Title: Star Trek Into Darkness
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Distributed by: Paramount
Synopsis: After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. (Via IMDB)
Brian: Many are going to see Star Trek Into Darkness, have a good time, and quickly move on with their lives, but I can’t help but look at this big summer sequel as somewhat of a missed opportunity. In 2004 Sam Raimi built on the universe he created in Spider-Man and created the stupendous Spider-Man 2, and in 2008, Christopher Nolan followed up the decent Batman Begins with the best summer blockbuster of the last twenty years, the game changer that was The Dark Knight. J.J. Abrams makes great entertainment, but he truly excels when he shows a great enthusiasm for his projects, like 2011′s Super 8, the beautiful coming-of-age science fiction story that made my top ten list that year. His reboot of Star Trek in 2009 was a lot of fun, but not much more than that, and I was hoping for his four-years-in-the-making sequel to up the stakes. Unfortunately, Star Trek Into Darkness is a generic, forgettable summer sequel, one entertaining and action-packed enough to please most audiences, but one that doesn’t take too many risks, and most notably, one that doesn’t offer a single surprise in its two-hour running time.
Shaunta: Awww. I didn’t find it forgettable at all. I’ll remember it. I know what I’m talking about, because I literally cannot remember anything at all about the 2009 Star Trek movie. Nothing. I know I watched it, but it had zero impact on me. This one did impact me. I thought that in addition to some truly spectacular action sequences, it was a good story about male friendship. The dynamic between Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock was fabulous. But for me, the reason I will not forget this movie, Benedict Cumberbatch as Kahn took the show. I admit to being more than a little in love with the actor, so it would have taken a lot for him to not pull this off. But he managed to be human and evil is just perfect balance that I wasn’t sure until the end whether or not he was a good guy or a bad guy. Star Trek, in any form, isn’t meant to be surprising. Not any more. It’s the cinematic equivalent to comfort food. It’s supposed to be comfortable and familiar, but really good. I’m not even sure how in the world Star Trek of the Kirk/Spock variety could be really surprising without derailing everything that came before.
Brian: The film works best in the smaller moments, like the quick banter between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto). There’s a lot to recommend here, and this is in no way a negative review. The opening sequence is stunning, with its near fatality in a volcano of lava and white creatures running through red bamboo sticks. The big finale, with its extraordinary depiction of San Francisco destruction, works well. The arc of Spock in this sequel works the best, with Quinto delivering a very good performance. His lack of emoting in the beginning leaves him some terrific scenes for the end. The movie, though, just isn’t that memorable; there’s not any specific scene or moment I’ll be thinking about a week from now. One stunner of a moment toward the end left me shrugging, because I knew a beloved character wasn’t going to be killed off. A lot of positive talk has been aimed at Benedict Cumberbatch as the new villain (gee, what do you think his name’s gonna be?), but he came off as mostly a bore to me. Zoe Saldana and the other supporting players get next to nothing to do in this installment, and why is it that every twenty minutes of the movie, the crisis feels like it’s life and death? The special effects are top-notch, more than half of the film is chaotic action, but there’s nothing special going on here, nothing to truly inspire the imagination. Unlike the more solid Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness is a decent night at the movies, but not a great one.
Shaunta: Benedict Cumberbatch was not boring to me. Not even a little. He was chilling. It’s true that this movie was mostly all about the action and the effects. I think it might have been the loudest film I’ve ever attended. I actually had to cover my ears at some points because I couldn’t take the wrenching-metal noise anymore. And it’s true that the part that’s supposed to be heart-wrenching at the end was tempered by the fact that there was never a moment where I thought that the character would actually die. I thought the movie did a good job of showing the other characters believing it though, and it lead to some pretty touching moments. In a big ensemble cast that’s so well-known, where there is no good way to leave out a character because they are all so beloved, there is no way to give everyone big moments. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Simon Pegg as Scotty. And I thought the beginning of the relationship between Kirk and Alice Eve’s Carol Marcus was done perfectly. It wasn’t over the top. I really enjoyed this movie. It’s not meant to be a deeply philosophical picture, but it does have something to say about friendship that I found interesting. It’s supposed to be fun. And it is. It’s an action movie and succeeds in providing heart-racing sequences. It has strong female characters, when lots of action movies reduce women characters to barely-post-adolescent walking sex objects. I highly recommend that if you’re going to watch Star Trek Into the Darkness, you watch it at a theater where you get the best of what this movie does really right.