Sunday, July 14, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness I made my way down to Des Moines to catch Star Trek Into Darkness at the last theater in the area at which it is still playing.  It was a matinee and I thought that I'd have the theater almost to myself considering I was behind the times but the theater was pretty full.  We were all in for a treat!

My review has likely been unfairly influenced by that of Mark Kermode because the J.J. Abram's interview and Mark's review were what inspired me to exert some effort to go catch it in the theater.  And I think he was pretty spot on.  It's a fun race of a movie that never lets you catch your breath or think too hard about what's going on.  The action never stops which is fine because J.J. Abrams excels at presenting creative, flashy and fun action sequences.  It is, like the first reboot from a couple years ago, a newer and hipper Star Trek but one that keeps most of the core elements of the original series so the heart is not lost.

I think the biggest strength of this (and the first) movie is the casting which is essentially perfect. Chris Pine is not an actor I would normally associate with brilliant performances but he perfectly captures Kirk's mixture of swaggering bravado/arrogance and his overblown sentimentality.  I can't imagine anyone else playing Spock better than Zachary Quinto who is equally great as Vulcan Spock and more human Spock.  Simon Pegg is hilarious as Scottie, in particular in putting on the affected and absurd Scottish accent.  New comer for this film, Benedict Cumberbatch is amazing as the baddie, radiating menace, but a complicated menace that makes it difficult to interpret how we are supposed to take him. 

With such a great cast, Abrams is also able to squeeze in between or during the action sequences a good amount of character and relationship development so the film does not just feel like empty action.  I think one of the central purposes of the movie is to explore the development of and cement Spock and Kirk's relationship.  For those of us that have been fans of Star Trek all along, it gives us the opportunity to see how these two dissimilar people became not just a great team but deep friends.  For those who are not long time Trek fans it still gives the movie its interest and way in.

All in all I loved it.  It's not going to change my life or anything but it was great fun and left me wanting to see these characters and actors exploring the galaxy again in the future.  Hopefully that's in the works!  I should not that while I am a trek fan and have watched almost all of Trek's incarnations (haven't watched Enterprise, or made it all the way through Voyager and Deep Space 9), I am not a trekkie.  I mention this because it might influence how you might trust my review.

PS - One comment on a controversy associated with the film.  A lot of people have raised objections to a seemingly incongruous shot of Alice Eve's character in her underwear claiming that it was completely gratuitous and jarring.  I had dismissed these complaints as I figured that it was probably in some way helping develop Kirk's character as the leering lech that he is.  But upon seeing the film, I have to agree with the critics - it has no purpose beyond "Honk Honk...Let's look at this pretty lady in her skivvies" and its edited in such a way that's just awkward and weird.  Not sure what that's about but both Abrams and the producer (I think) have apologized and said that it was indeed a misjudged shot.  But one small niggle amongst a lot of goodness.

Anybody else seen Star Trek Into Darkness?  What do you think? 

P.P.S. Hello to Jason Isaacs!

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