Last Night, I Saw Star Trek Into Darkness… My Thoughts

Okay, if you are a Star Trek fan, you’ll probably want to see Star Trek Into Darkness.

I organised a bunch of my friends to go last night (opening night in New Zealand), and it was a great evening.  I’d done the same thing when Star Trek (2009) came out, and last night, there wasn’t the same ecclectic group of people who dress up in their Star Trek regalia as in 2009.  (Just to note that none of our group, last time or this time, dressed up in Star Trek stuff.)

Everyone and their brother (I am sure) will be reviewing Star Trek Into Darkness, and I don’t want to spoil it for everyone, so I won’t get into the story or plot aspect except in a very general sense.  My friend John and I were talking on Facebook about if this was a “reboot” or “reimagining” of things that have taken place in the “original universe”.  My opinion is they took some familiar things from different movies and series and went a different direction with it, and therefore it isn’t really a “reboot” but more a “telling of a new adventure” with some familiar people and things in it.  It was a very interesting take, and, for the most part, I think it worked.  You have to pay attention because how things unfolded in this universe is described in a rather quick way, so if you don’t pay attention, you might miss it.

If you are a hardcore Star Trek fan, there are quite a few nods to various series and movies throughout Star Trek Into Darkness.  Things I can think of off the top of my head include possible Caitians, Praxis, tribbles, Section 31, Mudd, a version of the bat’leth, the Daystrom Institute (which we actually see), a possible nod to Janet Wallace (if I remember that correctly), Christine Chapel, USS Bradbury, Enterprise (NX-01), Phoenix, USS Enterprise (XCV 330), and seatbelts, just to name a few.

The sets were amazing.  We get to see other parts of the Enterprise, including the actual warp core and engine room, sickbay (including an area called medlab), and a pretty cool open atrium-like area.  We also get to see what “modern day” San Francisco and London look like somewhat, with some pretty funky set pieces at Starfleet Command and the Daystrom Institute.  San Francisco, in particular, is bustling with life: there are hovercars, airbourne vehicles, people everywhere… it seems a city teeming with life in the 23rd century.  I know my friend Glenn would love some of the sets because they feature that minimalist look with (what I feel is) awesome retro furniture.

The special effects were very amazing as well.  There are shots in the movie where you wonder, How in the hell did they do that?  One scene that stuck out in my mind is where Kirk and Spock step into a turbolift.  I don’t remember them panning away from Spock during the scene, and they go from the bridge behind them to a corridor within a few seconds.  Amazing because it seemed so fluid.  Two things (among many) J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek movies do well are visual imagery and special effects.

The acting?  I personally felt it was excellent.  There were some amazing scenes in the story.  There’s a scene between Pike and Kirk in a bar, early on in the movie, and it was extremely well-acted.  We get a feeling, through the acting alone, that these people now know one another and care about one another a great deal.  What was even better was that the actors didn’t feel like they were acting with one another; they felt like they had known each other for a very long time and were comfortable with one another.

The story itself… Well, I felt some of it was shoe-horned in.  I felt some of the characters were shoe-horned in.  McCoy, Sulu, and Chekov were sacrificed a bit to add a certain blonde scientist into the fold.  I mean, they had stuff to do, and somewhat important stuff, but I felt some of the scenes were tacked on or the writers just “gave them stuff to do”.

When you see a cameo in the movie — and when you see it, you’ll know it — you’ll see the most shoe-horned part of the entire movie, in my opinion.

There was one too many crises in my opinion.  I think one of the crises could have been taken out, and it felt like the movie tried to up the stakes one too many times.  Two of the enemies I thought should have been more threatening, weren’t really threatening until later in the piece (which, I guess makes sense).  Some of the scenes I felt were there because someone thought they would be a cool idea, so they thought of how to shoe-horn it into the plot.  Or maybe, rather, the crisis was supposed to be a part of a larger crisis or part of the story, but it felt more like it interrupted the rest of the overall scene.

On the other side of things, I think Uhura got more character development in this outing than in many of the previous episodes and movies combined.  Zoe Saldana brings a strength and compassion to Uhura that would do Nichelle Nichols proud.

Scotty gets a lot more time in this movie as well.  Yes, he’s funny, but Simon Pegg does bring a lot of warmth, heroism, and personality that makes us love Scotty in the first place.

Cumberhatch… well, the guy is an amazing actor.  I don’t think I can say more than he is one talented guy.  You can tell his character’s anguish and his pain, and then, later, his ambiguity.

Kirk and Spock definitely have developed a friendship, a close bond, and you see that develop even more in this film.  There is a really good scene between Kirk and Uhura in the turbolift, where they are talking about Spock, and that (I feel) boils things down to a very raw state.  Kirk takes a gamble to help Spock out early on in the movie… and this develops a theme of friendship and family that is woven throughout the movie.

Was it a good movie?  I think it was, overall.  Was it something I’d see again?  Yes, definitely, to get a better feel of the story itself and to make a final judgement.

Compared to other Star Trek movies, how would I rate it?  Definitely better than any of the Next Generation movies, and better than all the original movies as well except for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country… and I think that’s saying quite a bit.  Personally, I feel it is probably around the pegging of Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country.

So, if you are a Star Trek fan, or even have a passing interest in it, I would recommend seeing this movie.  I’d love to hear what you thought about the movie in my comments section (please make sure spoilers are marked).  Enjoy!