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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness Review, Superman Vs. Robocop.

Matt Ferguson, Everybody!
Before I start, full disclosure, I am not a Trekkie. I've sat through a fair share of Next Generation and DS9 yet I have remained unevangelised.

Its not that I overly disliked or look down on ST (being a yellow dog Brown Coat myself) but it just didn't grab me the way a show of that length would have too. I'd need to stick with it, through the good times and the Riker guts, and I don't have it in me. So whether these new films are the second coming or sacrilege I do not know. But what I do know is I walked into the theater both times with healthy optimism and both times I left thoroughly impressed.

The prevailing mantra over at my dearly beloved Rotten Tomatoes is that the acting is solid and the story is a mess. Here I find myself disagreeing with the majority of ID's detractors. I actually found the story fairly coherent and continuously surprising. Most of the time when I peg a character as a traitor I'm right, so I was delighted to be wrong in both instances. The villain's ultimate goal was sound, the cast's reactions to the evolving situation were understandable, and the progression from set piece to set piece was most...logical (sorry).

 The overarching themes of the film appeared to be guilt and greed. It opens on a thinly veiled exploration of white man's burden and ends on a declaration against warmongering for the sake of  accomplishment. Without a good roster of characters sounding off on what they mean to them, the themes wouldn't mean squat. So I'll happily agree that the critics who enjoyed the stylings of Pine, Quinto, Saldana, and Pegg were absolutely right.

"Is that...Is that how big my part is?!"
Putting these four actors in a tube together is comedy gold, which is another surprising strength of the film, its really damn funny. After three years without seeing the first installment again, I had forgotten that Spock and Uhura were a thing. The way they remind me without a character simply explaining it to the audience was refreshing... and when Kirk did just that 20 minutes later, it managed to be hilarious. In that regard, all you need to do to tickle my critic bone is to give me enough Simon Pegg being Simon Pegg. And there is so much Pegg in here you guys! All those little ticks and whines only he can add to the end of otherwise mundane line readings is a rare talent that he uses most wisely here. In fact this very nearly becomes the Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Sherlock movie. Oh! speaking of which...

"Something, something, something, darkmatterrrrrrrr."
Cumberbatch is pretty disappointing. Pulling off a broad villain of "eeeevil" caliber is hard, thankless work and unfortunately Cumberbatch chews the scenery more than anything else. In his defense the script doesn't give him much to work with either. We're supposed to fear him and what he's capable of. But we never get a clear picture of what that is, exactly. He has a weakness that ends up being the best plot point of the film and John Harrison's story is ultimately one worth telling, thankfully. And as long as we're getting complaints out of the way, I loved Carl Urban in Dredd, but his Bones always comes off as a bad impression. I want to like it but I just can't. Oh, and Alice Eve's lengiere shot!? That was embarrassing JJ, come on. I'm at a loss of what else to say about ID without spoiling its best surprises and character moments. Though I'm curious as to what repeat viewings will feel like. Maybe that's where the story falls to pieces, but I'm pretty sure critics are just venting their delayed frustration from last year's Batman. If you really want to talk about a gossamer web of preposterousness, we'll talk about "Rises." So in the end, this isn't a great movie. But it clearly didn't want to, and it doesn't have to be, one. To me, the most honest reaction you have to a movie is the first thought that pops into your head when its over. For me?

"That was almost too much fun."

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