Thursday, May 30, 2013

PCP in Theaters - Star Trek Into Darkness

I finally got a chance to catch a film in theaters for the first time since last December's The Hobbit. Although I haven't yet seen Iron Man 3, I wanted to see the movie that I was most looking forward to for this summer, Star Trek Into Darkness. Fortunately, I was not disappointed in the film at all.

Star Trek Into Darkness - 2013, rated PG-13.  My rating: 9 out of 10.

I've always been more of a Star Trek fan than a Star Wars fan, but I was never really a fan of the original series growing up, as I grew up on Star Trek TNG and DS9. I'd seen some of the episodes of the show, but not the entire runs of the series like I had with the latter two franchises. But when JJ Abrams rebooted the original series in 2009, I fell in love with this new Star Trek universe. By having the universe be an alternate reality from the Trek-verse I grew up on, it allows for new adventures and new possibilities without damaging the canon of the universe too greatly. While there are some fanboys that will never forgive JJ for this, I personally thought it was a great idea and a brilliant way to inject new life into a franchise that had somewhat run its course.

Star Trek Into Darkness picks up 6 months after the previous film, meaning it still technically takes place in a time prior to the events of the original series, as the Enterprise has still not yet begun it's 5 year mission of deep space exploration. The film jumps right into the action, with a tense sequence set on a planet with an erupting volcano, and the crew of the Enterprise having to save a stone-age civilization from the eruption. Unfortunately, they violate the Prime Directive in the process (don't interfere with pre-warp travel species), causing Kirk to get busted back down to first officer and Admiral Pike retakes command of the Enterprise back on Earth.

While there, a bomb goes off in London at a Starfleet Office, followed up by an attack on Star Fleet HQ in San Francisco, terrorist acts perpetrated by a rogue Starfleet officer named John Harrison, played excellently by Benedict Cumberbatch. Kirk & the Enterprise are tasked by Starfleet's Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) to track down Harrison and take him out. But things are not everything that they seem, and along the way the Enterprise will face its toughest challenges ever.  I'd say more about the plot here but I don't want to get into spoilers now. At the bottom of the post I will discuss the plot in more detail, but for those that haven't seen the film yet I do not want to give anything away.

Overall though the film is a ton of fun. The reboot cast is all excellent, and each has their moment to shine, whether it's Sulu briefly taking the captain's chair and issuing a great threat against Harrison, McCoy's sarcastic quips, Uhura's badassery, Scotty's funny antics, or Chekov's heroic actions in engineering. But the core focus is as always on Spock & Kirk and their relationship, which is deepened here greatly. Chris Pine & Zachary Quinto play off each other very well, and as long as the two of them continue to star as the leads in this series, I will always be there in theaters to watch them. The action in this film is relatively non-stop as well, with a ton of great action setpieces. The quiet moments are great too, developing the relationships between the crew, and allowing Cumberbatch to use his baritone voice to great menacing effect.

Bottom line, I strongly recommend this film to all, it is a perfect summer movie - big spectacle but a big heart as well. Go forth and have fun!

After the jump --> my thoughts on the film with spoilers on the plot, so stop reading here if you don't want to know the plot twists.
Ok so here are my thoughts on the plot, and also some minor quibbles with the film.
  • First off, the name of the Klingon homeworld is Qo'noS, not Kronos, although they are pronounced the same. I did like the different look of the Klingons though, with the one Klingon we saw without a helmet on.
  • I really liked the many shoutouts to the Original Series, such as the tribble, the Mudd incident, Qo'noS' moon looking like it exploded (I guess in this timeline it went boom earlier than in the original timeline?), as well as the incorporation of the DS9 idea of Section 31. Also, I loved the unexpected cameo from Leonard Nimoy.
  • I really liked the reveal of who Harrison really was. The way Cumberbatch delivered the wham line when he revealed his real name sent chills down my spine. Unfortunately, if you go to before seeing this movie, or are still reading despite my spoiler warning, you now know that Harrison is really Khan, i.e. the bad guy from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • I also liked how in this timeline, Khan was found much earlier than in the original timeline. I wonder what other sorts of changes to the timeline we're going to get in future films. I also wonder how long they'll be able to keep this great cast working together and how many more films they can make in the series. Hopefully we'll get several more.
  • No, it doesn't bother me that Khan is being played by a Brit, and not someone with a darker skin tone. I thought Cumberbatch was 100% outstanding in the role. Besides, although it was not stated in the film, it is entirely plausible that Starfleet could've given him cosmetic surgery to alter his appearance so he'd not be recognized by historians. It would've been nice if that was clearly spelled out though to appease the enraged fanboys out there.
  • I do like the reveal also of how Khan was not the only villain. Peter Weller's Admiral Marcus was also a major villain here, wanting to use both Khan and the crew of the Enterprise to start a war with the Klingons. It is interesting that in this alternate timeline, the world seems to be getting a little bit more militant. I wonder if this will lead to more war-like events taking place in any upcoming films in the series.
  • I was impressed by Admiral Marcus' ship, the Vengeance. Whoa that thing looked like a beast. I wonder if we'll see more ships of that class in future films in the series. Maybe the Enterprise-A in a few films down the road?
  • The fight sequences in this film were brutal. Khan, thanks to his superhuman abilities, really can take a hell of a beating. I also liked how they show him pretty much dispatching 50 Klingons by himself, with one heck of a huge cannon that he's wielding single-handed.
  • It's amazing to me how the apparent spoilers in the trailer weren't actually spoilers. What I mean is that the trailer shows a ship that looks a lot like the Enterprise crashing into the San Francisco bay, and a similar looking ship rising out of the water, making it look like that is a part of the same sequence, and making it look like the Enterprise crashes. Really, it's the Vengeance crashing into the water at the end, and the Enterprise rising out of it from a sequence back in the beginning of the film. Trailers always lie!
Ok that's everything. See it yet? What did you think? Hit me up in the comments!


  1. i dont know anything about star trek prior to the reboot's but these 2 movies, and this one in particular was awesome! i feel like i have the makings of becoming a treky. This movie now has set the bar pretty high for the summer blockbusters. And i completely agree with your thoughts on the cast. It is a perfect cast and they each play their character to a t. Cant wait for the 3rd.

    1. I agree, I can't wait for the 3rd also. It will be interesting to see how it changes in appearance with a new director, since JJ will be going on to do Star Wars Episode VII

  2. Mike, Isn't Kahn in this timeline mostly consistent with the timeline of the original series other than in the original Kirk came across him in deep space, but this time it was Admiral Marcus who chose to exploit him?

    1. Not quite. In the original timeline Khan & his people are found by the Enterprise in the middle of their 5-year voyage of exploration, in the episode "Space Seed." In this film, they take off on their 5-year voyage at the very end of the movie, in a scene set a year after the events of this film. So, Khan's been found a couple years early, so the timing is off. Also, Khan was supposed to be Indian in the original timeline, but was played by Latino Ricardo Montalban, while here he's a white guy.

  3. I agree that it was a fun movie, the cast is great, and most of the effects were good. While a long time fan I found so much wrong with this movie from a non-fan perspective. The longer I think about the movie the less I like it. But I saw it twice and had fun both times. JJ can make a movie entertaining he just can't make it believable.

    1. I always have a healthy suspension of disbelief for any film set 200+ years into the future :-D