Star Trek Into Darkness

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So, the big question: Should you go? Yeah, go, it’s fun, but like  Iron Man 3, it doesn’t top the first. The Star Trek origin story was such a surprise and so much fun that it would have been hard to beat. The first was also a rollicking good adventure. This second part of the planned trilogy is a bit plodding at times with too many “moments” that suck the life out of it. I appreciate that they are concentrating on character and story, but they lost a bit of what made the first one work and truly bungled the mix of serious and humor that was so well balanced in the first.

Diving in…and it is a long one (but without spoilers)…

First and foremost, if you know nothing of the plot and can even avoid looking at the bloody posters, do. The amount of spoilage that was out there truly damaged the impact of this movie. Had I not known all I did (even while actively avoiding information) I probably would have rated it higher. As it is, I spent half the film knowing where it was going and the second half trying to avoid assumptions. Yep, more than a little ticked off about it all. And can we talk about the title? At no time was “Trek” used as a verb… it was always a modified title (Star Trek: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, etc.). That colon is very important both in the attitude of the filmmaker and in how people read it.  I’m being picayune about semantics, I realize, but it does change perception and speaks to approach.

I am happy to say there were no red spheres in this story, though JJ. needs to learn what the heck cold fusion really is (if it is even possible). Criminey, can they not afford a real science consultant on these movies given their budgets? Not to get it right, but to at least not get it so wrong? I can live with stretched and fake science, but don’t blow simple stuff. OK, I’m over it. Honestly, that was about the worst of the outright errors, though there were many others later in the climax that I squinted through.

I can certainly see where IMAX would be fun for this flick. It is definitely big screen enabled. Unfortunately, you have to see 3D if you want IMAX. I opted for 2D and was perfectly thrilled with the visuals. I can see where they would have used 3D, but it didn’t diminish the story to not have it and most of those moments are forced. I would have liked the option to see it on a mammoth screen in 2D, had they made it available but only Nolan is producing films with that in mind any more.

All that said, this second round of the of the series is formidable and fun. And, hey, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, War Horse, Frankenstein), so where can you go wrong? Saldana (The WordsColombiana) and Quinto (Margin Call) really sell the story this time through, and Urban (Priest) continues to shine as Bones. Supporting them, Greenwood (Flight) and Weller are wonderful additions, though Weller is still picking scenery out of between his teeth on this one. Even Alice Eve (Starter for 10, MIB3) added a nice, if somewhat under-used, role to the mix. And Noel Clarke (Doctor Who, Metrosexuality) was a great surprise.

The root of the problem for this movie is the script. The dialogue is a bit too precious in its nods to the first round of movies from the 80s and 90s. While it is fun to see famous lines used in new and interesting ways, it tends to overshadow the current action. Perhaps after the trilogy is completed I may have a different opinion, but for now it has gotten too distracting rather than amusing and fun. In addition, the plot is too tight–and given its reflection of previous stories, also too obvious–about what will happen. Being well ahead of the plot watching it the second time through is fun, knowing where it will go the first time through is frustrating and removes the suspense. And really, there aren’t many surprises with the resolution, though there are some, so anything they take away reduces the fun.

As a separate conversation, I want to ask: Why does something like Iron Man 3, which is clearly science fiction, sell so much better than something like Star Trek, which is really fantasy, but is perceived as science fiction? As of today, Star Trek Into Darkness looks to open at about half the box office of Iron Man 3’s opening. The public, generally, snubs something like Star Trek (or likely the upcoming After Earth or Elysium) but flocks to Iron Man without even realizing they are all of an oeuvre. Drives me a bit nuts, as I end up in debates with folks who claim: I never watch science fiction, but are huge fans of Iron Man, X-Files, Fringe, Jurassic Park, etc. This is simply observation, but did find it interesting given the huge disparity of interest and box office. Certainly quality plays into any of these things, but it is also the old, “I see a spaceship, it must be sf,” mentality.

Long post, but many musings. I know I’ll end up seeing this film again on disc, so my rating is a little low–but I’d see it again as a completist more than a huge need. Again, after the trilogy is finished, perhaps I’ll have a different appreciation of the story. For now, it was a diverting couple of hours, but not much more.

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