Wrath of Star Trek Into Darkness

May 16, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

WARNING!  HUGE SPOILERS DISCUSSED IN THIS REVIEW
STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS!

I recently had a debate with my friend John about J.J Abrams’ Star Trek and how it compares to the original series.  The basic setup was simple:  I never saw the original series and therefore, my first exposure to the characters (other than pop culture references) came when the reboot was released in 2009.  John grew up watching The Original Series and was extremely disappointed when they rebooted the universe he adored.

What followed was a 3 part series where we went back and forth discussing the pros and ‘I have the’ cons of Star Trek.

ROUND ONE: One Trek…  One No Trek

ROUND TWO: One Trek…  One No Trek

ROUND THREE: One Trek…  One No Trek

Obviously, I was beyond excited to see Star Trek Into Darkness.  I couldn’t wait to see J.J would take these characters next.  John has repeatedly sworn not to see the sequel until someone loans it to him or it appears On Demand free of charge.

I bought my ticket a week in advance and caught a matinee on opening day.  So how was Star Trek Into Darkness?

I liked Star Trek Into Darkness a lot but I found myself thinking about our friendly debate often as the story progressed.

FINAL SPOILER WARNING… 

A few months back, in an effort to better understand TOS, I took it upon myself to finally sit through The Wrath of Kahn.  A movie many would agree is the best Star Trek movie of all time.  I can’t make that claim as I haven’t seen them all but I did enjoy it.  When it was revealed that Benedict Cumberbatch was actually Kahn, I couldn’t help but think about our friendly debate.

John didn’t like the idea of rebooting Captain Kirk and his crew.  He can watch his Star Trek whenever he wants on DVD.  As soon as it was revealed that Kahn was indeed a part of this rebooted universe I smiled and thought:

“John is absolutely going to hate this movie.”

I won’t know for sure until he sees it but even I had to admit it would be strange.  To love a group of characters only to have them reinterpreted would be frustrating to some.  Personally, I’m thankful that I watched Wrath of Kahn first because it was my first chance to truly compare the two universes.  I’m obviously not as attached to the original series so I actually appreciated what J.J Abrams did with Star Trek Into Darkness.

Wrath of Star Trek Into Darkness | Review

Separating the two Kahns was difficult at first.  I kept picturing Ricardo Montalban but Benedict Cumberbatch has created a truly memorable villain here.  He’s ruthless yet sympathetic to a certain degree.  A man driven to do whatever it takes to save his family.  He’s a relentless foe with a booming voice and a worthy adversary for the crew of the Enterprise.

Speaking of which, the rest of the crew evolves accordingly in this film.  Obviously, we are once again thrust into the captain’s seat with Kirk still learning humility as a commanding officer.  By his side, the ever logical Spock who still questions virtually every decision Kirk makes.

It’s a relationship that mirrors the original series but Star Trek Into Darkness also takes liberties that may or may not upset the hardcore fans.  For the most part, I don’t know the difference but I do know I liked it.

I read a little online after I saw the film and many people were upset with the very idea of a new Kahn.  Weren’t people hoping Kahn would be the villain?  It’s strange because I found myself wondering why they didn’t change Kahn more…

There are so many nods to The Wrath of Kahn here including major plot points.  In our debate, I defended J.J Abrams’ rebooted universe because it threw out the rule book.  They used time travel to create a reality where both universes would co-exist.  As evidenced by old Spock’s return to warn new Spock about Kahn.

Why go to such great lengths to create a new Star Trek universe where anything could happen yet still go back to a tale we’ve already seen.  Star Trek Into Darkness is basically bizarro Wrath of Kahn.  There are obviously BIG differences but this movie functions more as a homage.

Still, I liked that they brought back Kahn.  I really liked that they included an impending conflict with the Klingons…  I liked Star Trek Into Darkness.

It was great to see these characters on the big screen again.  Even though I had an idea where the story was going once Kahn revealed himself, there were still plenty of surprises in store.  Not too mention some pretty amazing action sequences.

