5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW: Star Trek Into Darkness

When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it.

5 Things You Need to Know About… 


  1. Outside the context of the expansive (although not always universally inclusive) Star Trek universe and its many iterations as originally and thoughtfully conceived by Master Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek Into Darkness is a well-paced, well-performed, occasionally compelling, but often redundant summer action movie.  The J.J. Abrams brain trust (Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci) are on their game – the storytelling is considerate in conception (though not always in execution), lens flaring occurs, and Michael Giacchino does his thing scoring the action – but like the worst moments of Lost or of last summer’s Prometheus (also scribed by Lindelof), there is too much focus devoted to pleasing the fanboys and girls and too little focus to making the best possible stand alone movie.

  2. Inside the Stark Trek world of TV shows, movies, books, and dress-up conventions (I have been but a casual peruser over the years, not a true devotee), Star Trek Into Darkness is an average and uneventful Star Trek iteration that relies too heavily on the mostly empty allusions (Was a repeat of this really necessary?) to the past (but ironically future events in the timeline of the Kirk, Spock, and Co. narrative).  Yes, I enjoyed Karl Urban’s borderline caricature portrayal of Bones, but Doctor, please treat the screenplay’s a dozen too many uses of “Damn it, Jim!”  You will get more out of Star Trek Into Darkness if you have trekked a few times before, but if you have trekked before, you will be disappointed that you didn’t get more out of this installment.

  3. Spock is just an outstanding character and Zachary Quinto could not execute a better performance.  It is not easy to consistently nail the stoicism of this largely emotionless Vulcan yet simultaneously instill so much humanity.  Quinto manages to do both with an apparent ease.  I do wish there was more Spock speaking, considering, and deciding and less Spock fighting in entirely unnecessary climactic battles set against entirely unnecessary large set pieces.

  4. It is obvious that Benedict Cumberbatch (delightful and brilliant as ever) plays the bad guy in this movie, but his character’s true identity had been cloaked in old school, spoiler-alert proof M. Night Shyamalan secrecy during the endless prerelease press junket.  If you haven’t already heard who the artist sometimes known as Sherlock’s alter ego really is, let me tell you a secret: when you find out, it really doesn’t matter (and maybe it matters even less for devoted fanboys when all is said and done).  The (we were made to think) big reveal is already listed correctly on the IMDB character page.  (As a point of comparison, IMDB still lists Kevin Spacey as portraying Roger ‘Virbil’ Kint in The Usual Suspects.)  According to the Final Frontiersmen who will actually care about the true identity of John Harrison (as he is introduced when the movie begins), the Cumberbatch character in this movie was more interesting and compelling enough before the reveal and did not need to become mired in an ultimate and inevitable lackluster and unmaintainable comparison to an original version.  This part is another win for Cumberbatch, but his character’s inclusion is likely a slight loss for Stark Trek Into Darkness.

  5. To both the strange world of its most passionate fans and to the new world of the audience on a summer blockbuster viewing voyage, Star Trek Into Darkness does not boldly go where no movie has gone before.  Although it may entertain through a modern action movie lens flare, it does not have a deeper impact.


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