Somehow JJ Abrams & co. made me interested in the Star Trek universe

JJAbramsStarTrek

Well, one of my most anticipated movies of the first half of the year has come and gone. I finally saw Star Trek Into Darkness Wednesday night and you know what, despite the huge hype machine working overtime for this film, this film somehow lives up to it. So yeah, I really enjoyed it.  Instead of doing a straight review, I feel like jotting down my change of heart of sort, in regards to this franchise.

Now, Star Trek fever has been high the past few weeks not only because of the studio’s marketing machine, but also sparked by various bloggers and sites posting all kinds of Star Trek-related stuff in anticipation for the new movie. Strangely enough, instead of being blasé or even rolling my eyes about the whole thing, for once I was actually intrigued. I guess it was started back in 2009 when I saw JJ Abrams’ Star Trek for the first time. For some reason, the whole franchise sort of eluded me when I was growing up, as I had never followed any of the TV series nor seen any of the previous films. Ok I did see clips of the 1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, this Spock swimming with the Whale scene is such a hoot! It’s one of the best ‘fish out of water’ comedic scenes ever, pardon the pun :D

Oh and I did see the comedy satire Galaxy Quest which is not only hilarious but spot on – one doesn’t have to be a Trekkie to recognize the obvious subject of its parody. Nonetheless, I was practically Star Trek virgin four years ago. The only ‘knowledge’ I knew of Star Trek is from pop culture, the iconic phrase Live long and prosper, the Vulcan salute that I have to admit I have trouble doing, that Spock & Kirk are cross-species BFF and that Klingons are their longtime nemesis. But other than that, I’ve no clue about their universe, so I’ve got to admit that whole Spock + Spock scene in the first movie was quite discombobulating for me. My hubby had to explain a lot of the basic Star Trek 101 and all the jargon, ahah. I guess perhaps his enthusiasm might’ve rubbed off on me a bit, but I think it’s more than that.

As I mentioned in my review of the 2009 version, I think the casting and the chemistry of the cast is what I really enjoyed about the film. But what I didn’t mention then is how timeless the story of Star Trek stories, depicting the adventures of this group of humans and aliens on board the Enterprise spaceship. The underlying themes war and peace, loyalty, personal courage, the role of technology, etc. are human motifs that still relevant to this day, but of course it’s now enveloped in a shiny and cool wrapping with the latest special effects and gadgetry… oh and of course, sprinkled with lots and lots of lens flares! ;)

StarTrek2009Cast

Thankfully Abrams’ obsession with the lens flare didn’t bother me as it did in the first movie (maybe I just chose to ignore ‘em), but what we still get in this sequel is the zippy and fun tone, boosted by the chemistry of its cast and spectacular special effects. Despite the title, the movie is really not as dark as we’re led to believe. Yes it’s slightly darker than the first, but by no means grim. Everything I like about the first movie is present, the bromance between Spock and Kirk are funnier and snarkier – Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine are one of those perfect casting choice that gets even better the more I watch them together. More screen time for Karl Urban’s McCoy (yay) and also Simon Pegg’s Scotty relishing in his Scottish brogue whilst being in a hysterical state of panic for most of the movie.

Cumberbatch_StarTrekIntoDarknessBut really, the REAL star of Star Trek Into Darkness is the villain. Much like The Dark Knight‘s The Joker, Benedict Cumberbatch villainous turn as the intergalactic terrorist John Harrison stole all kinds of scenes every time he’s on screen! As the superior being – in every way, as the character pompously claim – Cumberbatch is such a perfect choice for the role and he brings that same cocksure swagger from his role as Sherlock Holmes. Yes his delivery is a bit too theatrical, perhaps intentionally so, but there’s no denying his screen charisma. Cumberbatch is unconventionally good looking, but he made those who are classically handsome oh so boring! Oh, and I think there should be law that require him to wear long, cape-like coat in every movie, yes?

I think in terms of the characterization of the villain, it’s definitely an improvement over the first (no offense Eric Bana!). Somehow Cumberbatch’s role isn’t the typical two dimensional bad guy hellbent on destruction, though certainly it’s not an excuse on his means he chose for his mission. What really works is how the series of destructive events truly test those in leadership roles of the Starfleet, particularly Kirk as he often has to make split-second decisions with the crew’s life hanging in the balance. Despite the eye-popping action in 3D (those warm-speed scenes are pure geek-gasm stuff), sleek set pieces and futuristic fashion, it’s not really style-over-substance (thank goodness!). I’d readily give the movie a 4.5/5 rating!

