Hello g33ks, m33ks, and anyone else who’s had the privilege of seeing Hamlet in the original Klingon. I am reviewing one of the summer’s biggest films. JJ Abrams second installment in the renaissance of the Star Trek film series: Into Darkness. The 2009 reboot of The Star Trek series was a success beyond the wildest imaginations of nearly everyone. This was a film that was undeniably Trek but except for the most rabid of fanboys the film was seen positively by pretty much everyone. In order to build on that good will JJ Abrams brought back all of the main cast and added a few exceptional new members. The quality of the film seems apparent from its trailers but can it withstand the expectations, many early lackluster reviews and the worldwide juggernaut that is Iron Man 3?
Star Trek (2009) is an easy film to enjoy. Its epic film making, its a new vision of a classic franchise and it features one of the most fun casts currently working in Hollywood. They weren’t just younger and prettier, they seemed to bring a real weight to the film as if they appreciate the reverence people have for this series. At the time director JJ Abrams (Super 8, Mission Impossible: 3) and writers Roberto Orci (Fringe, Alias) and Alex Kurtzman (Fringe, Alias) were praised for adhering to the past so much that they didn’t truly reboot the entire Star Trek Universe. They created a second one, allowing all of the original films to remain “canon” while creating a new universe for fans to enjoy. This is where the issue arises with Into Darkness.
When the film opens we are reintroduced to the crew of the Enterprise in the midst of an action packed rescue attempt of an entire species. I previously described this sequence in my discussion of the 8 minute preview shown before The Hobbit in December (spoilers). As a result of the actions taken by the crew Kirk (Chris Pine) finds himself removed from command of The Enterprise, Spock (Zachary Quinto) finds himself reassigned to a new ship and Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) is forced to fight for the careers of his best and brightest officers. While this occurs, a plot to destroy Star Fleet from the inside begins when the enigmatic John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) uses the grief of a Star Fleet officer to his advantage; allowing him to launch a successful bombing on a London Star Fleet facility. This bombing makes him into the most wanted man on Earth and Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) directs all of ship captains in the quadrant to hunt him down.
It has been said by JJ Abrams that in Star Trek, Kirk was given the captain’s chair but in this film he earns it. This is the perfect sentiment to describe exactly what this film is about. This film contains a solid story, excellent acting from its cast and proves that there is definitely a place for Star Trek among the popcorn flicks this summer. There is however a major detraction of this film that seems to be gaining steam. There is a major discussion online as to whether this film does too much fan service. Many reviewers have stated, that the film is solid but its encumbered by its constant looking back to the past in order to safeguard itself with the fandom. These critics seem to want to have the film branch off on its own and break new ground.
The same filmmakers who were praised for ingeniously creating an alternate reality in the first film have now been called on the carpet for relying on the previous films too much. I don’t know if this is based on real sentiment or if there is some need to bring down Abrams a little bit now that he seems to have become the reigning king of genre films. I wonder if the film had stepped out and chosen not to pay so much fan service to the original films that it would have been declared arrogant or short sighted for doing so.
At the end of the day this is an extremely solid film. It should be seen on the big screen and it’s exactly the kind of spectacle that we hope for from our summer blockbusters. It also happens to be one of the best films in the Trek series and deserves to sit side-by-side with its 2009 sibling. Yes, it spends a lot of time dwelling on the past but that doesn’t make it work any less.
– Mr. Khon