Published on: May 24, 2013
Regular MNB readers won't be surprised to know that I was looking forward to Star Trek Into Darkness
with enormous anticipation. I've been a Trekker - the term preferred to "Trekkie" - since the first time I saw the original series back in the sixties, and always have related to both the "wagon train to the stars" concept and the ultimate optimism of the message, as delivered in four TV series (not including the animated version) and 12 movies.
I draw the line there, though. I don't own any memorabilia, have never worn anything resembling a Starfleet uniform, and never have attended any fan festivals. I never forget that Star Trek
is, at its essence, a piece of entertainment, albeit one that often has used the future as an allegory for the present.
So it is with Star Trek Into Darkness
, which is a sequel to 2009's very successful Star Trek
, the JJ Abrams-directed "reboot" of the original series, which had the ingenious idea of casting younger actors in the iconic roles made famous by the likes of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley all those years ago, and then create a kind of alternate timeline that could venture into new territory without invalidating the events and episodes many of us had so much time with over the years. (Trekkers take this stuff very seriously.)Star Trek Into Darkness
, in my view, lives up to the expectations created in Star Trek
four years ago - it is exciting, generally coherent, well-acted, and actually manages to contain, within all the space battles and destruction, a serious message about ethical behavior and the consequences of short-term rather than long-term thinking.
Now, two things about this "message." One is that I'm not going to get any more specific, because you deserve to find out for yourself, and there's nothing worse than a guy who spoils the movie by saying too much about the plot and themes. Second, I want to be clear that Star Trek Into Darkness
wears this mantle lightly. (Something that you could not say about all the TV episodes when Gene Roddenberry created and produced the original series.)
Some of the plot points are well-known. Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise goes off in search of a terrorist named John Harrison after an attack on Starfleet headquarters, but in doing so, has to face issues that test his loyalty to the United Federation of Planets, his sometimes testy friendship with First Officer Spock, his allegiance to his crew, and his character as a man. As all this unfolds, there are space battles, hand-to-hand combat, lots of explosions, and plenty of sci-fi technobabble. The action never flags, the suspense is legitimately earned, and the performances - especially by Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock - are uniformly excellent.
There are those who have complained about the film seem to fall into one of three camps. Some simply don't "get" Star Trek
, never have, and just don't care. (Not much we can do for them.)
Others have complained either that the film relies on spectacle and special effects when the original series and movies,because they had much lower budgets and technical expertise, tended to have more in the way of long conversations about this issue or that.
This is true, but I have no problem with it. If I'm going to pay $18 for a ticket - which I did because I saw it in Imax 3D at the terrific AMC Theaters in Port Chester New York, and it was totally worth it - then I don't want folks to sit around talking. I want epic space battles, and Star Trek
Finally, there have been some complaints that rather than boldly going where no one has gone before, Star Trek Into Darkness
actually revisits some familiar territory. This is also true, but okay with me.
If you are doing Star Trek
, there are certain notes you have to hit, certain themes you have to explore, if you are going to meet expectations. And Into Darkness
does it differently enough to never look like a retread. Besides, while I'm not expert on quantum physics and the space-time continuum, I've watched enough Star Trek
to know that parallel timelines and universes will often have overlapping events and share echoes of what has happened elsewhere.
But perhaps I'm explaining too much. Star Trek Into Darkness
was, for me, great fun. And I'm already looking forward to the next installment as the crew of the Enterprise explores the final frontier - seeking out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no one has gone before....
What can I say. I'm a Trekker.
Two wines to recommend this week...
• 2011 Verdicchio di Matelica from Italty's Bisci, which is a nicely bold white wine.
• 2009 Cape Lookout Pinot Noir from Oregon's Carlton Cellars, one of my favorite vintners, which is silky and bright with lots of flavor.
That's it for this week. have a great, long weekend, and I'll see you Tuesday.