Being the Star Trek nerd I am, I can't resist devoting an entire journal entry to the latest movie.
I lucked into a couple passes to an advance screening of Star Trek Into Darkness last Wednesday, so I invited my brother along as my guest, and I'm very glad I did. A) It was far more enjoyable with company and B) he was the one who recommended we get there two hours early, which was the absolute right call, because we snagged what might have been the last two really good seats in the auditorium. The time passed more quickly with someone else there and I didn't feel like a loser the way I would have if I'd been alone.
I've been into Star Trek since age 13, but I might have been destined to become a Trekkie from the start, considering that even as a little kid, Pigs in Space was the segment of The Muppet Show I always looked most forward to. Not that I've always taken kindly to being described as a Trekkie. Part of that has to do with the fact that for several years, that was the only thing my dad could find to say about me in the hated annual family Christmas letter. Also, I've probably conformed to too many of the stereotypical notions people have about Trekkies (i.e. social ineptitude) for me to proudly embrace that label.
I did not love 2009's Star Trek. It's not like I didn't give it a fair shot either, unlike some people who were prepared to hate on it from the start. The trailers had me really excited, but once I saw it, it just didn't feel like Star Trek to me. It was more like Galaxy Quest crossed with Starship Troopers. Plus, it was so dumbed down. I'm no science expert, and I know the science in Star Trek has not always been totally believable, but when Spock mentions a supernova threatening to blow up the entire galaxy, that was when I started to feel nostalgic for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which is the most dull movie in the franchise, but at least it was trying for an intelligent plot. So anyway, my expectations were not high for Star Trek Into Darkness.
It's hard to say anything specific about the film without venturing into spoiler territory- speaking for myself, I'm very happy I managed to avoid practically all spoilers prior to seeing this film. What I will say is that Star Trek Into Darkness was a vast improvement over its predecessor by leaps and bounds. Not since 96's First Contact have I enjoyed a Star Trek movie this much. A lot of the Star Trek movies seem to focus on two characters and leave the supporting cast on the sidelines, but everyone in this movie gets something interesting to do. In spite of the relatively dark tone, it's often quite funny as well and is ultimately an optimistic movie.
While I gradually came to accept 2009's Star Trek as mindless fun, I remember sitting in the theater when I first saw it and just getting this sinking feeling, like a balloon with the air slowly being released. My reaction was the complete opposite this time around.
JJ Abram's inaugural foray into this franchise kind of seemed to leave loyal fans in the dust in the rush to attract a wider demographic. Even before Abrams, I'm pretty sure there were complaints that Trek movies had become too much about space battles and the like and had gotten away from going boldly where no one has gone before. I feel like the writers of Into Darkness must have taken some of those criticisms to heart and set out to address them in what I think is a fairly clever way.
This should appeal as much to most Trekkies as it will to general audiences just looking for a cinematic thrill ride. The people behind this film got to have their cake and eat it too: they made the most action-packed Star Trek movie ever, but at the end of the day, it's also a reaffirmation of the core ideals of Star Trek and is a lot more reverential to the canon. Or, as I said to my brother when it was over, "There was a lot more Star Trek in this Star Trek movie." Having said that, however, the question still remains whether it's possible to craft a movie that is actually about seeking out new life and new civilizations rather than simply paying lip service to that concept.
Of course, not all Trekkies will agree with my assessment, but it's impossible to please everyone and fanboys are notoriously difficult to please. In my opinion, though, it's one of the best films I've seen this year.