I'm taking a risk in saying I actually liked Star Trek into Darkness. On a website such as Lunch.com where liking just about any damn mainstream movie (let alone J.J. Abrams) is considered not so good, it's a wonder how much I've come to embrace things. And while I understand liking Mainstream movies or even praising them is not particularly "cool" with the Lunch.com crowd, I'll take my chances anyway. See, I've always believed that there is an art to reviewing and that part of the art is that you review in the essence that you know WHAT you're reviewing and keep in the mind the audience that you're reviewing for. The reason I say that it's probably not cool to like Star Trek here on Lunch.com is because everyone got my ass about giving J.J. Abrams the smallest ounce of praise. On a website where liking anything "popular" is considered taboo I'm pretty certain this will be my last review because I'm simply tired of it nowadays. So I'll leave this one with a glowing five. Not because it deserves a five, but because I'm tired of this idea that I can't particularly enjoy mainstream movies or anything "popular" without some jackass deciding that I shouldn't because, "Mainstream cinema sucks compared to indie or foreign cinema," from some jackass who seems to think that just because something is indie makes it better. Who cares? I'm concerned about other things. I'm in my mid twenties now and I'm passed that moment of trying to always distance myself from the crowd. My grade school days are over and sometime just having a little bit of fun at the movies (especially in the summer) isn't such a bad thing.
So does it deserve a five? Definitely not. It's got some problems. Some bigger than others (and perhaps a glaring one or two) but really, I just don't give a shit as I write this review.
So to begin, I realize that J.J. Abrams isn't perfect. He's not the "next Spielberg," but he does have one thing in common with him: the fact that his popular success makes him one of the more hated film guys in the industry. (it was "bad" to like Spielberg at one point). Spielberg suffered from this for a while but because he's done so much and has so much under his belt his popular appeal manages to command respect. And while I don't believe J.J. Abrams will ever get THAT far, I do believe that he gets a lot more criticism than he deserves. Certainly he's got a lot of cheesy stuff in his films and they're predicable... but so is Joss Wheddon and that doesn't seem to stop anyone from praising the ever living shit out of him, and I happen to like Joss Wheddon a great deal, despite the fact that Whedoon, like Abrams dabbles in cliches and predictability so much that you might as well have just started the movie at the end and played it backwards.
Case in point: Star Trek Into Darkness is not a particularly unpredictable film... or original, but I think if you really believe in originality it's because you've spent the last one thousand years or so under the rock. It's not the idea that's important it's the execution of that idea, which is where Abrams falters just a tad, but it's also why he's actually quite good at what he does from time to time. The only thing I don't particularly like about Star Trek Into Darkness is how it was advertised. The idea of keeping so much secret. The last movie I saw where I can't recall actually knowing what was going to happen was probably The Dark Knight and that's only because it was so far against the conventional formula that I wasn't sure WHICH formula it was following... but that's primarily because it was inventing it's own. The Dark Knight has been so influential that THIS is why Into Darkness is a particularly predictable film because so much of what it does is dependent on whether or not you've seen The Dark Knight and Start Trek II: Wrath of Kahn.
So let's start with something simple: The story concerns Kirk and company trying to stop a volcano from erupting on a planet. And once it doesn't we understand what Into Darkness is about immediately. Life and Death. Spock is not particularly sure why Kirk saved him. Things change, however, when a mysterious agent (I use the term loosely) decides to create a one-man army against Star Fleet. When someone close to Kirk is lost then it becomes quite clear that they're not up against an ordinary man. Instead what they're really up against is someone who is far more clever than that. But there's more deception going on than Kirk could imagine and he and his crew are forced to deal with everything under the sun.
Certainly Star Trek Into Darkness has a simple story. Every movie does when you think about it. Although it's quite clear that Star Trek Into Darkness is more about the thrills. But it certainly borrows more from The Dark Knight formula, which is pretty much what every movie tries to do nowadays. That is to say that there is a criminal mastermind who plots to get himself captured and make the circumstances work for him. A lot of movies have been doing this lately. Particularly, The Avengers and Skyfall. And by far Skyfall did it much better than The Avengers, but for very different reasons. But Skyfall is also the only one I can think of where it was done particularly well. The Avengers, for as good as it is has far too much of its story focused on the idea of the characters trying to get along that the villain is so uninteresting that you just don't care that he got himself captured to destroy them from within. In Star Trek the formula is alive and well, although Abrams seems to make it work a little better. Not because of how the bad guy works (or because of who he is... and if you can't figure it out you weren't much for Star Trek to begin with) but because it's not actually the bad guy you need to be paying attention to during this particular moment in the film. It's why it works. It's not much of a change or a twist but it's one that's executed well, at least.
