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Star Trek Into Darkness - Film Review: Better than the first but not as good

Lars HindsleyBy Lars Hindsley Thu 16 May 2013 6:23 PM EST | 2064 Views
Three Dangers

(DL) – Star Trek or Star Wars?  Remember when that mattered?   The line became blurred once again with the latest 2009 reboot of the Star Trek universe which actually kept a continuity intact as it relates to the movie franchise.  It's not as if this modern behemoth isn't in the hands of a unworthy story teller.  That's important to know because JJ Abrams second installment of Star Trek Into Darkness re-introduces us once again to Khan.  As in The Wrath of Khan.  We even get another cameo of Leonard Nimoy reprising the older Spock.  Sound interesting?  If the answer is slightly, that's how you should respond.

We live in an age of special effects.  In this age special effects become the story. Twenty years ago a movie goer would be giddy with the level of detail you can experience in watching any blockbuster scene.  Yet somehow today one is underwhelmed. Once a time existed where the story needed special effects to move it forward, now film makers remind themselves to dial it back and lean on story.  J.J. Abrams is keenly aware of this modern conundrum yet you still feel as a movie goer, this is no more than a summer popcorn movie.  

We get detail in some regards, but not the details that count.  Star Trek does have iconic characters like frat boy at the helm Captain James T Kirk (Chris Pine),  logical Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the ethnically obvious crew of Bones (Karl Urban), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and others. It relies on those characters to drive its story. It's clear the director attempts hard to build humanity in decisions by characters. It's the characters story within a story you are meant to enjoy.  The updated, younger versions of the 1960's Enterprise crew are once again drawing from there acting predecessors stylistic mannerisms.  It's nice to see homage paid yet, it all seems a bit canned.  Watching the crew of the Enterprise in their nascent Voyages is okay, not exciting. 
Star Trek Crew
True to the genre of action, it opens in the heat of the action. Literally. Spock is in a volcano, and we are reminded of the prime directive by Starfleet. All the bases are covered for those unfamiliar with the world of Star Trek.  
Star Trek Into Darkness delivers on ebb and flow in action and tension but never quite captivates. This in short is the failing of modern story telling.  We tell a story without any regard for true detail and the lack of subtly is never missed by the human mind.  There are some spectacular visual effects payoffs. 

It's an excellent set up.  The cityscapes of London and San Francisco 200 years into the future are impossible to accept initially in that nothing of the previous landscape exists. You don't feel London is London, and you don't feel San Francisco is either.  At films end San Francisco gets a few much needed details such it's famed hills and trolley's.   
This is a time where few new stories are being told, few new canons exist.  Star Wars, Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, Batman, Spider-Man, all the once great stories have been told and retold so many times we are dull to constant rebranding of these same old Hollywood blockbusters.   Star Trek is a great world but we know it so well that it's hard to appreciate anything any director or writer can produce under this brand. It's time to move on.  Star Trek has reached the end of that final frontier.

Starring: Chris Pine, Zach Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon, Pegg, and Karl Urban
Written by: Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Damon Lindelof
Directed by: J.J.Abrams
Rated: PG-13
Run Time 2 hours 7 minutes 
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