So, to quote everyone’s favorite band, “Its been a while.” I promise that I’ve gone to the movies (tons) over the last two years since I shared thoughts on Midnight in Paris and X-Men:First Class. I have even written some about them in fragmented drafts that lurk just under the WordPress admin surface of this very website. There are actually a couple of gems in there that I should polish off for you, Dear Reader, but first lets get back on track with a discussion of something opening this week…
Fan or not of the nearly 50 year old series, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t thoroughly enjoy this installment in the adventures of Kirk and crew which follows up the brilliant 2009 reboot of the series. Like that film, this one is accommodating to newcomers and seasoned Trekkies alike. The characters are essentially reintroduced and relationships between them reenforced, particularly that between the brash Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his more logical First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto). As expected of a sequel in this genre, the stakes have been upped significantly from the first film, in this case by bringing the threat facing Starfleet right to their doorstep early on in the form of an act of domestic terrorism on Earth by a rogue Starfleet officer played with calculated brilliance by Benedict Cumberbatch of the BBC’s Sherlock fame.
Now, I’ve had something to say for some time about the increasing depiction of homeland terrorism in television and film. From last year’s Avengers movie which destroyed Manhattan in what has become a matter of course for summer movie-goers, to this year’s 3rd Iron Man film which probably wished it had time for a re-edit to lessen the similarities in its suicide bombing scenes to the still fresh wounds of the Boston Marathon events, I’m getting a bit weary of it. While this sort of shit does go on all over the world on a near daily basis, there is a reason that we are not subject to it here. That is the work of the everyday superheros who populate our military, intelligence, and local law enforcement agencies. For one reason or another though American cinema-goers seem fascinated by these scenes of domestic destruction. In 3D. With popcorn. And in many cases without a single thought to the fact that this is a reality being faced concurrently in other parts of the world. I’d like to think that filmmakers aren’t simply preying on our fears, but instead contributing somehow to the national and global dialogue. Star Trek, in fact, does right in its closing dedication to post-9/11 veterans. But I digress.
It’s hard to discuss the remainder of the film without spoilers, other than to say that concerns I had going in based on the seemingly space-free, land-locked trailer footage proved unfounded as there is in fact plenty of star trekking to be had after the first 3rd of the movie appropriately propels the viewer towards it. There is a good reason that those trailers leave a lot to be answered, as this film continues to play in the alternative-reality sandbox that the timeline splitting events of 2009′s entry provided, allowing for these characters to experience events that devoted Trekkies may be quite familiar with, but in new ways. While it is still very much a story about the dynamic and evolving relationship between Kirk and Spock, the villainous turn by Cumberbatch is so nuanced and motivated that you almost root for him at times, hoping he survives the finale so as to be featured in future sequels. The film has a nice undercurrent about the dangers of fighting such incredible evil and the potential to sacrifice ones own good in doing so. In the end, however, it is clear that as we continue boldly going where no one (not just man anymore!) has gone before, our aspiration will be to do so with our best foot forward.
Solid 4.5 of 5 on the Swasted Scale.