My first reaction while watching the new Star Trek film was one of amazement. I was amazed that in spite of seeing a couple of trailers and glancing at some reviews, I had caught not a hint of the surprises that awaited me in Star Trek Into Darkness. Since those surprises were the most satisfying parts of the film for me, this was a very good thing.
My second reaction occurred when, about a third of the way into the film, I wondered why the cinematography was so awful on a blockbuster film like this. Then I recalled that, like The Great Gatsby, Star Trek Into Darkness was made for 3D. I may have to start boycotting such films even if they are available in 2D. It’s time for this ridiculous fad to be over.
My third reaction was a feeling that the exact words critics used to condemn The Great Gatsby (overblown dazzling spectacle, full of style but with little substance) could apply as well to this film, which, like its predecessor, emphasizes action over a thought-provoking intelligent story.
My fourth reaction was that, in spite of my third reaction, I was quite enjoying Star Trek Into Darkness and, with only fifteen minutes to go, I was planning to give it ***+.
My fifth reaction was that my fourth reaction was premature, and that I needed to remember that the last fifteen minutes of a film can be fatal.
My sixth reaction was to a speech given by one of the main characters at the end of the film, a speech that perfectly summarized all that was wrong with Star Trek Into Darkness. Unfortunately, there was not a hint of irony in the speech and no apparent awareness by the film’s writers that there was a huge disconnect between the speech and the preceding fifteen minutes. Based on the reactions of my neighbours when I couldn’t stifle an agonized burst of laughter, they didn’t have this awareness either. Impact of this speech on my opinion of the film? Instant death (well, instant loss of half a star anyway)!
My seventh reaction came moments later when the “These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise ...” Star Trek slogan was recited, reminding us that these first two J.J. Abrams instalments had not yet begun that five-year-mission of exploring strange new worlds – they were still introducing us to the violent mayhem that preceded their mission. A useful but depressing reminder.
My final reaction occurred the moment the film ended with a tribute to all those who have “served” since 9/11, thus highlighting the sometimes forgotten fact that our favourite Starfleet officers are part of a military machine. I have nothing against most of those who have “served” since 9/11, but I have everything against how and where they have “served”. To connect Star Trek to that “service” reflects a grievous misunderstanding of what Star Trek is all about.
So with those eight reactions behind me, I left the theatre feeling an overwhelming sense of disappointment, with even a hint of depression. I had watched an entertaining spectacle with moments of brilliance but all the joy had been sucked out in the last fifteen minutes or so. I have to give Star Trek Into Darkness *** because I am willing to watch it again, so my mug is up, but the stuff inside is bittersweet at best.
P.S. You may have noticed that I have not mentioned the names of any actors or said anything about the plot of the film. There are too many actors involved to name them, but I will say that they all acquitted themselves quite well. As for the plot, my first reaction above explains why I can tell you nothing about that.