STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Movie Review 3D

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STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS – My abiding thought upon watching STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS was… enjoyment. From first frame to last I was just very captivated by the film, and completely along for the ride.

As a reviewer 2nd, but a movie goer 1st, I think it is very important to go into a film with as fresh eyes as reasonable to pique your interest. Beyond the broad stokes of a trailer or two, I avoid leaked plot details or guessing games about the storyline. Beyond broad generalities I think it is important to allow a filmmaker and a cast, to present the movie to you unfettered by too many preconceived notions or expectations.

Otherwise how can you fairly judge a film or a film-maker’s work that you have in essence previewed? It’s hard to get moments of surprise and originality in films, when too many people these days go into the film with all surprises read and all originality already squandered before the film ever opens.

Increasingly it is the impetus of a cynical audience, that is numb to all but the basest pleasures, to take comfort in that self same cynicism.

JJ Abrams, much like the New STAR TREK itself, flies in the face of such cynical times, being a throwback as well as a leap forward to old fashioned film-making. A filmmaker who understands emotional resonance and story and character is every bit as important as blowing things up, but in his affection for the old, never loses the skill and love for crafting the new. JJ Abrams and his writing staff for my money for the 2nd time do the impossible, creating a remake that manages to brilliantly embrace the new, without invalidating the old.

It’s the choices he makes as a director (that others may deride as sentimental or romantic or syrupy) that are the choices that for me make INTO DARKNESS a great film, and Abrams a great filmmaker. Not an opinion I’ve always held on Abrams, but an opinion he has earned since his first Star Trek film.

There’s a scene early in INTO DARKNESS [extremely minor spoiler but feel free to skip till after you’ve seen the film] where someone goes traitor, you’ve seen it in numerous films if you are even a casual moviegoer. The bad guy has an inside man working for him, a traitor. It is a movie cliché and virtually no one ever looks at that character as more than a means to an end, No one ever asks or seemingly cares about the why of such a character’s actions. In this movie in a scant few minutes, in nearly wordless scenes, Abrams takes the time to paint the reason why someone would do it. And it is a reason that if we can not condone, we can understand.

In scant minutes of screen time he takes an actor I generally have not enjoyed on screen, and gives him I think his best role to date. A role that in nearly any other film, by any other filmmaker, would be a meaningless plot device, here resonates and is memorable.
[End of minor spoiler]

With that scene I knew quickly and completely…. that I was in capable hands.

And the film continues with such heartfelt performances, married to beautiful visuals. It is the Star Trek universe re-imagined, and it looks grand and mythic. And any film’s protagonists, must be measured by the quality of that which they struggle against and in that role Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a fantastic performance as a character who must be feared yes, but also respected. Well written is the film where there is no simple villains, or villains at all, but only people in conflict, with agendas neither completely right nor completely wrong.

I could go on, but to say more about the film is to ultimately say little, what is best in the film has to be experienced, not regurgitated.

I will however say about the theatrical experience that I saw this film in a matinée showing in RealD 3D format (only the 3D showing was available), and the 3D, to my surprise, did not annoy.

No doubt the pleasant experience owes some to the theater I saw it in, not your typical multiplex, but seemingly it is just handled well here. It became very immersive, just part of a rich tapestry that pulled me in. I found this viewing while not noticeably 3D, definitely noticeably beautiful to look at, and that is all that visually I ask of any film.

In closing, JJ Abram’s 2nd foray into the STAR TREK universe, INTO DARKNESS was a long time coming, but I think has justified its wait, being as smart, as fun, as energetic, and perhaps more emotional and more grandiose than the admittedly excellent first film. On all fronts, for this reviewer, an unqualified success, and a movie I see myself returning to often. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Grade: A.

Why do you care if Avengers, or Dark Knight Rises, or Prometheus in Imax 3D makes a boat-load of Money?

As I’m wont to do, I tend to keep abreast of the entertainment news, specifically film. One thing I’ve been hearing quite a lot in the wake of the Avengers film is talk of it making over a billion dollars. And I listen to the fervor and sense of ownership all these writers and pod-casters are going on with about this financial mark. And I have to ask ‘Why’?

I mean I enjoy the Avengers movie, as much as anyone, arguably more than most people will in 6 months. By that I mean it’s an interesting hive mind approach that occurs in popular films as well as other things, where people’s steadfast belief in whether a movie is good and bad fluctuates with the slightest derision or the popular opinion of the day.

AVENGERS was and is a great movie full stop. Pacing wise, action, wise, story wise. But now barely two weeks into its release you hear a few people say, “oh well the first half was slow”, and people I heard broadcast not even a week ago how great the film was, begin to backpedal and parrot “Oh well the beginning was a little slow”. We live in a monopolized society where the individual is so scared to have an unpopular opinion, to the point that a lot of their opinions generally are not worth the breath they take to say it, or the paper they take to write it.

