Live long and see Cumberbatch

17 May

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I am not a Trekkie.  And this is a sequel.  But Star Trek: Into the Darkness is so good, I’ve already seen it twice in IMAX since it opened on Wednesday.

The temptation to spoil this movie for you is exceedingly great, but this time I won’t.  Must.  Preserve.  Viewing.  Pleasure.  At.  All.  Cost.  But I do have to tell you why you have to see it.

Every character and actor cast in this film is a keeper.  The beauty of such a well-built ensemble cast is that they lend additional strength to each other on screen.  Look for the scene where Kirk and Spock visit the brig to interrogate newly apprehended John Harrison.  Watch Quinto’s face while Cumberbatch performs…and see if you can breathe.  I couldn’t.  I already thought Benedict Cumberbatch hung the moon, but now I know it —  I was as stunned as the shuttle crew watching the string bean I knew as Sherlock (please understand I mean that in the most affectionate way possible) single-handedly dismantle a regiment of Klingon troops.

The lack of make-up on the Enterprise characters is shocking and exceptional.  Watch for it in the close-ups on the bridge scenes.  The actors could have been plastered to perfection.  But they’re not (with the exception of Uhura).  And I think it’s one of the BEST storytelling elements on screen.

So while Cumberbatch’s character beats the tar out of Kirk, there’s this rico suave transition into the med bay on board the Enterprise.  I was so impressed with the transition I had a hard time paying attention to the action, and then I remembered that nothing is ever an accident in filmmaking.  If you see it on screen, it’s on purpose.  And that wasn’t the only transition incident.  I’m now over the moon impressed (as opposed to just everyday average regular impressed) with J.J. Abrams’ abilities as a filmmaker.  The planning and deliberate architecture he had to employ just to create transitions that are an integral part of the action is genius.  And that’s just the transitions.  The digital effects and music were so amazing they made me want my own personal warp speed button.  And unlike it’s 1982 predecessor, Into the Darkness did not make me want to throw up and never watch another Trek film again — it gave me a good laugh in the middle of a tough week.  The one filmmaking decision that had me squirming a bit was the extensive use of extreme close-ups.  I don’t need everybody’s nose hairs all the time.

This Star Trek is rated PG-13.  For those of you like me who wonder what that’s for, I’ll indulge you…because it means something here.  There’s plenty of intergalactic violence, a fair amount of fist beatings, the new science officer changes her clothes on screen, and Kirk is called out of playtime in bed with twins.  But comparatively it just didn’t seem like a lot — which makes me think the filmmakers did not need shock factor band-aids to cover up a lack in story.  I came away from the movie feeling like the filmmakers respected their audience.  How often does that happen?  And that’s not the only kind of respect handed out in this film.

“You don’t respect the chair.”  Those are some seriously heavy words.  Pike lays them on Kirk out of respect for the man Kirk must become.  Pike doesn’t hand hold or treat Kirk like those moms you see at the mall who allow their kids destroy an entire store and say, “Now, sweetheart, let’s not do that.”  There are consequences to all actions, and Pike understands that the very best thing he can do for Kirk, who he still believes in, is to let him have them.  Pike doesn’t let his anger get the best of him, and he doesn’t stop fighting for Kirk.  He doesn’t owe Kirk a single thing, but he treats Kirk as his own son.  Dude — no really — this is a fantastic dude flick.  The world needs loads more of them.  Who knew you needed kleenex in a bar?

Into the Darkness is so well written it only left me with a few questions…you know how my inquiring mind needs to know things.  Were there no radiation suits in the engineering department?  The engineering department that works with a nuclear warp core?  Also, if Cumberbatch’s character can heal humanity (involuntarily, of course), why didn’t they keep him on his feet so they could make an eternal life syrum from him?  Now there’s a big ol’ hairy question.  It may not be the best movie ever written (honestly, how could you ever decide which is?), but if this film does not get nominated for Oscars in every category, I may sprout another head and become a very angry Trekkie.  No, really.  It’s just so refreshing to have a truly excellent film at the box office.  If Bones were here, he’d tell you, “Into the Darkness is a tall, cool glass of lemonade inside a Nibiru volcano.”  Or something like that.  Go see it already.  And bring me a better metaphor when you get back.

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