HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Star Trek Into Darkness
HTS Overall Score:90
Let me start off by saying that I’m a trekkie to the core. I’ve watched every film and every iteration of the TV show and I LOOOOOOVED the 2009 reboot/remake/sequel/whatever it was. The Trek universe had been stale for years and was losing its hold on the cinematic universe. The Next Generation crew was getting too old (anyone remember “Nemesis” where Brent Spiner had to wear higher collared shirts and use trick photography to hide that Data was getting a BIT chubbier?), and the “Enterprise” show bombed badly enough that no one wanted to see them onscreen anymore. That left them the option to reboot the universe and take it in a totally different direction. Normally, reboots and “new directions” tend to be rather divisive and uninspiring, but this time it ACTUALLY WORKED! Abrahms took the classic Trek universe and set it up on its end, giving us something completely new and fresh, with old characters that had new twists. With the alternate reality going on, they weren’t treading on the toes of the old characters we love so much due to the fact that they’re existing in a different world simultaneously, just with different factors shaping their destinies. Abrahms gave us something that was old and made it fresh and appealing once more. What really made it work was that he didn’t try to re-hash everything that happened in the previous universe, but gave us new villains and new problems to deal with.
Now along comes the sequel, 4 years in the making. Now, I was a bit cautious going into “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. I like the cast, I like the director, but there was the addition of two writers that REALLY had me nervous, Bob Orci and Damon Lindelof. Bob Orci is a 911 truther, conspiracy theorist so I already guessed that we were going to have a “big bad over reaching government plot”, but I wouldn’t mind if it was handled well, but Damon Lindelof is KNOWN for his ability to come up with great ideas, but leave plot holes big enough to fly the enterprise through. Couple that with the fact that J.J. and crew spent years telling us “no don’t worry, the villain won’t be Khan” and then the first trailers have the new villain, John Harrison, leaping tall buildings in a single bound, holding a ship's CANNON in one arm and maniacally trying to take Kirk out (how many genetic superhumans ARE there in the Trek universe who have a vendetta against Kirk?).
However, for the first half of the movie I was pleasantly surprised. We have all the old Trek friends that we know and love back again. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zach Quinto) try and save a tribal culture’s planet from wiping them out with a volcano and end up violating the Prime Directive. Being that Kirk is never exactly known for following orders, Starfleet takes away the Enterprise and gives it back to Admiral Pike. Realizing the potential for greatness in him, Pike arranges for Kirk to still remain first officer on the Enterprise in hopes that he can learn from this mistake and rise back through the ranks again. At the same time, a data storage facility at Starfleet headquarters is destroyed by a Starfleet officer turned terrorist by the name of John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). This brings about a Starfleet leadership meeting that draws all the major players together in order to find him. Horrifyingly enough, this draws all the leadership together in ONE spot, where Harrison can use to his advantage. In one fell swoop, Harrison kills half of the Starfleet command and beams away to Kronos using the transwarp beaming tech that Spock Prime brought with him from the future in the previous film.
Enraged, Kirk begs Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) to give him the Enterprise back and take a strike force to hunt down Harrison and bring him back. Admiral Marcus agrees, but on one condition. They take 72 tactical experimental long range photon torpedoes and they finish him once and for all. Still in a bloodlust, Kirk agrees, and they slip off to Kronos. Only problem is that their warp core fails just outside Klingon space and Kirk has to start improvising. On their mission to Kronos, they find out that John Harrison is not the man they thought he was (*gasp) and there is an even bigger threat on the horizon. On one hand, Kirk has a maniac, capable of destroying hundreds of lives, and on the other he’s faced with his own side, both out to get him and both capable of destroying him 10x over.
Now, as I said, the first half of the movie was a Lot of fun. The unique twist on Pike’s demise and the take on John Harrison was intriguing. The flow felt very similar to the first movie and I was really enjoying it. Kirk still hasn’t learned very much from the first film, and was a bit too cocky for my tastes, but he’s still got that flair and panache that made him so likeable from the first film. The second half of the film, from pretty much the moment that Khan…err Harrison (everyone saw that coming a mile away) stepped on board it went from good, to bad, to worse. After Harrison gets on board, it’s like the creative writing team just lost all sense of creativity and started remaking “Wrath of Khan” and “Space Seed” from the Original Series all at once. I don’t mind homages, and re-doing characters, but his went beyond “homage” to just plain lazy writing. It was as if they said “uhhhhhhhhh, not sure what to do here, the fans like Khan, so let’s just give them Khan, and have him do everything he did in the first version, and hey, let’s just remake WHOLE SCENES almost frame for frame!”. The famed “Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!” scene was meant to elicit an emotional response, as it did in “Wrath of Khan”, but instead actually made the theater folks start laughing and giggling when it happened on the big screen.
