Splendid fireworks of character, action and dazzling effects, with an unfortunate third act trip and fail once again. All of Star trek’s lineage of the Enterprise’s crew is present in a near perfect balancing act of distributing screen time between character development and establishing a storyline to push everyone at warp speed into adventure that hits heart and home. But is it Sci Fi or merely another action piece obstacle course with an extended halftime of rehashed stage moves ripped from the past, reducing Star Trek to Muppets in Space.
JJ Abram’s update to Star Trek is a push into an alternate universe, where Vulcan is destroyed, Kirk is alot younger and not as suave. Spock likes to liplock in public with Uhura and the original Spock’s on intergalactic speed dial.
But there is problem with Star Trek’s parrell universe, I don’t want to see TOS replayed with some Muppets cute variations. I want to see a big budget wonder, a vast endless universe and unique, even bizarre adventures of Kirk and his crew discovering realms unknown to humankind. Not the road well traveled, not Khan with a new haircut, not the same scream from a different mouth. This is a fantastic opportunity to move forward into real sci-fi just as the original Star Trek did. Starting from it’s own era, it progressed and captured audiences, it didn’t search to be derivative of other series or seek safety in what has already come.
Abrahm’s new Star Trek needs to jump from our era into the future and the problem here is that no one has the inspiration of Gene Roddenbery or his courage to seek out new worlds and boldly create what no one has before.
INTO DARKNESS is sad really, as a commentary of our times and the lack of courage in creativity. It draws on the earnest characters of the past TOS, it even adds to the characters with nuance and depth but cuts them short by forcing the crew of the Enterprise to go where they have gone many times already, and as charming as the actors are, there is a deep failure and flaw to INTO DARKNESS. A flaw that cripples the adventure and makes it a mere phantom ghost of the past without enough inspiration, and no amount of sly gazing into the camera, with god’s flares or heartfelt acting will overcome the inane redundancy of repeated scenarios and save the moral implications of lost courage to create new and inspiring human stories.
Chris Pine is a near perfect version of an alternate Captain Kirk, and despite sometimes lacking the steady hand and gleam of the seasoned original. Pine manages the flying in the face of danger but not the control needed to be a true Captain. Yet perhaps that is the point, Pine’s Captain is inexperienced so while giving a nod to Shatners original, Pine adds an eager young yet unsteady hand and cowboy bravado.
I would go so far to say that the current crew is the definitive crew of the Enterprise. There are no weak links as in the television series of the 60’s. You don’t ge the feeling that everyone is getting some screen time out of a prerequisite to the character. Everyone is carrying their weight and value to the cast and crew.
Young Kirk is erratic and hot headed. It’s fun to watch Kirk getting chased down by chalky aliens holding on to a scroll, how he got into this situation is…well what Kirk does, and while Bones is pinched lipped but always quick to critise the shoot from the hip behavior of Kirk, he’s alway’s standing next to Kirk’s side, and it feels like a real friendship though not given enough screen time, it works.
Spock’s (Zachary Quinto) and Uhurah’s (Zoe Saldana) relationship is charming and well played despite the descent into domestic squabbling that only serves to reduce Spock’s dignity. Making Kirk an unwilling counselor in disbelief since all his relationships are secondary to his station as Captain. You just don’t bring your personal affairs to the workplace.
It’s sometimes difficult to remember that this isn’t the original Spock that is untl Zachory’s far more emotional version and feminine depth surprises you.
I interrupt this movie review for the super sexed up, ultra fit shape of future bod worship, clad in the newest molecular designs. The ultimate bosom embracer in a thought provoking ultramarine green bra. With abs to spare and incredulous peaks shaped neath the blond swing bob, Carol (Alice Eve) brings flair and much needed curves in her sudden apparel change behind Kirks twisting back. This is one Star Trek scientist with molecules that need closer examination.
All the crew has far greater depth of character and is very well played by the actor paying homage ot the past but adding new layers of humanity and interest that frankly wasn’t present in the original. Sulu is far more well rounded and his competence is immedialtey apparent.
The Effects are convincing and hi tech glamor. Of course with a bigger budget, there are more suits and tech to facinsate over. The interaction of the crew has never been better and Scotty has near contempt for everyones lacking in his area of technical expertise and his assurance of that is always fun.
Kirks and Spocks differences are played well and the supporting cast helps to support the main threads without looking merely like diversions.
Twin cat girls in bed with Kirk. Kirk slapping Spocks chest in fun on the way to a near court martial. When Spock unable to lie submits a report of breaking the 1st law of Star Trek’s Federation.
“I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously.”
Spock is wonderfully interesting and his mental deliberations could easily fill an entire movie and Kirk’s struggling evolution to a seasoned Captain while still holding onto his true nature is very watchable.
The dialogue is snappy, and to the point, funny, serious, and heartfelt.
Kirk loses the Enterprise, for not complying with the rules. his mentor tells Kirk that he isn’t ready for the Chair, meaning Command, that big chair on the bridge.
Meanwhile our suspicious nemeisis, obviously Khan, is setting into motion all that he must do to save HIS crew from deep freeze and StarFleet’s control. It’s a balancing act to portray one man’s earnest concern for his crew and Khans desperation to save the most important thing in his life, his comrades in kyrostatis, his own crew and the sentiment isn’t lost on Kirk. Though Khan’s methods are far too extreme and in the long run reduce Khan to a maniac.
Now everyone knew or suspected that the INTO DARKNESS would star KHAN. It was sadly inevitable despite the obvious pleas to not repeat the character and let the new universe crew discover new universes and new people. It’s here where all the potential of the new Star Trek falls into harms way and sadly becomes an amusement park retread.
Khan launches a one man war against Star Fleet, easily manipulating them into a corner and killing many of the most important members of the Federation board, including Kirk’s father figure and mentor, Pike. It certainly fuels Kirk with a desire for revenge.
There is real emotion in the scenes between Kirk and Pike. At a bar, Pike in an intimate talk with Kirk, lands lightyears ahead of the TV series with depth and humanity.
Of course Khan is a lunatic and is eventually stopped. At a cost, Kirk dies, Spock screams Khans name in a very emotional way. The crew is thrown against a far superior man, physically at least and the end much follows the obvious. Despite all the mirrors of the original Khan and the tech tricks that don’t, it’s still the moments of the Enterprise crew coming together that makes the new universe Star trek sing.
It’s Kirk’s real in your face action in a crisis that makes him the captain he is destined to become. And it’s eerie, sometimes you can almost see Shatner in his actions.
The Casting is near perfect, so perfect in fact that the original cast from it’s hey days can actually easily morph into the new crew, obviously there was the attempt to capture lighting in a bottle once again for a new generation, and tent pole movie making reign.
The third act is more carnival ride than Star Trek’s meaningful character potential or evolution and while it’s a fun ride, it leaves you wondering what happened to the starry eyed wonder of the past, flashing in Shatner’s eyes and how the present state of movie making seems to reduce everything to a green screen false backdrop without the weight of humanity carrying it up and into new places.
I hope that the writers start to understand Star trek isn’t about running though the special effects glitz but it’s about real courageous people pushing themselves into realms beyond their understanding but fighting to retain their humanity in the face of what can be the frightening challenges of space.