Star Trek Into Darkness

All in all, this summer is off to a great start with Iron Man 3 leading off and Superman on deck.

As for our debate?  I still believe they have done enough to please new fans like me while respecting fans of the original series.  No matter what you do, you can’t please everyone.  There will always be people who dislike movies like this.  It doesn’t matter what Star Trek universe you call home.  Some movies aren’t for everyone.

This movie was for me.  Perhaps my friend John will see it someday and enjoy seeing a new vision of Kahn on the big screen.  (He probably won’t.)

Overall, I thought Star Trek Into Darkness was a fantastic sequel that doesn’t quite live up to ‘the original’.  Multiply that by about a million and that’s probably how John felt about the 2009 reboot.

I get it now.

Click here for more reviews.

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ROUND THREE: One Trek, One No Trek

May 12, 2013 at 5:06 am

One Trek... One No Trek | Original Star Trek vs New Star Trek J.J Abrams Star Trek Into Darkness

THE DEBATE CONCLUDES

ONE TREK…  ONE NO TREK INTRO

ONE TREK…  ONE NO TREK ROUND ONE

ONE TREK…  ONE NO TREK ROUND TWO

ONE TREK…  ONE NO TREK ROUND THREE

The Setup:

JAY: A fan of J.J Abrams’ Star Trek Universe with little knowledge of the original series.

JOHN: Not a fan of J.J Abrams’ Star Trek Universe but a huge fan of the original series.

ROUND THREE

Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3

(JAY) The sequel is not far away and you say it’ll get your money but as a sci fi fan and not a Star Trek fan. It makes me wonder what it would take for Star Trek Into Darkness to convince you that it is a tale worthy of it’s name.

I think it’s going to be spectacular because of the approach they’ve taken with the villain. After years of ‘Kahn’ speculation, it appears as though Benedict Cumberbatch is playing an original character. I’m hoping he is an original character. I’m sure you are as well. Why recycle legends like Kahn?  Let’s see something new.

Having said that, I think ‘John Harrison’ will have a lot in common with Kahn. He’s a powerful being who appears to have serious business with the federation and Earth. It’s almost a given that things will get personal with Kirk but I think it will be a classic battle of strategic minds.  They’ve even cast Alice Eve as Dr. Carol Marcus…

Much has been written about John Harrison’s back story. (note: need to find link for this) He’s fighting for a very real and very relatable cause. We’ll have to wait to find out what that cause is but I couldn’t be more encouraged.

Beyond the villain, I’m also excited to spend time with the crew of the Enterprise without the need to establish them. A part of me believes you didn’t respond to the first because they spent a lot of time setting up relationships you already knew inside and out. For me it was new but I can see how it can be frustrating for a long time fan. Especially when you factor in the time travel element they used to ‘reset’ the universe.

Now, the Enterprise has it’s captain and the adventure can begin right away. I hope they deliver more space battles. More strategy. More science fiction concepts. Essentially… More Star Trek. (And more lens flares.)

If Star Trek Into Darkness features more of the crew doing what they do best and a formidable foe, would that be enough?

What did you think of the trailers?  Encouraged?  Discouraged?

COUNTDOWN | Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Trailer #1

COUNTDOWN | Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer

Personally, I think the sequel will surpass the original. They worked so hard to create a new universe of sorts where they have the freedom to do whatever they want with the franchise. They’ve got a blank check. I think it’s fascinating to consider the options they had available to them.

Opening credits. Star Trek.

However, I have to admit I’m not fully versed in what that entails. I know it’s going to be more Star Trek as I know it but will they be able to include enough to please fans of old?  As we reach the end of this debate I’m more convinced that I really don’t know the subtleties that makes Star Trek work.  But I know I’m a fan of this new crew.

Maybe I’m looking forward to the same movie you are. I’m just a lot more excited to see it because I love the new versions of the characters.

As this is technically the final round, I propose we revisit this debate after we both see the sequel. A fourth round.  We can find out if they succeeded in winning you back.

Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3

(JOHN) With the new movie closely approaching, I’m rather impressed how the identity of the villain is still a mystery. If they do decide to go the original route, I’d definitely find that a welcome decision, as recreating a previous villain will naturally force me to draw comparisons and stay loyal to the original. That’s just how I roll.

Having still not seen the original series minus The Wrath of Khan, I still find it hard how one can make comparisons to the new characters if they didn’t even really get to know the original ones. In essence, there isn’t really much there to base a comparison due to lack of reference. How do you know you “love” these new characters better than the original ones if you haven’t really seen them?

Star-Trek-Series-vs-Star-Trek-Into-Darkness

Pretty much any recreation of anything that already appeared in The Original Series is going to discourage me. You touched on more space battles, and I will admit that is the ONE thing I am curious about and interested in seeing. It may just be the ship, an inanimate object, but the Enterprise is definitely part of the “cast” of the series and is a character in itself. Even though they made some of their own modifications to the design of the ship, that is the one thing in the new films that I can mildly accept the aesthetic changes to as it still closely resembles the original, more than anything else they have tried to re-create. That quick shot of the Enterprise diving into what looks like water sparked my attention. The ship is something that is timeless, and whether you’re seeing it in The Motion Picture from 1979, or in the upcoming Darkness, it still holds true for me. I can imagine MY crew on the newer ship, and deal with it.

As I stated before, I’ll probably go see the movie when it comes out. But I’ll be there to basically check out the effects and watch someone else mess with “my” universe.

One Trek... One No Trek...

Larger Than Life Movie Villains Revealed!

May 9, 2013 at 8:19 am

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

EPIC VILLAINS IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

If I may quote Mission Impossible 2:

“Every search for a hero must begin with something which every hero requires…  A villain.”

We all love great villains.  They are the reason our heroes are called to action in the first place.  Throughout history we have been blessed with iconic and unforgettable villains.  The Wicked Witch of the West, Hannibal Lector, Darth Vader, Auric Goldfinger, Nurse Ratched, The Joker, Norman Bates, Freddy Krueger, Verbal Kint, Biff Tannen, Bill the Butcher, Doc Ock, Tommy DeVito, Alex DeLarge…

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

Dramas, horror, thrillers, comedies…  Every genre has it’s classics but no group faces more scrutiny that the Summer Blockbusters.  Big franchises, sequels and the unstoppable force known as the comic book movie.

It’s the first question we all ask when a giant blockbuster is announced.  Whether it’s a new franchise or a sequel we all want to know who our favorite heroes will fight next.  How will these villains look?  Sound?  Move?

Fans crave every detail leading up to the movies they cannot wait to see.  I remember staring at this image wondering what Christopher Nolan’s Joker would be like.

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

The Joker was brilliantly realized by Nolan and wonderfully portrayed by the late Heath Ledger.  However, by the time the movie arrived, we had several trailers, clips and more that took away at least a little of the mystery. Is that a bad thing?  I don’t think so.  We live in a different time.  I suppose the question is…

Can you keep a big villain secret?  Should you?

I wonder how much scrutiny Darth Vader would face if Star Wars was released today.  A world where studios preemptively release images from sets in order to beat the spies to the punch.  Every time a movie shoots an exterior scene, images shot on cell phones pop up online.  We live in an age of social media.  An era where promotion is 24/7 and fans are closer than ever to the development process.

Now, I don’t want to sound like a spoiled brat.  Here I am, discussing my relentless craving for new villain reveals while complaining that we know too much before they are unleashed.  I just appreciate the evolution of the villain reveal.

We may have 4 or 5 trailers for each big blockbuster these days but I could choose to avoid them.  I just don’t.  I simply cannot resist pressing play and envisioning the adventures that await on the silver screen.

There are filmmakers out there who work tirelessly to keep their big projects a secret.  J.J Abrams immediately comes to mind.  When he and his team produced Cloverfield, it nearly broke the internet when they unveiled the mysterious trailer.  What the hell did the Cloverfield monster look like?

