Like any sci-fi geek in the Bay Area or geek in general, I like “Star Trek.”
But I admit that while I like the original “Star Trek” franchise, I never saw much of it save for the second movie and a few episodes that aired during the wee hours while I had insomnia. So I was delighted and entertained with J.J. Abram’s 2009 “Star Trek” reboot that managed to take some iconic characteristics of Kirk and his main crew and supercharge them to meet today’s action film standards while throwing some nods to the original series with varying degrees of subtlety. It was an excellent way to introduce Star Trek to new audiences while throwing a few bones at the original fans.
But if 2009’s “Star Trek” is considered to be throwing bones at the original fans, “Star Trek: Into Darkness” throws a whole steak. And that’s not entirely a good thing.
Into Darkness tells the tale of “Skyfall… IN SPACE” when Captain James Kirk accepts a mission to kill terrorist John Harrison–whose boring name is just a con–after a series of attacks on Starfleet Command. The film is an action-packed and emotional roller coaster for Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the named crew of the Enterprise as they are pushed to the limits physically and mentally in order to take on and take out Mr. Harrison. This is the meat of the “Into Darkness” steak that is prepared and presented well thanks to J.J. Abrams’ directing of the actors through a well written script.
But the callbacks to the original series have calcified into a giant T-bone that “Into Darkness” forces me to swallow while enjoying my steak. Casual references to the original series can serve as a wink to the fans without distracting from the main plot. Making references overly relevant to the plot can alienate non-fans who end up asking their Star Trek fan friends about the meaning of the aforementioned reference–usually in the middle of “Star Trek: Into Darkness'” plot development.
But perhaps the biggest gripe about overly referencing the original series is that the familiar stuff like disposable redshirts, Tribbles, and Spock’s clash between Vulcan stoicism versus human emotions will eventually get used up and future films will scrape the barrel of the original series’ barrel to find something to fill out their script. By now, the rebooted characters have been established. Isn’t it about time that they start developing into their own characters instead of just parroting everything that made them iconic in the original? Preferably something beyond Spock’s and Uhura’s relationship.
In the end, “Star Trek: Into Darkness” is an entertaining sci-fi voyage that the original series intended to be while featuring action that fits for a summer blockbuster. So enjoy this steak and try not to choke on that T-bone.
And while I’m not into 3D films, Alice Eve provides a healthy pair of reasons to enjoy the theatrical fad.