Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Star Trek into Darkness

Get out your phasers and tribbles, we're reviewing Star Trek Into Darkness!
What's weirder, Chris Pine's eyebrows or Chris Pines lips?
When a madman named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) starts blowing up Starfleet buildings, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), "a loose cannon" who "breaks all the rules," is the only man in the Starfleet qualified to go after him. But he and his crew soon discover all is not what it seems.

Ugh. Ok, this is going to be a slightly spoiler-y, rant-y review. 

Star Trek Into Darkness is the Quantum of Solace of the new Star Trek franchise. Not that I don't understand its name (wait, do I understand why and how they're trekking into darkness?), but that it feels like a weird stepping stone between the start-of series movie, and the movie in which they try something new and come into their own. There's nothing really new here. All the characters are the same at the end of this as they were at the end of the first Star Trek. In fact, the most damning thing about it, is that you could completely leave this film out, and no one would see any difference between the first one and the next one.

It's not that it's a terrible movie. As a summer sci-fi action movie, it's pretty good. Some great action scenes, fire fights, chase scenes, ship-to-ship battles, great CGI, and the 3D isn't half bad. Some of the action sequences are truly spectacular. But it's a poor Star Trek movie. In fact, this will probably be most enjoyable to those that like sci-fi action, but aren't necessarily Trek fans. Anyway, I really liked and enjoyed the first Star Trek. I thought it was a really interesting way of creating another whole alternate universe and being able to tell new stories while not having to be brought down by keeping in check with the original series. Unfortunately, with STID, instead of doing anything new, they take what people loved about the original series and repurpose it in dumber and worse ways. 
I like Zachary Quinto as Spock. 

Probably, the best parts of this are the interactions between Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the main crew. They really nailed the characters' personalities, and it's fun seeing them quip off each other. Karl Urban as Bones is still my favorite casting choice, and yes, he gets a "I'm a doctor, not a..." catchphrase. And Cumberbatch is pretty badass in his role of evil bad guy. There's a ton of bromance stuff between Kirk and Spock. It's funny how there's a resurgence of bromances in pretty much any action movie with more than one guy, and it's all accepted as serious. But good luck getting a homosexual main character who's allowed to explore a healthy relationship. And by funny, I mean, "WTF HOLLYWOOD?!"

The main story is a tired retread of every sci-fi story ever. The good guy is actually the bad guy who wants to make weapons and incite war for profit. I expected something as trope as that from generic sci-fi movies like Oblivion, not from Star Trek. Also, capturing the main bad guy, I wonder how that's going to turn out later? Do you think he got captured intentionally, just so he could wreak havoc later? GEE I WONDER. The plot is dumb, the logic is dumb, it's a pretty dumb movie. Sure it looks nice, but the moment you try to make sense of ANY of it, none of it makes any sense. It's like watching Prometheus, only less confusing, and at least THAT tried to be about something.  

One of the biggest problems of the movie? They have these large stakes and then completely ruin them. I never felt like anyone was in danger. Why take Kirk's ship away if your'e just going to give it back to him in the next 5 minutes? Why have the bad guy's daughter on the spaceship if you're just going to teleport her off 2 seconds later? Why kill a character off when we know you're just going to bring him back in ten minutes? You're worse than DC comics! Not to mention how they basically cured death. But I'm sure they'll completely forget that by the next movie. And it's even worse, because we're expecting it precisely because they've done this before in other, better Star Trek movies. The big twist is not a big twist, especially if you've been keeping track of the speculation. Iron Man 3 had a really well done big twist because NOBODY was expecting it. Everyone was expecting this, and then they do it, and it's dumb. It's fun seeing the first couple of references here and there. "Oh hey, Bones said the thing and he's holding a tribble!" But then you slowly realize this is the entire movie. It gets so bad that the last tedious bit that's supposed to be dramatic comes off as ridiculously hilarious because of how much of a ripoff it is. The first time they did it in the original series, they got away with it because no one was expecting it. But they've already done that, so now everyone's expecting it.
Benedict Cumberbatch is too good for this film!

