Star Trek Into Darkness is the hardest type of movie to write about. It’s not great, so I can’t list off its charms, nor is it terrible where I can mock it mercilessly. It can’t even bother to be mediocre where it can serve as another example of Hollywood’s cynical obsession with franchises.
The new Star Trek is better than adequate. At times it even delves into the territory of being good, but there are also moments of boredom and the plot gets awfully confusing so that it would probably take another viewing for me to be able to figure out exactly who was the bad guy and who betrayed who. Maybe then I can also figure out the significance of it’s title. As far as I can remember the screen never faded into black.
I have never been a Trekkie. My first experience of falling asleep in a movie theater involved a trip as a six year old to see Star Trek 3: The Search For Spock. As a child who would watch anything in cartoon form my only exception was The Star Trek Animated Series. So I was as surprised as anybody by how much I enjoyed 2009’s Star Trek movie. It had a sense of adventure and humor and fun that always seemed lacking in my previous exposures to the Star Trek canon. That coupled with my appreciation for the director JJ Abram’s work on the TV series Lost and the great movie Super 8 had me really looking forward to the new Star Trek movie.
Perhaps it was merely the weight of expectations that made me lukewarm about Star Trek Into Darkness as compared to its predecessor. As I think back on 2009’s edition I can not remember a single tidbit about it save a vague memory of Captain Kirk sleeping with a sexy green alien. But maybe that is the key to what is missing in Star Trek Into Darkness. It has been said that every movie needs a girl and a gun. There are plenty of guns (and torpedoes and phasers) that represent the action and danger movies need, but there is no girl. Nitpickers will point out the presence of a couple actresses in the cast, and Kirk does sleep with two alien twins while listening to The Beastie Boys, but the closest thing to sexual tension is the relationship between Kirk and Spock.
There are several cool moments in Star Trek Into Darkness like the opening scene that has nothing to do with anything where Captain Kirk runs Raiders of the Lost Ark style from an alien race of primitives. There is also a great fight scene between Spock and the bad guy where we feel the power of the Vulcan neck pinch.
I suppose Star Trek Into Darkness is a decent enough movie, but it lacks any urgency, laughs or weight to make it a movie you will ever remember seeing.