Waylon’s ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ Review
Enough! Knock it off! The Enterprise cannot fly in the atmosphere. It is limited to space and orbital flight. That having been said, the new Star Trek movie, "Into Darkness," is pretty good. Let me amplify.
The conflicts between characters, both between our heroes and between our heroes and the villians, is prime Star Trek. The action is as good as it gets. The effects are outstanding. I never thought I would say this about a modern major motion picture, but there is even plenty of character development. World class story telling.
Unfortunately, Star Trek: Into Darkness contains an ample supply of what the 2009 Star Trek movie contained... Slop. Lots of it, too. The one element inspiring even non-trekkies to savor Star Trek is its ability to make you feel as if you were viewing a future reality that could actually exist. Audiences felt as if they were truly traveling through space with these characters. This is were Star Trek: Into Darkness fails.
The opening scene of the Enterprise hidden on the ocean floor is inexcusable. There is no plausible reason for this. Couldn't the Enterprise have just remained in space? It's not like they don't have transporters and shuttle crafts. The scene was nothing more than forcibly contrived eye candy to create an excuse to see the mighty Enterprise rise up from the water, leaving the planet's natives standing there with their jaws gaping. All for looks. This is not Star Trek.
Scenarios such as this are J.J. Abrams crutch. He is brilliant and brings an unmatched energy to the screen. He also, unfortunately, goes for forced humor, and it doesn't work. It certainly doesn't work in Star Trek.
When the film diverts its attention from colossal visual effects and overly flamboyant set designs, and gets down to the business of telling its story, magic happens. The villain, and I will deliberately avoid giving away any spoilers, is magnificently portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch. It is hard to imagine a more perfect Star Trek villain.
As compelling as the lead characters and the villain are, the supporting cast rapidly becomes redundant. The character of Dr. Carol Marcus is ultimately interchangeable, offering nothing to the film other than a hat tip to Kirk's history. Unfortunately, that reference to his past is unrealized in the film. The characters of Bones, Sulu, and Checkov might as well of phoned in their parts.
One huge success on behalf of the writer and director is their respect to good nautical story telling; without the ship, we all die. This was carried out beautifully in Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan, and it is well repeated here. The Enterprise becomes a vital character in the story, something horribly unachieved in the 2009 Star Trek.
As a lifelong Star Trek fan, my love of the show is dependent on consistency and detail. The Enterprise has a certain number of decks. This is a rigid part of the reality. There are designated places on the ship where certain things happen a certain way. These static concepts are what make us understand and sympathize with the characters and their predicaments. If the phase inducers are out of alignment, the ship doesn't work. That is until the very skilled crew of engineers fixes it. That is why they are there. When a huge hole erupts in the side of the ship, it is a bad thing, not just an excuse for more visual effects. Even in the 23rd century, space travel is not so simple and commonplace that ships can jump to warp just because you think they should.
Star Trek, Into Darkness is a great film on many levels. Non-Trekkies will find many merits with the film without the need to read deep into Trek lore. Those looking for great action and adventure will find it in abundance. Trekkies like myself will enjoy the conflict between characters, the complexity of the villains, and the true depth of what is at stake for the crew of the Enterprise.
Treat yourself to a great movie experience and make it a part of your summer agenda to see Star Trek: Into Darkness. If you are like me, a hard core Trekkie, set your mind to the idea of accepting that things change, audiences change, business is business, and come to terms with the fact this isn't the old Star Trek. Allow yourself to get past some of the inconsistencies and excursions from Trek canon, and enjoy a strong entry in the franchise.