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Reel Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

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Star Trek Into Darkness is absolutely BRILLIANT. In fact, the brilliance already started more than a year ago when director JJ Abrams initiated his deceptive cloaking technology and shrouded the main villain in total mystery or erm…darkness. Heh. For months Trek fans and other people were simply adding on to the hype of identifying who Benedict Cumberbatch would be portraying. I saw this magic work with my own eyes when the identity of the villain was finally revealed, the entire cinema hall was filed with loud “Gasps” of shock and surprise!

When the Star Trek movie reboot in 2009 was so successful, many people (including myself) were anxiously waiting…not so much as to see what was the next adventure for the rebooted Kirk and his Enterprise, but also with question marks of how JJ Abrams could top his superb 2009 effort. Like a Vulcan would truthfully tell you…..Into Darkness did it!

The pace of Into Darkness is one frenetic ride that doesn’t let up right from the opening sequence, where Kirk and his crew try to save an entire planet from an erupting volcano, whilst managing to incorporate a chase in the jungles ala Indiana Jones, Enterprise hiding under the ocean and the suspenseful rescue mission of Spock from the volcano! What I loved about this 10-minute hook was that it beautifully illustrates the importance of the much revered Prime Directive to everyone.

The movie then seamlessly shifts to our mysterious villain, John Harrison, an agent of Starfleet, who calculatively plots a horrific bombing act in London and thus, officially declaring war on Starfleet. This solo act of terrorism sparks a manhunt at Starfleet’s highest level to apprehend this ‘one-man weapon of mass destruction’ which leads Kirk and his crew all the way to a deserted area of the Klingon homeworld, Qo’noS, which sets up some really good drama and action sets involving Klingons (yay!). The plot gets a little more complicated after that when John finally reveals his motives and real identity (YAY!). Suddenly the initial (and simple) ‘revenge’ episode plot is spiraled into something much, much bigger, which eventually threatens Earth itself!

One area with much improvement over the first installment was the chemistry between Chris Pine’s Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock, which was simply amazing. Their banter, insults and friendship is the type of space ‘bromance’ that lifts Into Darkness above the ‘ordinary flick’ level. Throw in the deadpan expressions, insults and colourful metaphors (eg. Jim, you don’t rob a bank when the getaway car has a flat tire..) from Karl Urban’s ‘Bones’ McCoy and this movie just comes to life with its witty dialogue.

“Brilliant…with the numerous plot twists like a Bajoran wormhole, dialogue as sharp as the Kahless blade, pacing as fast as Warp Factor 10, action sequences as explosive as an unstable warp core and bright, colourful character chemistry like Dilithium Crystals…”

Visually, Into Darkness is a feast for the eyes. The special effects of the Enterprise emerging from the ocean in the opening sequence, the fight scenes in space and all the destruction scenes were truly unbelievable and really sensational to marvel at! The action sequences would be another key highlight of the movie. Hand-to-hand combat, starship dogfights, space diving-slalom, gunfights, etc. Phew. As I said before, probably the only time the audience got to take a rest and move away from the edge of the seat was during the opening title sequence bit. Heh.

I also liked how the character of John Harrison was developed. Personally, I thought he was somewhat of an anti-villian-type where there were times in the movie that we could actually feel for him and there were times where we would really despise him. I have to admit there were times that I felt as though John was playing with our minds as well…. manipulating us to cheer for him too, perhaps? Hmmmm. That being said, Benedict Cumberbatch was perfectly cast here as his voice, height and facial intensity makes this mysterious villain very, very menacing indeed.

Another thing that JJ Abrams did well in Star Trek 2009, which he also replicated in Into Darkness was the lace the movie with ‘easter eggs’ of Trek lore – be it the type of costumes, the classic one-liners, references to future trek, etc. – which I feel would really connect well with all Trek fans. Yes! Tribbles are in this movie too! (Yay!) Last but not least, there were quite a number of welcomed twists in the plot that makes Into Darkness a truly rollicking space ride indeed!

If I could think of anything negative about the movie, it would be the lack of balanced character development amongst all main crew, with Sulu and Uhura getting pretty limited screen time this time around. Surprisingly Scotty had quite a big share of the limelight, and he did so with much comic relief. Ha. But I guess this is only natural considering the focus of the entire film very much centered on the explosive Kirk-John’s hero-villain stand-off. Another gripe is our local censors, which managed to snipped off certain parts of the movie which everyone had already seen in the trailers?!! C’mon!! There are also some very minor plotholes (eg. slowness of news after London bombing, etc.) which were not glaring enough to wreck the movie’s awesomeness. :-)

To sign off my review, I think I could summarise this movie as a magnificent Star Trek mesh up…with the numerous plot twists like a Bajoran wormhole, dialogue as sharp as the Kahless blade, pacing as fast as Warp Factor 10, action sequences as explosive as an unstable warp core and bright, colourful character chemistry like Dilithium Crystals…Into Darkness is certainly worth every single latinum you have to pay for to see it!

