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Star Trek Into Darkness

"Shall we begin?"

(16 May 2013) 

Director: J.J. Abrams

Writers:  Roberto Orci Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof

"You don't respect the Chair, and you know why?
  Because you're not ready for it."

Owch! Star Trek Into Darkness starts out with the same relational conflict and performance angst that the first movie did. And this movie, like the last one, does a stellar job of capturing the dynamic of the crew from the original TV Series.  This is what we crave in Star Trek. The various characters are all brought to life with their same quirky ways: The supremely confident Captain, the infuriatingly logical and belligerent Science Officer, the mother-hen cantankerous Medical Officer, and the drama queen pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat Engineer. They get on each other's nerves, but they have mutual respect because they are all incredibly good at what they do.  Getting this right is essential because it's not Star Trek without it.  [A good example of getting it wrong was A Good Day to Die Hard. Who was that? Because it was not John McClane!]

Star Trek Into Darkness Crew

The other element we loved the TV show for that these movies get right is the space exploration angle. The Enterprise crew call upon their better selves and keep each other in check in difficult situations, like we hope we would in a future when we are a kind of peace-keeping patrol that stumbles into outer space adventures. It's a balance of many types of people and many talents, not just the "Colonial Marines" kicking ass (we love that too), but the more inclusive idea that we all have a part to play. Plus, we (Action Movie Freaks, boys and girls) just love Sci-Fi. This delivers there as well. I loved the look of the city of San Francisco—very point-y, full of antennas. We love us some futuristic cityscapes [Thank you Blade Runner for setting the bar on that!]  The details are what really make it work.

Star Trek Into Darkness San Francisco

Attention to detail really came across in the costumes as well.  I was very impressed with the variety of costumes. They were true to the feel of the Star Trek TV show, and yet looked modern and incredibly well made. [I hope they win an award.]  How much do we love those uniforms?! The original designer, William Ware Theiss, did something fairly simple with shape/style and color scheme, and yet it stands the test of time. Beyond the fun we attach to seeing someone in a Star Trek uniform from all the years of great entertainment, as clothes, they have their unique style. Call me Trekkie, but is there anything cooler?  I love the treatment of the logo in this version.

Comparison of Star Trek costumes Spock and Kirk

No matter how many times we see the same types of things over and over in these movies, its always impressive when they include a 'standard' and it still soars. Like the high-speed, close-quarters dogfight. Yes, we've seen the incredible maneuvers in tight space many times but it's still fun here, maybe because it's not protracted.  I love it how sometimes something works in a movie just because the character had the balls (or craziness) to try it! And, like the Wow! moment when a larger ship dwarfs the one we're supposed to be impressed with. I have to say [SPOILER] that the epic moment in this movie is when the BIG, bad, black Vengeance appears behind the Enterprise.  You get that fear in your gut, like it's a bully you've just talked shit about and by the faces of those around you, you know "He's right behind me, isn't he."  And how!  Then you're left to wonder how they are going to win when they are so out-gunned?  What ingenious twist will Kirk or the crew come up with that you would never have thought of but which is still plausible (in the Star Trek universe).

Expectations are always hard to manage with such a beloved franchise as this. You hear the rumors that the bad guy is Khan, and you know the back stories from the original TV show and earlier movies, and then . . . they still manage to change it just enough to make it fun. It's a fine line: Too different and it's not 'that' story, too little and it's just a copy.  [I wonder what that would be like to take a movie like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and make it almost exactly the same—like Gus Van Sant did with Psycho (1998).]

comparison of DeForrest Kelley and Karl Urban as Star Trek Doctor Leonard McCoy

"Dammit, man, I'm a Doctor, not a torpedo technician."

I wish DeForrest Kelly would have lived to see not only that they cast someone as hot and cool as Karl Urban (and especially how great the hair is), but also what a fantastic performance it is.  Karl Urban really brings "Bones" to life in every onscreen moment they give him. Even when it's just the scowling face, he's perfect!

Speaking of perfect (all the cast were), did you ever think anyone could capture the supremely over-confident strutting rooster of William Shatner's Captain Kirk that we loved so much, without the unique phraseology and overuse of the pregnant pause? Chris Pine is great, once again, as Kirk. Yes, we want to go back and start over with the TV show characters and relive it all again with younger versions of ourselves, for that's what we see in the characters: Each of us identifies with someone on the crew. Maybe even the bad guy.

"Shall we begin?"

Adding even more fun to the waiting-to-hear-them lines like "Take the Con" and "The Needs of the Many", enter Khan. What shoes to fill there! Although I did miss the in-your-face barechested physical statement of the Khan costume worn by Ricardo Montalban, when Benedict Cumberbatch takes over nothing is lacking. [What a name. Maybe he got teased, but he's lucky he didn't attend American public school. But, then, he's big enough to take care of himself. Old Hollywood would definitely have made him change it though.]  It's funny that in getting someone to play a character who is superior, they cast an Englishman [My da, the Yorkshireman, used to say "There are two kinds of people in the world: Englishmen and Foreigners." The coldness of the proper English accent can easily compete with the fluid and condescending sexiness Ricardo Montalban gave Khan.

"Suit up!"

What a ride. I really left the theater feeling like I had watched a Star Trek movie. It kept me laughing, and on the edge of my seat in the action sequences. So much has been done in Action Movies that you have to marvel when they can still make the tension almost unbearable. You (think) you know they're going to come through whatever it is, but how and when!?  There were great moments like the [SPOILER] use of the Vulcan grips, and the Bromance [SPOILER] hand-touching on the glass scene. The movie, with a twist, stopped at the perfect place to continue the adventures of boldly going where no Man has gone before. For those unhappy with the ending, why? It didn't really have to follow the original story so closely to be satisfying. In fact, [SPOILER] putting the casket on a planet left it open for other Genesis Project possibilities, as well as bringing in tribbles. That original tribble episode was really kind of silly but we loved it any way. If you were given the chance to direct a Star Trek movie and could work in a tribble, wouldn't you? They made it just a furball just like it was, and didn't try to add eyes or anything stupid.  I think it was genius, and further proof they completely understood what makes the series work. The twist in what happens to Khan really made me want to see if in the next movie they send Khan's people to Ceti Alpha V on the Botany Bay. And isn't that what a really great ending in a serial story should do? Make you want the next installment.

Shall we begin? Yes, we shall!

Star Trek Into Darkness wallpaper of Kahn and ruins of San Francisco and the Enteprise


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