“Tell me this is gonna work.”
“I have neither the information nor the confidence to do so…”
I guess it was either in my reviews of Casino Royale or The Muppets that I never got round to posting that I referred back to the first of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek movies (since I didn’t write it in that review) saying something about the current trend of remakes/sequels/reboots/requels? i.e. the way that it’s all been kind of mashed up to a point where a lot of these movies are none of the above – the first Abrams Star Trek is both remake, sequel, and reboot, e.g. A lot of the Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers had a similar feeling – all set-up. Tony Stark is Iron Man at the end of Iron Man and I was like, okay, now can we go on an adventure please? etc. Ditto Batman Begins, The Thing, any number of recent re-dos.
When Chris Pine took to the captain’s chair at the end of that first movie, I felt the same same way – and I kind of expected the second movie to deliver on that. But within minutes of the title credit of Into Darkness, Kirk has been once again unseated as Captain due to characteristic disobedience pre-credits. It’s the first of many moments that make this movie even more (it has to be said) pleasantly surprising than the last of this year’s big movies, Iron Man 3, and I hope at least that part is a trend that continues.
I’m writing this from a bunch of notes about a week after seeing it because I didn’t really know what to think after I saw it and I wanted to hear a few other people’s opinions to see if anyone felt whatever I was feeling. I think this tweet pretty much captured it for me
Iron Man 3 & Star Trek #IntoDarkness both tell stories rather different from what their trailers suggest. In Iron Man this is a good thing.— Alex Gabriel (@AlexGabriel) May 9, 2013
What I’ve found in the time since seeing Into Darkness is that it only made me realise just how special Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 was and how it’s possibly spoiled the whole of Summer 2013 for me. Into Darkness sure is chaotic and fun, don’t get me wrong; and it does at the same time delve into tricky issues – terror? no, Benedict Cumberbatch’s villain here is a little more complicated than that. But it’s all so much of the same thing as the first movie was – retreading, rehashing, and finally, resetting at the end. Very TV. Very old TV.
How about some of the good… As in the first of Abrams movies, there’s much made of the logic/emotion collision between Spock and Kirk. Though I’m sure this has always been a part of the whole Spock/Kirk set-up, I have to admit that despite enjoying the movies and struggling through at least one season of the original series (I still say only the extended first episode “The Menagerie” really did anything for me), I never really got this as much as I have in Abrams and co’s more refined, delineated take on them. The pre-credits sequence leads to Spock saying the famous line, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” in reference for being prepared to lay down his life before disobeying a Starfleet directive – leading to a coldness between him and Uhura for much of the movie as, to her, it appeared like he didn’t think about her. There’s later a wonderful scene between him and Uhura where he explains to her (paraphrasing, I don’t remember the exact line), “You mistake my decision not to feel as an unwillingness to live, when in fact it is the complete opposite,” – something that resonates with me deeply. I love what they’re doing with Spock in this series.
So, in case it isn’t clear, I was sort of disappointed with this movie – moreso in the days after the final credits rolled than while watching it. I love that big movies like this are now subverting both our expectations (even despite the level of promotion these days – there’s far more space in this movie than I’d been led to believe, for one thing) and “original” events in the old timeline – whether it’s done well as in Iron Man 3 or just a little disappointingly as here. Avoiding spoilers about the true nature of Benedict Cumberbatch’s part here (but you probably have your correct suspicions, as I did), when someone screams that name here, it’s a direct inversion of what we’ve seen before. I kind of love that the way they set up this “parallel” Star Trek franchise in the first Abrams movie looks to be something they’re going to keep drawing upon (I didn’t quite see the point of the repeat Nimoy cameo here, though – Shatner or nothing next time, okay?) But I really hope that the next one really takes us somewhere new.