On Second Thought: “Star Trek Into Darkness”

When the reboot to a specific franchise does well, the next logical thing is to green light a sequel. In this case, while you’re probably going to be wary, as it is a sequel, it’s not that surprising. In fact, it may be welcome. The creatives behind the first film did such a good job, it’s hard not to expect another well done film. If you’re lucky, that’s exactly what you’ll get. If not, well, then you’ll be regretting that an older franchise was tampered with at all. Sometimes reboots and sequels simply aren’t needed, no matter how much money a studio wants to make.

The Paramount Pictures film “Star Trek Into Darkness”, is more intense and action packed, but it remembers to weave mystery in and out, and is better because of it.

This action film stars John Cho (“Get a Job”, “American Dad!”), Benedict Cumberbatch (upcoming film “Doctor Strange”, “Sherlock”), Alice Eve (“Criminal”, “Misconduct”), Bruce Greenwood (“Truth”, “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp”), Simon Pegg (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”), Chris Pine (“The Finest Hours”, “SuperMansion”), Zachary Quinto (“Star Trek Beyond”, “The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Zoe Saldana (“The Book of Life”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”), Karl Urban (“The Loft”, “Almost Human”), Peter Weller (“Longmire”, “Sons of Anarchy”), and Anton Yelchin (“Rise (Short 2016)”, “The Driftless Area”).

The film was directed by J.J. Abrams (“Super 8”, “Undercovers”) and written by Roberto Orci (“Sleepy Hollow”, “People Like Us”), Alex Kurtzman (“Sleepy Hollow”, “People Like Us”), and Damon Lindelof (“The Leftovers”, “Tomorrowland”).

The film originally opened on May 16, 2013. The film would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award; two BAFTA Awards; and five Saturn Awards among many other nominations and a few wins.

As promised, even though I didn’t make any kind of verbal agreement, here’s the sequel to the reboot of the classic franchise “Star Trek”. It’s an entry that’s surprisingly welcome and much better than its predecessor. A tough act to follow, for sure. I must say, I was a little surprised by this film, but that may have more to do with the fact that I haven’t seen this film in a few years. Now that I have, and the previous one, I feel a bit invigorated and am excited about this new entry in the franchise, which again, is why we find ourselves here. Mind you, I actually have no idea what it’s about. The various TV spots I’ve seen for the past few months don’t actually tell me that much about the plot. When I do get around to seeing this film, I’ll be going in blind. Who knows, maybe that’ll be a blessing. Can’t hate what you don’t know about, not even a tiny bit.

This film, which I feel I kind of achieved that objective view, didn’t disappoint and didn’t allow for me to hate any of it. It was exactly what I was expecting, which was mostly set by the tone of the previous film. Thank god for rewatching things.

As has become my thing now, let’s power through many of the familiar areas that help to make this film another incredibly fun experience! The CGI, sets, costumes, and score are once again in fine form. The CGI I would say is the thing that developed the most and was used correctly. With the general scope of this film being much bigger, the demands grew. Any number of things could’ve gone wrong, but I feel that whichever companies were in charger of bringing this world to life and the events, succeeded. I was there at every step, and certainly felt that there was a bit more at stake, even though I knew no one was ever in an ounce of danger. The sets are the next thing that got used the most. The action sequences demanded and allowed for the sets to be much more than sleek and high tech. They became places of danger and protection, which, again, gave a feeling of danger, which was fine in the moment.

What I loved the most, which I do wish I could hear alone, was the score. Composer Michael Giacchino (“Star Trek Beyond”, “Zootopia”), whom I spoke of yesterday, and hardly pass up the chance too when he’s involved in a film, amazed me. It’s not hard to do when watching the film, but it’s what I get when listening to his work apart from the film. I listened intently and found that it sounds like Giacchino gave his score an immense overhaul. Not because it was bad, but because of the overall tonal shift in this film. While it’s not super dark, it is much darker than the previous film. I’m not fully sure of the ways it’s different, but that’s because I’ve not listened to the soundtrack as a whole thing multiple times. But it certainly sounded that there were different arrangements and even themes, plus themes you will definitely recognize. When the big finale chase sequence started in San Francisco, I perked up instantly. Giacchino was doing something I am deeply familiar with. It’s this arrangement, along with the rest of the score and many other moments, that sold me on this film’s score being better. The chase sequence’s score is also a big reason why I love Giacchino’s work so much. Hopefully some day I get the chance to listen to it in its entirety.

Okay, that’s done.

This film being a sequel, had to do so much in order to prove its worth. The creatives behind this film need to give audiences what they wanted and deserved. A much bigger film and adventure. On this, each person involved delivered.

This film is bigger. Rougher. More intense and well executed on all levels, especially if you don’t get too picky, and just enjoy the film for the sci-fi adventure it is.

The scope, for me, lies in the story itself and the way the mystery elements were handled, and the execution of all the action sequences and fight scenes. Everything else just helps pad the film and make it a fun and well made film.

