Sunday, July 17, 2016

Reviewing ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ without spoiling it isn’t easy (retro-review)

Back for more "Star Trek" goodness I see! That's only logical. 

The next installment of my series -- in anticipation of "Star Trek Beyond" -- is my non-spoiler review of "Star Trek Into Darkness." Enjoy!

May 20, 2013 — Wow. Sometimes I simply enjoy basking in the glow of a movie I’ve just seen.

That’s exactly what I wanted to do after watching “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Although I left the theater while the credits were rolling both times, I wanted to stay in my seat to process what I’d seen.

“Into Darkness” puts you on an emotional roller coaster. There are moments that surprised me, made me pump my fist, chuckle at wink-wink, nudge-nudge homages to classic “Trek” episodes, laugh at clever one-liners and yes, there were times I came close to crying. (I can’t help it — I’m a lifelong Trekkie.)

I even found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering how the U.S.S. Enterprise crew was going to survive.

As you know, I’m a firm believer in avoiding talking about spoilers — any storyline points that might ruin the experience for my readers, especially those who haven’t watched or read what I’m reviewing.

So, the question remains: How do I review “Into Darkness” without spoiling it for you?

Let me tell, it’s not easy. OK, here it goes.

In action films, there’s nothing like two alpha males going at it.

That’s what you get when Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, who plays Kirk much more in touch with his feelings than William Shatner) leads a mission to assassinate terrorist John Harrison (an intense Benedict Cumberbatch), who planned a bombing of a Starfleet facility. Kirk must face the ethics of leading a mission for which he’s been ordered to wipe Harrison off the face of the universe with newly created proton torpedoes.

All of this becomes significantly more complicated when Harrison attacks many of Starfleet’s commanding officers and Kirk learns several people have different identities than what they’ve said and two of those people have vendettas that are much more nefarious than originally expected. 

Without spoiling anything for you, two of my favorite moments involve Spock (Zachary Quinto once again nails the emotional balance beam of playing the half human and half Vulcan).

One is when Spock, upon learning a second science officer has been assigned to the Enterprise, becomes jealous — or is as envious as a logical being can be.

The other delightful scene is when Kirk realizes his communications officer, Lt. Uhura (Zoe Saldana who gets to kick some butt and use her “rusty” skills at speaking Klingon) and Spock are having a lovers’ spat.

A former computer tech for the paper for which I work, the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper — and lifelong fanboy — Keith Veleba, on Facebook, equated director J.J. Abrams’ “new and fresh” take on the “Trek” universe with putting all the earlier elements in a mixer and hitting the “what if?” button.

While that assessment is spot on (“from a certain point of view,” as Spock once said) and there is a certain amount of retreading of previous “Trek” stories, I gotta say the results are remarkable. This continuity spins the franchise on its head in ways that make audiences feel like they’re experiencing long beloved characters without making it a cliche.

Honestly, I could see moments of foreshadowing in “Into Darkness” — but only just before something happened — and that’s only because I’ve seen almost all of the original TV series, all of “The Next Generation” series and the entire film franchise.

Regardless, Abrams includes provides plenty of surprising twists even though it borrows heavily from one the greatest films starring the original Enterprise crew. While "Into Darkness" owes a lot to that story, the finale here is no less exciting and this adventure, uh, boldly takes us into exciting new areas and possibilities which I hope future films will explore.

For years, I’ve considered a great movie one I want to see again just after I watched it the first time. That’s exactly how I felt Saturday — and that’s why I ended up seeing it twice in about 24 hours.

Grade: A-

In the next part of this "Star Trek" series, I spotlight the greatest quotes from "Into Darkness." And after that, Cary's Comics Craze reviews each and every film in the "Star Trek" franchise -- the best and -- then the rest! Until then, check out my review of J.J. Abrams' first "Star Trek."

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