Saturday, January 10, 2015

Star Trek XII: Into Darkness

The 2009 reboot of Star Trek from director JJ Abrams was a big success for Paramount that it was no surprise a sequel was inevitable. In 2013 we got that sequel in the form of Star Trek: Into Darkness (trailer). Nearly all the cast and crew returned for this film, but as I mentioned in my last blog, this will be the final film for JJ Abrams at the helm as Disney locked him in to make the next Star Wars film.

Into Darkness kicks off with the crew of the Enterprise caught up in the middle of a heated mission trying to save a species from dying off. The mission appeared to be a success, but Spock (Zachary Quinto) reports Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) for violating the Prime Directive which results in Kirk getting demoted to Starfleet Academy, and the Enterprise ends up back in the hands of Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Meanwhile, a man under the cover of John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), has a bad case of revenge on his mind as he destroys a prized research Federation facility and proceeds with an attack on a meeting of Federation leaders which results in the crew of the Enterprise on a manhunt to track down Harrison and bring him to justice.

I will spoil one tidbit about the plot in this paragraph, so if you do not want to be spoiled please jump ahead, and it is not a big spoiler either since it says it on the plot synopsis on the back of the BluRay. In an awesome exchange between Harrison and Kirk, Harrison reveals his true identity as the legendary Star Trek antagonist, Khan. It is probably one of the best dialogue scenes in all of the Star Trek films because Cumberbatch does a remarkable job in his delivery. I had a new perspective on the Khan character because when I first saw Into Darkness in theaters I had not yet seen The Wrath of Khan, which only made the big reveal far more impactful this time around. The original Khan played by Ricardo Montalban had a menacing, post-apocalyptic look to him, but I still dug this reimagining of him in this alternate universe, and Cumberbatch completely owns the character throughout the film.

Into Darkness is also the first time in this alternate universe where we meet the Klingons in a brief encounter when the Enterprise is hunting down Harrison. Uhura (Zoe Saldana) has her big moment here in a verbal showdown with a Klingon commander which does not go so well and leads into a intense firefight with a crew from the Enterprise. Not to be outdone, Bones (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) all return and have their own moments to shine on the big screen. Watching these last two reboot films with a fresh set of eyes after seeing the first six movies with the original actors for the first time gave me a whole new appreciation for how the film kept the subtle idiosyncrasies of the original Star Trek crew intact for a new generation.

Like the last film, Into Darkness does not hold anything back when it comes to special effects. The opening scene where the Enterprise is on a routine mission that nearly goes haywire is filled with all kinds of explosive CG and pulls no punches in trying to wow me right from the start. While there is still a solid amount of exposition throughout, Into Darkness is like the previous film with more emphasis on person-to-person action and more in-your-face dogfights. There is a very snazzy warp speed encounter I never saw before in a Star Trek film was quite dazzling, and there is also a gripping ship-to-ship space jump scene with Harrison and Kirk, one that looks ten times as better and has more gratifying results than the unfortunate one that transpired in another sci-fi flick, Sunshine.

Minor plot details in this paragraph too, so reader beware! If it was not for the disappointing non-definitive ending, Into Darkness would have been right on equal footing with the last film. I still like how they paid homage in one of the classic scenes towards the end of The Wrath of Khan, but with a little bit of a fresh twist I did not see coming this time around, but then Paramount unfortunately kind of weaseled out of it with their own version of "remember," but this one is more of a gut-wrenching copout than compared to how well done it was in The Wrath of Khan. That complaint aside, the journey there is absolutely fantastic and it made its two hour run time fly by before I knew it.

I was almost expecting another set of several hours worth of extra features as with all the other Star Trek films I covered, but was simultaneously relieved and disappointed that was not the case with Into Darkness. Maybe there was another release day special edition I missed out on, but the BluRay I have only has several behind-the-scenes features totaling just under 45 minutes. No commentaries, no deleted scenes. I really wish there was at least a commentary since the one the five guys from Bad Robot recorded for the previous Star Trek reboot was probably the most enjoyable of all of them. The behind-the-scenes features are all quick watches around eight minutes long apiece, and covers the making of some of the more CG intensive scenes of the film and gives special looks into the Klingons and Khan for this alternate universe. I will give you a pass this time Paramount for easing up on the extras, since it was a nice breather from dedicating several hours a month to the plethora of extras on all the previous films.

If 2009's Star Trek reboot film won you over, then Into Darkness is required viewing. As I stated above, the final act loses a step or two which ultimately makes it a slightly inferior film, but there is still so much masterfully crafted action, moments and plenty of throwback references to The Wrath of Kahn to keep you delighted most of the ways through.

With that said, I have now completed my goal of watching and blogging about all twelve Star Trek movies within a year. I probably will not be going to a convention anytime soon, but I have a whole new appreciation for Star Trek now than I did a year ago. If you look below, I have rated each Star Trek film from one to ten. The Wrath of Khan and the Star Trek reboot reign supreme as the only two to get perfect scores from me. Nemesis ranks just under those two with it being my only film getting a 9.5 score, and then The Voyage Home, First Contact and Into Darkness all tie with 9 out of 10 scores. If you only had to watch half of the Star Trek films available, those are the go to flicks. The only two that are skip-worthy are The Motion Picture and The Final Frontier.

Where do I go from here? I do not have the time to invest in watching every episode of every television series, but a few days ago on Twitter, I recently stumbled across a article referencing the top 40 episodes of The Next Generation I think I will commit to. If I manage to get past that I think I will try and attempt to hunt down similar references for the top episodes from Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. Thank you all for sticking with me on this journey throughout the year, and feel free to comment below on your favorite Star Trek movies or shoot me a line on Twitter @gruel.

Star Trek Film Ratings

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - 5.5/10
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - 10/10
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - 7.5/10
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - 9/10
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - 6.5/10
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - 7.5/10
Star Trek VII: Generations - 8/10
Star Trek VIII: First Contact - 9/10
Star Trek IX: Insurrection - 8/10
Star Trek X: Nemesis - 9.5/10
Star Trek (XI, 2009) - 10/10
Star Trek XII: Into Darkness - 9/10

Additional Star Trek Blogs

Star Trek Evolutions and Captains Summit BluRay Bonus Discs

No comments:

Post a Comment