Thanks to the trio of writers Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci in creating a reboot that still pays homage to the original, but yet feels fresh and cool. In a way, it’s kind of like the motto that Gene Roddenberry created back in 1966.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise. Its 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.

Well, one thing for sure, the journey of the Enterprise crew seems endless. With a projected box office take of $100 mil in four days, even without Abrams at the helm (as he’d be too preoccupied with yet another behemoth franchise Star Wars), we’re likely to see more sequels in the works. Hey I’m fine with that, fingers crossed that somehow Cumberbatch would return as well?

StarTrek_OriginalTNG

In the meantime, I’m inclined to check out previous Star Trek films, starting with the original William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (particularly The Wrath of Khan) . Then later on I might move on with The Next Generation with Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, especially since Keith highly recommended Star Trek: First Contact.

So I guess thanks to Mr. Abrams bold and exciting voyage, I just might jump into the Star Trek bandwagon after all. No, I don’t think I’ll be a Trekkie nor would I start be buying a Captain Kirk action figure any time soon, but somehow now I see this 47 year-old franchise in a whole new light :D


So tell me where do you stand in regard to this sci-fi franchise? Let me know your thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness, too!

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66 thoughts on “Somehow JJ Abrams & co. made me interested in the Star Trek universe

  1. great review Ruth!! and yaaaaiii for Benny :)
    I love reading every word of praise on Benny…and you have higher rate than me ;)

    I will link your review to mine when I have time to turn on my PC…as my review is not a review at all ;p

    However, I totally disagree with you…the law should never be applied, he has to wear long coat in every of his movie, if possible ;)

    • Ahah, I knew you’d love my praises for Benny, but he really IS good.

      I think you misread my text there, I said exactly what you said about him wearing a long coat in every movie, so you’re actually agreeing with me :D

    • That’s ok, you were distracted by his handsome face ;) He looks sooo good with those long capes, especially when he turns up the collar like in Sherlock, dapper AND sexy!

      • I realized my mistake right after I punched enter ;)

        He distracted me throughout the movie…He is just tooooo handsome and a bit bulky makes him even more handsome. Can’t waot for the DVD so I can watch him again and again and again.

        All those good looking men should never wear black…they drive women crazy ;)

        • Ahah, I love that you’re falling hard for Benny, so what happens to Cillian? ;) Seriously though, I think Benny is one of those unconventionally sexy guy, I agree he looks sooo good in that Enterprise uniform, form fitting and in black, suits him soooo well ;)

          • Oh, Dear Ruth…Cillian still has his Monthly post ans Benny hasn’t yet, what do you think ? ;)

            There was a topless scene BUT JJ cut it. Hating JJ for that ;p
            I agree, I think anyone who haven’t seen him act would not consider him handsome or sexy (I think that’s what unconventional mean here). I read it so often how someone mentioned that she was confused in which part of Benny is handsome till she saw Sherlock.

  2. I can’t wait to see this! I hope I actually get to the theater, but I wasted my babysitter this month on The Great Gatsby! LOL, maybe I can squeeze out another free night. Loved the original, and your review is enticing!

  3. I have read most of this article Ruth but tried to avoid anything about the new movie. I hear you on being late to it all, you’re not alone. I for one have always been a big fan, not a trekkie mind but I was brought up on the original films, The motion Picture was the first film I saw at a cinema. The originals are good, 1,2,3 and 6 especially. TNG and DSN are very good would recommend them and First Contact is very good in TNG movies. but obviously watching in order is vital, there is progression. never too late to be a pseudo Trekkie Ruth x

    • Hi Kevin! Oh, there’s no spoilers here, but yeah, sometimes it’s best going in knowing as little as possible! That’s cool that you actually saw the first ST films at the cinema. I definitely would try seeing ‘em in order. Ahah, a pseudo Trekkie is right ;)

  4. What a great review Ruth. It’s funny that our scores mirror one another. We did view a few things differently but in the end we both had a blast. As you know I was a little in the middle with the first film. This movie took me over the top and I think it’s a better overall film.

    • Thanks Keith, it’s not much of a review, more of a confession, ahah. Been swamped today so I’ll be checking your thoughts soon, but glad you enjoyed it overall.

  5. Here’s another 4,5:er!
    Out of the TV series, my favourite remains TNG and captain Picard. But actually Voyager is pretty damned good too. It’s a shame there’s never been a movie about captain Janeway, but trust me, she rocks, and I really recommend you to see at least a few seasons of it.

