Into Darkness

Biking season has FINALLY begun, but today I take a break to write because I’ve gone 90 miles this week and I think I’ve earned it.

I got to see Star Trek: Into Darkness last night and I wanted to tell you about it. Of course, if you haven’t seen it yet I encourage you to stop reading and get on it, because you’ll find no “no spoiler guarantee” here, my friend.

First, allow me to present my credentials: I used to be a diehard ST fan (I say “used to be” because they lost me after Next Generation).  I used to know Spock’s serial number and every single episode by heart, so you can trust in me.

I didn’t mind the first reboot with this universe plot-wise or casting-wise. In fact, I think the first Star Trek was damn near perfect, but for the lens flares. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go back and watch it again: Huge, blinding arcs of light that bisect the screen in practically every other shot, many times obscuring the action. It’s like an overused Instagram effect and it drives. Me. Insane. Makes the movie almost unwatchable, if you ask me.

So here is Into Darkness, now with fewer lens flares! Not completely absent, but it’s like someone said, “J.J., come on, you’re being ridonculous.”  Thank you, brave grip, or Mrs. Abrams, or some fanboy at ComiCon. This alone makes it a better movie.

I’m not going to write a plot synopsis. All the same cast have returned, and already their witty banter and inter-relationships were the best part of the movie (including some very welcome one-liners even during some grim action scenes) — winner in this category is Simon Pegg’s Scotty, who just about gets redeemed after missing most of the first movie.

Zachary Quinto as Spock still steals my heart, and if he’s a bit more emotional in this than we’re used to (as people have already begun to complain), well, I’m willing to chalk that up to his youthfulness and inexperience with living among humans. Plus he’s lost his home planet, which I think would test anyone’s stoicism.

I’m not going to talk about Chris Pine’s Kirk; I didn’t care about Kirk back in the old days, so I guess Chris is doing a bang-up job because I still don’t care about him.

Captain Pike goes down early in the movie, which at first I thought was going to explain why he’s a quadriplegic on the show, but then he died and I remembered “alternate reality” and that J.J. Abrams is just the world’s highest paid fanfic writer who’s realized he doesn’t have to create his own characters to collect a paycheck.

Which brings me to “John Harrison,” or, as he’s better known to trekkies, Khan Noonian Singh, originally brought to life (wink, wink) by a very swarthy, very non-British Ricardo Montalban. In this movie he’s played by a very British, very non-swarthy Benedict Cumberbatch, and don’t think THIS casting choice doesn’t have the internet’s panties in a bunch.

The one article I read before seeing the film coyly hinted at the villain’s true identity, and I’ll admit I balked; alternate realities are one thing, but in what world does a pasty British boy turn into a well-tanned Spaniard?
 
Hot, in a European way

Hot, in a European way

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hot, in a Middle Eastern/Asian/Mongolian way

Hot, in a Middle Eastern/Asian/Mongolian way

 
 
LOL "You Khan't be serious" is the title of this masterpiece
LOL “You Khan’t be serious” is the title of this masterpiece

However, I adore Benedict Cumberbatch, and by the time he delivered his second line, I was all “Ricardo who?”  J.J. has made worse choices in his career, for example making Eric Bana a Romulan but giving him a Bronx accent. Or that whole “Lost” fiasco. The Brit stays in the picture!

(ALTHOUGH. Just talking about this to Tery (who, bless her soul, couldn’t care less about Star Trek), she without even blinking tossed out Nestor Carbonell, an excellent choice and also from that fiasco “Lost,” so J.J. almost certainly has his number.)

 
Come on.  This is a no-brainer

Come on. This is a no-brainer

Here's that side-by-side again

Here’s that side-by-side again

He’s absolutely delicious to watch and listen to (Benedict, not Nestor), which is good, because he (nor anyone else) is not given a hell of a lot of time to develop anywhere. Like The Enterprise in this movie, he goes from zero to warp speed to crash and burn, with very little in between.

And that’s my main complaint with this movie — almost too much action. I’d rather see more talking and witty banter and fewer fire fights and explosions. Not to say it’s not entertaining, just not terribly filling.  That article I read promised the title referred to the descent into hell our intrepid crew had to make to face Khan on his level, but I’ll admit, I didn’t really get that out of the movie.  It all seemed to happen too fast for anything that profound to develop.  I in fact hated the entire denouement, lasting as it did literally 2-1/2 minutes after all the dust had settled from 2 hours of nonstop action.  We love these characters because they have heart; we deserve the chance to see some of it after 2 hours of phaser fights.

But the biggest, BIGGEST complaint (and I can’t believe people are whining about Cumberbatch more than this) is the almost verbatim recreation of Spock’s death scene from Wrath of Khan, except reversing Kirk and Spock’s places. Really, J.J.? There are homages, and then there’s just being too lazy or unimaginative to write your own stuff.

But because I loved the rest of the movie, let’s chalk this up to some events being fixed points in time, as Doctor Who lore tells us, only the roles can be changeable. Yeah, that sounds good.

But speaking of homages, they do pull off a nice one with the inclusion of a tribble, preceded by the quick, nearly-missed line about “that Mudd incident.”  I enjoyed it even if some internet commenters thought it was “dumb.”  No, dumb would be a movie spin-off of the whole tribble episode.  I don’t think two minutes of screen time (including what turns out to be a pivotal plot point) is worth bitching about.

So yes, I would recommend this movie.  I love this cast and I’m looking forward to more chapters in their story.  Preferably with more story and less Michael Bay.

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3 thoughts on “Into Darkness

  1. I like all the Trek movies, some more than others. I’m struck dumb, at the moment, at the idea of Nestor Carbonell, That would have worked really, really well.

    • Wouldn’t it? And just when I was doubting his ability to pull off the character’s intensity, we were watching him in Bates Motel and he suddenly turned glowery and threatening, and I loved him all the more for the part. Get JJ on the phone! Stop the presses!

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