Sunday, May 26, 2013

Into Star Trek

By David Luhrssen
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  Star Trek Into Darkness gets off to a running start, literally, and seldom pauses long enough for anyone to catch their breath. The plot manages to be both convoluted and unsurprising—a soap opera of poor writing. Some of the special effects are impressive and the set design is imaginative. Twenty-third century London is visualized as a city of soaring metal and glass spires (think present-day Shanghai with St. Paul’s Cathedral at the center); likewise San Francisco, resembling Singapore with Fisherman’s Wharf and streetcars.


My problems with J.J. Abrams’ reboot start with Chris Pine, who lacks the gravitas of the original James T. Kirk, William Shatner, and continue with the notion of Mr. Spock with a girlfriend. It might have been better to suggest the love between Kirk and Spock, but perhaps this will occur in some future sequel, after a warp in time produces a parallel universe—or something.


The supporting cast is just fine, but there is no giant among them to lift this blockbuster above its by-numbers screenplay—no Robert Downey, Jr. as in Iron Man 3. Well, wait, there is a giant, Benedict Cumberbatch, but he’s given a midget’s script to read from as a one-dimensional villain with penetrating eyes and implacable mien.


Curiously, Iron Man 3 and Into Darkness share several things, including an attack on headquarters by hovering flying machines (plus the expected over-the-top smash up climax) and a concern with terrorism and the genetic modification of humans into a “master race.” The new Star Trek could have made its points more compelling. Here’s hoping Cumberbatch is unthawed for another round and given something interesting to do.

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