Paramount has just revealed the first trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek, and it’s heavy on the cinematics. Both directed by the lensflare-happy J.J. Abrams, Into Darkness expands on the last film’s reboot/spinoff of the titanic science fiction franchise with a new villain (played by the apparently devilish Benedict Cumberbatch) and a newly-minted Captain Kirk. Admittedly, I’m not as hot on this flick’s reveal as I was the 2009 film, but why? Let me explain.
Star Trek is great, Star Trek (2009) is also great. This summer, I marathoned the entire film series through all its ups and downs. Concluding with 2009 – a film that should carry an epilepsy warning relative to its predecessors – was a fantastic hurrah. Abrams’ Trek retooled the aging, creatively dormant saga for the modern era, hopping away from technobabble and boring alien drama toward throwing all kinds of crazy shit directly into your face. It’s not my favorite Trek (that honor still goes to VI), but as both a science fiction film and as a Trek release that had an obligation to stand in Roddenberry’s pantheon, it exceeded in many levels.
Where it didn’t succeed well enough, and where In Darkness appears to be picking up, is in the depth. 2009 was a well-conceived adventure with plenty of humor and lots of action and splashy special effects, but the characters far too often that they were hitting the marks set by their predecessors of decades past. The film indulged in its post-production vices a bit too often at times and left me feeling a little hollow. Now that a sequel has some space to breathe and build these characters, we get yet another splashy sequence of quick-cutting blim-blammity, snippets of the crew, and more CG than you can shake an entire Harry Potter franchise at. Cumberbatch’s narration blows my mind, but what runs underneath seems like more rollercoaster than exotic journey.
Look, I don’t need Kirk and Spock in formal Naval attire barking Shakespeare and Moby Dick, I really just want some thicker meat to sink into. Is that too much to ask?