Star Trek: Into Dullness

“What do you mean you forgot to put a toilet in this cell?”

 Note:  There are no big, heavy SPOILERS in this post, but there may be some plot points mentioned that may reveal more than you might want to know if you haven’t seen Star Trek: Into Darkness, so go watch the movie and come back to read this after you have.

As a summer blockbuster full of sound and fury signifying nothing but an easy way to kill two hours in the dark, Star Trek: Into Darkness more than capably delivers the goods.

And purely on the basis as a summer blockbuster, I give  the movie a “B+.”   J.J. Abrams knows how to keep the camera moving, the special effects and set pieces are dazzling and there’s always something happening on the screen.  And there lies the problem.   It’s all too much flash and bang and not enough detail or character development.    It’s a darn good action movie.   It’s not a real good Star Trek movie.

As a Star Trek movie, with the exception of the overkill of fan service it fails spectacularly.  Utterly.  Completely.  This movie is all eye candy.  It has no brain and it certainly has no heart.     Abrams has said he wasn’t a fan of the show, but with a budget of nearly $200 million,  he needs all the Trekkies and Trekkers he can get to line up and buy a ticket multiple times and he certainly gives them a ton of  “Did you notice this and that?” moments.    Maybe way too many such moments.

I don’t share the love the critics and audiences have shown for Star Trek: Into Darkness and I wish I could.  I also wish I could go into detail why, but I can’t without giving away the story.   But I can say after a good beginning and middle,  the third act  sags and is flat with no dramatic tension after it is undermined by Abrams showing us way too early how the big shock will be resolved.   There is one particular line was delivered so badly even William Shatner would have said, “Now, that’s some bad acting.”

Abrams made some terrible decisions as a director and the first was don’t try to remake the strongest and most beloved entry in the Star Trek film canon.   You’re only going to draw comparisons you don’t really want to make and fall short of them on nearly every score and that’s what earns the movie an overall tepid “C” from me.

“Dammit, Captain, I’m a science officer, not a stripper.”

No spoilers here, but I literally slumped in my seat during the third act and thought to myself, “Are they really going to do this?”  And then they did it and it was even worse than I feared it would be.

I walked out of the theater feeling slightly numbed by the movie.  It’s undeniably exciting and I was never bored.   Though Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk still hasn’t moved beyond the rule-breaking brat of the first film, I did like Zachary Quinto’s Mr. Spock and Zoe Saldana’s Uhura and their strange relationship better in this second go-round.  Karl Urban’s Dr. McCoy wasn’t given all that much to do while John Cho is a very good Sulu does a lot with his few scenes.   Simon Pegg’s feisty Scotty is given a lot more to do than worry about  the dilithium crystals and Bendict Cumberbatch makes a compelling villain even if Abrams and Damon Lindehof’s screenplay can’t decide whether he’s a good man turned bad or a bad man turned worse.

What seals the deal for me and drops Star Trek into just below a passing grade is how forgettable it is.   It’s been a week now and it’s largely faded from my memory as Into Darkness feels like it’s been sandwiched between two super hero spectacles, Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel.     This is a bad movie as much as it is an inconsequential one that feels like a generic action flick carrying the Star Trek name on it.

Superman has been a cultural icon for 80 years.   Iron Man was a second-string Marvel Comics character who turns 50 years old this year.  Star Trek began its five-year mission 47 years ago as a cancelled TV show that never rose about #52 in the ratings.   Yet as the baby of the bunch the movie seems to harken back to its past even as it tries to move away from its corny roots.     Too bad even though this installment entertains it doesn’t make a leap into hyperspace.

Into Darkness?  Into Dullness, is more like it.   This time the Enterprise is a empty vessel.

In space nobody can see you shower.

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