Friday, May 17, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Title: Star Trek Into Darkness

Director: J.J. Abrams

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Peter Weller, Benedict Cumberbach


I’m not a Trekkie in the pure sense of the word, because I don’t know every single episode from every single series that ever came out and there have been a few series. I did see every episode of Star Trek the Next Generation which for non Trek connoisseurs is the series in which Patrick Stewart played Captain Jean Luc Picard. Now that one I enjoyed all the way through! I’ve also seen every Trek film ever made and have enjoyed them for different reasons. For example, I love the old ones starring William Shatner because of the chemistry between the characters, the interactions between them and the banter they play off each other, this by the way is an element that the new films are delivering as well. The new actors channel their older counter parts rather effectively in my book; which of course makes the whole film that much more enjoyable, cause a huge part of what audiences like in these Star Trek films is seeing Kirk and Spock quibbling about “gut reactions” and whether something is logical or not. I think audiences agree with me on this respect, the audience I watched Star Trek Into Darkness with giggled at the comedic elements in the dialog, especially when they brought in those old phrases like “Dammit Jim! I’m a doctor not a miracle worker!”. There’s lots of nudges here and there that Trekkies will eat up, it’s a film that’s mindful of its core audience while at the same time attempting to appeal to a broader audiences in order to break with old stigmas.

J.J. Abrams bringing Star Trek Into Coolness

This time around, there’s a mysterious terrorist inflicting fear upon the population of earth, by blowing up landmark buildings. The terrorists real purpose is to kill the leaders  of the federation! When the terrorist successfully kills some of them, Kirk and his crew have to head to the Klingon home planet in order to find the one responsible and make him pay. Along the way, relationships will be tested, friendships will clash, and the enterprise will test its limits! Can Kirk and crew bring this megalomaniacal madman to justice?

In this film connoisseur’s eyes the Star Trek films have always been cool, I have always loved them; but I know this is not the way everybody sees them. To the rest of the world Star Trek is synonymous with the freak and geek crowd, you know, those guys that dress like Klingon’s in comic book conventions and have discussions on Star Trek lore speaking in the Klingon language. What J. J. Abrams wants to do with this new series of films is change all that, he wants to make Trek sexy, make it cool. Not an easy task when we consider that Star Trek has never cared to be sexy. They’ve never been about beautiful looking people. In fact, in the first series of films we followed a crew that was populated by fat, old, bald people. Not so with these new films where the crew of The Enterprise is young, beautiful and sexy. Hell, on these new films Kirk’s always getting some action, he is portrayed as a womanizer! There's a scene in which a character needlessly strips to her under wear which many people seem to think went "too far", a comment which I find absolutely stupid, hollywood has never been shy about showing skin, especially when it will get more butts in theater sits. The scene is surely gratituous, I agree, but no big deal. Certainly not something to make a big deal about. Pretty ladies in underwear aside, I think all these changes serve to make the film more entertaining. J.J. Abrams wants you to be amazed by a Star Trek film, he wants people to go see Star Trek Into Darkness more than once! Well, if you ask me he has successfully achieved his goals, I know I’ll be seeing it again. This is the biggest Star Trek film ever, what’s not to celebrate? I mean, this here Star Trek film is a summer blockbuster of gargantuan proportions!  I was wowed. First up, the visual effects are sheer perfection, you should be impressed. I mean you will see gigantic spaceships traveling through the universe, alien planets and civilizations, a futuristic version of earth, these vistas offer us bucket loads of escapism. If you want to escape to another world, here’s the movie for you to do it with. 

I wasn’t aware that in some ways this film was going to be a pseudo-remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982) a film that is heralded by legions of Star Trek fans across the world as the best Star Trek film of the first series. That film is a flat out revenge film, and Kahn, as played by Ricardo Montalban is without a doubt the best of all Star Trek villains. Not a single actor has been able to reach Kahn’s memorable villain status. Considering that Wrath of Kahn is one of the best Trek stories ever told, what did J. J. Abrams and his crew do? They basically remade Wrath of Kahn. I wasn’t aware of that going into the theater, but damn, with a few alterations here and there, the second half of this movie is basically a remake. But, to be honest, it’s a damn good one and it doesn’t play out the same exact way that it did in Wrath of Kahn. The film also borrows heavily from episodes of the television show. Still, even when we take these things into consideration, the film manages to offer us many innovative ideas, one after the other. There’s this awesome chase sequence that takes place as two ships are traveling at warp speed that was so awesome! So be ready for a film that has similarities with other stories of Trek lore while at the same time blowing your brain to smithereens with cool new ideas. Even the aliens who have minor scenes look freaking cool!

