Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations
I was skeptical as I walked into the theater to watch Star Trek Into Darkness. After seeing early trailers for the film, I felt let down. What I saw was something that looked more like the Avengers than any Star Trek movie or TV show that I’ve seen. As J.J. Abrams has showed us before, this is not Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. But that’s okay. As I watched the opening sequence and got to experience Kirk and crew violating the Prime Directive, I wondered if that was a metaphor for what Abrams was doing with the series.
Of course I was wrong. So dreadfully wrong. That’s what happens when you judge a movie by its trailer. From the get go, I was pulled in. While my logical mind was trying to make comparisons to everything Trek I’ve ever seen, my emotions had me on the edge of my seat. Who is this John Harrison? How would Carol Marcus fit into the big picture? Would Kirk get some alien tail? (The answer is twice to that last question.)
Without dropping spoilers, every member of the crew gets good screen time and some great lines. Abrams continued the fine tradition of Kirk/Spock/McCoy conversations that are one of my favorite parts of the The Original Series. Chris Pine is a decent James T. Kirk. Most Trekkers would probably agree that William Shatner is irreplaceable, but Pine does well for himself as the unflappable captain of the Enterprise. Zachary Quinto, who is a mighty actor, is still fantastic as Mr. Spock and delivers even his most unemotional lines with an emotional subtext that only the best performers can convey. Karl Urban, as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy seems to channel DeForest Kelley, bringing with him all the wit of the simple country doctor. Benedict Cumberbatch is the scene stealer of this movie. With his rich baritone voice and menacing glares, he is a fantastic villain that keeps you guessing early. I think I’m going to have to check out his BBC Sherlock Holmes series now. I’d also like to give a special shout out to Peter “Robocop” Weller who makes his second appearance in a Star Trek series as the aggressive Admiral Marcus. He had previously appeared in one of the final episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise as John Frederick Paxton, a leader of an anti-alien group known as Terra Prime. I wonder if they’re related in the “Abramverse”. It’s a possibility.
Big budget science fiction movies need to be expertly produced. Abrams accomplishes this without a hitch. If anything, Abrams is this generations Sci-Fi Master. He paces the film with a sense of urgency and this is demonstrated in the editing, the sound and the acting. Even the unknown Starfleet officer played by Noel Clarke (Doctor Who’s Mickey Smith) conveys this in a short but subtle performance in the early part of the film. At nearly every moment, I felt that the crew of the Enterprise had work to be
done quickly. When the Enterprise was having technical difficulties (to put it lightly), I really felt the crew was giving it all they got.
The CGI in this film is quite stunning. Beautifully mapped cityscapes, warp trails, and planets make this some of my favorite movie eye candy. The intense action sequences in space and planetside are both fluid and breath taking. Abrams United Federation is everything we’d want. Clean, pristine, futuristic, and a place you’d want to live provided the Earth stops getting attacked.