I don’t really have the time or the desire to review every movie I see, but I am a huge Trekkie, and I did see Star Trek: Into Darkness, so here we go.
Star Trek: Into Darkness is a good film, one worth seeing, but not a great one. It’s gorgeous, a lot of the dialogue is really, really good, and there are nice homages to trek canon and lore. But on the other end, a lot of the shots are really, really bad, a lot of the dialogue is really, really bad, and a couple of the characters are underwhelming.
Some of J.J. Abrams shots just look dumb, whether it’s faux-shakiness to give everything that found-footage feel, or it’s the 5,000 close-ups we’re treated to of Benedict Cumberbatch’s face. My impression was that the entire film could have used at least one more edit. The same goes for the dialogue, a real strength overall, but cringe-inducing at points.
The biggest drawback is a fundamental problem in turning something like Star Trek into a movie. James T. Kirk, Spock, Leonard McCoy, Hikaru Sulu, Nyota Uhura, Pavel Chekov, Montgomery Scott…you’re up to seven main characters already and that doesn’t even take into account any villains. It’s impossible to explore the depth of each character in a two hour movie like you can in a twenty-six episode season, and this is especially damning when you’re in the process of reinventing them.
The film didn’t do a terrible job in this regard. It’s difficult to tell where Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto end and James Kirk and Spock begin, and that’s a wonderful thing. They don’t just act like, or feel like Kirk and Spock, they are Kirk and Spock. Their dialogue is great, and their struggles multifaceted and genuine. Likewise the trials of Scott, Sulu, and Chekov do a good job of exploring those characters; what is important to them, what their struggles are, and where they stand.
And then there’s Uhura and McCoy. Despite their connections to various important plot points, they probably didn’t even need to be in the film. Into Darkness’s Uhura is a weak character who spends most of her time crying about her boyfriend. It’s disappointing because of all the characters from The Original Series, Uhura probably offered the writers the blankest slate. McCoy is just the opposite. It’s fun to watch Karl Urban’s uncanny impersonation of DeForest Kelley, but without anything to actually do on his own, that’s all it’ll be.
There are flaws for sure, but in my opinion they don’t take enough away to make the film not enjoyable. Anyone who tells you this isn’t what a Star Trek movie is supposed to be has no idea (or has forgotten) what a Star Trek movie is supposed to be. The Original Series never took itself as seriously as some of these people do now and they would do well to remember that.