Star Trek Into Darkness

Posted by admin On June - 15 - 2013

Hormones in Space: Young Captain Kirk played by Chris Pine (left) drinks obsessively, sleeps around, and disregards Star Fleet regulations until Admiral Pike played by Bruce Greenwood (right) gives some fatherly advice on how to be a better Captain.

The Romulan Ale fueled fraternity of rule breakers are back, in Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to JJ Abrams’ re-imagining of Star Trek as Animal House meets Star Wars. After having survived a Romulan attack from the future, raw and inexperienced Captain Kirk and his crew have learned very little from the lessons bestowed upon them by Admiral Pike and the elder Spock from the alternate time line. After having survived a near death experience forcing the crew to break the Prime Directive, Kirk and Spock still has trust issues to the point where the younglings aren’t even sure they like each other. To further complicate things, young Spock struggled to balance his duties as a first officer and continuing to dip his pen in company ink with Communications officer Lieutenant Uhura. If that resembled an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 in space, the film was very much an angst ridden tweener drama with shots of Romulan ale if not for a post 9/11 trope that involved two villains, looking to escalate the tension between Starfleet and the Klingon Empire. Unfortunately there are no POV outside of Kirk and Spock to give any fresh insight to make the stand off on the edge of Klingon space more dynamic. Benedict Cumberbatch played the rogue mystery man at the center of the storm. When the money shot of his true identity was unveiled, one should have expected a bewildered, “So What?” from an inexperienced Kirk, a confused, “huh?” from most of the audience born after 1989, and from long time Trekies “Groan.”

Cumberbatch’s performance had a cold, calm, calculating presence but his role was nothing more than a plot device to quicken the pace to a sprint at the end with not a moment to contemplate the meaning behind all the running, shooting, explosions, and screaming. The standout performance was Zachary Quinto as Spock. His performance has elevated Spock as the center of Abrams’ universe. He distinguished himself from Nimoy in that Spock used his cold logic as a defense mechanism to be cruel to his human crewmates. Apparently Vulcans have learned the value of embrace your stereotypes. Chris Pine’s Kirk took a back seat as a punching bag and always 3 steps behind the other superior alien characters. This depiction of a fatherless Kirk was very unlikeable in that he’s just plain foolish at every juncture. Shatner’s Kirk was always a coy, brash young man but he wasn’t stupid. Kirk’s recklessness had a virtue. His ability to provoke his opponent into doing something foolish. Re-imagined Kirk just did the most foolish things without any rhythm or reason. It didn’t seem to be necessary to have Kirk in the Captain’s chair at this point. Something one wonder could very well happen if Pine decides to take on another franchise.

In the last 20 minutes the obligatory fan service was hastily slung around, having ignored plot holes it generated so Abrams could deliver the theatrical climax of a giant vessel rammed through downtown San Francisco that realistically slaughtered thousands. To top that gratuitous scene, a final chase between Spock and his nemesis on top of moving transport ships. When the bad man was put away, there’s cut to a nice speech on a clear day about duties and value in the face of terror that never addressed the fact, Kirk and his crew had to break every rule in Star Fleet bring an end to this conflict.

Captains are supposed to make the ultimate sacrifices for the crew but that was never Kirk’s problem. His problem was putting himself in constant jeopardy that led to others taking the hit. Lost in the ADD of CGI was all the life lessons, which made Star Trek so much more contemplative. Instead, its a look that continues to be shallow. Despite the clean, polished look of the film, I have to rate Star Trek Into Darkness a lite beer. It’s not completely unsavory but it never left me with anything memorable. Instead it made me cherish the original Kirk and Spock even more.

Cheers,

Ron

 

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