Justin does Star Trek Into Darkness

star1“My crew is my family, Kirk. Is there anything you would not do for your family?”

The Scoop: 2013 PG-13, directed by J.J. Abrams and starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana

Tagline: Beyond the darkness lies greatness.

Summary Capsule: The reboot movies provide their own action-packed version of Star Trek II.  Nostalgia not included.

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Justin’s Rating: All systems nominal

Justin’s Review: First things first: I was beyond relieved that Star Trek Into Darkness addressed a few of my biggest quibbles from the otherwise-excellent 2009 film.  Instead of moving on, STID draws upon the events of the reboot to answer if it was really a good idea to hand a starship over to a Starfleet Academy student (answer: it wasn’t), if Kirk should be in charge if he hasn’t developed maturity (answer: he shouldn’t be), and how Nero’s reshaping of the galaxy has impacted the timeline (answer: no spoilers!).  The film even remembered that Spock has the mother of all Wikipedia resources out there — and it doesn’t shy away from it.

Into Darkness isn’t a perfect film, but it is a darn fine one and one that I’m perfectly comfortable including in the Star Trek canon (as if I was being consulted).  In fact, after hearing grumpy Trekkies going on and on about how J.J. Abrams is just outright destroying the Trek universe and how this movie represented blasphemy of the utmost kind, I was really expecting a mindless action flick that only used Trek as a set dressing.  Instead, I watched a movie where continuity was grasped, where homages to the original series were made, and where countless references to established Trek lore and characters were pulled out just for that audience subset.  So for those grousing that Star Trek has been taken away from them and given to the unwashed masses, I have to just throw my hands up and ask why Into Darkness even bothered to appeal to them at all.

I’m happy, though.  That should be enough.  The way I see it, Abrams’ Trek is an intriguing “what if?” scenario that doesn’t overwrite what came before it so much as steps to the side and shows an alternate universe’s take — much like the mirror universe of established Trek.  You hate it and want to ignore it?  The original timeline is still there, somewhere.  But I think there’s room enough for both.

Into Darkness kicks off with two key developments: Kirk showing that he’s such a flyboy rulebreaker that he gets brought home for a proper spanking, and a sinister fellow named Harrison who starts targeting Starfleet for some unknown purposes.  The former is far more interesting to me, because the first movie had a devil of a time getting me to root for Kirk.  I don’t think I’d like this punk if I met him, because what his superiors say is completely true: he relies more on luck than wisdom, he thinks the rules don’t apply to him, and he’s probably going to get everyone in his command killed.  So if the Star Trek reboot was about Kirk finding his destiny as the captain of the Enterprise, Into Darkness is about him actually earning it instead of goading Spock into attacking him.

Another thing I appreciated?  The whole crew gets a lot more time in the spotlight than you’d find in some of the previous Trek films.  More McCoy, more Chekov, more (captain) Sulu, more of goatee security man who probably got killed when I wasn’t watching, and more of Scotty’s awesomeness.  Spock absolutely steals the spotlight from Kirk in most of his scenes, showing the continuing struggle between his human and Vulcan sides while showing his own strength of leadership.

Into Darkness is the reboot’s response/echo/callback to Wrath of Khan — and in a much better way than the lackluster Nemesis did.  I don’t entirely agree that there needed to be a rehash of Star Trek’s best film, but it was quite… fascinating… to see how it was addressed, how it was inverted, and how it was subverted.  I wish I could talk more about this aspect, but there are too many spoilers to get into it, so suffice to say that there’s an obvious respect for what came before instead of an attempt to upstage a classic.

Trekkies and characters aside, what you have here is a thrill ride of a sci-fi flick, long on action scenes and not so long on actual space exploration (although there is a promise of that at the end).  I’m still adjusting to how Abrams has interpreted Trek’s look and style, at some points being slavishly devoted to the franchise and at many points veering off to do its own thing.  The clean and neony warp core that we’ve long since known is now this atom-smashing mechanical monster that takes some getting used to, but probably is more true to form than the glowy condom of The Next Generation’s engine room.  Klingons look a little off, but there’s some references to honor and a lot of aggressive fighting, so I’m able to make peace with that.  I guess I’d like to see more classic Trek races than these weird aliens that only exist in these two reboot films, but then again, Trek’s all about introducing new races every single week.

So I’m cool with this.  I continue to wonder where Trek will go from here, if these reboot films (of which I predict one or two more, tops) remain the only big- or small-screen presence during this decade.  Will the prime universe eventually fade from the mainstream audience’s minds — and even Trekkies’ hearts?  Who knows, but at least we’re left with two good Trek films in a row to make up for two bad ones that came before it.