The action sequences were bigger, much bigger and there were more of them. Right from the beginning, the teaser, you’re thrust into some mission gone awry. Pine and Urban are running from natives, and Quinto is trying to stop a volcano from erupting. It’s crazy! It’s fun! It’s something different. You’re getting more glimpses into this world. Then the film progresses and the danger reveals itself. I’ll say again, that while I feel the characters were never in any danger, the danger come through and I felt it. Certainly more than the first film. It’s not easy to do, which I feel that I’m just discovering this yeAr. Regardless, it’s the overall thought and execution of every sequence and fight scene that occurred. Not only did I enjoy what was put before me, but I got the chance to think that anything could happen to these characters.

Seeing as one of the villains was Cumberbatch’s mysterious character, later revealed to be Khan (whoever that is to the original franchise), the creatives got a chance to do a lot more. So, the fight scenes with the Klingons and then Pine and Quinto were more intense! The threat level was clear. Helping to make this abundantly clear, was Cumberbatch. He just brought so much, and when watching this film again, I noticed how right he was for the role. I don’t know who else was considered, but he had absolute control of this character. You could certainly see his cunning and methodical way of thinking, plus so much more. I’d say of all the new characters, he’s the most interesting one and the best one thus far.

I mentioned mystery, which seems almost strange to bring up in an action film. This is an Abrams film, and he’s known for his secrecy. Even before the film opened, if I’m recalling this correctly, there was a lot of secrecy involved in keeping the plot and Cumberbatch’s character unknown to the audience. People had suspicions, but nothing concrete. It’s one reason I know I can trust Abrams, and expect a pretty good and fun film.

Next, is the fact that his writers have been working with him for years. One name in particular, when it comes to sowing seeds of doubt and mystery, is Lindelof, and whatever you may think of his handling of the “Lost” series finale and final seasons, he knows what he’s doing. I’m not sure if he’s the one who deserves credit for all the mystery woven through, but it wasn’t really there in the first film, but now is a lot. Perhaps this just show how much of a different type of film Abrams, Orci, Kurtzman, and Lindelof wanted. I know all of these people can typically write good and compelling stuff, but Abrams and Lindelof are almost masters at it. That objective thing I mentioned, certainly made it easier for me to evaluate the overall execution of the various mysteries and revelations seen in this film. I found that I was lured in by the first one in the film, our introduction to Cumberbatch, and then pulled along through the others until the truth was revealed. The fact that I can be kept so intrigued, even though I already know the answers, is a testament to the writing and the direction. Not many can pull this off. Hopefully, regardless of who wrote the next entry, there will always be some kind of mystery involved, as it just makes for a much more entertaining film. It also keeps you on your toes and requires you to do a bit of work.

Cumberbatch may have stolen the show, but he wasn’t the only new character introduced. While Eve is a great addition and she’s instantly likable, beyond the bits of her character that directly affect the plot later on, there’s not much to learn about her. What you get is great, because she’s not just another crew member on the Enterprise. Weller, is almost the exact opposite, mainly for the obvious. He’s a villain. And while he may have even less detailed about him, other than his career in Starfleet, he’s still a great choice casting wise. He may not be able to achieve Cumberbatch’s level of evil, but he definitely comes in second, and is oddly more despicable. I think because of the way Cumberbatch’s history was detailed, you were more sympathetic. There was more of an understanding of his motives, even as he was determined to kill everyone to satisfy his agenda. Maybe it’s just Cumberbatch’s charisma, that certainly helped make him an intriguing character.

All the others? Well, we can’t forget them. While Pine and Quinto seemed to be the two with the most obvious growth, followed by Saldana, if only for the reason her character was directly tied to that of Quinto’s, the other characters were still fun to see. I got excited with being reunited with them all and the ship, plus the score welcoming them back! The one main thing you could tell was how much they all still functioned as a team. The situation that Pine and Urban find themselves in at the start of the film gives way to how their relationship is, but also allows for the chance of comedy to come in. From a film standpoint it’s good, as a note on character, it’s helpful and is better than nothing. Everyone else, I just didn’t see it. Even with Yelchin, whom I still miss, even though I’m one of millions who have never met him, you just got the lovable character. You know, the reason why you get so excited for these films. The characters largely have little to keep you interested in them, hell, to even like them in the first place, but you do. Maybe it’s just the nature of an ensemble film. It certainly explains why the credits are alphabetical.

Action film sequels are inevitable, unless you’re a fictional doctor who turns into an angry green creature, who runs wild and destroys cities with ease. They roll out so quickly that you’ve barely had time to realize it’s been several years since the last one. While this formula doesn’t look like it’ll be ending any time soon, it’s what can hurt an action film or have little effect on the finished film. Building a new franchise on an old and well known one is all the rage, but it’s tough. There’s so many expectations, and if you do the first entry right, which this film did, then there’s even more to live up to. For me, as a viewer, it’s just a big gamble. Will the sequel prove to me that it was the right lazy move for a company to do? Or, as happens a lot, will it prove that this love of recycling old ideas needs to end? Originality is waiting in the wings and wants to return to major Hollywood studios, but first has to recognized. Is there any hope left, or will the desire for a quick couple of million dollars always be the driving force?

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