Release: Thursday, May 16, 2013
I still can’t decide whether or not that I wish I was a Trekkie now. On one hand, I feel like I was left out of the loop in terms of fully enjoying what has been largely deemed one of the more successful re-boot sequels ever made. On the other, I did indeed see Star Trek in 2009, and was simply blown away with what was being presented at the time (again, without having any previous experience with the old series), so it only seemed natural that this one would pick right up on where I had left off emotionally with the last. I had high hopes especially since most people I know are raving about Into Darkness.
Despite the glossy finish on this filmstrip, the intense action sequences, and solid performances all around, there was an extra special something this film lacked that truly engaged me in the story. With one exception, characters are not as developed throughout the film this time. That’s because Abrams did a really good job of doing so in the first film, bringing us all up to speed on the revamped cast and crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise in his 2009 phenom of a film. Here, he advances his agenda as he places these characters under further duress, where their entire world is now being threatened by a shadowy, terrifying unknown. It is Abrams’ hope that by now we are running with these fantastic personalities that have been accurately recreated in this new series. Why does it feel like I only went on a short walk with them this time though?
Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine) has recently been demoted from helming his own ship after disobeying the Starfleet’s Prime Directive when the crew are forced to come out of hiding on an alien planet. Spock has taken it upon himself to go down inside the planet’s imminently erupting volcano and implements a technology which freezes the lava instantaneously. The method would surely mean the death of Spock, but Kirk views it as his responsibility to leave no one behind. Unfortunately, this decision comes with a high price to pay. After being relieved of his captainship, Kirk re-enlists with another crew as a First Commander.
But when attacks hit close to home, and Starfleet’s central hub is bombed by a lone man — the one and only John Harrison, a former Starfleet member gone rogue — Kirk makes a strong case as to why he should be put back in charge. It’s a good thing ol’ Scotty (the reliably comical Simon Pegg) has the intuition as to where this man has fled to following the attack. Thus, our trusted crew are on their way into darkness, to breach a neutral zone between our race and the Klingon territory which harbors their home planet, Qo’noS/Kronos.
Now, granted, the opening moments of this film really could not have been handled any better. Forget about a gentle exposition. It’s a jarring jolt, and a violent one at that. From here on out the pulse-pounding action rarely seems to let up, save for a few lectures Captain Kirk inevitably receives for being the type of captain that he’s chosen to be — fearless, or reckless, that description I’ll leave you to decide upon. Most of the movie barely finds the time to explain itself — stuff is just happening. Abrams takes the Michael Bay approach and uses action in virtually every moment where there seems to be the risk run of having a lull in it. God forbid he bores a few ADHD members of the audience who need something loud and booming occurring constantly.
Half of the action — heck, maybe even three quarters of it was a necessity, sure. But like those Michael Bay CGI orgies, Abrams makes a bit of a mistake by cramming big explosions and crashes and fight sequences together to the point of saturation. I eventually became numb to what was ostensibly meant to be the climactic element when the Enterprise crash-lands on Earth. (That’s not a spoiler, this scene is in the trailer.)
And certainly Benedict Cumberbatch was a highlight as the dreaded villain. His voice could literally move mountains, or maybe at the very least, straighten out a Vulcan earlobe effectively.
So I still don’t know. To be a Trekkie, or to not be one. As many have validated, this re-boot is not meant to be 100% committed to every detail that made the old series dear to the fans of yesteryear. But. Would this film be better as a long-time follower? Would I have had more gripes with it if I were a 50-something-year-old viewer? Would I have laughed more at the expense of Spock in one of the many ideological scuffles he has with Captain Kirk’s methods? What have I missed in my viewing when I am not a fan for many, many years — aside from what is made obvious with the many self-referential jokes and quips?
Regardless, the answers to any of these come second to my question as to why this film is so intensely hyped. I have to say, maybe now I know what it feels like to not get swept up on the bandwagon. It kind of hurts, but I have to express myself honestly here. I was rather disappointed with the final result.
Recommendation: Star Trek: Into Darkness is undoubtedly a good film. Great, even. But it lacks the “oomph” necessary to boost itself to warp speed in order to go beyond anything else that any one has ever done, which is precisely the impression I carried with me into the theater. Hoping for some revelatory experience is a wasted expectation, it seems.
Running Time: 123 mins.
Quoted: “You misunderstand. It is true I chose not to feel anything upon realizing my own life was ending. As Admiral Pike was dying, I joined with his consciousness and experienced what he felt at the moment of his passing. Anger. Confusion. Loneliness. Fear. I had experiences those feelings before, multiplied exponentially on the day my planet was destroyed. Such a feeling is something I choose never to experience again. Nyota, you mistake my choice not to feel as a reflection of my not caring. Well, I assure you, the truth is precisely the opposite.”
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