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Movie Review Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Star Trek Into Darkness Movie Poster

Into Darkness brings several shades of shady into the Light.

Movie Review Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

A sequel that boldly goes where we’ve gone before.

When director J.J. Abrams took the reins of a long-beloved franchise and breathed new life into a series that gave us some of our favorite sci-fi concepts…a few…um…fans were rather displeased. No, let’s call it like it is: diehards were very upset. Not Trekkies or Trekkers, but die-hard Trekkerds. See, there’s camaraderie in isolation. There’s something cool about being uncool- especially when there’s enough of you(s) to make an army. Star Wars, fortunately or unfortunately doesn’t have as many levels of fandom. What? Let me explain. Both franchises have catch phrases. Both have attire to cosplay in. Both have obscure side-characters and small moments with big implications and impact, BUT Star Trek has episodes. Lots and lots of material to pull from. And that’s where the problems start for the Trekkerds.

If you want, Star Trek is about the peaceful exploration of new worlds, scientific discovery and a human statement- all wrapped in the futuristic fabric of a space adventure. But that’s not every episode. If you remember the original T.V. series (across 3 seasons from 1966-1968) you’ll find that many episodes were action-orientated with hand-to-hand combat, shoot outs and ship to ship (or alien thingie) warfare. There are also episodes that… well, were kind of boring and goofy. If you want to show the depth of your devotion, don’t tell me a back-story about the Storm Troopers genetic disposition to bumping their heads on low doorways. Don’t waste you time making obscure references to the Force or drop clever movie quotes in every conversation. Simply say your favorite Trek episode is one of the terrible ones and demand they use its plot for a summer blockbuster.

J.J. Abrams violated a major unspoken rule and made the somewhat obscure totally accessible. Star Trek became cool for EVERYBODY. Yep, people that did not previously watch ANY Star Trek title- loved the 2009 movie. That’s their Star Trek…and it stinks that they got a good one. There’s a happy-sad moment in the new Star Wars movies being a disappointment. Those that were there can claim we had the right Star Wars movies. So where to? Helmsmen, take us out.

Star Trek Into Darkness image

We capture the essence of villainy

The writers behind Star Trek (2009), Robert Orci and Alex Kutzman did an outstanding job bringing back well-defined characters and giving a fresh coat of paint to a sagging franchise. There was something in it for everyone and you could get in at your own level of familiarity. They even took the time to fix some of the glaring plot holes in both the original series and in the motion pictures. [No, you didn’t find it strange that Uhura, the Communications Officer can’t speak the language of our sworn enemies for over two decades in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country?] This time around, they’ve added Damon Lindelof (writer for T.V. show Lost) and a writing credit for Star Trek series creator Gene Roddenberry. That seems highly appropriate because Into Darkness places us at the proper beginning of the science and exploration mission of the original series. We now have an alternate-reality-prequel, if you will. The recent Star Trek tried to treat your memories as gently as possible by leaving your version of Star trek alone and adding a new timeline so no Prime Directive was violated. Well, that’s the first thing that happens here.

I won’t spend any time convincing you to see this movie or not. You will all see it no matter what. Some to love and some to hate. A minor issue I had with the 2009 Trek was some of the characterizations- it was a gross generalization- especially for our Captain, James Tiberius Kirk. It was as if someone just wrote down what happens in [almost] every episode (Kirk fights and Kirk mates) and summarized that as his entire being. That sits at direct odds with Kirk at his best, which is a man who takes his responsibilities seriously and loves his ship and crew. For many, including me, that is the essence of Star Trek. I fully understand that you don’t have 79 episodes (like the original series) to flesh out characters and build relationships. I accept that movies are expected to have much more happening in a shorter amount of time. I don’t want a T.V. series made for the big screen like Star Trek: The New Generation movies were becoming. I expect something big and a lot of changes while it all stays the same. This new Star Trek is that.

Star trek Into Darkness Dreadnaught

My Ship is bigger than yours

See this Abrams Into Darkness because it does well again what it did previously: add on to the lore, fix a few issues, build relationships and thrill us while setting a course for future bold adventures. This is a part two that makes part one better. There are tons of spoilers in this movie- many surprises and treats for those that know the series well. I would suggest you see the previous new Trek again/first as this sequel does lean heavily on the previous stage. You won’t ever be lost, but some of the clever writing and motifs might slip by.

I mention Star Wars a lot in this review and it’s fitting as news of J.J Abrams directing the new series of Star Wars movies. If he can bring the same energy and respect he has for Trek to Star Wars, I expect to have a phaser in one hand and a saber in the other. I’m not a movie critique; I’m just critiquing a movie.

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  1. May 17, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Best movie of the year for me by far because it never loses that energy and steam that made the first one so awesome. Good review.

    • May 18, 2013 at 12:48 am

      Very true, a friend that saw it today said there were no dead spots. I agree, it was very fast paced without blurring any key moments or dragging us into any random-indulgences.

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