Star Feat, by Sarah Brinks
In 2009 when JJ Abrams (director of Mission: Impossible 3 and creator of Lost and Alias) rebooted Star Trek I was as nervous and hopeful as the rest of the Trekkies (Treckers, whichever you prefer). For context I grew up watching the Star Trek movies and Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m a fan but not a scary super fan. With a new Enterprise whiter and shinier then an Apple store, a cast better looking then aTwilight movie, and a time-travel paradox that justified the reboot Star Trek fans for the most part were happy… I know I was.
Star Trek into Darkness was my most anticipated film of 2013 and I was not let down. Granted, it would have taken a disaster of X-Men: Last Stand proportions for me not to have enjoyed the film, but I am also a critic and had to keep an open mind. While not a perfect film Star Trek into Darkness is very good film and one I look forward to watching again. I know I was afraid of spoilers going into the film so I will use caution here. Star Trek into Darkness starts with James T. Kirk as captain of the Enterprise with the usual crew in place. After an exciting opening scene on an M-class planet Kirk finds himself in trouble with Star Fleet (again). Then there is a terrorist attack in London. After a spectacular action-scene at Starfleet headquarters Kirk and crew go after the man believed to be responsible for the bombing. My plot description will end there, but the film is an action-packed, fast-paced romp through space that both Star Trek fans and non-fans can enjoy. Like 2009’s Star Trek, Star Trek into Darkness has a lot of in-jokes that fans will appreciate and that will simply wash over non-fans.
The cast of Star Trek into Darkness is familiar with a few exceptional additions. The most notable is Benedict Cumberbatch as Kahn. Cumberbatch is an excellent villain. His presence on screen is remarkable. Any scene he is in he manages to elevate the other actors in the scene with him while not overpowering them. He also proves himself as an action star. He is in many fight scenes with hand to hand combat and he not only pulls them off but he makes them look believable and impressive. The evolution of Cumberbatch’s career has already been interesting to watch and I look forward to any opportunity to see him onscreen. Another addition to the film is Alice Eve as Carol. Carol is a weapons specialist and science officer. Eve is an interesting addition to the cast, she is clearly a future love interest for Kirk but she also plays an important part in the plot of this film. The rest of the cast are all on their A-games again in Star Trek into Darkness. There’s a few moments when character-isms are shoehorned in, but I chose to just let them go.
Speaking of shoehorning, there are few moments in the film which feel completely out of place. Most notably is the gratuitous underwear scene with Carol and a scene with Kirk hooking up with two alien women. I know they were just throwing a bone to the horny fan-boys out there but they fell flat in context to the rest of the film. Alice Eve has an incredible body but it didn’t serve the plot to have her undress on screen and therefore fell flat.
Director JJ Abrams embraces his signature style of film-making in Star Trek into Darkness. I wouldn’t describe Abrams as a subtle director but I respond to his vision. He may have overdone it a little again with the lens-flares but he sure knows how to make Star Trek look sexy. There are a few shots in this film that made me wish I could high-five Abrams. Most notably the way he uses reflections in the brig scenes. Abrams knows how to shoot action-scenes, which is good because there is a lot of it in Star Trek into Darkness. The action is kinetic but also translatable. There are scenes in outer space and also having to do with gravity shifts that could have easily dissolved into a Stephen Sommers like action-scene of images moving on a screen but Abrams keeps you anchored enough to keep up. Abrams and his writers also embrace humor again in Star Trek into Darkness. The audience I saw it with was not particularly responsive but there are many laugh-out loud moments in the film.
I went and saw Star Trek into Darkness in 3D to be able to speak to it in this review. I regretted it immediately. I avoid 3D whenever possible, I find it to be an irritation at best and a distraction most often. There are a few moments in the film that were clearly shot with 3D in mind but for the most part it simply serves to add depth to the images on screen. If you enjoy 3D then pay the extra money and see Star Trek into Darkness in 3D. If you are like me then you are not missing anything by seeing it in 2D. In my completely biased opinion you are actually getting the better deal with 2D by not having to watch it with blurry action and an inevitable headache. To be fair though this was the first film I saw in 3D that I didn’t feel was made darker because of the glasses.
I had concerns about a sequel when I had enjoyed Star Trek so much. However on the imaginary “sequel spectrum” Star Trek into Darkness falls much closer to Empire Strikes Back then Iron Man 2 I have more to say about the film but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. What I will say is that Star Trek fans and fans of good action movies will enjoy Star Trek into Darkness without feeling like it is too “nerdy”. I will not say that the film is perfect; there is one really cheesy moment in the second act that really didn’t need to be there and felt very forced and you also have to just let go and accept the magic of science fiction several times. That is part of the fun of Star Trek, a quick push of a button or a hypo-spray fixes everything. The film is fast-paced, action-packed, the plot is intricate, and the cast is top notch. I was engaged with the film and had a lot of fun.
I really enjoyed Into Darkness — maybe not as much as the previous iteration, but it was the perfect popcorn movie. I think Abrams et al. handled the reboot well with Star Trek, but I feel like some of the changes they made this time around could either tickle the fanboy/girls’ nostalgia centers or serve as absolute blasphemy. I enjoyed many of the callbacks, but some of the references to the original series kind of dulled the emotional impact of certain moments (if you’ve seen the movie, you probably know the exact moment I’m referring to).
I agree with your take on 3D — the best part of the 3D experience for me was getting to see the Man of Steel trailer in 3D. Aside from a few early moments, the use of 3D in Star Trek is not really noticeable. It’s not jarringly bad like Clash of the Titans, but it doesn’t create an immersive experience like Avatar.
I do know the moment you are talking about and I completely agree. There were also a few too many “I’m a doctor not a ***) moments for me, but like I said, I just sort of let it go.
Benedict Cummberbatch. Most. British. Name. EVAR!