Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness review; a worthy sequel with a worthy villain

I am one of those people who was never into Star Trek.  Not the shows, not the movies, nothing.  Then in 2009, director J.J. Abrams rebooted the franchise in a big way!  Star Trek was a huge success at the box office.  And, it got people like me, who knew nothing about the mythology, to jump on board the USS Enterprise and explore the universe.  It's 4 years later, and the entire crew is back.  This time, there's a mysterious villain in the dark, trying to take out Star Fleet.  The sequel is Star Trek Into Darkness, let's go!

What I liked about the film:
The Entire Gang is Back
The chemistry between the actors, and the relationships between the characters is what really pulled me into the first film.  Chris Pine is back to captain Jim Kirk.  Zachary Quinto plays Spock,  Captain Kirk's trusted commander.  Let's not forget about the rest, who I'll only list: Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Anton Yelchin.

Despite having a huge cast, everyone has something to do.  I will get into the story aspect of the film in a moment, but I loved watching these characters.  I'm not going to say there was a ton of character development for everyone in the film; but I will say the relationships between them have matured.  The dynamic between Kirk and Spock has changed.  I loved seeing them go from adversaries to close friends.  They are almost brothers by the end of the film.  The relationship between Spock and Uhura (Saldana) has changed as well.  You see Uhura demand emotion from Spock, who has difficulty showing any.  There's a lot more examples as well.  Kirk and Bones (Urban), Kirk and Scotty (Pegg), etc.  All of these make us appreciate the already appealing characters in the film.

And my favorite, even though barely shown in the film, is the relationship between Kirk and Pike (Greenwood).  Fans of the first film will remember that Pike recruited Kirk into the Star Fleet academy in the first film.  Now we get to see what the two mean to each other.  Awesome stuff!

The Writing
Whether it be the story, the character development or the dialogue, I loved the writing in this film... for the most part (more on that in a minute).  Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman wrote the first film.  This time around, their back, and Damon Lindelof also co-wrote.  The story is somewhat explained in the trailers.  A rogue Star Fleet member is out to kill his old colleagues.  He has blown up a Star Fleet building and the USS Enterprise has been tasked with killing him.  This story, coupled with quick and witty dialogue delivery by the film's stars, satisfies on multiple levels.  There is definitely a twist in the film, but not the one you'd expect.  I really enjoyed this film.

The Villain
Holy badass.  Benedict Cumberbatch has just landed on my top actors to watch list; and he did so with this movie alone.  His character is physically superior and he is incredibly intelligent.  He's evil, unforgiving, menacing, manipulative and that's just in the first half of the film!  There have been countless stories written online about who Cumberbatch REALLY plays in the film.  And let me tell you, without spoiling anything, the name of the character is irrelevant.  We must forget the original series and the original movies to truly accept this franchise.  I have an advantage in that I've never seen any of the original films, so this character was new to me in every sense of the word.  I loved this villain!

The Action
The movie starts off with an amazing chase scene.  That's just the first 15 minutes.  The action is much bigger in this film that in the first.  And I love how it simply lends itself to the story.  No one is shooting at someone else just for the fun of it.  The writers created true consequences for the character's actions.  There is something at stake for every action scene in the film.  And J.J. Abrams is just getting better and better at shooting these large scale films.  Hand to hand combat, flying vehicles, gun battles, last second rescues, the whole nine.  There is a scene in the trailer that will have you in awe; involving a spacecraft crash landing in San Francisco.  It's a sight to be seen.

What I didn't like about the film:
Again Hollywood: Pointless Characters & Suspension of Disbelief
John Cho's character, Sulu, is barely in the film.  BUT, his character plays an integral part of the team.  However, there are characters like that of Alice Eve which I swear were written into the movie as an afterthought.  The writers needed a character to merge two situations and sort of just made her the daughter of a major character.  It's like, come on!  Don't worry I didn't spoil anything.

Also, I left the movie asking myself a few questions.  Why this?  Why did he do that?  I mean, I know there is an expected level of suspension of disbelief, but some if it stretched really thin.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the script very much!  But there are some aspects of the film which you just scratch your head and go, 'did anyone stop and think about this before the film was made?'

The Verdict:
J.J. Abrams is just Plain Awesome!
This is what Summer action films should strive to be like!  Great characters, a great story with a great villain, and amazing eye candy.  That's all we want Hollywood.  This movie, as well as the first, were all because of J.J. Abrams.  He has built an ensemble cast around him that just nails it.  The special effects of 2013 make us believe that the USS Enterprise could be a possibility in the future.  The villain in this film FAR surpasses that of Eric Bana's in the first film.  And, the franchise is treated as its own, without convoluting it with details from the shows and films before it.  I loved this film and look forward to the third entry in the franchise, in the not too distant future.

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