Cloverfield awesome monster movie

Personally, it drove me nuts for months.  The director repeated this tactic when he created Super 8. It’s a proven way to generate interest in a film.   Super 8 was actually my favorite movie of 2011.

He’s doing it again with Star Trek Into Darkness.  Who is John Harrison?  Is it really Kahn?  The answers are coming.

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

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Honestly, I can’t decide which side I’m on.

Do I prefer the shroud of secrecy and the anticipation it ignites?  Or do I want a constant stream of updates and risk burning out before the lights dim?

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

In the last few weeks, we were treated to new trailers that revealed Superman’s enemy Zod and Thor’s next challenge Malekith.  Both look incredible.

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We were also given a glimpse of Jamie Foxx as Electro in next summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2:

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

Would you rather wait to see the villain?

I’m not sure if you can argue one way or another which approach is better.  Secrecy is frustrating but could ramp up the hype to impossible heights.  On the other hand, transparency invites discussion online and the promotion never stops.  There are pros and cons to both.  Sometimes too much secrecy can be seen as a weakness or a lack of faith in the studio.  Sometimes, a villain is revealed and hardcore fans tear it apart in vicious blog posts, tweets and parodies.

Yet sometimes, magic can be captured in the imagination of a film fan’s curiosity.  The same blogs and tweets can also be overwhelmingly positive.  Take Electro for example.  I think he’s going to look awesome on the big screen.  I can’t wait to see what he looks like with added effects.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how or when a villain is revealed.  Whether it’s a year out or opening night, the only thing that really matters is…  The story.

The next generation of heroes and villains are coming.  Which ones will claim their place amongst the greatest of all time?  That’s a search that will never end.

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Star Wars Episode VII: J.J Abrams Round Up

January 25, 2013 at 8:10 am

Star Wars Episode VII: J.J Abrams Round Up

This is the second part in my Star Wars Episode VII Round Up Series.  It’s still hard to believe that a brand new Star Wars movie is on the way.  When Disney first made the announcement, I did what any Star Wars geek would do.  I searched online for every tidbit of information I could find.

The result was my Star Wars Episode VII Story Round Up.  Over 25 fantastic articles and videos from around the web.  Those articles are packed with story speculation, screenplay news, casting rumors and short lists for directors.  Which brings us to today’s round up.  J.J Abrams is officially directing Star Wars Episode VII!

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He was at the top of many wish lists to take the helm.  I think it’s a perfect fit even though he’s already directed two Star Trek movies.  The Master Franchise Builder has a new project and it’s the biggest of them all.  Bringing Star Wars back to the big screen.

Once again, I scoured the web looking for analysis and breakdowns once the news broke.  Here are some of the best I came across:

‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ and J.J. Abrams: 10 Reasons Why We Think This is a Good Thing | Screen Crush

Editorial: What Does J.J. Abrams Directing ‘Star Wars Episode VII’ Tell Us About The Movie? | /Film

J.J. Abrams to Direct ‘Star Wars’: the Best Twitter Reactions | The Hollywood Reporter

Is J.J. Abrams The Right Guy For Star Wars: Episode VII? | Cinema Blend

Hollywood’s new empire builder: J.J. Abrams | Variety

14 ways of looking at J.J. Abrams’ ‘Star Wars’ | EW

Can J.J. Abrams handle both Star Wars and Star Trek? | The National Post

J.J Abrams Directing Star Wars Episode 7 | Screen Rant

6 Ways J.J. Abrams Can Crossover ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek’ | Screen Crush

10 funny tweets about J.J. Abrams directing ‘Star Wars’ | CNET

J.J. Abrams directing ‘Star Wars’: Many voices cry out in reaction | Hero Complex

Why JJ Abrams is the right choice for ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ | HIT FIX

Why J.J. Abrams Is a Bad Choice for Star Wars | Grantland

Why J.J. Abrams Is A Bad Choice To Direct Star Wars Episode VII | Think Progress

Do you think Star Wars is in good hands?

