Star Trek Into Darkness

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Rating: 3.75 of 5 ★★★¾☆ 


This review is not going to be fair. I just want to be clear about that upfront. And it’s not because Into Darkness wasn’t good; it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

I wanted it to be surprising and inventive. I wanted it to be smarter than I am and the dialog to be more clever than I am. The last movie I saw was Iron Man 3 which was smarter than me and funnier than me. And I’m aware that the comparison isn’t fair, but Iron Man proved it’s possible to be that good and then Star Trek wasn’t.

Mostly I was disappointed that it was so obvious. Maybe it wouldn’t be obvious if you were less familiar with the Star Trek universe. But not entirely.

spoilers but surprises to absolutely no one ยป
I wanted John Harrison to not be Khan. Because everyone expected him to be Khan. And if you didn’t expect it then you don’t know who Khan is and so it doesn’t matter.

And then there was the feint with Admiral Marcus being the bad guy which I thought was good, but that it was done better in Iron Man (not fair, I know). But it created, for a moment, the idea that Khan would be an ally in this alternate universe and that would have been different and interesting. But then he wasn’t. They even had Spock say the classic line and it just felt so tired.

It’s hard because there’s a fine line between allusions to the original which are fun and being completely unoriginal. I think that line is taking what exists before and acknowledging it but make it different or unique; finding a new perspective that gives it fresh life and makes it fun all over again. Like the red shirt moment where Kirk told them to take off the red shirts. That was fun. That’s how I know these guys are capable of doing those allusions so well and being unique and smart with them. I know because the first movie was full of those allusions. Which made it all the more disappointing that this movie felt largely unoriginal. It didn’t feel like it was a new story it felt like it was the same story done all over again and it didn’t feel like a new take on that same store it just felt like they were rehashing it and serving up fan expectations.

Which doesn’t mean that it was badly done. The acting was good and there were a lot of really good character moments with all the characters and I loved Alice Even as Carol Marcus. She was smart and fun and beautiful and fierce. All the characters, really were very good and heartfelt and funny and they were good performances. And Benedict Cumberbatch! I mean, he’s awesome and I wanted so much more for him than to be something that had been done before. He kicked ass (literally – his stunt guy was fantastic) and his voice is just so menacing and he is such a smart villain. I wanted so much more for him.

All these people did their job really well. There was a lot done well in this film. The production was good, except that it was over-scored. I don’t like horns and I don’t like it when the music swells and overwhelms the moment. But it was Star Trek music and if it hadn’t been over-scored everyone else would probably have said that the music was disappointing and it wasn’t really Star Trek music. And they’d mostly be right.

And, not to go back to criticizing but it’s called Star Trek Into Darkness. I was expecting BSG darkness. Ok, maybe not that but at least Joss Whedon or Melina Marchetta darkness. There was one sad moment but other than that it wasn’t dark at all.

And I think also it seemed packed, especially in the beginning. I would have handled Harrison’s reveal differently also. It focused on this random couple that we don’t know and therefore have no reason to care about and spent a lot of time with them that could have been just as effective from a different point of view.

I think if I saw this again I’d probably like it better because I would have recalibrated my expectations and could enjoy the character moments. I totally agree with J.J. Abrams – I don’t like spoilers and I don’t want to know anything about a movie before I go see it. I want to experience the movie itself, not a dozen tidbits ahead of time. But in this case, having seen it, I think knowing it’s flaws would help me set them aside and enjoy all the things it did really well.

Writing:★★★¼☆ 
Characters:★★★¾☆ 
Performances:★★★¾☆ 
Directing:★★★½☆ 
Production:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★¾☆ 

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