Friday, May 24, 2013
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013)
The best STAR TREK films attain a careful balance between reverence to the source material and the sly upturning of expectations. In the 2009 prequel, director J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman violated the space/time continuum to give Leonard Nimoy (the original Spock) a cameo and themselves permission to disregard any inconsistency within the established Star Trek universe they may create in future films. The movie was enjoyable enough, with sharp casting and strong character rapport, to overlook this breach. Now Abrams and the writers (with the addition of Damon Lindelof) return to the wormhole in this slapdash sequel, and proceed to unravel the fabric of the franchise with careless abandon. After a busy prologue in which Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban) race from indigenous space savages and rescue Spock (Zachary Quinto) from an active volcano where he attempts to set off a cold fusion bomb (to save said savages), we return to Starfleet where Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) reprimands and demotes Kirk for violating the prime directive. However, the demotion is short-lived after an attack on Starfleet command forces Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) to send Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise to an isolated planet in Klingon territory, where the attack’s mastermind, Kirk’s future nemesis Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), has taken refuge. Despite some genuinely harrowing scenes and a handful of engaging character moments -- most involving Quinto, Simon Pegg (as Chief Engineer Scott) and the underused Urban -- the script feels like roughly patched together scenes from better films. Perhaps the puzzling title refers to the willful blindness to which fans of the TV and film series must succumb in order to overlook the gaps in narrative logic through which a fleet of starships could pass. But the filmmakers’ ill-conceived emphasis on confused plotting is merely their second greatest sin. The film’s dramatic centerpiece is ripped whole cloth from 1982’s THE WRATH OF KHAN. This shameless, cynical piece of pilfering is lazy, inexcusable, and unforgiveable.