Kenneth's Review of Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek Into Darkness(2013)
(Spoilers.) Director J. J. Abrams' vision for Star Trek is, apparently, a universe filled with nonstop laser firings, terrorist attacks, and limited philosophical themes; Gene Roddenberry would have been furious if he had seen the countless alterations made to his visionary trailblazer. Even one perplexed character in the film inquires: "what has this become, a military operation?" And I had to nod my head in agreement. Gone are the days when Star Trek is about seeking intelligent life forms, peaceful scientific research, learning about the frailties and strengths of humanity, going where no man has gone before, etc... The Enterprise is now an intergalactic protector of homeland security who fights terror with terror. Compare this movie with, let's say, the original pilot episode "The Cage," and you will see how much this franchise has deteriorated, all for the sake of catering to summer audiences seeking less thinking, and more bang-pow with their buttery popcorn. The character development in this film is lacking with several of the Enterprise's crew members, particularly Zoe Saldana's Uhuru, who functions primarily as a love interest of Spock. The only shining performance in the film is Benedict Cumberbatch who plays the villainous Kahn; this guy had a presence, a well-constructed character, and was not a typical bad guy. While the original 2009 reboot felt like a second-rate knock-off of the Star Wars film series, Into Darkness suffers from a different identity crisis as, aesthetically, it reminded me of not only Star Wars, but several other film franchises, most notably Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight, with Kahn's sneaky Jokeresque havoc. The film's third act is also the most disappointing, as Captain Kirk's sacrifice was a laughably unoriginal play-by-play of the earlier, and far superior, Wrath of Khan, down to the live-long-and-prosper moment behind radioactive glass. The manner Kirk (and the Enterprise) were revitalized presented an unbelievable and abrupt resolution to deliver a feel-good ending. As with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, I found it nearly impossible to retain emotional attachment to main protagonists who reboot themselves like video game avatars, coming back from death unharmed and unscathed. J J Abrams, who has delivered original, thoughtful work in the past, has churned out a paint-by-the-numbers sci-fi that eliminates everything that made the original 1960s television show legendary, but adds elements that really do not fit the Star Trek world. This movie is a patchwork quilt of various themes and plot points. I can live with Abrams' camera lens flares, but the man really needs to work on finding the heart and soul of a series before yelling "action." He needs to find a singular voice and stick with it. I am now very very very scared for Star Wars: Episode VII.