Sunday 19 May 2013

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

This is the movie where I go right and the Star Trek franchise goes left. This is the movie where I stopped caring. This is the movie where I say that I get new packaging but the same old thing.

But it's not the same old thing. This is a new Star Trek, a reboot of a very popular science fiction series targeting a new generation of potential fans of a five year mission which has been going on now for over 40 years through movies, other series, animated shows, games, books, and God knows what else. God knows? There is a fan-made Internet series called "Phase II" based on the original series. Yes, fan-made and the quality isn't half-bad. I have no idea where the money comes from to support such an endeavour but if you're a diehard fan of the original series, this would be a place to get your fill.

I have always enjoyed Star Trek: the original series, the movies, the various other related endeavours like The Next Generation which was terrific. However in 2009, we had the reboot of the franchise with a brand new cast re-doing the original series. While many people liked it, I didn't. I asked the simple question of why redo what had already been done. The Next Generation was a new story, the same familiar theme but a new story. The 2009 reboot was re-telling a story which had been told. Were there not any new stories to be recounted?

Into Darkness is the same. For a new generation of potential Trekkies who are not familiar with the original series or who find it a quaint throw-back to an era of kitsch special effects and minimalist sets, they are going to be entertained by the latest and greatest of state of the art movie making and a dazzling array of special effects in 3D and IMAX. It is truly a blow-your-mind sensory overload. But isn't it re-doing what has already been done?

The movie makers trot out Khan as the bad guy. Khan? I'm sorry, Ricardo Montalbán did a fabulous job of reprising his role of Khan from the original series episode Space Seed in the second movie The Wrath of Khan and as far as I'm concerned, this requires no retelling. Am I being a fuddy-duddy? There have to be a zillion untold stories. Why rehash which was already done and done well? The Wrath of Khan remains in the eyes of the critics the best film of the Star Trek move series based on the original.

Leonard Nimoy makes a cameo? Why? Call me a party-pooper but I didn't get it. I loved Leonard as Spock but throwing him into the mix again for gratuitous nod to a by-gone era didn't make any sense to me. As odd as it sounds, I wasn't happy to see him.

Dr. McCoy has a tribble? (Wikipedia: The Trouble with Tribbles) Kirk reports to Christopher Pike? (Wikipedia: The Cage) Stop with the references, already! Maybe your novice Trekkie is going to go, "Oooo" but I'm sitting here trying to reconcile these throwaways with the episodes from the original series and you are asking me to take a big, I mean really big leap, in logic. Yes, it's a work of fiction but that doesn't mean it shouldn't follow a reasonable series of steps. I can't stand a writer throwing some sort of deus ex machina into the mix because he's painted himself into a corner. I already have to accept the premise of warp speed and teleportation. Isn't that enough?

When the very first Star Trek movie Star Trek The Motion Picture was made back in 1979, somebody decided to base the story on a similar idea from an episode of original series called The Changeling. Considering its dismal showing at the box office, you would think somebody would take a serious look at re-telling existing stories. Okay, if the target audience is twenty years old unlike yours truly clocking in at sixty, the bunch of them is going to be totally unfamiliar with all that old sh... er, stuff. We don't need William Shatner as Kirk when we have the young Chris Pine who, by the way, is perfect for Kirk. I think he captures that 1960s young Shatner to a tee. But for me, it is a question of why. The Next Generation was the next logical step. Why go backwards?

Final Word
The film is top notch. It is good entertainment and it is a good follow-up to the 2009 reboot of the series and a worthy entry in the franchise. If you're a fan, go see it. If you are hauled off to the flicks by a fan, you will have a decent time of it.

But for me, it's the same old same old. (Maybe I am a fuddy-duddy after all. Ha, ha!) The latest razzmatazz but basically this ground has been covered before. I have no doubt there will be another film involving these characters however I'm thinking right now I may be busy that day. Something about laundry or shampooing my hair.


Rotten Tomatoes: Star Trek Into Darkness: 87%
Visually spectacular and suitably action packed, Star Trek Into Darkness is a rock-solid installment in the venerable sci-fi franchise, even if it's not as fresh as its predecessor.

Wikipedia: Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek Into Darkness is a 2013 American science fiction action film. It is the twelfth installment in the Star Trek franchise and the sequel to 2009's Star Trek.

Rotten Tomatoes: Star Trek (2009): 95%
Star Trek reignites a classic franchise with action, humor, a strong story, and brilliant visuals, and will please traditional Trekkies and new fans alike.

Wikipedia: Star Trek (film)
Star Trek is a 2009 American science fiction action film directed by J. J. Abrams, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is the eleventh film of the Star Trek film franchise and features the main characters of the original Star Trek television series, portrayed by a new cast.

Wikipedia: Star Trek (film franchise)
The Star Trek film franchise is the cinematic branch of the Star Trek media franchise.

Wikipedia: Star Trek fan productions
Star Trek fan-made productions are productions made by fans using elements of the Star Trek franchise. Paramount Pictures, CBS, and their licensees are the only organizations legally allowed to create commercial products with the Star Trek name and trademark.
[Good lord, I had no idea these things even existed. I have watched a couple of episodes of "Star Trek: Phase II", completely done by fans, and was surprised that it is better than you would have expected. Even George Taei and Walter Koenig from the original series have guest-starred.]

Wikipedia: Star Trek: Phase II (fan series)
Star Trek: Phase II (formerly known as Star Trek: New Voyages) is a fan-created science fiction series set in the Star Trek universe. The series was created by James Cawley and Jack Marshall in April 2003. The series, released exclusively via the Internet, is designed as a continuation of the original Star Trek (aka ST:TOS or just TOS), beginning in the fourth year of the starship Enterprise's "five-year mission." The first episode of the series was released in January 2004, with new episodes being released at a rate of about one per year, though producers have expressed their desire to accelerate production.

official web site: Star Trek: Phase II


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