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"Shields Up!"

  • Jun 7, 2013
It has been quite awhile since I've reviewed anything here on Lunch.  I've been extremely busy with life and job duties.  Those responsibilities have also limited a lot of my filmgoing experiences and I've pretty much been anchored to my house and/or work enviroment.

With that said, I decided I would return to Lunch with a loud bang by reviewing Star Trek Into Darkness.  I will probably insult a few people in this review, horrify others, and hopefully make one or two people laugh.  This review will contain a spoiler or two (I'll try to keep them vague).  It will also most likely draw the ire of a few people who think I am off my rocker when it comes to my opinion of the film and of Star Trek in general.  Just know that I do really enjoy the original series and most of the films that it spawned as well as many of the spin-off shows and books.  My review will be written from the heart, tongue firmly in cheek, and with no ill will toward anyone.

And so begins my review that CONTAINS SPOILERS.  "Shields up, Kendall!"

I walked into the theater a couple of weeks ago with my daughter in tow.  As much as I love Doctor Who and Star Wars, her passion burns just as brightly for Star Trek.  She loves the original series and ST:TNG, and is especially fond of Spock, Bones, Data, and Captain Picard.  I didn't plan on seeing Star Trek Into Darkness until it had been out for awhile, but she insisted on seeing it as soon as possible.  We saw it in 3-D and by the end of the film, the rebooted crew of the Enterprise had once again impressed me and solidified her love of the franchise.  

As the film began, I felt a great disturbance in the Force.  It was as if millions of Trekkies witnessed J.J. Abrams dash the Prime Directive on the rocks of his Star Wars-infused childhood.  The crew of the Enterprise was actually trying to save a race of primitives on a planet that was about to go belly up via a volcano.  Instead of letting nature take its course, Kirk and company literally freeze the destruction of the primitives, expose themselves and the Enterprise to the people (which leads to a new idol for the primitives to worship), and also endangers the life of Spock.  Naturally this gets Kirk into a whole heap of trouble with Admiral Pike, but in true Trek fashion, Kirk manages to skirt any real punishment and is put under the command of Pike who is given back the helm of the Enterprise. 

Meanwhile, a dark and mysterious figure begins manipulating a poor fellow who is a part of Starfleet.  Whovians will recognize him as Mickey (Noel Clark) from the new Doctor Who era.  This leads to the destruction of a Starfleet archive, which leads to all of the head honchos (including Kirk and Spock, naturally) gathering in one place, which makes it ever-so-easy for the mysterious figure to attack and nearly wipeout all of the biggest members of Starfleet in one fell swoop.  Kirk and Spock are two of the survivors, obviously.  Kirk is basically given the green light to find and destroy the mysterious guy at any and all costs.  Spock follows his lead, but only after making it very clear that he disagrees with the actions of Kirk and of a certain high-ranking official in Starfleet.  To top it all off, Scotty quits, refusing to have any hand in the militarization of the Enterprise in order for it to catch its prey.

From that point on, more people are manipulated, orders are questioned, and an old enemy from the original series reveals himself to maybe/maybe not be the villain behind all of the bad things that are happening to Kirk and the rest of Starfleet.

I could literally hear the wailing and gnashing of Trekkie teeth while watching this film.  Abrams not only revives an old and beloved villain, he makes him likeable!  He makes this villain work WITH Kirk and then backstab him all within a few minutes of the film!  I was actually pulling for the "villain" a lot of the time, and to top it all off, Abrams takes a pivotal scene from the most beloved film in the entirety of Star Trek and reverses the roles of its two key members!  He then goes on to take a popular line uttered by one of those said members in Star Trek II, places it within the scene, and has the other person say it!!   Oh, the horror, the outrage!!!!

Once again I felt a disturbance in the Force!  It was as if Abrams had evacuated his bowels all over the memories of the high and mighty Trek.  Children were weeping!  Women were screaming!  Cats and dogs were living together!  I literally had friends who got rid of any and everything associated with Abrams' rebooted Trek.  Others were so upset with what had happened to their beloved franchise that they were turning to "lesser" franchises like Firefly and, dare I say it, Babylon 5, for comfort!

And then it hit me.

Abrams is brilliant.  He took a franchise that is so loved by its fans and made them see it for what it really is....another space opera.  I've always held the belief that Trekkies placed Trek on a pedestal far taller than it deserved to be upon.  Don't get me wrong.  I've taken my love of Star Wars and Doctor Who to places it has no business being, but Trekkies always managed to take their love just a bit farther and for that, I love them.  I believe that they are so very passionate about their franchise that they forget that the original Trek had its share of cheese, objectification of women, bad acting, and more often than once the Prime Directive was violated.  Kirk was a cowboy in space.  Spock was supposed to be his anchor of logic and Bones the unbridled passion.  When the two combined, they made Kirk a better person.  That, at least to me, is the core of Trek.  It really wasn't until The Next Generation that politics, social issues, etc. came to the forefront of the franchise.  The original series had its moments, but in the end it was meant to be entertaining, and I do believe Abrams has succeeded in doing that with the franchise.  Heck, if you dig deep enough, you'll see that Abrams does manage to touch on modern issues like terrorism and the abuse of power.  He does all of this with lots of bang and zip, which is, quite frankly, something that TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise often lacked.

Now, I am by no means a Star Trek wizard.  My opinion is based purely on what I've read and watched over the years.  I'm sure there are fans of Trek reading my words right now and laughing out loud, possibly calling me an idiot, and I'm okay with that.  I've been a nerd for the entirety of my life and can handle name calling and other forms of verbal abuse.

With all of that out of the way, I'll briefly state that the production values in this film were top notch.  I expected nothing less from Abrams and his gang.  The story is fast-paced, well written, and enjoyable to see unfold on the screen.  The few extra bucks for 3-D are entirely worth it.  All of the returning cast did excellent jobs, especially Karl Urban and Chris Pine.  Peter Weller was solid in his role and Benedict Cumberbatch owned the screen any time he was on it (even when he wasn't speaking).  Alice Eve wasn't too shabby, either.

I really enjoyed this flick.  I'll buy it when it is released on DVD and Blu-ray.  I highly recommend it, even to hardcore Trekkies.  You'll scream and tear your flesh, but in the end you will enjoy this film.

"Drop shields, Kendall."

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June 09, 2013
cool write up and nice to see you around again. Me? well, I am more of a TNG and DS9 guy, so while I thought Abrams could've taken more advantage of this alternate reality thing than stoop to formulas of an action-adventure, this was an entertaining flick.
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About the reviewer
Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #32
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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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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