Into Darkness – misses a few notes but what about the score?

itdAs a long time Trek fan you’d think I’ have the Into Darkness theatrical release date marked on my calendar with a big red heart drawn around it. Not true. It’s rare I get a chance to see movies in the theater anymore, so tracking the dates would just be self-torture.  Sometimes, though, things just work out and I did get a chance to see Into Darkness in the theater. Woot!

Blockbuster – check!
I have to disclose that I’m inclined to like any Star Trek movie, but I think I would have enjoyed this one even if I wasn’t already a fan. You can always count on Director, JJ Abrams, to make a big action-packed block-buster. That is what he set out to do and I’d say he succeeded for the most part. I highly recommend the movie, but I feel compelled to warn you that it isn’t a perfect movie so set your expectations accordingly.

Into the not so Dark – ness 
I had a bit of trouble with my own expectations. Perhaps it was the name, but I was expecting a darker flick. There are plenty of ‘darker trappings’ and emotionally dark moments, but the overall effect isn’t dark. If the movie fails anywhere, I’d say it was in those dark or dramatic moments. You don’t want solutions to appear out of the blue, but I’m not sure you want them to be quite this predictable. The movie too often telegraphs the plot twists before they are executed and the solution to the dark moment is easy to spot long before it is needed. I’d go so far as to call it predictable.  But this is adventure not mystery, so a bit of predictability isn’t disastrous. The movie is still a fun ride and even laugh-out-loud funny at times.

Fandom Nods Noted
Many of the jokes come in the form of nods to the fans. Fondly remembered lines abound, but not every nod to fans hits the mark. kronos Some are just too on the nose and each of those occurrences took me out of the story. The more subtle references or twists on the original fare much better. At least for me.

Get your Star Wars out of my Star Trek
My last complaint may be a bit petty. I know Abrams has been pretty open about not being a Star Trek fan until he put his own mark on it. I guess that is okay as is his preference for Star Wars. I won’t begrudge anyone their childhood favorites. However, I was disappointed when one of the last big scenes of the movie was played out in a manner so similar to scenes in Star Wars episode 2 that I expected a skinny, arrogant Aniken to beam into the scene at any moment. (sigh)

Embrace the Bromance
What makes the movie stellar, in spite of any weaknesses, is the central character relationships. At the heart of this movie is the friendship between Kirk and Spock. That delights my fannish heart more than any tribble or red-shirt reference. The evolution of that friendship and its effects on the two men and the rest of the crew are integral to the story and develop apace with the plot. Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine execute it perfectly.  Into Darkness, taps into the Star Trek tradition of looking at ethical complexity, hard choices, right and wrong, logic and passion, love and respect and I heartily approve.

15 thoughts on “Into Darkness – misses a few notes but what about the score?

  1. I’m a little worried Star Trek won’t meet my expectations being a diehard Trek fan (and encyclopedia). But it’ll be several weeks before I can see the movie because I want to watch it with hubby. I hope it’s still out when he gets back. At least you reassured me a little. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for the review, Charlee. I’m looking forward to this one, but I’ve had reservations, given Abrams’ as director. You’ve reassured me — a bit — and I imagine I’ll enjoy this film a lot, but I hope someone else takes the directing helm of the next Star Trek venture.

    • It is disappointing that Abrahams doesn’t have the passion for Star Trek as we do but we could have done far worse on directors. We have to be grateful that he made movies that deliver both a thrill ride and respect for the core story.

  3. I have been hearing it was supposed to be dark as well, glad to know what to really expect. I think I am just so happy they made the movie it would be hard for me to hate it at this point even with the Star Wars mash up which Mr. Director should know is a big no no for some fans.

    • The Star Wars imitation was limited to one scene (at least as far as I noticed) and I think the story could have been dark, it just didn’t come off that way. At the darkest moment, I was choked up and emotional until my brain kicked in and said wait, remember, you already know this is going to come out ok. It was like being in a nightmare when you suddenly realize your dreaming and the tension dissipates. You become a detached observer. I was glad for the relief, but a little disappointed too.

  4. What an awesome review, Charlee. I’m so out of the loop these days, I didn’t even know it’s playing in theaters. Now I’m going to have to look it up on Fandango and see how long it’ll be on the big screen in our town.

  5. I loved this movie, loved how it played with the storyline in The Wrath of Khan, loved that this is an alternate timeline, so we didn’t know what to expect from moment to moment. I am also a diehard ST fan, having seen everything (except some of DS9, which didn’t capture me) and read many of the ST novels, so having the alternate timeline already firmly established in the first movie was not just fun, but necessary for this reboot. And the actors are almost perfect in their roles.

    BTW, JJ Abrams has admitted that he wasn’t a ST fan as a boy, but he also said (last week, in an interview with Jon Stewart, so it must be true) that he hadn’t been exposed to it early on. He bought into the ST/SW dichotomy and chose his camp early. He told Jon that the subtleties and sophistication of ST were beyond him then. I believe he said (paraphrased) that he just wasn’t as smart as the ST fans then. He followed that up by saying he’d since watched the entire ST oeuvre, TV series and movies, and read many of the novels. His adult conclusion: ST is his favorite now. Whether that will change once he starts making SW movies remains to be seen.

  6. Great review, Charlee. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. Yes, there were a few plot issues (trying hard not to spoil anything), but the character interactions more than made up for that for me. (Actually, I thought the movie would have been stronger without a certain cameo.) And even though I knew everything would work out okay, I still teared up during one particular scene.

    • I know what you mean. I started to get emotional and then sort of shook my self out of it. Still loved the twist of it. I think this series is way more Spock centered than the original, not a bad thing. He was always my favorite. 😉 But Spock and Kirk need each other for balance. That hasn’t changed.

  7. Just saw the movie. Not ever watching TV, I was surprised it was in 3D, so was the theater as they forgot to give out 3D glasses. I was hoping the projectionist would focus the film, which happened when I got the glasses.

    With or With/out 3D, as you said it was a good action movie with good character development just as you described it! I thought the beginning, with Spock in the Volcano was a bit of a James Bond approach, and I liked it. The only odd thing I noted, which I would have thought a women would have picked up on was the odd no love or sex relationship between Kirk and anyone female. We see a brief scene with two women (sort of as one had a animals tale) in his bed) and that is over quickly. We see an eye flash of something that might happen between Kirk and the blond physicist but it is a flash and over. I don’t need sex in a movie but I found it really odd that there was no continuity of any romantic line between Kirk and any women. That just did not feel right. I cannot imagine writing a story of that proportion where a male hero does not have any female as an intricate part of his life.

    The movie was about 2 hours and felt like 30 minutes so…. can’t bitch it was great.

    • Oye – the glasses thing sound like a nightmare. Glad you were able to enjoy the film anyway.

      Re: Kirk and the blond physicist – this is a call back to the cannon and one of the original films.

      Re: ” I found it really odd that there was no continuity of any romantic line between Kirk and any women”

      Actually, this makes good sense because in the original series, Kirk was a playboy who never settled down. He went from woman to woman – episode to episode.

      And in terms of the big picture, I think there is a complete reversal of roles here and in the earlier movie and that is that Spock is now the central figure in many ways. He is most changed in this alternate time line because he has very different experiences. He met Kirk later and had time to develop a relationship before he fell under the shadow of the swashbuckling Kirk. Plus his emotional outburst in the first movie is key to accelerating his emotional character development. He is learning to cope with his emotions more quickly than the original Spock.

      I have always been a Spock fan, so this is just fine with me and I love the portrayal of Spock’s relationship with Uhura.

      Thanks for giving me an excuse to jabber more about the flick! 😉

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