’t on the same level as the last Trek and it hasn’t really stuck with me since, but certainly enjoyed myself. But I hear you on the division, definitely takes some liberties at times that don’t really gel with the franchise. Still, it’s worth a watch, man.


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