The infamous (yet delectable) stripping scene

Thematically speaking this film is all about terrorists attacks and what makes them happen. Why does a terrorist decide to attack a country and kill innoncents? What fuels that hatred? Is their anger somehow jusitified? The film addresses the terrorist attacks that took place during 9/11 and it also plays with the notion that these terrorist attacks might have been self inflicted in order to provoke a war. It also speaks about how the government trains individuals to become stone cold killers, and then, when these trained killers have to return home, they are unable to continue functioning properly in society because they are used to carnage and death. Soldiers just can’t go back to buying cereal at the supermarket and mowing the lawn, kind of like what we saw in First Blood (1982). They also talk about weapons of mass destruction, a fear that has recently shown its ugly head again in society and as a result, these fears are now reflected and discussed in films as well; so we get contemporary themes on this film. Above all, what I enjoyed the most about Into Darkness was how fun it was, it’s never boring, not for a second. So far, this is the most exciting movie of the Summer 2013 season, it’s even more exciting than Iron Man 3 (2013), which kind of lacked in action a bit. If it’s not the entertaining banter between the crew (how charismatic and funny are these guys?) then it’s the amazing action pieces. Bottom line is this is one big, fun ride! Now, we all know that J.J. Abrams is the director behind the next Star Wars film (Episode VII) and all I could think of was what J.J. Abrams will do with the Star Wars universe; I say strap your selves tight, if Star Trek Into Darkness is any indication of what J. J. Abrahams can do with a science fiction property, then were in for an exciting ride through hyper space!

Rating: 5 out of 5   



Dan O. said...

Good review Francisco. It's always bumping, moving, and never letting go of what we want and what we can't wait to see. That's why it's still my favorite of the year so far.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

That gorgeous bird in the bikini is incredible, i`d very much like to bugger her senseless.

steve prefontaine said...

Its astonishing to realise that the first season of "The Next Generation" from 1987 now looks almost as quaint as the original series from the 1960`s ! ! !.

Franco Macabro said...

Agree Dan O, so far it's the best of the Summer 2013's entertaining every step of the way.

Steve Prefontaine: True, but it still rocks! That show constantlyl amazed me with how well written it was.

Neil Fulwood said...

Good review, Franco. I invited my buddy Mark to guest review it for Agitation (thanks for your comment) and I've only just got round to seeing it myself. I've read some negative things about it, mainly alluding to lack of originality (for example, the scene where you think Kirk's done for is something you can't really engage with emotionally because the script has already tipped you off as to the deus ex machina), but on the whole I found it an incredibly entertaining and fast-moving film. Did it bother me that they basically ripped off 'Wrath of Khan'? Not really - in fact I'll take my hat off to 'em: if you're going to liberally help yourself from an existing Star Trek movie, then 'Wrath of Khan' is the arguably the best material you can use.

Franco Macabro said...

Agree with ya Neil, I didn't mind at all, I couldn't complain because the whole movie had me entertained as hell. As for the negative talk, I guess it's the super trekkies that complain. Of course, same as you, I knew Kirk wasn't going to die, but then again, I knew Spock was going to return for a third film in the old films as well, any film buff knows they just can't kill off important characters, they will always return in one way or another.

Thanks for commenting Neil, hadn't heard from you around here in a while!

Jack Thursby said...

Hey Franco, good review. I caught this last week.

I enjoyed it for the most part but was a little disappointed with the script.

It felt like the story had been rehashed from several recent films (Iron Man, Skyfall, Dark Knight, DK Rises, Avengers, Tron: Legacy).

Still, it was well directed and really fast paced. Abrahms is going to make an excellent Star Wars director.

Franco Macabro said...

This is true Jack, when Kahn lets himself be captured and they question him and all that reminded me of when Loki let's himself be captured in The Avengers, and the villain in Skyfall does the samething. I guess this is the new thing to do in movies?

But these similarities didn't really get in my way of enjoying it, it was too fun, too cool.

Looking forward to seeing that J.J.'s tak on the Star Wars universe.


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