There are a lot of thrills and a lot of fun to be had with Star Trek Into Darkness. Most notably the action sequences are quite amazing, as well as some of the visuals. That's not to say there are no annoyances. Certainly that lens flare is going to get on your nerves. If I was to make a drinking game in which we took a shot every time that lens flare came up then I'd be dead of alcohol poisoning within the first ten minutes of the movie. I understand that some people don't mind this, but what I find stranger is why no one really finds it distracting. It doesn't add drama and in some ways actually obstructs the visual flare of the scene.
Now I'm not one of those stupid "CGI is killing movies," people because that's just the dumbest thing I've ever heard and shows that people understand dialog and character but not narrative. And indeed there is a lot of CGI in Star Trek and a lot of strange set pieces, but CGI doesn't kill movies. And if you think it does, you're a dumbass. Period. No, what's distracting about some of the CGI is that Star Trek just never feels like it's a world that's been lived in. One of the things Star Wars (the original trilogy) did so well was that you got the sense that the universe was inhabited. Here, as in real Sci-Fi fashion, everything looks slick and clean. So it's actually quite something when you realize J.J. Abrams isn't afraid to make the enterprise look like a floating piece of crap at some point when the characters get into some real danger. It's quite something and quite the spectacle to see. On the other hand, it's also quite distracting at times because the characters are not particularly that interesting. Now, I don't care what people thought of the original show, but those characters also sucked. They were devoid of most personality. When creating the reboot it's not as though there was a lot to draw from. This is why some of the characters are so close. The sixties was a campy time and regardless of what people think those particularly characters are nothing more than caricatures in 2013 because they were already devoid of any real character to begin with. They had personality (which is perfectly emulated here) but I never actually gave a shit. So here it's surprising that there are some moments when I do. It's just a shame that Abrams puts them in such artificial danger. Like so many movies Abrams can't bring himself to make it seem like the characters are in any real danger, even in moments where the ship around them is being destroyed. If there was one thing I think Abrams should've borrowed a page from Nolan about it's not being ashamed to put everything on the table. Anyone can die. And anyone should be able to be in the running for being killed. One of the most amusing aspects about The Dark Knight was that Nolan was willing to kill of a pretty major character just for the sake of proving a point. Star Trek takes no such risks. Like Iron Man 3 it's so over the top that you simply know your characters aren't in any actual danger. Like The Avengers it's also very boring when this realization comes to light.
On the other hand, at the very least the characters are actually actively involved in much of the plot. Despite knowing they're in no real danger, at least Abrams is willing to inconvenience them at any turn. The plans the characters hatch are always going wrong which is enough to keep you going through the movie. It's not the cleverest thing out there, but it's a farcry from the Star Wars prequels where everything is always anti-climactic at every goddamn turn.
There are a few funny moments in Star Trek Into Darkness, which continues the other trend of having the tone of a movie clash constantly. It's not as bad about it as The Amazing Spider-Man but again, Abrams failed to learn anything from Nolan (who he so clearly was trying to emulate in MANY moments). The humor in The Dark Knight is very twisted. The character committing most of it is the darkest character there. We know we shouldn't laugh at the Joker but we understand that this is what he's about. It's hard to go from crying to jubilation in an instant. Not that you'll cry much. Despite how much Star Trek ups the emotional ante, it's constantly trying to lighten the mood with strange humor at every turn. It would be like Alfred deciding to do standup at the moment Rachel died just because. It's not too annoying here, but it is enough to make you wonder why you wasted the last five minute feeling bad for a characters predicament only to laugh at it ten seconds later (in particular the scenes with Scotty are like this). The emotional moments are destroyed by Star Trek: Into Darkness constant moments to try to remind you how serious its supposed to be. Marvel sucks at this big time and Abrams isn't doing any better.
