STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS

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Overall Impression – Neither as exhilarating nor satisfying as the reboot from 2009 with a surprisingly unemotional core.

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who’s your main character? – Kirk

What’s he trying to accomplish?Physical: Bring in the terrorist, John Harrison. Emotional: Protect the life of his crew. Spiritual: Learn to respect what it means to be a captain.

Who’s trying to stop him? – John Harrison

What happens if he fails? – He and his crew will die.

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – Kirk is demoted after disobeying orders, however is reinstated and sent on a clandestine manhunt by the Starfleet Commander, Marcus.

Wanderer – Kirk finds Harrison who surrenders, however his surrender is merely part of his plan.

Warrior – Kirk must first battle Harrison’s mind games, and then take on Starfleet’s most advanced ship.

Martyr – Kirk is literally willing to give up his life to save his crew.

AND, IN THE END…

Read my review of 2009’s Star Trek, and you’ll see what I look like when I swoon in all my fanboy glory.  While that film breathed a fresh life into an old favorite, Star Trek: Into Darkness tries to pick up emotionally where that one left off but is undercut by characters who seem to have forgotten what they learned in the last adventure.  In many ways, Into Darkness isn’t just a sequel to Star Trek (2009) it’s a prequel to the upcoming start of the famous “five year mission.”  Its an unnecessary reboot to the reboot.

The emotional, fully realized characters we saw at the end of Star Trek (2009) are largely missing and the crew feels to be a step behind where they were when we last saw them.  Kirk hasn’t learned much about responsibility, Spock is still emotionally distant and lifelessly quotes regulations, Uhura is still prickly over Spock’s unwillingness to express his feelings, McCoy spews metaphors and mild vitriol, Scotty quits in a huff, Sulu sits in a few chairs and presses buttons when needed, and Checkov gets promoted to Engineering where he runs around a lot and pronounces “v” like “w”.  Everyone seems very busy, yet the thrill of new discovery is missing.  Even the big set pieces seemed manageable.  We didn’t get a single planet-devouring black hole.  Not one!

But perhaps I expected too much.  If I close my eyes I can still feel the high I had after seeing Star Trek (2009).  Technically, Into Darkness  is top notch and the story shoots off in a straight line as fast as Kirk space jumps between two ships.  Elevating this very linear story is the excellent Benedict Cumberbatch who plays a menacing and compelling villain.  From a story perspective, the film takes a slight jog when the decision making is left to Cuberbatch’s character for a bit towards the end of act 2, but Kirk quickly reasserts himself as the story driver.

The story moves along briskly, yet by the time I got to the final fade out I realized that the next Star Trek movie could have easily been this one, as the crew we came to  know and love is no more known nor developed than they were at the end of Star Trek (2009).   I just hope that when they finally go seek out new life forms and new civilizations they discover some of the spark they misplaced back in spacedock this trip.

— Jeffrey Alan Schechter

4 Responses to “STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS”

  1. Sam July 25, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    Hi Jeff,

    Enjoyed reading your review. You’re the first person I know to come down hard on Into Drakness… and I’m glad you called it. I felt I got my money’s worth, but left the theater with that sad feeling that it could have been so much better. Most frustrating to me was the re-re-do of Kahn. We already had a Kahn movie. Did they really run out of ideas? Benedict Cumberbatch’s Kahn would have been just fine had this been our first intro to him, but the divergence from Ricardo Montalbán’s Kahn was too far off for Trekker lore. Instead of creating a thoughtful Trek movie, the goal of Into Darkness seemed to be all around creating nostalgic cliche references for die hard trekkies (endless in-character one liners, tribbles, Dr. Marcus, and Kahn) and lots of action. Perhaps a good formula for ticket sales.

    • Jeffrey Alan Schechter July 26, 2013 at 8:35 am #

      Was “Into Drakness” a Freudian slip? Thanks for post! Always glad to find a kindred spirit.

  2. Lita Brooker September 10, 2013 at 3:47 am #

    Thank you for not pandering to the die hard trekkies, of which I am one. I won’t repeat your comments or those of the other contributor. Suffice it to say, I went all Big Bang Theory, and found myself deeply disappointed with the recycling of themes and characters from the better-the-first-time-around versions. And that reversing of roles with Kirk in the chamber and Spock seeing him die on the outside, made me wail wordlessly out loud.

  3. Valentin March 3, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    I did not like the previous reboot for exactly the reason you liked it. For me, it was just a dumb action movie masquerading as a Star Trek movie. It was like watching one of those colorised black and white. You recognise it, but it’s not right. In most case, it dates the movie more than the original. The soul has been ripped out of the movie.
    Into Darkness is just the same. A colorised version of Star Trek without its soul. A cut and paste of past glorious scenes, but without the charm and flair of the originals. It is competently done, but there is no emotional connection there. Even the scene where Kirk sacrifices himself, just felt flat. It’s not original, it’s not an homage nor irreverencious. It’s just boring. We’ve already seen it before and done better.
    By the way, we are in the 21st century. People may be colour blind, but here it’s pushing the limit too far. When a character is called Khan Sing, I am expecting a Pakistani actor or at least some ethnic actor. If not at least explain to me, how a pasty, British educated character ends up with that name. You made the same point with regard to the Last Air bender movie: in the Eskimo village, everybody is of Inuit descent except the main character who turn out white. Not very credible.
    As an aside, I was not initially convinced that Chris Pine had the charisma to sustain the reboot. He got away in the Star Trek as Spock ( a good Zachary Pinto) was the main hero. However that second movie just confirmed that to me. He does not have acting goods to carry a movie. Adding the fact that his character is not particularly sympathetic and you have a recipe for failure. In view of the commercial failures of most movies (This means war, Jack Ryan: Shadow recruit, …) where Chris Pine is the lead actor, I think that I am not the only one with those doubts.

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