Thursday, May 16, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness

First things first: if you liked the 2009 Star Trek, you will like Into Darkness. You should read the rest of this review after you see it.

Star Trek: Into Darkness takes up where the 2009 Star Trek left off. It has the same familiar characters, set design, and overuse of lens flare. With the exception of that last, this is not a bad thing. The 2009 Star Trek was a solidly good film. This one is better, because this film has a better villain, because it does not have a clunky time travel plotline, and because helpful pieces of the plot were not left on the cutting room floor this time.
So apparently, this newest iteration of the Star Trek family is continuing the tradition of even-numbered movies being better than the odd.
The 3D in this movie is very good. It is more obtrusive than I normally like as far as things flying at the audience, but it works for me in this case.
The acting is superb. Each of the actors is convincing in the role. I tried at one point to remind myself that the actor who plays Bones also played Eomer in Lord of the Rings, but it was too hard - he's thoroughly Bones here. Benedict Cumberbatch may have overacted a bit, but even that suits his character.
There are a number of references to elements of previous Star Trek movies and shows. Some are merely amusing trifles, but others are foundational parts of the plot, and I'm not entirely certain how the fan base will react. It worked for me, but some may find these things manipulative, and some will scream that this movie tramples on their precious memories.
The reason this movie gets my top spot for the year so far (besides the obvious: it's a solid action film with good acting and a capable plot) is that the writers had the boldness to go back to the central message of Star Trek - back to Gene Roddenberry's original vision. Roddenberry was an idealist who invented a utopia (and then had his captain continually engage in fisticuffs and bed alien women, but that's another topic). This movie has a much darker tone than the original series, but it also preaches Roddenberry's morality, and not subtly. It is anti-war, but not in a simplistic way - it really addresses the issue. One of the functions of good science fiction is to hold a mirror up to the members of the audience, and show them who they are and what they have become. I don't expect that this movie will change the direction our society has been heading, but I can hope that at least some people are paying attention.

1. Star Trek: Into Darkness
2. Oblivion
3. Iron Man 3
4. Jack the Giant Slayer
5. Beautiful Creatures
6. Oz the Great and Powerful
7. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
8. Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters
9. The Great Gatsby

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