The Number 1 Reason Why J.J Abrams is Perfect for Star Wars Episode VII

January 25, 2013 at 8:05 am

The Number 1 Reason Why J.J Abrams is Perfect for Star Wars Episode VII

PLUS THE NUMBER 1 REASON WHY MAY NOT BE

Star Wars Episode VII Story Round Up

Months ago, J.J Abrams admitted that he was approached to direct Star Wars Episode VII and ‘apparently’ turned it down.

“I have some original stuff I am working on next,” said Abrams (EW)

Well, either he was lying or LucasFilm head Kathleen Kennedy is very persistent.

I’m a huge fan of J.J Abrams work. His movies and television series are among the best I’ve seen in the last decade. Super 8, Mission Impossible 3, Lost, Fringe, Star Trek… It’s pretty hard to find another director out there with so many high profile projects. (Joss Whedon comes to mind as another.)

His past work may have earned him the coveted Star Wars gig but that’s not why I’m excited. To me, the number 1 reason he’s perfect for the job is because he’s a fan like us. There’s a reason why Kathleen Kennedy didn’t give up.

J.J ABRAMS IS A MASSIVE STAR WARS FAN

“As a kid I was always a fan of special effects,” Abrams said. “Watching movies I was constantly trying to figure out how they did it, whatever the effect was. Star Wars was the first movie that blew my mind in that way; it didn’t matter how they did any of it because it was all so overwhelmingly and entirely great. It was funny and romantic and scary and compelling and the visual effects just served the characters and story. It galvanized for me; not for what was exciting about how movies were made, but rather for what movies were capable of.” (EW)

Every Star Wars fan has an opinion on the original trilogy vs the prequels.  Some people liked the new films while others thought George Lucas ruined everything.  Personally, I enjoyed Episode 1 & 3 just fine.  They were Star Wars movies after all.  Still, hardcore fans of the original series were let down by characters like Jar Jar Binks.

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J.J Abrams adores Star Wars.  It’s like they hired one of us to direct the film. I don’t think we have to worry about all of our major complaints.  He’s probably thinking the same thing.  It’s a fascinating development.  Can you imagine growing up with Star Wars and one day being able to direct an episode of the saga!?  Only one human being on the planet can make that claim and he also happens to be one of the most creative and imaginative directors working today.  With Abrams at the helm, we can all rest assured that he has the franchises best interest at heart.  Perhaps this is going to be the return to Empire Strikes Back?

It’s too early to speculate on tone but I’m stoked.  J.J Abrams is a remarkable director who comes from the school of Steven Spielberg.  A Star Wars geek is directing the new Star Wars movie!

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THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

…  This is awkward…

Star Trek…  The other franchise.  Long have fans argued the merits of both legendary series.  You can’t argue that they’ve never been united like this.  I’m a fan of both franchises but can someone honestly take on both?  One way or another we will get an answer to that question.  My prediction?  He’ll be just fine.

Some people will view his involvement with Star Trek as a negative and I understand that.  It’s probably the number 1 reason why he shouldn’t direct Star Wars Episode VII.  He’s made one amazing space film already with the promising sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness on the way.  I think that’s why he originally turned down the job.

“Well, I’m just a fan of Star Wars. As a kid, Star Wars was much more my thing than Star Trek was. If you look at the last three Star Wars films and what technology allowed them to do, they covered so much terrain in terms of design, locations, characters, aliens, ships — so much of the spectacle has been done and it seems like every aspect has been covered, whether it’s geography or design of culture or weather system or character or ship type. Everything has been tapped in those movies. The challenge of doing Star Trek — despite the fact that it existed before Star Wars — is that we are clearly in the shadow of what George Lucas has done.” (Hero Complex)

In my opinion, he knocked Star Trek out of the park and that wasn’t even his ‘thing’ growing up!?  Outstanding.

Just listening to the amount of thought he puts into his work is encouraging enough.  I’m sure talking about Star Wars will light him up even more.  This is great news.

Bring on the next big Star Wars Episode VII reveal!

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