The Score: "'Star Trek Into Darkness' Was Designed To Appeal To A Mass Audience & That Was A Huge Mistake"

Friday, May 17, 2013 6:55PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

Watch Trailer
  • Star Trek Into Darkness
  • Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana
  • May 17, 2013
ABC News Go 2.5 out of 5
Entertainment Weekly A
Huffington Post C+
Rolling Stone 3.5 out of 4
Screen Rant 4 out of 5

With the temperatures rising and summer just a month away, cool off at your local movie theater and enjoy an action-packed thrill ride in the new Star Trek Into Darkness this weekend.

The latest flick in the widely popular Star Trek series follows where 2009's massive hit left off.

2009's hugely successful sequel/prequel/reboot Star Trek did a lot more than apply the paddles to the moribund Trek brand after a brief, apathy-induced interregnum. It also opened the franchise up to a wider, more diverse audience than it ever enjoyed in the previous four decades, through ten feature films, six TV series, and mountains of licensed memorabilia. Given that Star Trek practically invented the pejorative perception of geekdom, that's quite the feat, and given that considerable feather in his cap, it's understandable that director J.J. Abrams would leverage that success to go bigger and wider with his follow-up, Star Trek Into Darkness. (Huffington Post)

Diehard Trekkies will immediately notice this newest addition to the franchise serves as a precursor to the 1990's television series.

Like Abrams' first "Trek" movie, this one is positioned as a prequel to the original TV series and subsequent films, though it also lifts (and twists) elements from that sacred text, 1982's "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." Kirk and Spock, each following his own nature (one's a hothead, the other a detached brainiac), are usually at loggerheads. Even when they wind up coming to the same conclusion they can't stop arguing about how they got there, and that's part of the movie's texture of cocky one-upmanship. (CNN)

While there are plenty of familiar faces from 2009's flick, director J.J. Abrams makes sure to toss in plenty of surprises with new characters.

One of the sequel's biggest strengths is its management of the large ensemble cast. Every core Enterprise member - Dr. "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban), Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), Lieutenant Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Ensign Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Lieutenant Commander Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (Simon Pegg) - along with side characters like Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) - all have their own individual arcs (as does the ship itself). Not only does each one result in fun or exciting payoff, they're expertly interwoven into the larger Star Trek Into Darkness plot, resulting in a smartly-paced storyline. The unrelenting velocity of the film does undercut one or two key moments that deserved (and needed) a bit more time to unfold, but overall the film juggles a lot of different elements without becoming bogged down in minutia (especially considering the 132 minute runtime). (Screen Rant)

Star Trek Into Darkness relies, at different points, on comedic elements to help viewers get through the two-hour-plus flick.

J.J. Abrams's overall treatment of the Star Trek franchise seems much lighter in tone. From the 2009 release of Star Trek, his focus has seemed to fixate on comedic asides of the crew, especially with the character of Bones. There has always been some comedic element in the Star Trek universe, but with Bones and Spock's delivery of their lines, I was confused what Abrams's intention was in the film. Let me explain. Spock, in the film, retains the traits of the archetypal Vulcan, adhering to logic with every conclusion and inference, governing his emotional impulses with stoic alignment and unwilling to break even the most minute rule. But even when he interacts with Admiral Marcus in conversation at the beginning of the film, his question to Marcus asking for clarification about what line of inquiry Marcus would like him to follow prompted some titillation in the audience. Bones, on the other hand, has always been a cantankerous character, so his complaining has always provoked some bemusement by default among Star Trek faithful. (Forbes)

While the sci-fi thriller won many critics over, some found flaws in its overall presentation and inability to fulfill what its predecessor did.

As Abrams said, "Star Trek Into Darkness" was designed to appeal to a mass audience. From my perspective, that was a huge mistake. Whether you're a serious "Star Trek" fan or merely a discerning movie fan, you're likely going to find yourself annoyed by this sell-out philosophy and how it affects the film. At the same time, Spock, Bones and Scotty (Simon Pegg) will make you laugh, and the visuals will impress. In the case of James T. Kirk and J.J. Abrams, cheaters do indeed win. At least, they do at the box office. (ABC News Go)
It's hard to get past the feeling that Star Trek Into Darkness is a film that's good enough because of the efforts of all the excellent people involved, yet it still falls short of the greatness of J.J. Abrams' first outing because of a weak screenplay. Star Trek fans will see it anyway, and why not? For disposable summertime cinema, it's certainly enjoyable, but you come away with the sense could have been so much more than that. File under "Missed Opportunities," and look forward to the next one. (Wired)

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