    • Hi Jessica! I shall watch some of TNG movies because of Picard. I don’t know if or when I’ll get around to the shows though, but glad you love ‘em.

  6. I can’t say I’m Trekkie either since I could never got into any of the TV shows but I saw all of the movies. Just a warning though if you’re planning to watch the older films, I’m sure Ivan probably told you already but the old ones were quite different than JJ Abram’s version. All of the older films were very slow in pacing and not as flashy like these two new films. Apparently some Trekkies hate Abram’s version because they’re more action/adventure films than a Star Trek film, I still don’t know what the heck that means. A friend of mine who hates Abram’s version said that to me but he couldn’t explain what IS a Star Trek film?? Haters gonna hate I guess.

    I pretty much gave up on the franchise after the last film, Star Trek: Nemesis, it was so bad that I was glad Abram rebooted it into more of an action franchise now. You might want to check out Nemesis though since it had the young Tom Hardy playing the villain.

    I’ll probably go see Into Darkness at the zoo IMAX theater sometime this weekend.

    • Hi Ted, as you said, haters are gonna hate. I guess me coming from a non-Trekkie, I don’t mind the faster pace and really, it kinda have to with today’s movies. You can’t be making things as slow as the previous movies! Plus, w/ a sci-fi movies today is naturally gonna have stellar effects, I mean that’s part of the appeal.

      Too bad about Nemesis, but I’d watch it for Hardy and Stewart together! ;)

      Oh I heard the IMAX version is even more amazing!

      • Exactly, some people just want to dislike it because they feel the franchise shouldn’t be accessible to the general audiences. And yes the effects needed to be improved, the effects shots in some of those older films were atrocious. I’m not a big fan of Abrams, I thought he ruined the Mission: Impossible franchise with what he did with the third movie, thankfully Brad Bird saved it. But his take on this franchise was nothing short of brilliant.

        I’m still waiting for IMAX to start doing their usual Tweet to win free passes, hopefully it’ll happen next week because I want to see this movie fast.

  7. I’m with Tim (The Film Guy), certainly with the Wrath of Khan and First Contact to check out, but would also recommend Star Trek The Undiscovered Country (especially with Christopher Plummer’s splendid villainy). That also contains a bit of parody done on its own behest. No matter what drives you into the Star Trek universe, you’re always welcome by us longtime Trekkers. Thanks, Ruth.

    • Oooh Christopher Plummer in Star Trek?? No need to say more, definitely will check that out Michael. Thanks for the warm welcome, that means a lot!! :D

      • Just to be clear, I do recommend seeing the Star Trek films in order, though. The payoff being not only the send-off of the old TV series but what the later films brought, as well. ‘The Undiscovered Country’ featured references to both that you’d likely miss just by going directly to the sixth and final film. In the time since, I’ve even grown fond of Star Trek V (the William Shatner-directed film) recently, which kinda got hijacked by Paramount. Also, I do recommend Robert Wise’s director’s cut of the first film, rather than the theatrical version. HTH

        p.s., JJ’s new sequel to his 2009 vehicle, now that I’ve seen it, grabbed from a number of the Star Trek films to deliver what it did. Mashing some together. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars for his effort.

  8. Amazing. Everything you liked about ‘Darkness’ I completely hated. HOWEVER… if it has truly made you a fan, then I guess that’s a good thing. If you decide to watch the original series (which you totally should), I recommend also listening to the Mission Log Podcast, in which they analyze the episodes in deep detail:
    http://www.missionlogpodcast.com/

    • That’s too bad, but eh, we can’t always agree on everything can we? I figure some people probably HATE Benedict’s style if they’re not fond of him generally. Thanks for the recommendation on the Podcast, but it might be too much for me at this point if it’s TOO detailed, ahah.

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  10. I couldn’t agree more Ruth. I saw the movie last night and fell completely in love with it! I was a bit half hearted about the whole Star Trek franchise, but not any more. The movie had me laughing, jumping with fright and crying. The whole cast were superb, I’d feel wrong signalling any of them out.

    • Hi Merilyn! Glad to hear and welcome to FC! As you said, I was half-hearted about the whole Star Trek franchise but yeah, that’s about to change for me too. I even watched Shatner’s doc The Captains last nite and really enjoyed it!

