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Star "Twweeaakk" The Coming of Khan?

  • May 21, 2013
Rating:
+3
J.J. Abrams made quite a splash when he released 2009’s “Star Trek”. I suppose it was the right approach to revitalize the franchise, by creating a re-boot that gave him all the needed loop holes to do such things. His first “Star Trek“ flick left the ‘space opera‘ feeling and instead went for something that feels more like an action-adventure which was arguably needed. It was a fun, energetic visual feast that moved fast that it never lost its forward momentum. It pleased fans of the franchise with a feeling of both freshness and nostalgia. Now 4 years since Abrams’ last “Star Trek” film, is what he had created back then will still be able to hold up without the feeling of novelty (which it really wasn’t) since it was a really a straight-forward action flick with gorgeous visuals?

                    Zachary Quinto as Spock, Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison and Chris Pine as Kirk in "Star Trek into Darkness."

2013’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” is the sequel that takes us on a ride with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The film begins with the crew in an unknown planet due for volcanic destruction and Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) makes a decision that goes against established directives in Starfleet. This ends up with Kirk being in a load of trouble that it resulted with him losing command of his vessel. Just as soon as things begin to slow down, a unspeakable new threat has risen and this threat comes from within the ranks of Starfleet. Kirk requests Starfleet command to reinstate him get his crew back together, along with Spock (Zachary Quinto), just so they can sanction the man called John Harrison (Benedict Cumberback). But when the manhunt reveals certain secrets within Starfleet command, and the voyage brings Kirk and his crew to a danger zone, the truth behind the former Commander Harrison is set to shake the foundations of the federation itself.

                   Zoe Saldana in "Star Trek into Darkness."

                  A scene from "Star Trek into Darkness."

The screenplay instantly moves fast and tries to establish its footing with a sequence that gives it the ‘grab and go’ feeling just so the viewer could see exactly what he is in for; a fun, energetic action adventure wrapped around its sci-fi elements. Abrams was obviously trying to go fast and strong before he slowed things down when the crew gets back to Earth. Here, the script serves up some minor plot and character developments that aids the viewer in looking inside the walls of Starfleet. How the fleet works and just how Kirk’s attitude often differs from Spock and that of Starfleet. Abrams and company made every effort to give the viewer a feeling of continuity as the return of supporting characters such as Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) and the introduction of new ones such as Starfleet commander Marcus (Peter Weller) aid in setting its groundwork. The viewer also quickly gets an idea just how the crew is getting along, and glimpses of their personal lives are seen.

See, Abrams knew that he had to keep the film moving and knows how to cover up flaws because of his style of direction and editing. True to what had been established in the first film, the screenplay follows through very well. I would not say that the characters in this film are very interesting, since Kirk has been reduced to a staple that we’ve all seen before in action flicks, Spock is one of the more interesting characters in the first film, but really, the two worked better as the film brings them into a kind of ‘bromance’. These characters are mere staples of what we have seen before, but it is the way the characters worked together in a group dynamic that made them compelling if not acceptable. With some subtle touches of humor and clever delivery of its dialogue, it was easy for the cast to establish a sense of solid chemistry. Zoe Saldana (she is hotter than ever), Keith Urban, Simon Pegg and Anton Yelchin aid in the script’s flow, despite some issues that I had with Alice Eve (sure she was also hot) being a little misplaced in her character as a science officer. It was a welcome sight to see this new Spock talk to the old Spock (Leonard Nimoy) that certainly would give a ‘trekkie’ goose bumps.

                 Simon Pegg in "Star Trek into Darkness."

                A scene from "Star Trek into Darkness."

All these things would work really well as long as we have an interesting villain for the crew of the Enterprise. As much as I thought that Benedict Cumberback was a worthy villain to later be revealed as Khan, and sure, there were a lot of nods to the past TV series and “Wrath of Khan”, but I thought in the end, the villain and the links to Starfleet were very underwhelming. While I enjoyed the way the film tried to introduce certain devices that sort of made the concept of an alternate timeline resembling the old one and yet different, I thought the film took a turn for the predictable. The twists and turns which were introduced in its runtime were intended to create a reaction, and yet they failed. The surprises weren’t really that effective in making an impact in its narrative.

Luckily, while the storyline wasn’t strong and showed its weaknesses too early, the action sequences were good enough to keep up its momentum. The film looked gorgeous, the cinematography was impressive, the CGI effects were stellar that you could truly hear and see the crunch of metal on metal, the explosions generated a lot of intensity and light effects were indeed grand. The film was truly an achievement visually, and if this was Abrams’ goal, then he had truly achieved it. The film was really impressive in 3D, as there were times that the 3D effects and the sound really made me part of its visuals that I felt as if I was there.

                    Alice Eve and Chris Pine in "Star Trek into Darkness."

“Star Trek Into Darkness” is the kind of sequel that follows an original made solid because of a feeling of freshness, but sadly, while this film is certainly entertaining, it sure wasn’t fresh. It just felt that it was the kind of film that we’ve all seen many times before. It does not merely reference but it just borrows entire plot points from the originals. I just wasn’t at all impressed or moved by its narrative despite accepting its intentions. The villain just wasn’t threatening, and so the film loses a lot of intended ‘bang’. I do have to admit that the visuals were really impressive, the group dynamics worked and the comedic touches aided its flow. It is a lot of fun to watch that I am certain that ‘Trekkies” will have a ball watching it over and over again. I guess I am just a little tired of the old ‘clichéd story, lot’sa flash and action. It is a film meant for its fans but a RENTAL for Everybody else [3+ Out of 5 Stars]

                      Zachary Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as James Kirk in "Star Trek into Darkness."
 
