MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Paramount Pictures
Directed by J. J. Abrams. Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto
There are days when I wonder if all of the good stories have already been told and we are cursed to live in a world where we just keep returning to what we’ve already experienced before. It’s summer, and once again many of the big theatrical releases are sequels or reboots of familiar characters.
Three years ago director J. J. Abrams released Star Trek, based on the 1966 science fiction TV series, which told the origin story about Capt. James T. Kirk (Pine) was given his mission to take the Starship Enterprise into space. His second in command was Spock (Quinto) from the planet Vulcan, who insisted on pure logic to make decisions. Since Kirk tended to act quickly and emotionally, the interchange between the two provided drama as well as humor. The other crewmembers were colorful characters, including engineer Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban).
Eventually they would be sent on a five-year mission “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life, and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” They would seek to involve themselves in peaceful efforts to build bridges of understanding between planets.
But that’s for the third movie, I guess, because Star Trek Into Darkness is a voyage that is made without consulting a moral compass. It’s certainly exciting and often fun, but pretty generic in its storytelling. After a fast-moving opening in which the crew manages to break a few rules, almost destroying a planet in the process, an act of terrorism is committed by John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the hunt is on to catch this villain and bring him to justice. There are a few plot twists and more than a few in-jokes for fans of the TV series and previous films.
After all is said is done, the film turns into a standard revenge/chase film, filled with incredible close calls and improbable action scenes that defy the laws of physics as much as the goofier stunts in the Fast and the Furious action films.
Without giving away the plot, I was startled to see not only Captain Kirk but also Spock engaged in hard-hitting fisticuffs. I’ve never heard so much bone crunching on a soundtrack.
And then there are the large scale acts of terrorism, including the destruction of a major city, that are simply used to show us the latest advancements in CGI technology. The sense of loss is glossed over to keep the action moving along.
The ultimate insult comes at the end of the film, where we see Captain Kirk addressing a graduation class: “Our first instinct is to seek revenge when those we love are taken from us. But that's not who we are.” Right.
Now that everyone’s gotten that violence out of their system, I trust that the next Star Trek voyage will boldly go somewhere we haven’t already been before.
Two halos: A thoughtful television series is turned into a typical action-packed 3D thrill ride.
Three pitchforks :Acts of terrorism, revenge, and violence; interspecies hanky-panky, courtesy of Captain Kirk’s libido; a few bad words.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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