Tag Archive: Chris Pine


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The 2013 summer blockbuster season is finally upon us. It likely began with the release of Iron Man 3 earlier in the month (which had one of the highest grossing opening weekends of all time), and now for the next few months, we should see a steady stream of high-budget, action extravaganzas plowing their way into movie theaters near you. And if the initial reviews surrounding Iron Man 3 (which I should be seeing sometime soon with my sister) and the newest Star Trek film are any indication, we should be in for a hell of a summer. Star Trek Into Darkness may come just shy of the high bar set by the 2009 Star Trek reboot, but it comes damn close.

I left the theater yesterday when the final credits rolled on the latest entry in J.J. Abrams’s re-imagining of the Star Trek franchise with a panoply of conflicting emotions. On the one hand, J.J. Abrams upped the “spectacle” portion of the Star Trek equation to new heights. As a science fiction action film, Into Darkness is a heart-pounding success, and the script also further cements the truly wonderful group dynamics at the core of these new films with some genuine emotional resonance. On the other hand, there’s one aspect of the plot that I can’t spoil but it left me finding the film’s climax to be riddled with one massive cop-out.

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An indeterminate amount of time after Kirk (Smokin’ Aces‘ Chris Pine) and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise saved Earth from the evil Romulan Nero at the end of the last film, the Enterprise is still helmed by Kirk as they perform science missions in Federation space. After Captain Kirk violates the Prime Directive (to not interfere in the affairs of an underdeveloped alien species) in an attempt to save Spock’s (Zachary Quinto) life, he is grounded by Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) and demoted to First Officer. However, it’s not long before the terrorist machinations of superhuman genius John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) threaten all of the Federation and call Kirk back into service.

Much like when Cloverfield was originally released and just discussing even the most basic elements of the plot could be considered a spoiler, I have the same fears about Star Trek Into Darkness. With the exception of one gratuitous “Chekhov’s Gun” (the playwright, not the ensign of the Enterprise) meets a “deus ex machina” at the film’s end, Star Trek Into Darkness is a tightly plotted and well-executed series of reveals, twists, revelations, and betrayals, and I imagine much of the fun (particularly for those who aren’t immersed in Trek lore) of the film will come from watching the many plot threads slowly start to converge.

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One of the great surprises of the film was just how much Chris Pine stepped up his acting game for this entry. Not to imply that he did a bad job in the 2009 film but perhaps because Into Darkness affords Pine’s Kirk the opportunity to do more than be an arrogant hothead, but the emotional journey and heroic path that Kirk charts in this film is its most rewarding pleasure. And Pine rises to the challenge of capturing the slow destruction of Kirk’s cocksure confidence with ease, and through his chemistry with Zachary Quinto, you really get an eve better feel for one of science fiction’s most legendary heroes than almost ever before. I can’t say much about Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison other than to say he proves an excellent and efficient foil to the Enterprise crew.

I’m awake at 5:30 AM and I have to be at work at 8 AM for the new job that I start today. I actually went to bed at around 10:30 PM last night but I woke up at about 4:40 this morning. Thankfully, I’m only going to be at work for a couple of hours for training and then back much later in the evening for training again. The moral of this rambling is that I’m tired and I’ll draw this review to a close. Had Star Trek Into Darkness not done one thing at the end of the movie, I think it would have been even better than the 2009 film. It’s that good. But that one decision seemed so weak and cheap, that it lessens the whole experience just a little bit. But not nearly enough that I can’t wholeheartedly recommend Star Trek Into Darkness to every science fiction fan I know. Live long and prosper.

Final Score: B+

 

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Since last Sunday, I have watched 17 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The impetus for this sudden interest in Star Trek is likely tied to the fact that Star Trek: Into Darkness premiered this week, and I’ve been anticipating this film ever since J.J. Abrams first reboot of the Trek universe premiered in 2009. I had ordered Star Trek 2009 from Netflix to prep for the sequel, but the copy Netflix sent me was broken, and I had to get a new one. So, in the interim, I watched an unholy amount of Next Generation which I’ve enjoyed despite some of the silliness of Season 1. And, having watched so much original Star Trek: TNG lately, it creates an interesting perspective for this viewing of the reboot.

