J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek(s) (2009/2013)

STARTREKBOTH

093(Average of the scores: 96% and 89%)

STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS (2013) – 89%

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
…Wrath of Khan

Sequels, prequels, reboots, and reimaginings are a dime a dozen nowadays, but it is really special when a man like J.J. Abrams comes around and redefines each and every one of these categories by blending them into one. Abrams shocked the world when Star Trek was first released, being able to be defined as a sequel, prequel, reboot, and even a re-imagining. This reveal, along with the amazing depth of each of the characters made non-Star Trek fans “trekkies” instantly. For some, J.J.’s work on Star Trek really jump-started their fascination with his past, present, and future work, proving he has quite an impressive resume under his belt. Does his remarkable work have a limit? Did Star Trek: Into Darkness carry the same tenacity that his other works have?  In short, yes, but it could have been better.

This film introduces us to the character “Khan”. If you are wondering, yes, this is the same character of Khan seen in the 2nd original Star Trek film, The Wrath of Khan. In this film, Khan is seen as a terrorist, out to destroy the space fleet. After setting off terrible terrorist explosions on Earth and then escaping to Klingon, the U.S.S Enterprise heads after him, with Captain Kirk at the helm. After his capture, Khan persuades Kirk to look into the truth, insisting that maybe he isn’t quite as terrible as he originally seems to be…that maybe there’s a conspiracy?

Interestingly enough, for different reasons than the original films, both Star Trek, and Star Trek: Into Darkness could both reasonably borrow the subtitles for two of the original films: The Search for Spock could work for the first film, and obviously The Wrath of Khan interestingly works for this film as well. Obviously, these films have different plots, but they continually respect the original series. While the first film focused a lot on the original Spock, giving new meaning to the word reimagining, this film was more or less…just a sequel. Which is fine, but it does lose that unforgettable element the first movie had.

Next, if you were to watch the first movie, you would realize a huge difference that it held…character development. Every character on the Enterprise had just the right amount of screen time. Apart from their backgrounds, Sulu had his fencing scenes, Chekov had his ability to beam falling members, Uhura had her mysterious first name. These little scenes made the audience connect with them in such a way that you would be surprised to see. They made those viewers that aren’t Star Trek fans trekkies…immediately.  Wanting to see more from these colorful characters, no matter the story or villain…these characters were so amazingly casted and written that it didn’t really matter. Unfortunately, the focus from them drifted in the second film, onto Khan.

Now, Khan is an amazing character, no doubt, and he had just the right about of screen time, character development, and stories that the others did in the first film…but he is just one villain…a villain we’re likely never to see again. Now, those characters that made an impact in the first film were virtually ignored the second time around. Sulu and Chekov were there, but they did little more than sit around. Those are some the characters you should be sold on, wanting to see more and more. Unfortunately, their role in Into Darkness was so dull that I wouldn’t care, and might not even notice at first if they don’t show up in a third film, when only a few years ago I couldn’t wait to see what else Abrams had up his sleeve concerning these characters. Spock and Kirk are obvious. From the start of the movie, you know there will be a large focus on their characters…and there is. That’s fine. But sometimes side characters can be just as important as the title characters, maybe just subliminally.

The acting, action, comedy, and overall “Star Trek” vibe is still consistently in the picture. There is a lot of absolutely stunning and beautiful imagery that will look amazing in both 3D and 2D. This still feels like a very blood-pumping film that fits perfectly into Abrams’s Star Trek universe. Though, if you were to choose between the first and second Star Trek film, I would personally highly suggest watching the first Star Trek instead. That doesn’t mean that this film is bad, it’s not. It’s entertaining, but a lot of what made the first film great was missing this time around.

Star Trek: Into Darkness came to theaters on May 15! Check it out today!

STAR TREK (2009) – 96%

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Search for Spock

There have been a few instances in my life where I have watched movies in a series in reverse. Most notably, I watched most of the Harry Potter films backwards, there was an actual reason as to why, which I won’t get into now. Next up on the backwards list is the two newer Star Trek films. Now now, I did in fact see the first one first…but that was years ago. I actually watched Star Trek: Into Darkness a few short hours before I re-watched Star Trek, so for some odd reason, I decided to count this as backwards watching…onwards, James…onwards.

The first Star Trek film was directed by a man that needs no introduction, Mr. J.J. Abrams. I have been a fan of Abrams’s work from the beginning, but of course, you can read all about that in my review of Into Darkness. For now, let’s delve directly into the plot of Star Trek. This movie started off, rather than ending, with a twist…one of the best twists I have ever seen in a movie or series…ever. James Kirk’s father suddenly met with Nero (Eric Bana), a dangerous adversary. Nero is searching for Spock, the Leonard Nimoy Spock…yeah. In the heat of the action, Father Kirk perishes, but not before his son, James is born.

On Earth, James Kirk (Chris Pine) grows up living on the edge of the law, torn about how to live a respectful life without his father in his life. Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) finds Kirk in a bar, fighting a bunch of guys because he could, and pretty much convinces Kirk to join the Space Fleet. Enter Spock (Zachary Quinto) being tormented by the other Vulcans on his planet. Enter Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and her resistance to telling Kirk her real name. Then there is Bones (Karl Urban), whose wife left him and took everything with her, including the planet…leaving only his “bones”. Sulu has his fencing sword with him and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) knows how to beam up a person falling in mid-air. This is the crew to the U.S.S. Enterprise. Scotty (Simon Pegg) does show up about mid-way, and he has an equally fascinating background.

The crew is caught up in the crossfires with Nero, the same man responsible for Kirk’s own father. Kirk must learn what it takes to be a good captain, Spock must learn how to use human feelings to produce better choices, and original Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is the glue as to how to make that happen.

This is the episode that was just – ingenious in almost all elements. It was a sequel, because Leonard Nimoy is there, talking about previous adventures. It was a prequel and a reboot, because this is how they all meet and it was starting the story all over again. It was a re-imagining, because they stepped on the butterfly…so to speak…and altered history. Life as they knew it changed because they made different choices. It went through, and introduced you to a range of characters that maybe you didn’t know so well before. Each character had a great amount of screen time (as mentioned above, both in the review of Into Darkness, and the different things about the characters. It did an amazing job making the audience care about what they were watching, and wanting these characters to succeed in their mission…we cared about them.

Nero was a great villain as well, he had the look, the colored themes changed each scene. It felt dark and dangerous in the Romulan ship, while the Enterprise had the unmistakable feeling of justice and even a little bit of light sarcastic humor as well. Everything was done perfectly: the pacing, the story, the characters. By the end, you really feel like a Trekkie even if you weren’t one before…it makes you want to see parts of the TV show, or movies in the series that you haven’t seen yet. It gave a new appreciation into the series…it re-defined everything.

I won’t really talk about the sequel other than to say…the sequel was a great movie, but it didn’t hold the feeling of unique re-defining movie history while at the same time respecting the origins. I think it respected the origins…just didn’t do much more. What I wanted to see in the sequel…was Captain Picard.

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6 thoughts on “J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek(s) (2009/2013)

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