It felt like there was a LOT left on the cutting room floor as well. They mention that Khan is despotic, power mad and violent, yet only show a HINT of how violent he is and leave out the other factors. It’s as if they WANTED to give us the Khan from the original universe, but only had time to kind of roughly introduce him. To his credit, Benedict Cumberbatch did a FANTASTIC job as Khan. It’s not the same, Shakespeare quoting Khan from the original, all suave and charismatic. Instead Benedict plays a much colder character, with a huge penchant for savagery as well as superior intelligence. With Ice water flowing through his veins, Khan is chilling and a force to be reckoned with. His cunning is the only thing that can match his savagery and is a force to be reckoned with. My only problem was the fact that he was such a sympathetic villain. His main goal is to get his family back. Marcus woke him out of sleep, kept the rest of his crew and compatriots captive as leverage and we’re supposed to somehow view Khan as a villain when he’s described as “evil” and “despotic”. It feels as if they were trying too hard to have too many congruent plots, the big bad evil Starfleet, and the big bad evil fan villain and never the twain shall meet type scenario. Now don’t get me wrong, the movie wasn’t some horrible bomb. It was quite entertaining for the first half, and even the second half still had some great scenes in it (just amidst massive plot holes), but it was wildly uneven and flawed.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12620[/img]Wooooooowheeeee! “Star Trek: Into Darkness” explodes onto home cinema with a flawless 2.40:1 AVC encode for us to enjoy. Crystal clear is about as concise as I can get it. Detail is just stunning throughout the film, showing off razor burn, stray threads in clothing and some of the best CGI detail I’ve seen in a long time. There’s a heavy teal tone to the color timing, as congruent with the first film, and contrast is just spot on. Colors literally pop from all angels. The bright blue, red and yellow of Nibiru shine through with rich primaries contrasted with the whites and blues of the Enterprises deck. Black levels are deeeeep and inky, without any of that nasty black crush to get in the way of the picture. My only real complaint is that J.J. Abrahms STILL likes to use an overabundance of lens flare in his films. While that’s not going to affect the score at all, since it’s a stylistic choice, but it still is an annoyance that fans of his have to get used to. Overall a stunning picture that is certain to be ANOTHER demo disc.
For a post converted film (mostly at least, the special effects were done in native 3D but the filming of the actual scenes was done 2D and post converted) the 3D is actually quite impressive. I personally am not a wild fan of most 3D films since they are either poorly converted 2D films, or just used as a gimmick most of the time. “Into Darkness” actually does rather well. The use of 3D is mainly relegated to adding a sense of depth to the picture instead of generating lots of “pop out” effects. The opening scene with the Nibiru people is rife with subtle 3D effects and excellent use of moving 3D rather than having things come straight at your face. The use of 3D throughout the film was also very heavy, there’s no time in the movie that you can sit back and take off the glasses because of 3D shots that are used sparingly. Overall an impressive use, but I DID notice some flaws. For one, the film tends to get a bit soft when using the 3D effect, dropping the overall picture quality down a bit, also if you’re display is prone to crosstalk or ghosting this one will just exasperate the issue since I noticed some serious ghosting at times, and when most other 3D movies tend to not ghost.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12619[/img]Now did anyone really think that biggest blockbuster of the year for Paramount was going to have some anemic audio track? Their 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track is a pure auditory bliss, enveloping and truly MONSTEROUS, it blasts onto the scene with a track that starts kicking tail and taking names. LFE is truly incredible in this film, as with the previous film. Space ships jumping to warp and phaser blasts just tear the walls down at any given moment. There’s a scene where the Enterprise has to do an emergency drop from warp into regular space that literally had my chest feel like it was caving in! Dialogue is clean and clear, no need to raise and lower the effects on this one. The panning of dialogue and special effects across the front soundstage was purely magical. This was my first time critically listening with my new SEOS waveguide speakers, and this film was perfect for them. Just total immersion from all sides, the surrounds literally never stopped, whether it was the simplicity of a ship traveling through space or the bombastic cacophony of phaser fire during a battle. The Dynamic range on “Into Darkness” was jaw-dropping. The film could go from a whisper to a sonic explosion that made me worried that the cops were going to show up at a moment’s notice. Pure demo material all the way, bravo Paramount.
• Creating the Red Planet
• Attack on Starfleet
• The Klingon Home World
• The Enemy of My Enemy
• Ship to Ship
• Brawl by the Bay
• Continuing the Mission
• The Mission Continues
While it’s disappointing to be let down this much from a sequel that COULD have been brilliant, the film is still a good piece of eye candy and has a lot of great sci-fi moments to it. It’s nowhere rage inducing as “Prometheus,” and can be viewed as a fun piece of sci-fi if you’ve never seen “the Wrath of Khan” or “Space Seed” from the original series. Its problems tend to be a result of trying TOO hard to please the fan base and missing the mark completely rather than not trying hard enough. With fantastic audio and visuals, it’s certainly a demo disc for sure, but my MAIN gripe has to do with the extras. Paramount has split up unique extras across, not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different store exclusives as well as giving some extras exclusively to the Itunes purchase (along with a switching aspect ratio for the Itunes 3D version as well). While I’m not a wild fan of special features, many people are, and that type of exclusivity is sure to tick off the collectors.
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Weller
Directed by: J.J. Abrahms
Written by: Bob Orci, Damon Lindelof
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish, French, Portuguese DD 5.1
Runtime: 132 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: Sept 10th, 2013
Buy Star Trek: Into Darkness 3D combo pack Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Star Trek: Into Darkness 2D combo pack Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
More about Mike