Editor’s Note: This week four of Nerdonomy’s writers will be posting reviews of Star Trek Into Darkness. Knowing that no review is without subjectivity, we hope to give our nerdlings four different perspectives. Don’t worry; we’ll warn you if there’s a spoiler.
As a big fan of J.J. Abrams and his production company Bad Robot, Star Trek Into Darkness was my most anticipated movie of the summer, narrowly beating Man of Steel. I’m not a huge Trekkist like Eric Bricmont, nor am I a huge fan of Star Trek in general, but it was J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot that got me interested in the characters, and thus developing an interest in the franchise as a whole. After seeing Into Darkness with the Nerdonomy family (minus Sean, in which he joined us in spirit) in IMAX 3D, I found multiple things that satisfied & excited my movie-going experience and faith in J.J. Abrams style for future projects.
Firstly, I ALWAYS do extensive research into a movie before seeing it; that’s just who I am. I find out how & where the movie was filmed, what special effects company worked on the project (if any), how the movie was shot (digital, film, 3D, IMAX, etc) and how the director(s) intended to present the film in theaters/what version they prefer, if there are multiple types. Take Into Darkness for example: it’s presented in 2D on film & digital, 3D in digital, and IMAX 3D in digital (I’m trying to find out if there is an IMAX 2D presentation, but have not found it yet!). J.J. Abrams had to agree to have the movie presented in 3D, as per Paramount’s demand, and although it was shot on film with traditional cameras and IMAX cameras, the post-converted 3D is phenomenal. On the whole, with the over-saturation of 3D movies, I rarely see movies in 3D except for three reasons: 1) the movie was shot in 3D, 2) it was animated in 3D, or 3) a well-respected director takes the time to do a 3D post-conversion CAREFULLY. J.J. Abrams fits in the latter category. The 3D is the best post-conversion I’ve seen to date, dethroning Iron Man 3 which recently held the best 3D post-conversion title in my book. Since the film was shot with IMAX cameras, the aspect ratio changes during various action sequences, fly-over shots of London & San Francisco and almost every scene that took place in outer space. I am a sucker for IMAX and J.J. Abrams uses its potential to the highest level, which makes me really hope he uses it for Star Wars Episode VII. In this case, the 3D adds that depth of field on the surface of any planet, but it’s really perfected when used for outer space; it REALLY adds that sense of…space, to be honest. It feels like I’m in outer space along with Kirk, Spock, or even inside or outside of the Enterprise. It felt like I was part of the crew.
Story-wise, this movie picks up a shortly after the events of the 2009 Star Trek reboot. As we have gotten to know and understand Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu, and Bones, this movie really tests the characters strength and endurance against a man, John Harrison, who seems unstoppable. Played to perfection by Benedict Cumberbatch, John Harrison is a man out for vengeance and orchestrated “chaos” within the Starfleet’s ranks. The story is well conceived, and the twists and turns feel natural and at least for me, unexpected. I was really caught up with the Enterprise crew through every moment and was excited/anxious to know what happened next.
(By the way, whatever you do, do NOT go to the Star Trek Into Darkness Wikipedia page as it spoils EVERYTHING.) As the Enterprise team travels the galaxy, the action-based moments and the special effects are astounding. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), who are the leading pioneers for the visual effects industry, have really outdone themselves; whether in outer space, traveling at warp speed, or on the surface of a planet, the visuals are incredibly well done, and really help create the worlds of Nibiru, Kronos, and a future Earth. As a quick side-note, the first scene of the movie really reminds me of a “love-letter” to Raiders of the Lost Ark, as Kirk and Bones are running away from the Natives of the planet Nibiru, after stealing an ancient artifact and the 3D effect really sells that you’re running through the red-colored forest with them. The soundtrack, done by Michael Giacchino, completely immersed and excited me. He certainly has an ear for a sweeping score and orchestrates the music to perfectly match each scene on screen. I find a soundtrack successful when it adds to the movie-going experience; it doesn’t take you out of the story, and adds emotional resonance to the experience, which Giacchino excels in every category for Into Darkness. When it comes to movie scores/soundtracks, I think Giacchino has finally reached the ranks of the best composer (in my opinion), John Williams, which really makes me hopeful that Giacchino takes the reigns from Williams for the new Star Wars franchise.
All things aside, J.J. Abrams has really upped his game and took it to the next level, in terms of being the sequel to the 2009 Star Trek. Looking at these two films side-by-side, Into Darkness really feels like The Empire Strikes Back in terms of the characters being pushed to their limits, a dark presence overshadowing their lives and trying to overcome the obstacles that keep testing them. I am not going to nit-pick the little things that I disagreed with (most of them being spoilers), but as a wrap-up, J.J. Abrams and his team have made a solid film, that will rank on my top 10 this year for sure. After seeing Into Darkness, I have full confidence that the new Star Wars franchise is in the perfect hands.