Friday, May 17, 2013
Star Trek Into Darkness
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, directed by J.J. Abrams (132 min.)
I don't fashion myself as a Trekkie. I have no deep-seeded knowledge of the Star Trek pantheon, I have nowhere near an intricate working knowledge of the U.S.S. Enterprise or it's shipmates beyond what I have gathered through - for lack of a better term - "uninvolved" viewing. I cannot speak Klingon. So maybe there are things in these new films I enjoy that purists and fanboys will reject wholeheartedly. There could be great disservices to these legendary characters going on right before my eyes. That being said, I am familiar with all of the important players, I have seen the original films over the years, and I do enjoy the canon and what it represents to pop culture. And I also know great entertainment when I see it, and that is what is on display with Star Trek Into Darkness; at least, through the eyes of a casual fan.
A new threat in the form of a mysterious Starfleet officer throws the crew and Kirk back into action. This new threat is the infamous Khan, played this time around by Benedict Cumberbatch in a role made legendary by Ricardo Mantalban. There is no fake chest or Mad Max gear this time around; this Khan is single-minded and threatening in his words as he attacks Starfleet and flees to a Klingon planet to hide out. Khan's attacks set the gears of the plot into motion, a plot which up to this point had been a little too basic and a little too obvious. Thankfully, they get these plot points out of the way quickly and push us into a story involving revenge and adventure.
The story itself, as I mentioned, is paint-by-numbers in the early scenes where the action is telegraphed by too much telling and not enough showing. But these characters are so fully realized and have such wonderful chemistry that the weakness of the first act is overshadowed by banter and wit. It was refreshing to see the great Peter Weller back on the big screen as Starfleet's big shot, Marcus. I enjoy Pine's new incarnation of Shatner's invention, a bit more angry and a bit less lounge singer in my opinion. And Quinto's Spock is more involved in the action from top to bottom. There is plenty of organic comic relief from the likes of Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Bones (Karl Urban), and due to the relentless thrills the rest of the crew is so locked into their jobs on board they are merely window dressing. I realize the original films were light on true, raw action, and The Next Generation even lighter, and these new films deal less in the Trekkie currency of sociological examination, but I would take the trade in the form of such a high-space adventure.