Shouldn’t There Be a Colon in the Title?
A Film Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS MAY OCCUR
Sequels have it both ways, especially when there should be a colon in the title but there isn’t one. Following the heels of 2009’s breakout success Star Trek, J. J. Abrams makes another foray into basically what is Star Trek Into Darkness of Khan’s Wrath or something more grammatically sound than that. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by another film and clearly the makers of the ST:ID were going for the Wrath of Khan vein. That is fine, but don’t do what they did at the climax and just switch the roles of Kirk and Spock. That is inherently lazy writing. Khan is of course in this film because no one believed it wasn’t for a single second. Talk about a marketing misfire. But with the whole “time line, alternate it is” (Sorry, wrong franchise), there was a chance to create something wholly new and they don’t. It’s uncharacteristic of Abrams, who handled the task with intelligence for the previous installment. The third act becomes a twisted Wrath of Khan, and the film suffers from it. It’s unfortunate. But the original two thirds of the film are incredibly well-done. The bond between Kirk and Spock is developed well and Benedict Cumberbatch gives a wonderful performance as the chilling Khan (although a John Harrison villain would have been just fine). The parallels to modern American militarism are done well-enough so that they are obvious but not in your face (except for the destruction of San Francisco, but at least unlike Man of Steel they address it).
Chris Pine gives a really solid performance as Kirk and he sells his “final” moments really well. He’s never been better in anything. Zachary Quinto has etched himself into Spock and has one misstep, though: yelling “KHAN!” was completely and utterly unnecessary. Zoe Saldana does a good job of portraying Lieutenant Uhura, but the film stupidly downgrades her to a nagging girlfriend and outside of one shining scene on Kronos gives her absolutely nothing to do. Hopefully the inevitable third installment rectifies that. Alice Eve is new as Lieutenant Dr. Carol Marcus, a trained professional (look at her title, for one thing) and she does a good job, but like Uhura, she demonstrates the sequel’s ridiculous problem with its female cast. There is a scene with her standing in a pose in her underwear. It is attractive, I’m not going to lie, but completely unnecessary. Dr. Marcus is a professional yet the film doesn’t really give her anything to do besides be Captain Kirk’s newest attraction. It’s sad. Simon Pegg is great and hilarious and the supporting cast of John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Peter Weller, and Anton Yelchin all do a good job. Benedict Cumberbatch’s casting as “Khan-but-we-swear-it’s-not-Khan” wass controversial, but he does a perfectly solid job. He is chilling and one of the most effective villains in sci-fi. Brilliant work by him and his “corpses” line will send chills down your spine.
The basic plot of Star Trek Into Darkness deals with Starfleet’s militarisation and the terrorist Khan, who is going by John Harrison. He is out to strike Starfleet and destroy it, although no one is really sure as to why. He lures them to Kronos, a planet Starfleet is sworn to eschew. He is captured in a brilliant scene and taken prisoner aboard the Starship Enterprise. If his capture had seemed easy, that was the purpose. Khan inevitable has a plan and he is utterly ruthless in his vengeance. He betrays Kirk and Spock (surprise) and to save the lives of everyone aboard, Kirk sacrifices himself. Spock chases Khan in a semi-cool and semi-stupid scene and using his super blood, Kirk is saved. Half of San Francisco is destroyed for no reason, but the memorial at the end was nicely done.
Technically the film is good and the 3-D effects are integrated well. The opening sequence is the best technically speaking, specifically Spock in the volcano. The effects in those shots are just amazing, the fire curling around Spock as if hungry to devour him. Abrams is confident in his direction but oddly enough he doesn’t seem to be as connected to experimentation as he was the previous time around. The color palette is not as dark as the title would seem (nor is the entire film, for that matter) and that helps the 3-D effects quite well. The futuristic San Francisco does look a little odd, but is fine for the most part.
Star Trek Into Darkness is not a great film nor a superior sequel. It is a few steps down compared to its predecessor in storytelling, characterization, and originality. In 2009, Abrams created the alternative dimension part of the storyline and used it well. He created a film that was true enough to the original yet unique enough to stand on its own. The first two-thirds are good here, and then the film falls flat. If the third film has to succeed, it has to stand on its own. The Trek universe has some incredible characters, but they have to be given material to work with. And for the sake of storytelling, the third film needs to give Uhura especially something to work with. A good film, but it stands on some thin legs.
Title: Star Trek Into Darkness
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: J. J. Abrams
Producers: J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Screenplay: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Based On: Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry
Starring: John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller, Anton Yelchin
Music: Michael Giacchino
Cinematography: Dan Mindel
Editing: Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey
Studios: Bad Robot Productions, K/O Paper Products, Skydance Productions
Distributors: Paramount Pictures
Running Time: 133 minutes
Release Date: May 16th, 2013
Image Courtesy: Fanpop, Mom B Comics, Comic Book Movie, The Register UK, Nerdist