Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Following the commercial success of J.J. Abrams’ reboot of “Star Trek”, it was a certainty that he would be back to mine the franchise for more while contributing little to nothing.  After the 2009 reboot ripped the characters out of the universe that Star Trek fans had come to love them in so much, “Into Darkness” takes the next logical step by shredding some of the familiar stories as well.

Starfleet is under attack both from without and within for reasons that aren’t entirely clear (unless you’ve seen “Wrath of Khan” and, in terms of narrative plot, “The Undiscovered Country”).  It once again falls to Captain Kirk and his crew to play the dual role of renegade saviors and sacrificial lambs as Admiral Marcus (played perfectly by Peter Weller) hunts intergalactic fugitive John Harrison/Khan (overplayed to ridiculous lengths by Benedict Cumberbatch, whose only real success here is making Ricardo Montalban seem like a really good Sikh actor by comparison).

The plot makes little sense for those unfortunate few who try to pay attention.  Leonard Nimoy continues to show contempt for the original work by cashing another paycheck here in a completely useless cameo.  The payoff for the film both bastardizes “Wrath of Khan” and renders just about everything in Abrams’ universe moot.

Abrams goes to admirable lengths to cram as many lens flares and nods to the original series as he can into the movie’s 132 minute running time, making the whole thing seem like a bad sketch comedy of the original show.  The one thing that becomes instantly clear is that the entire point of this film – and the reboot in general – was to take the familiarity and passion that Star Trek fans have had for 40 years and use that as a pale substitute for character development or cohesive writing.  The result is two hours of explosions, badly choreographed fights and lens flares smeared across the tapestry of Gene Roddenberry’s universe, with fans of the franchise left to fill in the blanks for themselves while a new generation of moviegoers stare blankly at the pretty colors.

The film gets points for its action sequences; Abrams has clearly mastered that.  If you’re looking for mindless explosions and lights dancing across the screen, he’s your guy.  Why anybody felt the need to besmirch “The Wrath of Khan” to create that, however, is a question only he (or the executives at Paramount) can answer.

The mission of Starfleet was always to boldly go where no man has gone before.  With “Into Darkness”, we’ve clearly ventured instead where everybody has gone before but with less integrity.

Stars: 1.5/5

 

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2 thoughts on “Star Trek Into Darkness

  1. Are you kidding me! This was a great popcorn flick! How could you rate “Detour” higher than this movie? The one thing you didn’t touch on was the huge plot hole. Why couldn’t they take the blood of any of the other crew-mates to revive him? Why did they have to go after Khan? I generally agree with your reviews with this as a rare exception. Solid 3.5/5 stars.

  2. I said it served well as mindless entertainment, that’s how it got that star and a half. “Detour” was a bad movie (and I ranked it just barely higher than this), but it also had no budget and didn’t have decades of goodwill, lore and story hooks built into it – they have to be looked at differently. It also didn’t shit all over a treasured franchise.

    I skipped the giant plot hole because it seemed like sort of a spoiler and I don’t like to dwell on them in reviews unless they just screw up the whole premise of the film or something (you know, like sending the Enterprise after Khan now that we can apparently just transport to other planets). Now that the cat is out of the bag, I’ve ranted about that elsewhere (and the whole superblood facet…and Bones actually calling it “superblood”) as well as the fact that, short of disintegrating him or something, you can get blood from a corpse, last I checked.

    Man. People keep wanting to talk about this movie and get me riled up all over again.

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