to the movies in the middle of the week and see Star Trek: Into Darkness is a good idea. We liked it a lot, it provided two hours of total escapism, both mental and physical: Florida is hot and bright, the theater was like a walk-in freezer, and so dark.
Instead of an actual review of this movie, I will rate it four and a quarter stars and briefly explain its merits, which I scribbled down very sloppily as the credits rolled. First off, they got the cinematography just right. From the opening scene, on some primitive alien planet, the colors are popping: red plant life, white cracked skin aliens with giant black eyes. All vibrant and alluring, and textured. Then, suddenly, the cold, efficient colors of the Enterprise’s interior: ice blue, bright white, official gray, straight lines. Against these, place Uhura’s bulbous red earrings and Spock’s pitch black Vulcan helmet hair.
I should mention this installment of the Star Trek franchise was directed and produced by J.J. Abrams, the guy behind Lost and Fringe. He stayed very close to the costumes and overall themes of the show—Dr. McCoy even gets a token, “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a torpedo detonator!” How many takes were required for the actor to spit that out with a straight face? I couldn’t do it. Oh, and though the costumes follow all Star Fleet reglations, they were updated in a pleasing manner, neat materials and better hats.
The entire crew (which is younger than the crew on the original series, they’ve been together maybe a year at this point) is strong, as individual actors and as a little space traveling family. The actors have done their homework, especially the men playing Mr. Spock and Bones (Dr. McCoy); they stay faithful to their prototypes, right down to facial twitches (or lack thereof—such work it must take to be a believable Vulcan). Captain Kirk is a decent actor too, he makes a convincing younger captain, close to but not confined by William Shatner’s image. And, in a scene I appreciated, he gets punched in the face by Klingons; this, too, is part of the Star Trek canon. Sulu gets shafted a little bit, not so much screen time for him. A cute blond doctor of weaponology (Dr. Carol Something or other) is introduced—in the series, she was much more of a peripheral character, a hottie with a clipboard and a line once in a while. Here, she’s central to the storyline, and builds crucial sexual tension with Kirk in otherwise boring scenes.
I won’t go very far into the plot (the movie’s over two hours long, and a lot happens), just mention that it involves Khan, a three hundred year old man who returns (no, first appears) in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Khan is played by a British actor named Benedict Cumberbatch, which is the most British name ever to appear in a sci-fi movie. The writers went far afield of anything Gene Rodenberry has done; Khan is really the only touchstone to earlier plotlines. Benedict Cumberbatch (which I must say aloud, every time) is a fine three hundred year old man, very convincing, and a good dark counterpoint to the farm boy Kirk. Leonard Nimoy appears onscreen for three minutes, and it’s heart warming, for sure.
What else did I like about this movie? The aliens were not overdone, just a few interesting specimens in every other scene, the computer generated images (foreign planets, deep space, futuristic London) were indeed epic. I believe Star Fleet headquarters, which the movie places in San Francisco, was actually the Getty museum in L.A.; the sleek sandstone gave it away (but the Getty’s architecture was much embellished with CGI fountains and towers). The soundtrack was steady (though a bit loud for me), and at the very end it returned to the old school Star Trek theme music, and font. How to tie off this mish-mash of a review? Well, I’m not a Trekkie , I haven’t seen all of the original series, or the movies; but I really liked this one. Dammit, Jim, it had heart.