 

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You may also want to read my other blog postings leading up to Into Darkness:

My Star Trek 2009 review!

5 Thoughts on Into Darkness Teaser

5 Possible Villains of Into Darkness

Star Trek Quotes for Everyday Use

10 Things to do while waiting for Into Darkness

5 Possible Villains of Star Trek: Into Darkness

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With all the hype surrounding the upcoming Star Trek: Into Darkness, it is safe to say that everyone, especially all Trekkies/Trekkers is STILL groping in the darkness about the identity of the VILLAIN of the film.

Today, I thought it would be fun for me to join in the bandwagon and offer my 5 best educated guesses into the identity of this mysterious villain.

What I did first was to come with with a simple checklist on the available data/info on the villain, scoured from all current trailers, teasers, Superbowl spots, interviews, etc. to narrow down my list of suspects:

– Villain wears the Starfleet uniform

– Villain seems to know Kirk and NOT the other way around

– Villain is immune to Spock’s nerve pinch

– Villain is mentioned as ‘John Harrison’

– Villain is super strong and can handle a really huge gattling-type gun

– Villain fights with Klingons

– Villain has some unexplainable power to heal

– Villain can be quite persuasive or possesses some charm to manipulate minds

– Villain is a one man weapon of mass destruction?

– Villain has some kind of personal vendetta against Kirk or the Federation

– Villain is from the Star Trek canon

After that, I did some research and came out with my top 5 picks of the villain for Into Darkness (in no particular order):

1. Robert April – Being a sucker at overanalysing stuff, I admitted that I tried to put myself in Abram’s mind and probed myself – if I was Abrams, who would I want to bring back as the key villain to my successful first Star Trek reboot? The first thought that came to me head would be someone who had some history with the Enterprise before Kirk took over. Eventually that led me to my first guess – Willard Decker, who captained the Enterprise in The Motion Picture (TMP) and eventually became a part of V’ger, yada, yada, yada. Then one day it occurred to me that TMP would not take place or had NOT taken  place in Abram’s Star Trek reboot!

Then about a month ago, it was revealed that the pre-movie comic tie-in showcased this relatively unknown Trek character, Robert April. In an episode of the Animated Series titled ‘The Counter Clock Incident‘, April was instrumental in reversing the accelerated ageing process onboard the Enterprise.

My theory is that the villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch is none other that the YOUNGER version of April, since Kirk couldn’t even recognise him from the trailers! Taking cue from the Counter Clock Incident, April could have discovered some formula to reverse ageing, heightened senses and strengths, etc. His feud with the Federation? Perhaps he got pissed that they retired him too early! After all, April did make a comment in the episode that ‘because someone is 75 years old, doesn’t mean they are ready to stop giving service to the galaxy..’ His fascination with Enterprise? Well, one of his quotes in that same episode was “No matter where I’ve traveled in the galaxy, Jim, this bridge is more like home than anywhere else.

2. Khan Noonien Singh – Perhaps the most highly favoured probability of the villain has to be the rebooted version of everyone’s favourite Khaaaaaannnnnn! Naturally endowed with superhuman strength and charm to manipulate people, it would seem that Khan would be spot on to battle Kirk in Into Darkness.

For me, I sincerely hope that it will NOT be Khan. Firstly, it would make the rebooted version look TOO similar to the previous movie franchise route. Next, it is almost sinful to mess nor reboot a successful villain of the past! My hope is that Khan will be forever left as a classic villain in the original timestream!

3. Garth of Izar – Another popular character in the Original Series lore, Garth was a decorated, highly-regarded officer in the Federation Starfleet, who rose to rank of Fleet Captain in the course of his service through the mid-23rd century. His career dissolved in a dramatic descent into madness and attempted genocide, resulting in his commitment to the Elba II asylum for the criminally insane. (Source: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Garth_of_Izar)

The X-factor of Garth is that he is also endowed with some form of  ‘transformative gift’ which allows him to heal, assume appearances of others (voice, clothing, etc.)

