Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

We took the entire studio to see Star Trek Into Darkness Friday.

The consensus from the team it's "great fun".

It's hard to talk about the film without spoilers (and I think it's important to avoid those spoilers), but it's enough to say the film stands on its own, is a strong successor to the previous film, and has a lot of great (and clever) nods to original series and films.

The movie is getting a little critically dinged for various reasons -- "More of the same", "predictable", "too sentimental", etc. -- None of which I agree with. (Besides, it seems like critics feel the need to be critical.)

As matter of fact, I consider Into Darkness a genre success along the lines of The Dark Night -- Not just a great genre flick, but a great film (independent of genre).

"More the same"? Sort of, if you mean, "More of the same fresh take on the Star Trek universe", or "More of J.J. Abrams's Awesome Sauce".

"Predictable"? OK, so I've got a minor beef with the big conceit I saw teased at the beginning, and then got beat over the head with a couple of other times, but outside of that, there's a difference between "predictable" and "artfully constructed".

It is Abrams, after all. From Alias to Lost to Revolution, part of his signature magic is constructing "zomigosh what now?" scenarios, and then doing something amazing inside of that.

He also gets amazing, amazing things out of actors. If anyone had other than him had picked Zachary Quinto (Hero's Siler) to be Spock, I might have been nervous (arguably unfairly). But not with Abrams at the helm. As an actor myself, I get excited by the range and language and emotion Abrams pushed from Quinto (and the challenge to which Quinto rose). Consistently, Abrams gets greatness from his team.

(And not just Abrams; I'd enjoy being on any project written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, or Damon Lindelof; and I'm sure Abrams doesn't surround himself with slouches in any production discipline.)

Additional actor-wise, Chris Pine's not just dreamy eyes -- the guy can act. His subtle and grand emoting in response to small and big things is a joy to watch. And Zoe Zaldana gives Uhura amazing range, Karl Urban is Bones McCoy, John Cho shows he's so much more than Harold & Kumar (and a ridiculously hard-working actor), Simon Pegg humbles me with his quickness and range, and Bruce Greenwood is so accessible and stately as Pike -- brilliant to watch. I'm hoping there's a director's cut showing a lot more of what Alice Eve can do; aside from the eye-candy role she serves in this film, there are teases as some real depth there.

And Benedict Cumberbatch? I was already a fan of his (thanks to "Sherlock" and otters), but he shows surprising range in this film. Can't say too much without spoilers, but he's fun to watch throughout.

Honestly, there's a point in the film where I felt emotion welling up. It wasn't about the scene in the movie -- It was this joy of a summer genre film package coming together with acting and writing and directing and genre tropes and honor to legacy and being its own thing. And doing so exquisitely.

So, yeah -- It's a recommended see.