(US/China - 2016)
Directed by Justin Lin. Written by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung. Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutelle, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Lydia Wilson, Joe Taslim, Greg Grunberg, Deep Roy, Doug Jung, Melissa Roxburgh, Shea Whigham. (PG-13, 122 mins)
It didn't take long for opinion to turn on 2013's STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS. Opening to glowing reviews and an 86% score on Rotten Tomatoes, anticipation was high considering that it was the worst-kept secret of that summer that Benedict Cumberbatch's character was going to be revealed as Khan, the most iconic villain in the TREK canon. Once the opening weekend passed, fans were discovering that they didn't really like the movie all that much. Yeah, there was the screenwriting involvement of the much-maligned Damon Lindelof and director J.J. Abrams' distractingly gratuitous use of Dutch angles and lens flare, but INTO DARKNESS focused on Michael Bay-type action with no feel at all for the characters, demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes the beloved STAR TREK work so well. To his credit, Abrams listened to the fans. He stayed onboard as a producer and hired Justin Lin, the veteran of the third-through-the-sixth installments of the FAST & FURIOUS franchise, to direct. Lindelof was out, and INTO DARKNESS co-writer Roberto Orci's script, co-written with Patrick McKay and John D. Payne, was extensively reworked by co-star Simon Pegg (who plays Scotty) and Doug Jung. Whatever remains of the original script is minimal, as only Pegg and Jung are credited, and the end result at least extends an olive branch to those unhappy with INTO DARKNESS, now generally regarded as the worst film in the TREK franchise, toppling the longtime title holder, the William Shatner-directed STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER (1989). It's still got plenty of the blurry, shaky-cam CGI action mandatory for today's mega-budget franchise blockbusters, but this is the closest the rebooted TREK has come to "getting" these characters, now that they're in the familiar places from which we've known them since the 1960s. Cult star and proud nerd Pegg is guilty of giving Scotty some of the showier elements of the story, but he and Jung exert an effort to make this a throwback TREK, at least as far as the characters are concerned, particularly Zachary Quinto's Spock ("Horse shit?") and Karl Urban's perpetually grumpy "Bones" McCoy, who gets a huge expletive cut off in mid-beam with "Dammit, Spock! I'm a doctor not a fu--."
|Anton Yelchin (1989-2016)