Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness or Into the Septic Tank?

As most all of you know, I'm an avid trekkie. I've seen every Star Trek movie going back to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the last movie with the old Shatner crew. That's 22 years of trekkie movie-going. As far as I can tell, it's the longest streak I have going in my life, so as you could imagine, I went out this past weekend to see the new Trek.

Let's back track a little, when the reboot, Star Trek, came out four years ago, I was a little skeptical about the way J.J. Abrams directed the movie. I felt the casting was spot on save John Cho. Seriously? Harold from Harold and Kumar is now piloting the Enterprise? Why don't you also put Ali-G in charge of engineering? But the rest of the cast was superb in their far too frequent "real" acting scenes. What I mean by real acting is when there are moments when characters get to bond that doesn't include yelling to fire photon torpedoes or phasers.

The special effects of the first movie were wonderful, as they should be in today's advanced CGI movie universe. But the plot of the Star Trek was all over the place, and Into the Septic Tank showed J.J. Abrams for the director he really is.

Into the Septic Tank, built off the reboot, in all the ways I was afraid it would. The acting again was convincing and well done, that is when the actors had the chance to say a few meaningful lines. Spock & McCoy especially felt like they had grasped their characters better and their presence was less forced, more convincing, and enjoyable than the last movie. The special effects were better, which they should be, and the 3-D was a pleasant attribute to the special effects. And there, the good parts of Star Trek Into the Septic Tank end.

Follies Bergere:
1. The most glaring fault even more exaggerated in this installment than the last was a lack of plot. What I always admired about earlier Star Trek movies, and the TV show spin offs, was the fact that they didn't have a $175 million budget. So, the writers had to focus on compelling plot scenarios to keep the viewer interested. Social commentary on genocide, racism, love, terror, & sacrifice, are all themes that ran through Star Trek, and special effects played a minor role. Now J.J. Abrams, has flipped Star Trek upside down and substituted story for special effects, leaving a true trekkie dissatisfied. It felt more like a terrible Star Wars movie than a Star Trek movie.

2. Khan. The actor that played Khan, Benedict Cumberbatch, in my opinion did a solid job of conveying a villian, and I'm sure Ricardo Montalban is not rolling in his grave based on Cumberbatch's performance. But, we don't find out that Cumberbatch is Khan until the movie is half over, making it nearly impossible to understand where his hatred for Kirk stems from.

3. Repeat from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This was perhaps the moment when I wanted to yell out in the theatre "you've got to be fuckin' kidding me." The enterprise needs warp speed to avoid being blown to smithereens and Kirk this time instead of Spock sacrifices his life to fix the warp engines, in a radioactive room. Sound familiar? What's worse, is that Abrams literally, verbatim, uses the exact same lines in this scene as in Star Trek II. Example: "You'll flood the whole compartment...I have been and always shall be your friend." Kirk and Spock even do the Vulcan live long and prosper hand signal up against the glass like in Star Trek II, crying and all. The worst part of Kirk dying, is that we know from earlier parts in the movie, that he's going to be brought back to life immediately, which is exactly what happens. Pathetic.

There are even more problems that are glaring throughout the movie, like re-introducing Carol Marcus, just so we get to she her slamming body in her underwear, and a ridiculous lover's quarrel between Spock and Uhura that I think they didn't even understand.

The one saving grace is that now that Abrams has signed on to the next Star WARS movie due out in 2015, the next Trek due out in 2016 will probably have to have a different director, hopefully someone like Nicholas Meyers, the director of the original Khan, and Star Trek VI, which in my opinion are the best Trek movies.

In the history of Star Trek movies, I can say I really only liked 3 out of 7. So it's not unimaginable that I walked out of the theatre dissapointed.


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