Friday, June 7, 2013

Theater Review: Star Trek Into Darkness


If anyone out there actually follows this blog, you probably have noticed that the first Star Trek film that J.J. Abrams came out with in 2009 was probably my favorite film in many years.

There isn't many films that as soon as I walk out of the theater I think to myself 'when can I see that again?' But, the 2009 version of Star Trek had that effect on me. I absolutely loved it. And, I probably watch it more often than I should on DVD.

Anyway, I had been longing for the sequel (Star Trek Into Darkness) of that film - and the many more that I hope to come in the future. And, I made sure to run out and see it on opening weekend - pretty much opening night. But, I waited on my review, because I had to see it again before sitting down to write my thoughts.

As in the original incarnation of these films, the main characters of the film were always Spock, McCoy and Kirk - with the other characters, while not considered minor, were still secondary characters. And, that continues here.

In the first film the characters are introduced to each other and thrust into action together without truly knowing each other that well. In this film, they have gotten to know each other a little more, but are still learning about each other.

The relationship of McCoy (Karl Urban) and Kirk (Chris Pine) was strong, in an out-insult one another-type ever since they became friends at the academy. But, the relationship that seems to have grown the most is that of Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto). Despite still not grasping what the other is thinking, the two have a mutual respect for each other - and because of their growing friendship the jokes are getting better as well.

The difference between the old Star Trek and Star Wars was Star Trek was more about dialogue and relationships, while Star Wars brought the battles and excitement.

Here, we get both - and that is why I am absolutely loving this incarnation of the films.

Now, the movie itself.

After breaking the rules - again - and getting turned in by Spock, by accident, Kirk has lost the Enterprise to Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). But, because Pike sees something special in him, he persuades Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller) into allowing Kirk to be his first officer.

Meanwhile, a starfleet officer named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) has gone rogue and set off a bomb in London. All of the fleet's captains and first officers gather to decide what to do when Kirk realizes that Harrison just might be planning a separate attack - when in fact he is, on those gathered.

In the attack, many officers are killed, including Pike. Kirk requests to Marcus that he and the crew of the Enterprise track down Harrison, who has gone into hiding on the Klingon moon of Kronos. Marcus agrees, but only if Kirk takes the 72 long-range torpedoes with them and uses them to kill Harrison without starting a war with the Klingons.

Like in Iron Man 3, the true identity of the villain is hidden. Harrison turns out to be a genetically engineered superhuman named Khan, who is over 300 years old. And, for a little while, the audience is unsure who the villain of the film actually is. For those that have watched the original films, Khan is of course a terrifying villain. But here, reality is blurred.

As the Enterprise sits unable to move in space due to a core overload - caused by tampering - Alexander Marcus and his huge starship show up to take Khan from Kirk.

McCoy and Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), who turns out to be Marcus' daughter, travel to a nearby planet to open one of the torpedoes - only to find a human inside the torpedo. Alexander Marcus had awoken Khan years ago, but left all 72 of his former crew asleep, and all 72 were hidden in the torpedoes.

Khan and Kirk join forces to take down Marcus' ship, that is threatening to destroy the Enterprise and kill everyone on board. But, Scotty (Simon Pegg) who is on board of Marcus' ship, has given them a small window to save their ship.

It is here, and only for a little while, that we start thinking perhaps the villain of the film is Marcus, not Khan. But, Kirk is not turned at all - and as it turns out it is Marcus and Khan who turn out to be the villains.

Do I consider myself a Trekkie? I don't think I was. As I said, Star Wars was always more fun to watch because of the battle scenes and lightsaber battles. But, Star Trek always had the better writing, the better dialogue, the better interactions between the characters.

What we have here, is a mixture of both. And, I can now consider myself a Trekkie. And, I am even more excited for the next installment of Star Wars with Abrams at the helm.

What he has done here is amazing. He took something that was so special to so many people and rebooted it. And, came out smelling like a rose. He still has the dialogue, the relationships and the humor from the original - and also tosses in some homage to the films as well (Khan, tribbles). But, the exciting battles are what puts it over the top.

The crew continues to shine. They did it right on the casting. They all get a little more to do this time around than in the first, Pegg probably getting the most action after Kirk and Spock.

Cumberbatch is amazing as Harrison, and Khan of course. It was the worst kept, best kept secret. Abrams released his character as John Harrison and never once mentioned the name Khan, despite the blogosphere jumping to the conclusion that it would have to be Khan. But, still not a peep - and I went in not really knowing if it was him or not - until the reveal. Which was outstanding.

With the arrival of Nero in the first film, the voyage of the starship Enterprise is now skewed and things that happened to the original Kirk, Spock and crew are changed forever. So, even with the arrival of a familiar foe, many things have changed - but some things continue to be mirrored in some sort of way.

And, the good thing is, the Enterprise hasn't even started its five-year journey yet. The embark on that journey at the conclusion of the film. So, two films down and we are just now starting the actual journey of the Enterprise - I hope we can see this journey in many films to come.


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