Introducing the Apple iPerson

Introducing the Apple iPerson

Intermission!

  • Paramount Pictures requested director J.J. Abrams to make the film in 3D. However, Abrams wanted to shoot the movie two dimensionally on film using IMAX cameras. The two compromised, and as a result this film marks the first time in cinema history that a movie was filmed in the IMAX format and then converted into 3D in post production.
  • This marks the first time a Star Trek film has shot outside the United States, with shooting in Iceland for special effects sequences.
  • During the opening sequence, McCoy says “Shut up Spock, we’re rescuing you!” McCoy spoke the same line in the original series episode “The Immunity Syndrome”.
  • Chekov’s temporary posting to Chief Engineer is based on a long running backstory and fan joke. When he was recognized from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, it was explained Chekov was assigned in security department. During the prime universe takeover, Chekov attempted to seal off engineering (as Walter Koenig hadn’t yet joined the cast). Kirk was so impressed by his bravery, he moved him to bridge navigation. This also explained why Chekov in the first three films was later bridge weapons and tactical officer.
  • Seatbelts! Finally!
  • The son of the original Scotty; James Doohan; makes a cameo appearance in the film as a Transport Officer alongside the current Scotty Simon Pegg.

Groovy Quotes

Christopher Pike: Do you know what a pain you are? You think the rules don’t apply to you. There’s greatness in you, but there’s not an ounce of humility. You think that you can’t make mistakes, but there’s going to come a moment when you realize you’re wrong about that, and you’re going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed.

Kirk: Why would a Starfleet admiral ask a three-hundred-year-old frozen man for help?
Harrison: Because I am better.
Kirk: At what?
Harrison: Everything.

Kirk: See, I told you it would fit!
Spock: I am not sure that qualifies.

Kirk: If Spock were here, and I were there, what would he do?
Bones: He’d let you die.

Kirk: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Spock: An Arabic proverb attributed to a prince who was betrayed and decapitated by his own subjects.
Kirk: Well, its still a hell of a quote.

Bones: You know, when I dreamed about being stuck on a deserted planet with a gorgeous woman, there was no torpedo.

Sulu: Attention: John Harrison. This is Captain Hikaru Sulu of the USS Enterprise. A shuttle of highly trained officers is on its way to your location. If you do not surrender to them immediately, I will unleash the entire payload of advanced long-range torpedoes currently locked on to your location. You have two minutes to confirm your compliance. Refusal to do so will result in your obliteration. And If you test me, you will fail.
Bones: Mr. Sulu, remind me never to piss you off.

Pike: Are you giving me attitude, Spock?
Spock: I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously sir, to which one are you referring?

Pike: That’s a technicality.
Spock: I am Vulcan, sir. We embrace technicalities.

Harrison: My crew is my family, Kirk. Is there anything you would not do for your family?

Kirk: Wait, are you guys… are you guys fighting?
Uhura: I’d rather not talk about it, sir.
Kirk: Oh my GOD, what is that even like?

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Sherlock (TV series)
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4 Comments

  1. Great review Justin.

    RE: your comment about the warp core in the movie.
    I don’t know if you knew this, but the scenes near the warp core/engineering were actually filmed in a REAL particle accelerator facility. This was done by Abrams as a tribute to all the physicists and astronomers who were inspired by the Star Trek franchise.

    So this large “chutes” you see in the engineering dept. in the film are actually true “warp” drives, only on a sub-atomic level.

    🙂

  2. Sometimes it was very good, sometimes it was mediocre, and a few times it was down right great.

    All I know is when THAT scene -THEE- scene came I got a little angry thinking that they were going to kill a certain character off, I look over to my left and my mother (Who saw the first Khan in theaters, so I got to have a war fuzzy feeling taking her to this one) was crying. If a movie, even if it’s goofy scifi action, can pull that kind of response it must have something to it.

    Also, Spock’s green blood!

  3. I felt like the first 2/3 were great, but then it stumbled in the the third act — I would have gone in a different direction, maybe make Harrison more of a reluctant ally than an outright villain. There’s also a major McGuffin introduced late in the film whose existence should completely alter life in the Trek universe, but it will probably never be brought up again. Even worse is that the plot twist said McGuffin is brought in to reverse is rectified way too easily. You have to earn that kind of comeback, and I don’t feel like the movie did.
    But there’s once scene in particular — and everyone who’s seen the movie knows exactly which scene I mean — where the movie marks the line between fan-pleasing nostalgia and utterly self-referential cheesiness — and jumps it on a motorcycle.

    TL;DR: 2/3 of a great movie, but the ending needed work.

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