Star Trek Into Darkness Reviews
GREG: (Greg Smith, Founder of Agile Writers of Richmond, VA) That s right Scott. It s a bold new adventure for the rebooted franchise. Let s see if it lives up to the hype.
SCOTT: The movie begins with the Enterprise saving the planet Nibiru from volcanic annihilation. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) rescues Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) from the volcano, but in doing so Kirk reveals the starship to the planet s primitive inhabitants, thereby violating Starfleet s Prime Directive non-interference policy. Soon after returning to Starfleet, a secret Section 31 installation is destroyed by a former Starfleet agent named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who also attacks an emergency meeting at Starfleet Command, killing Admiral Pike.
GREG: Kirk is now on a mission of revenge. He has been given the Enterprise to chase after Harrison who has hidden on the Klingon homeworld of Kronos. The Enterprise is fitted with 72 special photon torpedoes that Kirk has been ordered to rain down upon Harrison killing him. However, Kirk has a crisis of conscience and decides to take Harrison alive and return him to Starfleet to stand trial.
SCOTT: Greg, this is a worthy successor to J. J. Abrams 2009 reboot of Star Trek, which I found to be a much-welcome rejuvenation of the sagging franchise. I have to admit that I was nervous about this next installment -- could it possibly live up to the high standard Abrams set in 2009? The answer for me is not quite but it s still a movie that is loads of fun. Here we have a story that smartly pays homage to the original Star Trek movie series while simultaneously carving out an original tale filled with action, adventure, and some surprises, too.
GREG: I was not as impressed as you were, Scott. The movie is a technical marvel. The graphics, CGI, all the special effects are just amazing. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto did an excellent job of playing Kirk and Spock - even reproducing the close relationship that predecessors Shatner and Nimoy brought to the roles originally. However, the story left me wanting. Sure, there are a lot of nods to the humor and repartee that we had come to expect from the original series. But writers Orci, Kurtzman, and Lindelhof mined the second Star Trek film (Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan) for the plot elements for this new film. I was mildly disappointed when it was revealed that the fugitive Harrison was, in fact, Khan Noonein Singh. Surely, they could have found a new villain to fight in this alternative Star Trek universe?
SCOTT: Greg, I m fine with the resurrection of Khan as a villain borrowed from the older timeline, especially since this rebooted Khan bears little resemblance to the original Khan. However, having said that, I would agree with you that future Star Trek movies had better not continue to recycle old characters and old plotlines, even if those elements are only mildly derivative of previous Trek movies. Let me tell you why I rate this movie so highly. In the 2009 Star Trek reboot, we witness a terrific hero transformation in the character of James T. Kirk. In that film he evolves from total loser to sensational heroic Captain. It was a classic hero story and it worked. In this current 2013 movie, both Kirk and Spock take center stage as heroes who become transformed in two ways: (1) as individuals who each gradually assumes the good qualities that the other has, and (2) as friends who develop a deep and unshakeable bond. I found this to be very moving.
GREG: Scott, I agree with you on that point. The characters in this movie were given a lot more to do and we really got a sense of who they are relative to each other. Don t get me wrong, there is a lot to like about Star Trek Into Darkness. All the players brought their A-game. Still I think the writers and director J. J. Abrams went too far. They borrowed too much from the original. This is an all new franchise. There is an unnecessary cameo that does nothing to further the plot but pander to the fan-boys and possibly act as an in-movie advertisement for newcomers to the series to go back and watch the earlier movies. There is a reversal of roles in another key scene that I can only describe as ridiculous bordering on cute. And there are other annoyances that detracted from the seriousness of this reboot. Case in point is the cuddly character Keesner who follows Mr. Scott around. That creature could have been left out of the movie completely with no loss to the story. And why, oh why, does Uhura keep running from the bridge to sick bay and back again? Another problem I had with the film is that it isn t accessible to members of the audience who are not fans of the original series. There were scenes where Spock used the Vulcan Mind Meld and the FSNP (Famous Spock Neck Pinch) that went without explanation. I came across a great review by two Star Trek self-proclaimed virgins - their dialog was particularly telling as it exposed how the uninitiated had a hard time following the plot.
SCOTT: Dammit, Greg, you re a reviewer, not a nit-picker. In every movie franchise, there are always a fews things that movie-makers assume the audience should know. Yes, Mr. Scott s cuddly sidekick should be thrown out the nearest airlock, but this character is on-screen for only 20 or 30 seconds. Yes, the older Spock makes a brief appearance, but he serves as an important mentor figure for the younger Spock. Besides, old Spock is looking so Jurassic we should throw him a bone here. My only issue with the movie was that its overall story arc was a bit fragmented, with one villain being the focus of attention, then a second villain, followed by a mission to save the ship, etc. I can forgive this imperfection because, overall, the conclusion of the film so very nicely calls back to the movie s opening sequence, and lessons are learned that forever cement one of the most important friendships in science fiction history.
GREG: I enjoyed the development of the relationship between Kirk and Spock, but I wouldn t call this story an homage to the earlier series. It s more of a rip off. Still, I was entertained enough to see it twice, and try to unravel a couple of plot twists that eluded me the first time around. I give Star Trek Into Darkness 4 out of 5 Reels. Happily, I enjoyed the portrayal of the characters I had come to love by these new actors. The interplay between Kirk and Spock as they solidified their friendship was touching. Quinto s Spock is much more acerbic, which is a welcome coloring of the character. McCoy s constant hand-wringing and folksy metaphors were well-placed. New player Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) was also a nice touch. For a great transformation of a friendship, I give the movie 5 out of 5 Heroes. Movie: Heroes:
SCOTT: Greg, despite differing here and there in our impressions of this movie, it looks like we re giving the film the same rating. I also give Star Trek Into Darkness 4 Reels out of 5. It is exactly what people look for in a summer blockbuster -- action, adventure, humor, heroes, villains, and an emotional rollercoaster ride that ultimately leaves us satisfied. As you said, we witness our two heroes, Kirk and Spock, develop both as individual characters and as friends, despite vast cultural differences between them. I was torn between awarding them 4 or 5 Heroes but I think you ve convinced me to give them 5 as well. The supporting cast was superb, and I m curious how Kirk s character will continue to grow without a central mentor character who bit the dust in this film. Overall, I loved this movie, but the jury is still out on J. J. Abrams rebooted universe until it shows me that it can deliver quality fare while also moving beyond the recycling of old elements from previous Star Trek releases. Movie: Heroes:
The cast here are excellent - channeling their predecessors whilst still bringing there own spin to the roles. 2 particularly stand out for me...Quinto is a fantastic Vulcan and does well to show both sides of Spock's psyche (and eluding to his heritage). Karl Urban is excellent once again as Bones...he IS DeForest Kelley reborn (its uncanny). Even Simon Pegg is better - now obviously more comfortable in the role.
Abrams certainly knows how to make kick ass sci-fi and is obviously a big trek fanboy. I liked the 'twists' on the original ideas/plots (some major trekkies will despise the changes) and think they helped to keep things fresh for audiences new to this universe. Its visually stunning - colorful, exciting and truly breathtaking in places.
In the end though...the best thing about this film is Benedict Cumberbatch. As John Harrison (wink) he dominates any screen time he has. He is the perfect villain and does it with buckets of style. Charming, super intelligent and ultimately deadly. More of the Cumberbatch please!
Whether your a trek fan or not...I highly recommend this.