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‘Star Trek: Into Darkness:’ Sherlock Holmes and Man Crying

Star Trek is not my thing. So much so that I was one of the three people in the country who never saw the first movie. As a pop culturally aware person with more than a couple super nerds for friends, however, I was able to enter this movie with a general sense of what was “goin’ on.” Here, Klingon, Shatner, Vulcan, The Final Frontier, The Starship Enterprise, “Beam me up, Scotty” (which, I understand is one of those lines that is actually a bit of a misquote, like “Play it again, Sam”) …see, there’s my credibility.

So I went Into Darkness with no real expectations, and only the notions that Benedict Cumberbatch would make my eyes and ears giddy, that it’s been too long since I’ve seen Simon Pegg on the big screen, and that there would be lots of spaceplosions (the brilliant new word for “space explosions” that I have coined that is extremely fun to say out loud). And I do have to say that I was quite pleased. It is a fun one.

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In Star Trek: Into Darkness, the crew of the Starship Enterprise is thrown into another spaceventure (I’m full of these) in which they battle evil, endure a lot of bullet-induced space turbulence, and save each other and humanity and stuff over and over again. Each member of the crew legitimately saves the lives of everyone important once throughout the movie, using their individual prowess, of course, but J.J. Abrams takes care not to make the movie just a series of daring rescues, action sequences punctuated with slow motion high fives and deep breaths of relief, forehead wipes and “Phew! That was a close one!” until the next wave of evil arrives and makes them do it all over again. In fact, Bones has to beg for credit for saving a life at one point, and it’s a pretty good laugh. Impressive, epic CGI building collapses are given just as much weight and time as bromantic arguments and off-the-cuff quips from ornery crewmembers. The quirky character chemistry that seems evident in the world of the original Star Trek is very much preserved and played upon in this movie, and it makes what is in all other ways a sleek, action-filled space movie, also old school campy fun, and that is its biggest achievement.

That, and the copious man tears that leak from the eyes of I’m pretty sure every single male character that appears on screen. There is so much man crying in Into Darkness that it is a little concerning. Not at all in a, “men shouldn’t cry, what has happened to masculinity!” way but in more of a, “J.J. Abrams, are you okay?” kind of way. There are just so many shots of quivering, moist eyes, eyes of men of all ages and Star Fleet affiliations and degrees of inner turmoil. It’s adorable, but it’s very noticeable, kind of refreshing, but also a teensy bit distracting, as there was a certain point where I momentarily lost track of the story and instead thought about how I wished I had started counting the man tear incidences there had been, because they were really racking up. However, I certainly do not want to discourage future man tear happenings in film. Please know that though the salty sadness was fairly front and center, I fully support it, especially in space (I just think being in space is really hard. I would cry a lot if I were there. I get it, Kirk…and Scotty…and Pike…ETCETERA! There are more!) Cry, men, cry!

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The entire cast masterfully navigates the massive task of playing updated versions of these characters, at least from my perspective. And Benedict Cumberbatch. Oh, Cumberbatch. Cumber. Batch. He has approximately two great speeches, where he is in full Cumbermode, and he is fantastic, but then he does a lot of fighting and punching and running, and that, I just don’t care for as much. He should have been a lazier villain, because then his quiet, intense madness could have come through when he spun around in his large chair stroking his evil cat (or something like that). His punches aren’t nearly as potently harmful as his looks and words, and I wanted more of those. He is also very much like a superhuman Sherlock in this movie. He does a lot of hurried explaining of complicated situations to people he finds inferior. But alas, that is what he does best. I am also told that his character is pretty awesome as far as the Star Trek universe goes, so there’s that.

Sherlock Holmes and man tears and quirky, cranky characters make Star Trek: Into Darkness a funtimes movie experience! Even for me, the spacebie (space newbie).

Grade: A-

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