Friday, May 24, 2013

Movie Review—Star Trek Into Darkness

Now I think I have a better idea what folks were objecting to in Prometheus. And that objection has a name: Damon Lindelof. He was one of the writers for both Prometheus and Star Trek Into Darkness, and while I'm a huge fan of Star Trek, that fandom pales in comparison to Alien. As such, I was able to put up with more plot holes and problems in Prometheus than I could here. Now... I'm not saying that Damon Lindelof is without a doubt the reason why I didn't like Star Trek Into Darkness... actually, wait. I think that's exactly what I'm saying.

I was willing to let go of all my preconceived notions about Star Trek and established canon. After all, the previous movie made it pretty clear that J. J. Abrams is going in some new directions with the series, and he did a great job with that movie, I thought. And the cast is more or less spot on perfect for their roles—Chekov was a bit underused and forgettable, but everyone else had at least one great scene. Zachary Quinto as Spock is probably my favorite role, but Zoe Saldana as Uhura is pretty awesome too.

The effects are incredible. The villain is memorable. The acting is great. The explosions blow up real good. The writing, though... there's a number of unfortunate plot holes in here, as well as some unexplained goofiness. It's a well-done action movie, but I think that's the crux of my problem. The Star Trek stories that I feel are the strongest, be they movies or the shows, are the ones where they embrace character growth or tackle actual science fiction plots. Preferably both.
Why can't I get that "Bilbo Baggins" song Leonard sang out of my head?

Star Trek Into Darkness doesn't have much time for sci-fi—nor does it have a lot of time for new character growth... mostly because what it DOES have it more or less borrows liberally from a previous Star Trek movie.

I'm eager for the series to continue under J. J. Abrams' direction, but only if it goes somewhere new... soemwhere no director has gone before. At least, in the canon of Star Trek plots.

Star Trek Into Darkness...
  • ... has a monster in it. Not in a big part, but looking at all my favorite Star Trek episodes and movies... they almost all have monsters or killer robots in them.
  • ... has a pretty big reveal in it that the trailers have teased but haven't revealed. Somehow I managed to go 5 days without having the reveal spoiled, and I was pretty delighted with it as a result.
  • ... also seems like it gives away a big scene in the trailers, but for me at least, it only misdirected my expectations, which ALSO delighted me.
  • ... thinks it knows about the Prime Directive, but doesn't really.
  • ... frustrated me with how little the transporters were used, and how often the movie had to invent reasons for them not to work. It was like how horror movies have to invent reasons for cell phones not to work. The best horror movies know that they should find ways to let those phones work but STILL put their characters into peril. Hopefully future Star Trek movies figure out how to let the transporters work while still having a plot.
  • ... is, despite my disappointment, still one of the better Star Trek movies. It's easy to forget how many of them are really really terrible.
Grade: C+

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