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Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

What He said:

He

As I expressed in my review of Star Trek (review here), I was extremely weary of rebooting Star Trek. It seemed too different from what Trek used to be. It is different, but it actually works for me. It takes the general ideas and characters from something and puts its own twist on it, which I like.

Marvel Comics did the same thing with their Ultimate Universe and I love that. In 2000 Marvel decided they were going to create an entirely new universe from scratch. Spiderman, the X-Men, and the Avengers all started from issue 1. I loved it. It took classic characters and stories, gave it a clean slate, and also allowed writers to take a different approach to each character’s story. Isn’t that what a remake/reboot should be anyway? Who wants to see an exact replica of the original stories? That would be pointless. So once I started to look at it that way, I was really on board with J.J. Abrams’ vision of Star Trek, and really looking forward to seeing this sequel.

The movie opens up on the planet Nibiru, where the crew of the Enterprise is attempting to stop a natural disaster. There is a volcano that is about to blow and it’s so massive that it is threatening to destroy the indigenous life. It’s a risky solution, but the crew knows how to stop it from happening. Additionally, they risk violating Starfleet’s Prime Directive, which is a huge no-no.

The crew is able to avoid disaster and save the inhabitants of the planet – who are the alien equivalent of cavemen – but unfortunately their presence is discovered. This angers Starfleet greatly, because they don’t call it the Prime Directive for nothing. It’s their number one rule. You do not interfere with alien civilizations, especially if they extremely primitive and have not discovered space travel. Starfleet does not want to play God and believes in allowing the destiny to unfold naturally, even if it means that civilization could meet its demise. Kirk and company could simply not sit back and let these people be wiped out. As a result, Kirk (Chris Pine) is punished because of his violation of the rule. The captaincy of the Enterprise is taken away from him. He is demoted to 2nd in command under his mentor Admiral Pike, who despite being furious with him, fought to keep him on the Enterprise.

Another consequence the crew’s violation of the Prime Directive is that Spock (Zachary Quinto) is assigned to another ship. Instead of being Kirk’s number 2, he is assigned to the same position on the USS Bradbury.

Just before all of this takes effect, there is an attack in London. A Starfleet building appears to have been the target of a terrorist attack. The attack appears is the work of a former Starfleet officer named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). Harrison was a member of black ops division of Starfleet and for whatever reason, he has waged war against his former employer. He is a bad boy. He is ruthless, intelligent, and one bad MFer to boot.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Starfleet puts aside their issues with Kirk and Spock in an attempt to hunt Harrison down and bring him to justice. The crew of the Enterprise is once again thrust into dealing with a madman.

Having recently watched the first one again for just the 2nd time, and really enjoyed it too, I was excited to go see Into Darkness. I like Star Trek a lot and have missed it ever since the last movie, Nemesis, was in theaters. Before this reboot, the franchise was virtually dead. Abrams brought  it back to life. Now, many have mentioned – myself included – that Abrams relies a lot more on action an adventure than Trek used to. It’s true that it’s different, but that doesn’t mean it is bad. Abrams has made the series more action oriented, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Abrams was a huge Star Wars fan growing up and has injected that nice mix of action and humor into Star Trek, so I don’t mind the little bit of change to the brand.

Not to mention, I think this movie brings back some elements of traditional Trek, and I really liked that. Despite enjoying Abrams more action-oriented vision of Star Trek, I did miss some of the elements of what made Star Trek Star Trek. This time around, he introduced some of the political and ethical stuff that made Star Trek what it was.