Yet for all its worth, Star Trek Into Darkness is actually a lot of fun. It's easy on the eyes and has quite a few twists and turns. Nothing actually surprising but as I've said, a movie hasn't "surprised" me in quite some time and I'm not one to care. Storytelling isn't about surprises, it's about execution. There are some things Abrams doesn't do so well. Not at the emotional core, but in making a big deal about much of what the movie is about. The villain, for instance, is exactly who you think it is. The fact that Abrams and company tried to keep this underwraps is surprising. The big twist at the end? Same thing. Very obvious (actually it's not... we're literally told halfway through what will happen). That's not to say there aren't some things you won't see coming. The other problem is that there is a lot of convenience in the plot. And while that's not necessarily a bad thing (EVERY movie has it) it is kind of annoying that some characters are put in one place or another for no apparent reason only for us to learn later that they just happened to be there. Scotty's predicament isn't so bad, but there's a particular female character that has absolutely no business being where she is and it doesn't actually make any logical sense, but lo and behold there she is.
That doesn't mean the movie isn't fun. I had a lot of fun with it. I was blown away by quite a bit of the movie because I was impressed with just how entertaining it was. I get that being "entertaining," isn't enough for the Lunch crowd and that I've sinned by liking a movie because of it's "entertainment" factor instead of its "intellectual" one, but again... you have to know the audience. And I've little problem with actually sitting down and just enjoying something. Sometimes a movie really works out better that way ("Raiders of the Lost Ark") while other movies are destroyed by being too all out pretentious about what they do ("Lions for Lambs," "The Art of Getting By,"). The point is that the movie is still fun as hell to watch and I'd probably go see it again because the ride was actually a very good one. It was entertaining and thrilling. I laughed (although I didn't cry) and I really believed that I saw something pretty darn good despite its flaws. Again, predictable, but as I said the last "unpredictable" movie I saw was five years ago and I don't think it's really such a bad thing if you do know what happens (everyone talks about the "big twist" in Iron Man 3 but I figured it out pretty soon into the film... so much so I didn't know it was actually a twist).
So yes, fellow Lunchers, I've committed the sin of enjoying a mainstream movie. I've committed the sin of liking J.J. Abrams and I've committed the scene of actually being entertained by something considerably mindless. But I just don't care anymore. I went to have some fun and I got my fun. This isn't a particularly bad movie. It has it's flaws and I'd never suggest any film is perfect (if a film is, you're an idiot). But I am particularly tired of this idea that mainstream=bad. That's just stupid. There are A LOT of Star Trek references to the original film and series, which may also be something that is kind of annoying. As I hated the television series (but was delighted to see Star Trek II, IV and VI... because the odd number movies suck) I was surprised I still caught onto so many references. This may actually be a bit of a problem. The story is not going to interest you unless you can pick up on these particular bits (in particular: Watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn). All of the best moments of Into Darkness are pretty pale and forgettable unless you actually do. And I'm not a fan of that sort of stuff. The movie-goer shouldn't be forced to do outside homework. And seeing as how the movie going crowd sucks at reading books and going anything beyond watching a goddamn movie I'm sure some people will miss a lot of references that'll fly over their head (or will they?). And it kind of sucks that Into Darkness relies so heavily on a movie from thirty years ago to create some of its biggest moments.
Anyway, it was not a bad movie. I'd highly recommend it for those looking to have some fun. Not to turn off their brain, but just to have fun and perhaps find themselves excited by some of the majesty of the movie itself. It's a fun movie and deserves your attention at least once.
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. … more
Star Trek (2009) re-ignited the Trek world and set it on fire. Loved it or hated it, no one can deny what a reboot and shot in the arm it was for what was a tired series. The worst thing that it could be said about it was that it lacked the feeling of mankinds place in the galaxy which the older Treks at least attempted and that film was just a colorful action blast. Star Trek Into Darkness which is the follow up is certainly a sequel with characters shouting … more
Don't be mislead by the Headline, oh and this review WILL contain spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie yet I suggest you finish off this paragraph then go see it. Again this review contains spoilers so if you haven't seen the movie yet STOP READING, although the Headline itself is a big giveaway,. Anyways on to the review. Star Trek Into Darkness, it wasn't until the third trailer when … more
I might be the only person on Earth who liked this movie more than I liked Abrams' Star Trek 2009. Unfortunately, that's partly because I disliked the 2009 Star Trek. But Into Darkness does have stunning visuals, some fun moments, and a much more compelling villain. It seems overall that viewers who don't know much about Star Trek seem to enjoy this movie and Abrams' larger take on Trek, whereas many viewers who do know Trek despise this movie. I'm more of the latter category … more
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 … more
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … 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...