Poster art for "Star Trek into Darkness."  Poster art for "Star Trek into Darkness: An IMAX 3D Experience."
 
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May 30, 2013
Meh. I can't bring myself to write a review on this one, I was so disappointed with it. When it's up, though, I'll get you a link to my column over at UnrealityMag.com about my take on the Trek franchise. Should be soon.
May 31, 2013
give me a holler when it is ready! This was fun but just a little too unimaginative and was merely meant to give trekkies a feeling of goosebumps
 
May 24, 2013
I find this creative obsession with WRATH OF KHAN in the STAR TREK movie universe to be tiresome. I understand it's considered by many to be the first "real" STAR TREK film, but it feels like this scenario has been played out to death in the movies already.  I guess it's successful though because they keep returning to it.

ST: III-IV are direct sequels to WOK.

After ticket sales fall after ST V, they bring back Nicholas Meyer for ST VI, the director of WRATH OF KHAN, to save things.

FIRST CONTACT: The Borg step in as the "Khan"-like nemesis for Picard.

After ticket sales fall after the mediocre INSURRECTION, they create NEMESIS which is another attempt at creating the WOK dynamic in the TNG universe.

And then came the 2009 reboot with its vengeful Eric Bana antagonist and his vendetta against Spock, creating another WOK setup. He even injects brain bugs into his victims ala WRATH OF KHAN.  This never made any sense to me.  Since one of the biggest problems with NEMESIS was that it felt like a mediocre imitation of WOK, why would they risk evoking that disappointment again with the reboot?  It's like Paramount saying "How silly of us to try to remake WRATH OF KHAN.  We'll rectify things...by remaking it again!"

And now...this? So soon after the Eric Bana adventure? Will the STAR TREK film franchise ever successfully manage to detach itself from using WRATH OF KHAN as a universal template?
May 27, 2013
That is a very interesting observation. I never thought about things like that when it came to this franchise. I forgot about that device during 2009's Star Trek. I do have to say that Abrams may have created the perfect excuse to 'remake' re-apply certain things in this new franchise, since it is an alternate timeline, he can always use same devices and stuff...but yes, it would still be a remake....something that had been seen before.
 
May 24, 2013
Great pictures of a classic!
May 24, 2013
thank you, sir.
May 26, 2013
You are welcome.
 
May 21, 2013
Nice review. I review with you whole-heartedly about Zoe Saldona as she may have elipsed the original Uhura in looks! I thought that McCoy was by far the best character in this film. As for Carol Marcus being misplaced in this film, I guess Abrams had to figure out a way to work her in. In the original films, she and Kirk had a son (David) so maybe this is destined to happen again. I am pretty sure that the next film will be with the Klingons possibly the baddie played by Michael Ansara in the original series or Christopher Lloyd from The Search For Spock. Any thoughts on this?
May 21, 2013
Saldana was awesome, as for the Carol Marcus' character, I just thought that while I like Alice Eve, I thought she was a little miscast. I just expected a stronger female presence to match Kirk. Eve is nice to look at for sure, but I dunno. I am actually quite excited what they'll do with the KLINGONS. But I had mixed feelings about their headgear. LOL
 
May 21, 2013
Uh oh, this is exactly what I feared was going to happen in the first one (thankfully it didn't). I like your quote: " It does not merely reference but it just borrows entire plot points from the originals. I just wasn't at all impressed or moved by its narrative despite accepting its intentions." I'm sure I'll add this to the Blu collection cause I have every other Trek but thanks for a level-headed critique. It should keep my expectations realistic!
May 21, 2013
by all means, Jay, you do have to see it if you're a fan. Nothing special but still fun. Thanks for the read, bud. You might find the review by @ interesting too....
 
May 21, 2013
I was wondering how this would hold up, great review WP. I will eventually see this but I might wait for the DVD.
May 21, 2013
thanks, man.
 
May 21, 2013
You liked this a little more then I did. I really winced at Spocks BSOD moment, and I think this was average. Fun but average.
May 21, 2013
Yeah, this was fun entertaining but I don't think it is something really special. Just came from your review and I have to say you did a really great job on it!
June 06, 2013
I winced as well... :( I have to say, I'm seeing a lot of "fun but..." reviews for this movie.
June 06, 2013
it certainly wasn't a bad movie, but it just wasn't innovative...and dare I say, a little lazy?
 
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A good portion of Trekkies (or Trekkers, depending on one's level ofStar Trekobsession) have special affection for episodes of the original TV series that related to Earth and other-Earth cultures visited by the crew of theEnterprise, version 1.0. Some of the shows unfolded in distorted forms of the past, some in the present day ofStar Trek's future reality. Director J.J. Abrams recognized the importance of this relationship in his origin-story reboot of the franchise in 2009, and inStar Trek Into Darknesshe has made it an even greater touchstone to the roots ofStar Trekcreator Gene Roddenberry's defining philosophy from nearly 50 years ago. The human home world is key to the plot of this spectacularly bold leap intoStar Treklore, which cleverly continues along the alternate path that was established as separate from the "original"Star Trekuniverse in Abrams's first whiz-bang crack at advancing the mythology. But it's not just Earth that is cool and imperiled in this rendering of adventure in the 23rd century;Into Darknessalso plays with the original conceit that Earthlings were member to a multi-species United Federation of Planets ruled by a "Prime Directive" of noninterference with other civilizations. The conflict comes when rogue elements in the Earth-based Starfleet Command hunger to shift focus from peaceful exploration to militarization, a concept that is anathema to the crew of theEnterpriseand her ongoing mission. The new cast...
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