So…shall we begin?
Directed by: JJ Abrams
Written by: Roberto Orci/Alex Kurtzman/Damon Lindelof
Based on tv series created by: Gene Roddenberry
When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek, he wanted to write a series that used sci-fi to put a mirror up to our own world. He succeeded most of the time, although the movies tended more towards less “thinkin-man’s” sci-fi and more action.
JJ Abrams’ new vision of Star Trek is definitely geared more towards the latter, but it still works really well.
First though, let’s trek through some previews.
MAN OF STEEL–Goddamn, this movie looks amazing. Zack Snyder has been great fun (Dawn Of The Dead), middling with patches of greatness (Watchmen, 300, Legend Of The Guardians) and absolute shit (Sucker Punch). If the trailers are any indication, Man Of Steel could be his first true opportunity to delve into actual greatness. I promise you that some will hate it just because it’s not Christopher Reeve. I think it’s gonna be amazing, though. Besides, anytime someone in a Superman movie says something along the lines of, “They’re not a strong people, but they can be. They wish to be.” it gets to me. I love that shit. And with Russell Crow saying it this time out…yeah. Perfect.
PACIFIC RIM–Once again, Goddamn, this movie looks amazing. Anything del Toro does is magical to me, but when he’s allowed to just create his own world…that makes it all that much better. I’m gonna see the shit out of this movie. And so will you. I WILL IT!
GRAVITY–This could be the scariest film ever made. The trailer is George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in space suits marveling at how beautiful it is to be floating around the space station that they’re fixing. Then, all of a sudden, something bashes into the station and severs Sandy’s lifeline, sending her floating…where? I heard at least one “Fuck no!” around me in the theatre. I’ll see it, though. It’s Alfonso Cuaron and he really hasn’t steered me wrong. I’m interested to see what he does here.
Ok, let’s get to this.
When last we left Captain James T Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew, they were being commended for their handling of the Nero problem. Kirk was among the youngest captains ever given a starship and his crew was equally green, all fresh out of the Academy.
Star Trek Into Darkness opens with Kirk, Bones (Karl Urban) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) basically making a botch of an exploratory mission, completely obliterating the Prime Directive in the process…of course. (As much as Kirk always touted the Prime Directive, he broke it in just about every episode of the original series.)
Kirk also goes against everything he was taught at the Academy to go back and save Spock’s life. It’s something that, really, only Spock doesn’t want, but it’s also something that gets him taken out of the captain’s chair of the Enterprise. Not even his mentor, Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) can save him from that fate.
Then something happens. In a blatant terrorist attack, a former member of the Federation named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch in his first released American role) blows up the Federation Archives in London, killing some innocent people. Why would he do this? Who is this man? And why does Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) seem to want so badly to see him dead?
If Star Trek Into Darkness had come out before 2008, it probably would have been seen as a slightly subversive dig against the then current president. With it’s complex villain and slightly war-mad leader, it’s a perfect match for those uncertain times.
As it is, I think that people will gloss over that aspect of it and only see it as a sci-fi film with terrorism in it. They’ll see it as the new Star Trek movie that dredges up the past glories of Star Trek even more than the first reboot did. All of that is well and good…because it’s all true. But I really would like for the political context to be seen, as well. This is an incredibly political movie that takes the complex relationship that we have with terrorists and leaders and puts them into a popcorn movie with ties to our past and our future.
Enough of that, though. Does the movie work?
Absolutely. As much as I liked the first one, I think I might like this one a bit better. All of the actors are really sliding into their roles perfectly. Really, only the folks with put-on accents (Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg) come across a bit weird, but even they are starting to slide in there to BE Chekov and Scotty. Especially Pegg. By the end of the movie (even though he sits out a lot of the first half of the film) he’s become a human being and not just a character. (I think it has something to do with him called Kirk “Jim” for the first time.)
I don’t want to say too much about the plot because there are some surprises here and there…although those surprises seem to be getting spoiled all over the internet. I’m glad that I hadn’t read any reviews or stories before I saw the movie. I will say this, though: Abrams has debated whether they’re going to redo stories from the olden days. He made a decision that there are some people that you are destined to cross paths with, even if the stories are different. (Watch for one played by Alice Eve.) There are also certain events that are destined to happen, even if they happen with a different twist this time around. I kind of love that.
The only real problems that I have with the movie are pretty minor. There is one point where Spock does something that, at first, made me think, “Oh, man. You’re going there again? Do we really need that? Does he need a paycheck that badly?” Then I started to really think about it. If I had that resource at my fingertips…I would reach out to it, too. Absolutely. Might as well be honest.
Another problem is the title. I get it. It’s a dark film. But is “Trek” a noun or a verb in this title? Should there be a colon? Am I too much of a dork for making this an issue?
I really like where Abrams is going with this series. I think that the next movie will be more of an original story. There’s only so many times that you can dip into the past without people starting to call you out on it.