Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) Short Review (PG-13)

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I’ll probably be in the minority on this one, but I chuckled and smiled all through Star Trek Into Darkness but by the time it ended, I was feeling a bit disappointed. Does that make me a bad person? To be right up front, I’m not really a big JJ Abrams fan (even if I liked the first Star Trek reboot and the flawed Super 8). I don’t watch much television, but I have seen episodes of some of the programs that he has written/produced (Alias, Lost, etc)  and have been less than impressed. It has been said that he writes (and directs) for mass appeal, but I really don’t know what that means. or maybe I’m just not one of the masses that he’s aiming for. Much like Spock, I like everything to be somewhat logical and Star Trek: Into Darkness just isn’t. On top of that, just like the last film that I watched (Oblivion). it’s not only derivative of past films, but just swipes storylines without shame and chalks them up to being an homage. Instead of writing a new film (which is what I wanted) he’s doing this sort of fan fic (or maybe like the old Marvel comics ‘What If’ series) where the characters are reliving situations from some past storyline, but a moment is changed or character roles are switched to see what the new outcome would be.

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I kept getting the feeling that Abrams was saying to me throughout the film “Hey, remember that moment in that movie that was really cool? We’re reminding you of that RIGHT NOW. Wasn’t that cool that we were doing that scene from that other better movie? Wasn’t that cool when this guy said what that other guy said in that better Star Trek movie?” It starts with a Raiders of The Lost Ark swipe and then continues from there stealing from several of the previous Star Trek films (with one in particular). JJ, I WANT TO SEE A NEW MOVIE, NOT A MOVIE THAT I’VE SEEN BEFORE. Abrams is even repeating his own films. In the first Star Trek film (the reboot, of course), we have a villain who is somewhat sympathetic with his motivations because he’s been done wrong. His FAMILY’s been done wrong by Starfleet Command and he’s out for vengeance. Same here. In that first Star Trek, the Enterprise’s helm was like a game of musical chairs just like this one with Pike, Kirk and Spock all having turns as Captain. And we get ‘angsty Kirk’, who is the supremely confident natural born leader who loses all self esteem whenever something goes wrong and goes crying to Spock. Oh, and the crying… Abrams fails in putting any weight in the events of the film or conveying that there is anything at stake. Even when someone dies, you;re not really concerned for that character because you know… Well, anyway…

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The one thing that the film does have is humor. There were quite a few laughs even if there were many jokes that fell flat. I think I would prefer the characters to act a little less juvenile, but hey, this the NEW Star Trek. The one where the characters are simultaneously bungling idiots and the most brilliant officers in Starfleet whenever the plot requires them to be. Just like how I felt in Abrams’ first go-round, I don’t like the Star Wars aspect of the reboot. The whole idea behind Star Trek was mankind’s search for new worlds and new species of life, but Starfleet’s menagerie of alien races would put that Mos Eisley cantina’s selection to shame. You’re kind of taking away the purpose of the story in exchange for making it all about Kirk and Spock’s man love for one another. And while, I’m on that subject, Star Trek’s strength was always the relationships of the main three characters, Dr. McCoy being the third obviously. Here, he’s kicked to the curb to make way for the ship’s translator (and Spock’s lady). I don’t have as much of a problem with that as I do with the Star Wars aspect, though… Or Spock’s fluttering bangs when he runs.

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The film’s strength is that it moves well. It moves quick enough and has enough explosions/action/comedy to keep the masses minds off the fact that the story might not exactly add up. I still don’t know why the Klingons were in this other than to acknowledge that they exist. The characters are all likable enough, though, and I’m having deja vu again. Just as I thought in the first film, Chris Pine does a pretty good job doing a combination of bringing his own take to the character and  nodding to Shatner. Zachary Quinto still doesn’t have a voice weighty enough to play the character even if he’s adequate otherwise, and Simon Pegg is a highlight when they allow him to appear in the film.

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The villain’s super-secret identity will be no surprise to Star Trek fans. Bendict Cumberbatch does a good job in the role for the most part (who does have a voice that carries weight), even if he may not be physically imposing enough to be… Again. Well, anyway…

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This movie will make a ton of money, so I may have to look forward to more of the same in the next installment. They do recognize the idea behind the original series’ appeal at the end of this, though, so maybe things will change course a little and Abrams will find a new story to write, but I doubt it. I debated on how to rate this one. In the end I give it a ‘2.5’. It did entertain, even if after massive explosions, Star Wars pod race type chases and zipping across galaxies, the film ends in an uninspired anticlimactic fist fight that doesn’t even feature the MAIN CHARACTER of the frickin’ series. Sigh. You may like it more than I did.

2.5 of 5

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