Star Trek Into Darkness is easily the best movie I’ve seen in theaters this year. Granted, the other films I’ve seen for review were Iron Man 3, Pain & Gain, Oblivion, and GI Joe: Retaliation (hardly a cinematic murderers’ row). I loved the movie and can’t wait to see it again, but I understand why certain people have issues with it. As a summer blockbuster, it has everything you could want — thrilling action, fantastic special effects, witty dialogue, and half-naked Alice Eve. If you’re looking for high-budget filmic fun then it doesn’t get any better than this.
That said, there are two types of moviegoers will have problems with this film. First are the hardcore Trekkers that hate the changes JJ Abrams introduced in Star Trek. They’ll have even more to hate in the new film. Additionally, the movie has several nods, references, and parallels to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. While they’re meant as a tribute to that great movie, some fans feel that Abrams was trying to be too clever at best and flat-out copying at worst. While I’ve enjoyed numerous Star Trek movies and TV shows, I’m not a stringent Trekker and I’ve enjoyed Abrams’ take on the franchise, but understand why some fans dislike it.
Then there are people looking for great sci-fi. Star Trek Into Darkness is more space-action-opera than science-fiction. The heady science that can be found in numerous Star Trek movies and episodes isn’t in this movie. Instead, there are several instances of fictionalized science that don’t make much sense. This criticism I understand more than obstinate Trekkers refusing to enjoy something new, but it’s sadly what Hollywood has become and what the majority of moviegoers want.
Like I said, I’m not a Star Trek or sci-fi purist. With that in mind, I loved this movie’s action, effects, writing, and half-naked Alice Eve. Here are some random thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness. Spoiler shields on!
The Crew: As expected, the movie focuses on the Kirk/Spock bromance, but the other crew members get some time to shine. Scotty and Bones had a bit more time than the others, and they made the most out of it. Scotty had a few scenes that completely owned, while Bones had several lines that killed. Sulu had one bad-ass scene that almost made me forget that he was the uptight stoner from Harold and Kumar. His scenes also foreshadowed his eventual captaincy. Uhura’s moments were slightly disappointing; some of her scenes made her seem like Spock’s emotional accessory, while one action sequence required the boys to bail her out. As far as I can tell, Chekhov exists to frantically run around while frazzled and to mispronounce the letter V.
Khan II: As many of you have learned, Khan Noonien Singh is this movie’s baddy. I thought that Benjamin Cumberbatch did a great job as Khan and was a fantastic villain — much better than Eric Bana’s Nero from the first film. To me, Cumberbatch was smart and intimidating. I felt a sense of danger every time he was onscreen. The character’s weakness had more to do with the writing than the performance. I know that Khan is supposed to kick all kinds of ass, but those unfamiliar with the character probably didn’t get the full sense of his badassery due to limited backstory.
The Pace: The movie’s runtime is 132 minutes, but it’s likely the zippiest 132-minute movie you’ll ever see. The vast majority of the movie is fast. Conversations, space chases, foot chases, and fight sequences happen at a mercurial pace. Many moviegoers will love the constant edge-of-your-seat excitement, but I understand people that feel that the movie could have used a few more breathers. There is such a thing as action fatigue and the movie could have used a bit more backstory for newcomers.
The Effects: This movie has so much eye candy. The special effects are glorious. I was particularly fond of the new warp sequence. I loved how the shape of the ship distorts prior to warp. I loved the new “warp line” effects. I loved the trail of star dust (at least, that’s what I think it is) left by ships post-warp. The sequence happened a few times in the movie and I marked out every time. The set pieces were phenomenal and the aliens looked fantastic. The 3D was good, but not great. From what I understand, Abrams wanted to shoot in anamorphic, which doesn’t allow 3D filming, so the 3D effects were tacked on in post production.
The Writing: As many of you know, I gravitate towards writers of comics, TV shows, and movies. I enjoyed what Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman did with the script from the first movie. The two, along with Damon Lindelof, did a stellar job with the dialogue in Star Trek Into Darkness. I really love the new versions of the classic Star Trek characters these guys created and especially love how they interact with each other. The conversations are fast, funny, and full of heart. When I think of fast-paced dialogue with heart, Aaron Sorkin and Kevin Smith come to mind. The former is probably the best known writer of this style, while the latter has been called a dumber and raunchier version of Sorkin. I guess Orci and Kurtzman combine to form Nerd Sorkin. That totally works for me.
Alice Eve: Honestly, Alice Eve’s character didn’t do much in this movie, but she had a scene that will definitely be one of the most remembered because she’s half naked! I’ve always adored this woman. Obviously she’s extremely attractive on a physical level. More importantly, she’s crazy smart (Oxford educated). Most importantly, she has heterochromia iridium, which is incredibly sexy (see Yuna). Any movie that features a gorgeous half-naked women with heterochromia iridium and a St. Catz education should win an award. Dozens really.
Bottom Line: This movie is super-nerd fun, as long as you’re not on the extreme fringes of nerdom. Normals will love the action, special effects, and half-naked Alice Eve. Light to moderate nerds will love all of those things too, as well as the dialogue. The people that are bashing the movie are hardcore Star Trek and sci-fi fans, and while I understand their issues, I think they’re preventing themselves from enjoying one of the most entertaining films released in 2013.