Sunday, May 19, 2013

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

J.J. Abrams' second Star Trek movie is more or less just what you'd expect: it's a very big, very loud summer action flick that mines elements from the original series and movies and rearranges them into a modern cinematic experience. It's sort of the big-budget Broadway musical version of Trek: operatic, a tad melodramatic, and about as subtle as a space ship crashing into a city.

Oh. It's also a hell of a lot of fun. That last part's kind of important: like the first installment, this is pure summer escapism. If you're in the theater looking for something else, you're either in the wrong place or the wrong era. Sorry.

Part buddy comedy and part action movie, Into Darkness is fairly unrelenting. It throws jokes at you faster than most slapstick (and with far more success), even as it manages to ratchet up the excitement. The effects are as good as in part one, and the action is even better. The returning characters do an even better job filling the shoes of the original cast than they did in the first movie. Sure, the movie is riddled with plot holes... but who cares?

Let's see how much I can talk about the villain without delivering any major spoilers. For the past year or so, there's been a question as to the identity of the movie's bad guy. Abrams consistently refused to answer, which only fueled speculation. By the time the movie was released, neither answer would really have felt satisfying or shocking.

Going in, I was irritated Abrams had bothered keeping this a secret. Walking out, I thought he was a genius. It was slight of hand: while we were busy speculating on this one little detail, he'd managed to distract us from asking about the rest of the movie. Our premise was wrong, anyway. The figure we'd been wondering wasn't exactly a villain in the traditional sense: he was a character in the movie. And a fascinating one at that.

Interestingly, Into Darkness addresses (at least superficially) one major critique of the first film: that it wasn't about anything. In the style of the original picture, this was actually a metaphor for a contemporary issue. I doubt it will silence the critics complaining this still doesn't feel like Trek, but they were always a small (if vocal) minority of fans, anyway.

In short, it's a great summer action flick and worthy successor to its predecessor (actually, I think I liked this one even more than part one). It's also a good omen: apparently, Abrams' success wasn't a fluke, which bodes extremely well for the future of Star Wars, the next franchise he's taking on. Hopefully Trek will find someone competent to pick up where he left off.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When there's not action going on, the movie is still a lot of fun to watch. That’s just how Abrams rolls, and it totally works for the guy and the movie. Nice review Erin.