Sunday, May 19, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness movie review.

Anybody who regularly tunes into Fox, ABC, or NBC will immediately be familiar with J.J. Abrams. The spearhead of hit shows such as Alias, LOST, and Fringe has also made his fair share of entertaining films such as Super 8, and 2009’s reboot of Star Trek, a thrilling, funny, and intelligently written and acted experience that never gets old. So, for what I assume was his “audition tape” for his upcoming continuation of the Star Wars saga, we all got excited to finally see its sequel, Star Trek: Into Darkness. One of the charms of the original Abrams film is that it hit the right chords with die hard Trekkies, but had enough of a broad scope to also win new fans, but does the sequel hit that same mark?

Well, yes, but not with as much success.

It has been several years since the crew of the USS Enterprise prevented the destruction of earth, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods yet. A new threat has emerged, a “one man army”, John Harrison, who intends to wipe out Star Fleet in an act of vengeance. Why he does so is the big question, but I really can’t say much more than I already have without giving too many details of the plot away.

What made the first Star Trek movie work so well were the characters. They were numerous to count, but the movie somehow managed to give each and every one of them the chance to shine without another hogging all of the limelight. There was enough intelligence, confidant pacing, and a big enough scope to give all of them the attention that they deserved, and made that film’s heart beat. However, in making this new film, the creators almost sacrifice its core heart.

I say “almost” because the heart is still there. These guys are all trying their hardest, but the writing and the editing fail to give each character their equal share, meaning characterizations for certain characters are strong, while others are under developed. It feels to me like too many cooks were in the kitchen, one of those being Damon Lindelof, who you probably know that I can’t stand as a writer. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s more focused approach to the first film would have been most welcome here, especially in tidying up loose ends, and eliminating specific plot threads which need not have been included. Maybe it would have helped to increase the scope a bit. I’m all for films with intimate, personal conflicts, but it seemed like the film was holding back too much.

However, that doesn’t mean the characters are bad. Everybody from the first film is back: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin are all in fine form once more, and are joined by new faces such as Alice Eve (essentially a fan service character), and Benedict Cumberbatch, duplicitously sinister and quietly vicious as the film’s villain, a scene stealer, and a marked improvement over Eric Bana’s Nero.

And if fun is the name of your game, you’re definitely gonna get what you came for. A technical marvel through and through, you can’t help but be dazzled by the visual effects, and the impressive sound design that outshines even the first film, complete with more of Michael Giacchino’s rousing score. Humor is smartly presented throughout, and almost all of them are bulls-eyes. As for the action, it gets points for both quantity and quality, as they’re well staged, and smartly paced, ensuring that there’s never a single boring moment in the whole film.

So, for what shortcomings it has, Star Trek: Into Darkness must still be considered a victory. I don’t think it’ll have the same staying power or rewatch value that its predecessor did, but for the kind of shoddily put together catastrophe that this could have been, for Abrams to deliver something that’s still of quality is a success all on its own. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Star Trek 3, although Abrams may be too busy with Star Wars Episode 7 to return to the franchise. Whatever the case, I can’t wait to see Star Wars.

But I know what you may be asking me: Will that film be any good?

I'm a critic, not a psychic!

**** / *****

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