They have the spineless nature of slugs.

Same change of opinion (but to both a lesser and greater degree) happened to the Bryan Singer film SUPERMAN RETURNS. First week, people came out raving and loving that film. The Airplane scene, the bullet to the eye. It was a solid very good movie. But less than a week later, people began picking up the mantra of ‘why’s the kid there’ and ‘lex again’ and ‘Lois’. And you could see the ship of public opinion so to speak, turn. And people who initially were overjoyed about the film, started backpedaling, “Well, yeah I didn’t really say it was good.”. Until now a few years later people routinely call that movie awful and one of the worst.

It’s something I’ve noticed, Something that is not just American, because I’ve listened to enough British pod-casters do the same thing. So many are seemingly so afraid to hold an opinion derided or frowned upon or be seen cherishing something not embraced by their ‘friends’ or even their ‘enemies’.

It’s a lack of conviction, to anything you believe. Obvious symptoms of a propagandized population, so used to embracing any lie, that will keep it from having to alone, look at uncomfortable truths.

So yeah, when I say I enjoy the AVENGERS more than most people will in 6 months, that’s not me having you on, it’s just a fact. I’m not swayed by the mob.

I thought SUPERMAN RETURNS was a fun, solid B movie when I first saw it, and I still think so. I think AVENGERS is a brilliant, surprisingly so, Grade A movie today, and will think the same thing 5 years from today, when most of you have been pushed far afield of any opinion you may have had on the film.

I mean there’s nothing wrong with changing your opinion, if it’s your change, your growth, your adaptation. But that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is a propagandized population taught by the media to have no constants, no ideals, no values, that will not be torn down; have learned to make their opinions on shifting sands, always ready to be remade at the slightest rise of the tide.

Superman Returns [Blu-ray] 2008 Remastered Version

Which brings us back to the original concern. Why are you celebrating or in any manner cheering the AVENGERS making over a Billion dollars?

Beyond just financial interest, I could care less if the movie breaks even, does 400 million, or does a billion. Honestly I don’t really have a stake in it if it loses money.

Of course liking the film, it’s nice if it doesn’t bomb, for the simple fact it would be nice to see more films by a competent director like Joss Whedon.

But it’s not a passion, I don’t have a dog in this fight. If I’m the studio, or someone with a percentage share in the film, hell yeah I’m celebrating every dime it makes. Or in the days when people from your neighborhood actually owned movie theaters and that blockbuster money actually cycled locally, rather than just getting funneled out of the community to make fat cats fatter, I might be happy.

But none of that is the case. I don’t personally know a single person who is in any way going to profit, by making a monopolized studio and theatrical system a billion dollars richer. All this did is take a billion dollars from a lot of little pockets, and put it into a very few big pockets.

Now I’m not making a deal on that. I went to see the movie like everyone else, but you can be damn sure I’m not celebrating this state of affairs either.

AVENGERS makes a billion dollars, okay. I accept it as a fact. But honestly, until such time as those funds and profits get distributed to real theaters and real people (a billion dollars, hell you can afford to hire real projectionists, pay the ushers, and ticket takers a real wage, get real popcorn and healthy drinks, etc, etc…but you’ll drop dead waiting for that money to trickle down. In fact all the studios can talk about is reducing costs at the local level and maximizing profits by digitizing everything), I have no interest in celebrating billionaires becoming bigger billionaires.

Beyond a movie breaking even to keep a good director or actor I like viable, that’s where my interest in what a film makes or does not make… ends. Some people were complaining because TRANSFORMERS:DARK OF THE MOON was a box office success. Who cares? I personally don’t get the Michael Bay hate, but as we’ve established I don’t follow the crowd.

Michael Bay is a talented director who puts bodies in seats. Some films of his I like, some I don’t. I loved his first film BAD BOYS, and loved his last film DARK OF THE MOON (which the end of the AVENGERS was more than a little like) and in-between like any other director he has been hit and miss. But even the movies I don’t like I don’t wish them ill at the box-office. What sense does that make?

If you don’t like a movie, does that mean everyone has to wish it ill and hate it as well? Does that mean you have to begrudge it its success?

I personally hated Nolan’s first Batman movie, and thought his DARK KNIGHT while better, was still flawed and over-hyped. So not really a Nolan fan, but I don’t begrudge his films their success. As stated, what Billionaires do or don’t make.. not concerned.

When some of that tremendous profit begins cycling back into the communities, well then that will be something to feel pride and ownership of.