      P.S. I talk about Richard a ton here so hope to see you around more often ;)

  11. Nice, glad to see you’re turning Trekkie. As much as I loved the 2009 film my heart is still a Jean-Luc Picard. When you watch First Contact you’ll see why he was the greatest to ever Captain the Enterprise. Ok, now I’m sounding like a geek. Lol, well done Ruth, hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

    • Hi Chris! He..he.. well I don’t think I’ll be a Trekkie, but the franchise definitely intrigued me. Have you seen Shatner’s documentary The Captains? Stewart is so fantastic there as he talked about his theater background and how he became Capt. Picard. Hey, geeks are VERY welcome here anytime as I’m one too :D

  12. That’s so awesome you want to get into Trek more after seeing Into Darkness! I have seen the original films and the ’09 reboot but none of the others and I’m trying to get on that as soon as possible. But you want to know what I did first though? I went home and watched all the episodes of Sherlock! Such a great show! Benedict Cumberbatch is great and I can’t wait to see him in his other films this year!

    • Ha..ha.. I don’t blame you for watching Benedict in Sherlock after this. He’s awesome indeed and I hope this movie will bring even more prominent roles for him. I can’t wait to see him as Julian Asange, though I’d rather he keeps this look as John Harrison w/ dark hair and form-fitting all black outfit ;)

  13. Great piece Ruth. I have seen a couple of the Star Trek films but I still wasn’t really bothered by them, but both of Abrams’ films have got me more interested. I wouldn’t mind checking out some more of them too.
    I also loved Cumberbatch as the villain, he played it pretty perfectly. It could have done with more of him to be honest!

    • Thank you Chris! Oh so Abrams’ got you intrigued in the franchise too, very cool! I’m running out of superlatives for Cumberbatch! I first saw him in this underrated inspirational drama Amazing Grace where he played British politician William Pitt. Of course Sherlock made him a star and deservedly so!

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  15. I liked the movie a lot, too Ruth, though the lens flares DID bother me 8O I wish someone would grab Abrams by the shoulders and shake that habit out of him!! :roll:

    Cumberbatch is a way better villain than Bana, but he pales in comparison to Montalban… LOL ;) Nice review! You’ve got a lot of good entertainment out there if you never got into Star Trek!

    • Hi Fogs! Glad you liked this too. As for the lens flares, I noticed them (I mean who doesn’t??) but I sort of just shrug it off somehow. But yeah, I hope he won’t do that w/ Star Wars too, ahah.

      I’m hoping to see Wrath of Khan in the next couple of weeks. Boy I did not recognize it was Ricardo Montalban!! :D

  16. SIGH. I’m an original Star Trek fan from watching the darn show on TV as a kid. I’ve seen every episode, every film, and every new decade when there’s a new cast/version. I feel quite dorky about my love for Spock and Data. I use Priceline.com just because W. Shatner endorses it. AND I’m completely aware of how ridiculous he is. I don’t care.
    I’m still in the dark about ‘Into the Darkness’ GOOD GRIEF! Maybe tomorrow!
    P.S. Nice review.

    • Hi Cindy! So I take it you’ve seen The Captains then if you like Shatner? Oh I think he’s so amusing, yes he’s ridiculous but in a fun way, not annoying. It’s a pretty darn good doc about all the actors playing a Star Trek captain, I enjoyed it, esp. Patrick Stewart’s interview. Hope you see ‘Into Darkness’ soon, let me know what you think!

  17. BENEDICT! BENEDICT! LOL! Yes, I actually chanted that with my daughter as we sat to watch the film. What can I say? I love Star Trek (hard-core Next Generation–Picard rocks! Data is my Spock. And I’ve seen all 12 movies), yet watching Mr. Cumberbatch was going to be an added bonus. And boy was I right. ;D PS–Sherlock is brilliant!

    Just finished my review–and although not perfect it was undeniably a good time, again! I give most of the credit to the perfect cast–they are dead on and I want to hang out with these guys! I am also excited about the future of the franchise. Can’t wait to see where we go from here–especially, without Abrams lens flares! lol.

    Great write-up! Later! :D

    • Hi Nedi, welcome to FC! That’s sooo cool that you’re geeking out w/ your daughter. Or is it ‘trekk-ing out’? Ahah! Data is your Spock, that’s awesome! But yes, I LOVE Benedict, too!

      Read your review, we agree on a lot of points. Yeah, I’m curious to see who’ll take up Abram’s mantle, hopefully no more lens flares, ahah.

