Looking Back at 2010s Films: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

22 Nov

By Tanner Smith

I admitted in my review of Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek” that seeing that film was my first time seeing ANYTHING “Star Trek”-related. And it got me to watch other “Star Trek”-related stuff. I saw a few episodes from the ’60s TV series (on a “best-of” DVD) and a few episodes of “The Next Generation” too (it’s been on my Netflix list for years–I should really watch more of it), and in between, I watched the other movies. (I didn’t review them all, but I see them all.) Here are my quick thoughts on the pre-Abrams Star Trek movies:

“The Motion Picture”–boring+beautiful=beautifully boring
“The Wrath of Khan”–terrific film, one of my personal favorite movies (#215 in my Top 250 Favorite Movies)
“The Search for Spock”–overall pretty solid, though with a few awkward spots here and there
“The Voyage Home”–fun stuff (“Well, a double dumb-ass on YOU!”)
“The Final Frontier”–a pretty lousy movie with hardly anything accomplished…but it contains one of the best moments in any Star Trek movie (“I don’t want my pain taken away! I NEED my pain!” Pretty powerful stuff.)
“The Undiscovered Country”–…I remember seeing it…but I don’t remember what happens in it. (I’ll see it again sometime, surely.)
“First Contact”–VERY good

(And no, I haven’t seen a single episode of “Enterprise” or “Deep Space Nine” or whatever other spinoff series there was.)

Then came J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” which something old and brought in something new, which resulted in a fun adventure that respected the familiar characters. He was called back to make a new film, which became “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

What am I getting at with all of this? “The Wrath of Khan” is the film that I (and a lot of other movie lovers) get the most out of when it comes to quality “Star Trek” entertainment. And I feel like “Into Darkness” came really (and I mean REALLY) close to being the “Dark Knight” of the rebooted franchise.

But it failed. Why?

Because it ended up with nothing more than a reminder of how great “The Wrath of Khan” is. Can we say “irony”?

I rewatched “Star Trek Into Darkness” recently. It was my first time seeing it in six years, since it was first released, when I wrote the review. I forgot how much I truly enjoyed the first 90 minutes (or so) of this two-hour-12-minute movie. I loved it! It was taking the characters in deeper waters than expected, the action was just as exciting as the previous film but even more tense because the stakes were raised, the villain was great and I loved the parallel connections between him and Kirk…why didn’t I watch this film again in the last six years??

Oh, right…the ending. The final 20 minutes brought the whole film down like a house of cards. (Even so, I still can’t pan the movie overall, but everything that came before it was entertaining as hell. So…3 stars, I guess.)

It ticks me off, because I keep thinking of other ways this could have worked. Keep what they were going for, but throw out the “Wrath of Khan” callbacks (in that they recite the lines of dialogue practically word-for-word!!)…and have NO dialogue in the scene! Just focus on the emotions alone–everything that we’ve seen before would’ve been part of a puzzle that this would have been part of!

And most importantly, THROW OUT THE EPILOGUE! That’s the part that REALLY killed the movie for me. It’s like everything that we’ve been through before and everything we’ve learned (everything the characters themselves learned in the process)…suddenly meant nothing. If the writers (who also wrote “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″…that makes so much sense the more I think about it) wanted to leave a memorable impact on movie audiences, they should’ve given us more to think about than easy resolutions.

If they had, again, this could have been the “Dark Knight” of the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise! But alas…it made me want to watch “The Wrath of Khan” again.

But it came SO close!

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