Is he a criminal or an enemy combatant?
Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness
Make no mistake about it. Star Trek: Into Darkness is a great summer action movie. There’s plenty of dazzling chase scenes, on the ground, in the air, in space. There are more than a few not-sure-how-they’re-going-to-get-out-of-it moments, and a cast of characters that you can like and root for. I walked out of it wanting to be part of the action. That’s what a summer action movie should be.
Like all Star Trek stories, there are references to current events and current moral issues. In this movie they explore the tension between the expediency of killing off a Bad Guy with military technology vs. due process of law. We see in the movie several instances where the temptation to give into expediency creeps up on characters in subtle ways. Not all of them are able to resist the temptation. And some times they simply try to shove our problems under the rug, or into the deep-freeze in the case of the movie.
Benedict Cumberbatch puts a new spin on a familiar Bad Guy. He is well motivated, scary, and dangerous. He keeps the movie moving, so to speak.
For serious Star Trek fans, the move creaked under the burden of trying to move the Star Trek cannon too far too fast. The most egregious example of this was the relationship between Spock and Kirk. They are still in the trying to tolerate each other stage at the beginning of the movie and we’re expected to believe they’re lifelong friends by the end of the movie. I think I speak for lots of Star Trek fans when I say this made us feel manipulated, especially since there were clear attempts to reference some of the past Star Trek movies.
We were also expected to believe that Kirk is the only one in Star Fleet that has half a brain when it comes to military matters. And in fact the movie raises the issue about just what exactly _is_ Star Fleet? Is it a military organization or an scientific one or an exploratory one? This movie more than most raises the question and make Star Fleet appear weak and muddled.
But when you look at the movie on the small scale, there are plenty of good moments. The relationship between Uhura and Spock moves along nicely, with a few bumps in the road. Spock himself emerges as one of the most interesting characters, at one point, while being “called on the carpet” by Pike for violating the Prime Directive, Spock delivers the movie’s one truly funny moment:
Christopher Pike: Are you giving me attitude, Spock?
Spock: I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously sir, to which one are you referring?
What makes it so funny is you don’t actually know if Spock is being impertinent or not.
Kirk is still somewhat a cardboard character. But he’s got an infectious leadership about him that makes the crew fiercely loyal. That’s all we really need to know about Kirk. Well, that and the fact that he gets all the girls.
The other minor characters are don’t get much development. But they are consistent with the first reboot movie and they are lots of fun. There are hints that Sulu is destined for a Captains chair someday. One can hope, but are we just being manipulated again?
Oh and one last thing. All franchise movies have to tease you about what’s coming next. This movie is no exception and unless I miss my mark, we’re going to get to see an all out war with the Klingons. Hooray! I’m tired of the Star Trek: Next Generation portrayal of the Klingons as misunderstood warriors that we can deal with. They are much more interesting as Bad Guys.