      Hope to see you around more often :D

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  20. I was never a Star Trek fan. But I do have to admit, I am a bit curious about this franchise in Abrams’ hands. I still haven’t watched the first one he did, but my brother has and he really enjoyed. So I’m guessing I’m going to have to finally get around to that soon, because admittedly the hype for Into Darkness has my attention. Though, as you mentioned here, not sure this could live up to that hype for me, so I’ll have to keep my expectations lower heading in.

    • So you’re in the same both as me then Josh. Oh you should see the first movie, I think it’s as good as this one though I think I appreciate it more now that I’m a bit more familiar w/ the Star Trek universe.

  21. I can’t wait! I’d never seen a Star Trek film before the reboot and now I’m hooked. Can’t believe I’m having trouble persuading my wife to get to the cinema with me when it has Chris Pine in it!

    • Hiya Pete! Hey, you’re exactly in the same camp as me then. Oh, you have to tell your wife Benedict is in it, I think he’s just as attractive, but then again I’m always more into the Brits ;)

  22. Wonderful review Ruth! I prefer the previous film, but there’s no denying Benedict Cumberbatch’s character was a much better villain than Eric Bana’s. Out of 5, I’d give this one 4 and the previous film 4.5.

    Other than Abrams’ Trek films, I’ve only seen the original 1979 film, and I’d like to go back and watch them too.

    • Y’know, I was saying that to my hubby after I saw the film, that I still prefer the first film (like Batman Begins to TDK), but I ended up giving this a better score because of Cumberbatch. So you’ve seen the original but not Wrath of Khan? I REALLY want to see that now after this one :D

  23. Great read Ruth. My dad loved Star Trek and I grew up with him watching the Next Generation all the time. Although I didn’t share his love of Star Trek growing up I was at least aware of it and he would always tell me about his favorite episodes from the original series as well as the Next Gen. It wasn’t until I took him to see the revamp back in 2009 did I realize how awesome it is. He loved it and so did I and I also enjoyed Into Darkness. Thanks for the great read =)

    • Hey thanks! What a great story about your dad. That’s got to be very cool to share a passion for movies w/ your folks. I was curious how your dad liked the Abrams’ version, glad that he enjoyed ‘em too. Well now he could ‘gloat’ that he knew how awesome Star Trek is all along, ahah.

  24. Benedict Cumberbatch is half the villain that Ricardo Montalban was in the original version of this film that I watched in 1982. That could be why I enjoyed this film half as much. Cool visuals, I like the cast, plenty of action. But I could do without the recycled script filled with unforgivable plot holes.

    With the whole universe to explore why not move this franchise forward rather than backwards?

  25. Ahah, another Montalban fan :D Bummer you didn’t enjoy this Adam. I don’t feel the plot was recycled and plot holes, well I could say the same thing about a bunch of other beloved movies, ahah. But to me, it’s still forgivable. I had fun with this one.

  26. Wow, so the new Star Trek films have made you want to dig into the classics, eh? I suppose I should give them a shot then. The Star Trek universe is one that I have never even attempted to tackle, and it’s probably one of my biggest oversights. Come to think of it, I actually have an unopened DVD of the 2009 film sitting at home. Now is probably the perfect time to finally watch it!

    • Oh I don’t think it’s ever too late to start on any franchise Eric. You bought the BD but haven’t seen it yet?? Well visually it’s gorgeous on BD, I might actually buy this one as well.

  27. As previously stated I LOVED this film. I am not a dyed in the wool Trekkie but I probably sit on far periphery of the franchise. We grew up watching the original in syndication and I was a fan of TNG and DSN although I would not say I was deeply invested in these incarnations of the franchise, I did appreciate what they brought to the Star Trek cannon.

    • Sitting in the far periphery! I like that, I think I’m that way w/ some franchise, it just needs a bit of a kick to finally jump in :) Well, suffice to say I’m quite ready w/ Star Trek now, w/ the movies at least.

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  29. Great look at the latest Star Trek Ruth!
    I haven’t had the chance to catch this one yet, but I’m certainly looking forward to it after the exciting and surprising first attempt to bring back the series under the guidance of J.J Abrams a couple of years ago.
    I agree with you about the casting. I think it had to be right for fans to embrace the new films, and for new fans like you to pop up. There’s no doubt there will be another sequel after this one, and probably one after that, whether Abrams stays on or not as long as they continue to be profitable.
    Did you like it more or less than the first one?

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