May 30, 2013

Do you like this?

New ‘Star Trek’ film may not please fan boys

By John DeVore

In yet another summer movie with style over substance, “Star Trek Into Darkness” continues on the course of the conventional action movie set out by director J.J Abrams in 2009.  While “Star Trek” the reboot was a relatively fresh look at the franchise, with a nice take on the original story and a convincing restart to the “Star Trek” historical cannon, “Star Trek Into Darkness” isn’t quite the leap forward that many fans expected. Instead, it rehashes old storylines, tweaking them just enough to appear original, but leaving several of the familiar lines intact. The filmmakers seemed to be taking too many notes from fans while setting the wrong tone. “Star Trek” is about discovery, not the fight between good and evil. It’s about challenging preconceptions and dreaming of the possibilities that lie just outside the edges of our perception.  Adventure is for “Star Wars”—“Star Trek” is a search for understanding.

Tonal differences aside, “Star Trek Into Darkness” is still a fun film. The cast from the 2009 film returns, and although most of the characters are played as caricatures of their 1960s counterparts, they are still a welcome part of a well-known franchise. Kirk and Spock are given most of the heavy lifting. They move the plot along by jumping in and out of scenes with the real star of the show, the special effects. The artists and designers that created the universe through which these actors move are the real visionaries. They deserve the multimillion-dollar salaries that the studios toss at the cast. Everything is beautiful in the future—it’s as if Steve Jobs was cloned and put to work designing every corner of Earth and Heaven. I spent less time paying attention to what the actors were saying just because there was so much to look at. Do not see this in 3D. You’ll miss out on the incredible detail.

As I mentioned, the plot is rehashed from another film. If you’re a “Star Trek” fan, you know which one. You can smell the rich Corinthian leather wafting through the theater. Benedict Cumberbatch is a more than effective villain—he plays the role with equal parts intelligence and savagery, making him far more intimidating than his predecessor. Certain characters from the “Star Trek” universe call for an action-movie makeover and it’s certainly not V’ger.  The film is not a shot-for-shot remake—the timelines are different, so we have a younger crew facing a comparatively younger villain, which I suppose explains a much more emotional Spock. His human side appears to be much more prominent in his youth, although truthfully, whose isn’t?  There are throwaway references for fans of the series:  Tribbles, Section 31, Gorn, etc.  Klingons also make an appearance, hopefully setting the stage for future encounters. All in all, casual fans of the franchise will likely be pleased.

But the more hardcore fans, the ones that study the show and the films and attend the conventions will probably be disappointed. Some people are impossible to please. It doesn’t help that “Star Trek” is better as a television show. It needs weekly episodes, long seasons and story arcs, and a variety of planets and alien life forms. Two hours every few years just isn’t enough. That’s the major difference between the two—it’s easier to be thoughtful over 25 episodes. Modern moviegoers demand constant action that doesn’t fit with the heart of the franchise.  “Star Trek Into Darkness” is good enough as a stand-alone film, but Trekkies want to come back next week to see where the crew is on their five-year mission. Unless Abrams and company want to ramp up their production, a certain number of fans just aren’t going to be satisfied.

If hardcore fans temper their expectations, “Star Trek Into Darkness” is as good a film experience as it can be, even for them. There are fast starships, lots of explosions, and a few scantily clad ladies with green skin and tails. Just make sure to leave any deep thoughts at the door.  


May 30, 2013

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