The keywords that jumped straight  at me: hatred for Starfleet, genocide, healing powers, manipulative powers, vendetta with Kirk. His powers of assuming another identity could also explain why Kirk couldn’t recognise him…

4. Gary Mitchell – A Starfleet personnel that grew up with Kirk would set up the back story of the villain’s vendetta against Kirk quite nicely. Mitchell is well known for having esper-oriented abilities that was psionic in nature, giving him God-like abilities like telekinesis, mind control, ESP, energy-control, matter control, etc.

When I thought about the massive destruction seen in the trailers, Mitchell’s name popped up with ease because he IS literally a one man weapon of mass destruction.

Vendetta with Kirk? Checked. Unhappy with Starfleet? Checked. Wears Starfleet uniform? Checked. Ability to destroy cities at will? Checked. Immune to the Vulcan nerve pinch? Checked. Unrecognized by Kirk? Hmmmm.

5. Roger Korby – Another angle in the Trek verse that is seldom explored is the Eugenics Wars, which basically is the result of a scientific attempt to improve the Human race through selective breeding and genetic engineering. Khan was one example bred through this era.

The more I look at the movie stills and trailers, the more I feel that the villain may not be so human after all. his steely eyes, movement, posture, strengths, etc. seems to suggest that he could very well be android in nature. I don’t know about the rest of you but the similarities of the face gestures of Data and this villain looks too similar!

That put me on a path to guess if Arik Soong could be a part of the movie as well. Since the timeline was a little  off, I would have to take a stab at a character in Kirk’s time, ie. Dr. Roger Korby. If you read his wiki from the link I provided, it is clear that Korby could very well the android villain in the movie, since he would be super-strong, unrecognisable in an unidentified android form (John Harrison), has medical knowledge and the additional threat of creating and populating our world with more androids.

 

Any other guesses whilst we are still in the dark? :-p


5 Thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness Teaser

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 Woo Hoo! The new Star Trek film – Into Darkness – is all and well into production and scheduled  to beam into all cinemas in May 2013! How excited are you?

For a Trekkie like myself, watching the franchise rebooted by JJ Abrams a couple of years ago was simply amazing. Abram’s Star Trek managed not only to breathe refreshing air into the adventures of the Enterprise, it also drew in new crowds of fans as well!

Even the brief synopsis of Into Darkness sounds engaging enough:

“When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.

With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.” (Source: Paramount)

Now, with the launch of the official teaser trailer  (below), I am more than itching to watch it already! The teaser just oozes with enough thrills and mystery that kept me wanting to see more. Check it out..

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diP-o_JxysA

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Now, THAT’s what I call a TEASER!….and check out the Japanese version with some additional juicy bits at the end…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrHlQUXFzfw

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Here are my five key thoughts after watching the teaser trailer..

1. Who is the main villian – the one man weapon of mass destruction, featured jumping here and there with that HUGE cannon? Still the biggest mystery to date, many have suggested it to be Khan, but somehow I feel that Benedict Cumberbatch (of Sherlock fame) isn’t quite Indian nor Hispanic or exotic even to pull off a Khan. I mean…Khan can’t be British, right?! Besides, I seriously hope the villain is NOT Khan! In decoding the trailer and synopsis, it would seem that the villain is someone who has some uncanny power of destruction or knowledge of unknown origin. He is also someone who was with Starfleet and is now coming home..so, my best guess is the villian to either be Gary Mitchell, who weilds some psionic abilities that is close to God-like powers or Willard Decker, the oft-forgotten captain of the Enterprise from The Motion Picture who eventually joined V’ger as the next step of its evolution. Whoever it is, as long as it’s not KHAAAAAAAANNN…..:-D

2. Can the Enterprise function underwater? Whoa….

3. No starship dogfights in space ala Enterprise vs Reliant? Sigh. Lack of space scenes in the teaser is leaving me a little worried. 😛

4. Spock! It is simply NOT logical to run around the city streets! Take a cab or something! Also, it is also not very logical to wear a spacesuit and go into a volcano! The suit is already making things hot enough! Sigh. guess Spock must be spending too much time with Kirk….:-P

5. A glimpse of a remade tragic sacrifice scene from Wrath of Khan at the end of the Japanese teaser? Knowing Abram’s penchant for surprises, there’s definitely going to be a twist here…as in Kirk saying goodbye instead of Spock, etc. But then again, wasn’t there a funeral scene in the teaser with Kirk giving an eulogy? Hmmmm…question remains…whose funeral?…

Whilst we are all still groping into darkness in search of the answers, I for one can’t wait for more light to be revealed as the opening day nears.. 😀