Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

20 Jul

An episode of Frasier mentioned that one of the best sorts of meals is one that is very good but has one distinct minor flaw that you can pick on all evening.  Star Trek Into Darkness is like that.  Before I get into the meat of this review, I have to say my overall impression is that this movie is fun, quite entertaining, and zips along at a pretty good pace.  Thinking of something to watch for a Friday night?  This is perfect.

Ok so SPOILERS follow,  do not roam beyond this sentence unless you want to know what happens or are aware of it already.

Reboots are an interesting phenomenon, essentially they are the same things as remakes except their intent is to bring back a whole franchise rather than pay homage to a specific movie.  Unlike a remake (and that word has been backburnered since the word reboot has come up) reboots can change nearly everything about the original picking up only what they really deem useful.  Unfortunately reboots are quickly becoming a tarnished endeavor, tending towards slick empty product rather than quality pictures.  Fortunately Star Trek does not follow that trend.

You’ll get all the interesting bits about how the new Star Trek series ties into the original stories, but I have to say the redesign and the callbacks to the source material are darn clever, the execution isn’t always that smart, but how these movies have neatly hopped to an alternate timeline with a completely different look while still staying faithful to the spirit of the thing is amazing.  You’ll enjoy this movie the most if you’re a fan of the series enough to know what’s being referenced but not a diehard trekkie who will say things like “Spock wouldn’t do that” and get all irritated (then again that may be their way of enjoying things too.)

In other words, you’ll want to get into the spirit of the thing.  The science here is just next door to magic, but if you’re looking at any Star Trek movie for hard science you’re already in trouble anyway.  Many parts of the movie are dumb–Spock’s half-human thing to name one thing, but again, there’s many other scenes that are smart.  Khan’s character is smart.  The whole showdown with the Commodore is smart.  The whole Spock/Kirk relationship is smart.  So you’ve got those things.  One thing I found is how lovable Spock is in this series–his opaque stare and stiff way of doing things make him seem lovably awkward.  I don’t even mind the Spock/Uhura romance (I mean she was the only woman in the ship half the time you can’t imagine something wouldn’t have come up sooner or later.)

The only thing that I think keeps this movie from being A-1 is that it suffers from final act drag.   I would have been happy if the movie ended with them landing the enterprise on earth, and the follow-through from there.  However, they tack on this Spock/Khan fight on the top of a hovercraft that drags on forever, and doesn’t even match the rest of the movie.  It’s like they felt like they had to have a one on one fight because of how action movies function these days.  Old Trek wouldn’t have done that, in fact they rarely got into hand to hand anyway because it was about the technology, but here, there it is, shoehorned at the very end.

My other quibble is there’s a scene where Khan takes his spaceship and smashes it into a bunch of buildings in a city.  There’s this new thing I’ve seen popping up in movies where 9-11 seems to be referenced in this very odd fashion (Superman does it too), so while you see no bodies, or nobody being harmed, you get this sort of scene.  Now I’m certainly not one who thinks that 9-11 is a sacred cow that should not be in movies, however, in a movie  like this one, when you reference a tragedy, it brings in a lot of subtext that isn’t really conducive to the movie.  I know they did it to show that Khan was evil (rather than just misunderstood) and to raise the stakes, but having a scene such as this one reminds people of death and suffering, and since this is a movie that is not about death and suffering at all, it comes off as a bit manipulative.   I don’t even see the point of trying to show Khan as a terrorist–after all there’s lots of bad people in the world who aren’t, the whole link seems to be a little stretched.

However those things are at the very end of the movie, and the whole set-up coming onto it is so good I can’t help but recommend it.  The movie is fun, and often a hoot.  Go see it.

One Response to “Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness”

  1. CMrok93 July 21, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    There wasn’t any part in the movie where I was bored, I was hooked the entire film. Good review.

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