The acting was just as good as the previous movie as well. Kirk, Spock, and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) are the new trinity. In the older movies, it’s Kirk, Spock, and Bones. It’s nice to see them insert a strong female in the spotlight, and Saldana does well with it. Uhurha might not be the kind of gal who will beat the snot out of you, but still has a strong presence. I like the change from the original series. Plus, the three of them have some really good chemistry with one another. Kirk (Pine) and Spock (Quinto) play off of one another really well, and Uhura is not far behind. Speaking of Bones, just because he’s not in the big three doesn’t mean he doesn’t get his due screen time. Karl Urban is absolutely hilarious as Leonard “Bones” McCoy. His impression of Deforest Kelley is fantastic and a pleasure to watch. I also enjoyed Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Checkov (Anton Yelchin) a lot more this time around. They were quite funny too. Benedict Cumberbatch was a great villain too. He was one mean SOB. His voice is awesome too. It has a Darth Vader quality to it. When he speaks, you listen and might be inclined to shit your pants too. The guy was a force to be reckoned with. Peter "Robocop" Weller was quite good too, but I don't want to give too much away about his character.

I have to say, that even though I was very leery of this reboot, I have really enjoyed these new Star Trek movies. They are funny, have some great action, and an all-around fun adventure. They are a great way to escape for a few hours.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on July 6, 2013.

Star Trek Into Darkness

What She said:

She

A recent refresher for The He and I of the original 2009 J.J. Abrams reboot to the Star Trek series properly prepared us to get out and see this sequel in theaters before it was too late. It's actually a good idea to revisit the first film before viewing this one because the original really provides the necessary character background that this one lacks.  Star Trek Into Darkness technically could serve as a standalone flick, but a a filmgoer new to the franchise would witness superficial characters in an action film, probably not much more.

This movie is light on the character development in contrast to the first but is thick with plot and offers up a few fun twists.  We rejoin the crew of the Enterprise, now captained by the brash Kirk as they're carrying out an exploratory mission on an underdeveloped planet.  They botch the job, as above all else they aren't supposed to be seen, and they are.  Kirk and even Spock are reprimanded by losing their places on Enterprise.  Actually, Kirk is allowed to stay on Enterprise as a special favor to Admiral Pike, but he's demoted to a Lieutenant. But before the pair can be separated, they are at a meeting of senior leadership discussing a terrorist attack when the group comes under fire.  Admiral Pike is killed and Kirk and Spock are two of the few survivors.  Kirk and Spock are told they may retake command of the Enterprise if they track down and take out the offender, a man named John Harrison.  The crew set out on their mission, armed with some top secret experimental torpedoes, but they quickly learn there's more than meets the eye going on all around them.  They are challenged to decide where their allegiances lie and by what code they should conduct themselves.

Star Trek Into Darkness

All of our favorite characters are back for this installment, plus a few new ones in the deranged Marcus and the lethal John Harrison.  Joining the cast are Peter Weller and Benedict Cumberbatch, and both do great jobs of bringing their characters to life.  There's something about that deep booming voice that Cumberbatch puts on; it will send chills down your spine.  Plus he's sort of a weird looking guy, so that adds a little credence to his superhuman character.  The acting all around is pretty solid here.  If anything, we now have an embarrassment of riches in that there are too many characters and some therefore see their screentime cut.  I didn't mind it too much, because the first film had given such strength to these characters; however, I could see some being disappointed because this sequel doesn't dig too deep.

Where this movie does excel is in its action and special effects.  I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating, I don't understand how some movies can have such fantastic special effects while other, supposed blockbusters, can look so bad.  It's like good CGI is akin to diamonds in its rarity.  Visually, Star Trek Into Darkness is spectacular.  The fight sequences are also well choreographed and executed, making them look crisp and dynamic.  This keeps all the action that's thrown at us from getting dull.  Again, this reboot of the series brings with it a surprising amount of humor--nothing too earth-shattering, just some fun jest.  I think some of my favorite moments are just the exchanges of dialogue between Kirk and Spock.  There are some emotional moments that will tug at your heartstrings, but nothing overwhelmingly deep.

This film is a solid entry as a sequel into what has been a very enjoyable franchise.  I'm not sure how many of these new movies they will do, but I hope that Abrams and crew keep up the good work.

Thumbs up.

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