Enterprise from Into Darkness

Review by C.J. Bunce

After more trailers than we can count, more minutes of screen-time revealed in advance, and more advertising and hype than any Star Trek film in recent memory, Star Trek Into Darkness is not only better than you’ve heard, it’s the best Star Trek movie since Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Considering all my fellow uber-Trek fan friends had more negative to say than positive on this 12th motion picture entry, I was scratching my head to try to figure why this was the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in years–or maybe why they didn’t have as much fun as me.

Star Trek, the Original Series, is pretty much sacred, and not only sacred, its sacrosanct in the eyes of loyal fans, so J.J. Abrams was taking a risk by getting his claws into the franchise in 2009’s Star Trek.  When I read that he was taking on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan material specifically, I thought he was just plain nuts.  But then I asked myself, if I had the keys to the candy store what would I do if I wanted to make my mark on the franchise?  Bring back Christopher Lloyd’s Klingon Commander Kruge or Ricardo Montalban’s regal Khan?  Kill off a main character?  Abrams did just what any of us would love to do, and I expect, this should set our expectations for what he will do with the third trilogy of the Star Wars franchise, which will have a much larger international audience and implications for Abrams’ own future.

STID

As a viewer well-versed in the minutia of Star Trek, I expected to nitpick this film to death when walking into the theater and actually put off watching the film instead of seeing it on opening weekend like I had historically viewed the past films back to Star Trek VI.  But not 15 minutes into the movie, when Kirk is being scolded by Admiral Christopher Pike (played deftly again by Bruce Greenwood) for violating the prime directive and then rightfully demoted, I was reeled into a cleverly twisting plot that delivered the goods at every level with a non-stop, action packed thrill ride that also managed to offer some of the best characterization for key roles than has been given to them in any prior Star Trek film, period.

Take for instance Simon Pegg’s Scotty.  Not since the TV series was Scotty given the opportunity to play a key role in the story of a Trek film.  Here he plants the seeds not as the throwaway silly Scottish chap, but as the moral voice for the film.  Karl Urban’s Bones similarly gets many lines–good lines– and we learn something about him other than his “wait a damn minute” grunting, which was all we ever saw from him in Star Trek: The Motion Picture through Star Trek VI.  We learn for example that he once gave a C section to a pregnant Gorn (with octuplets).  And that they bite.  Awesome!  This sheds some light on why he later would try to work on the dying Klingon ambassador in Star Trek VI.  And someone finally, onscreen, calls out Bones for his repeated metaphors.

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