Y'know, for a sci-fi movie about acceptance, working together, and all species and cultures coming together in harmony and all that, there were surprisingly few aliens here. I mean they were there, in the background, but most of the screentime was taken up by the main cast of pretty white people, the one black girl, and the token Vulcan. There's some aliens in the beginning and some terrible looking Klingons in the middle, but they're barely there! Every once in awhile you'd see one in a background just to remind you, and it feels like aliens are the new minorities. That should not be the case in a Star Trek movie! That is the point of Star Trek! Why didn't we get to know the cool cyborg navigator or that one girl with the oddly shaped head? 

But no, instead we get Alice Eve. Who, by they way, has an English accent... while her dad has an American accent? It seems 90% of the reason Alice Eve is in this movie is because of a tired plot contrivance, and the other 10% is to see here in her underwear. Or did I get those mixed up? Not that I'm complaining about seeing a panty-clad Alice Eve, but she just walks into a shuttle and starts taking her clothes off in front of Kirk because... why, exactly?! You can't go into a space bathroom or tell Kirk to get out so you can change? It is that important that you get naked right there and now? Time is THAT MUCH of the essence? Ugh. And then there's Zoe Saldana as Uhura, who I really like as Uhura, but she barely gets to do anything. And she has 2 emotions (not from her acting ability, but from lack of anything to do in the script): pissed and worried. SO Star Trek: not great with females or alien minorities.

And I know I'm going to sound like a broken record, but the Lens Flare is unbearable. It really is. It's literally in the way of an emotional scene. I'm trying to watch this scene of these characters having a Very Dramatic Moment and this Lens Flare will not get out of the way! It's like if Michael Bay put an explosion in front of every important scene in all of his movies. Oh, wait... 

Also, I may have just notice this, but are those tiny Star Trek symbols sewn into their uniforms? What is the purpose of that other than to look pretty? How ridiculous is that? That's like sewing tiny stars into a military uniform, or tiny McDonalds symbols onto McDonalds uniform. You're just making space seamstresses work harder, you jerks.
Because women are only useful if they're in
underwear or calming down their evil daddies. 

Also also, they have generic pop music playing in the clubs. You couldn't at least try to get something futeristic or alien? Even Defiance has their own brand of alien music. When Defiance has one up on you, you know you're in trouble. 

One thing I can say that I love unconditionally about the film: its score. Michael Giacchino can do no wrong in my book. I mean it's basically the same score from the first Star Trek, but you could take that exact score and copy/paste it to the next 5 Star Treks even, so much so that the scenes don't sync up and it would still be better than most movie soundtracks. 

So yeah. Star Trek. Not as good as the first one, doesn't really belong with the rest of the Star Treks. Not terrible  but there are an insurmountable amount of dumb things wrong with it that I could go on complaining about all day, but you could just go here and here to read about those. Spoilers of course. 

THE GOOD: Great action, great CGI, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirk and Spock are fun, great soundtrack, nice ship battles, fight scenes, 3D is good, aliens (when there) look interesting. 

THE BAD: No stakes, plot is generic, too much lens flare, Alice Eve is not used well, barely anything happens that matters, not enough aliens, plot is dumb, characters are dumb, twist is dumb.

THE VERDICT: $$$ Y'know, it's still worth seeing, it's just really annoying. I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy it, and a lot more people will be completely annoyed by it. 

MOVIES LIKE IT: Star Trek, Prometheus, Starship Troopers, Avatar 

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Kirk does something stupid (and the reasons for it happening are dumb and don't make sense) and Starfleet takes the Enterprise away from him. Don't worry, thinking this is a major spoiler because they give it back to him five minutes later. What was the point? I was thinking that since they bumped him down to officer he'd learn some humility, but he didn't. He barely did anything before they reinstated him. So what was the point? What was the difference between that and just giving him a stern warning or docking his space pay? This is the entire movie. Why raise the stakes if you're just going to erase them a few minutes later? There is no point and no reason we should care.

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