In the Star Trek television series, the emphasis is always on peaceful exploration and the collection of knowledge. The crews of the various versions of the Enterprise (or the USS Voyager or the people on the base in Deep Space Nine) may encounter hostile forces, but at least in season 1 of TNG, problems are solved through diplomacy and a lens of moral idealism. The whole point of Q seems to be a higher race that tests humanity’s willingness to support its own values even when its difficult. The 2009 Star Trek succeeds (highly) on its own merits and artistic vision, but its emphasis on action and combat seems at odds with the more cerebral nature of the TV series that spawned it.

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Serving as a reboot to the continuity of the original series (although with a conceit that I won’t spoil for any who haven’t seen the film), Star Trek becomes an origin story for how Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Smokin’ Aces‘ Chris Pine) captains the Starship Enterprise. After his father (The Avengers‘ Chris Hemsworth) dies saving his people (including Kirk’s pregnant mother) from a Romulan attack, Kirk grows up a troubled kid with no respect for authority until he’s recruited into Starfleet by Captain Pike of the USS Enterprise who knew his father. Determined to prove himself, Kirk joins the Federation not knowing what fate has in store for him.

After cheating on a Starfleet exam programmed by Commander Spock (Heroes‘ Zachary Quinto), Kirk’s punishment is delayed by an attack on the planet Vulcan. After being sneaked aboard the Enterprise by his best friend, Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), Kirk manages to help save the Enterprise from an attack from the same Romulans who killed his father 25 years earlier. With Vulcan destroyed, Captain Pike captured, and the Romulans’ sights set on Earth, it’s up to the crew of the Enterprise to save the day and for Kirk and Spock to learn to put aside their differences for the greater good.

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I was  skeptical of his casting when the film was first announced, but Chris Pine was a worthy replacement for William Shatner to play Captain Kirk, and by all reasonable metrics, he’s a much better actor than the hammy Shatner. He perfectly captures the cockiness and drive that make Kirk one of science fiction’s most beloved heroes. Zachary Quinto (who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Leonard Nimoy) was very well cast as Spock, and the film gives Quinto a chance to examine the conflict between Spock’s logical Vulcan side and his emotional human half. The pair craft an appropriately epic sci-fi “bromance.”

J.J. Abram’s direction is appropriately epic. Although Star Trek was overshadowed in 2009 by the even more massively-budgeted Avatar, it’s clear that when given a big budget, J.J. Abrams knows what to do with it. As much as I’ve enjoyed watching TNG this week, the effects are laughable at best and really awful at worst, and it’s cool seeing the Trek universe with modern effects. People mock Abrams’ love of lens flare, but from start to finish, Trek is a well-choreographed action blockbuster from beginning to end that finds a beating heart in between the away missions and explosive space battles.

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Even if you’ve never seen any of the television series or original movies (which I hadn’t before my initial viewing of this film upon its release), Star Trek is a rousing sci-fi adventure in an era where that doesn’t happen often enough on the big screen. Because Abrams takes the time to develop these characters and their backstories and their chemistry as a group, you can care about these heroes even without understanding the character archetypes they’re drawn from. And with a supporting crew including John Cho, Simon Pegg, and Zoe Saldana, you’re given plenty of characters to latch onto (though Cho and Pegg don’t have much screen time).

I’m very excited to watch Star Trek: Into Darkness. My family is probably going to go see it at some point in the next week or so. So, expect a review of it in the coming days. If you’re a fan of science fiction, there is no excuse for not watching J.J. Abrams’ reboot of one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises of all time (and it makes so excited to see where he takes the Star Wars films). And, although the film’s themes seem to diverge wildly from its own source material, if you are able to divest yourself from what you think Star Trek needs to be, it seems impossible to not enjoy this voyage where we go boldly where no man has gone before.

Final Score: A-