REVIEW: Star Trek Into Darkness

star trek into darkness 650 paramount

Star Trek Into Darkness
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof (screenplay), Gene Roddenberry (TV series)
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Benedict Cumberbatch

The second installment of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot checks all the necessary boxes to make it an effective summer blockbuster, which is its biggest problem.  It feels like a laundry list of co-mingling plot points and action set pieces, more calculated business venture than artistic Enterprise.  Abrams is a good enough ringleader that all the pieces fall together nicely and the high tech toys he gets to play with are a good action showcase, but the movie will fizzle away when a new good enough sci-fi blockbuster opens in a couple weeks to take its place.

Into Darkness, despite its heftier title, is not a plunge into darker territory, as second franchise installments often are.  Sure, one of the series’ most famous villains, Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), surfaces, but it feels just as light on its feet as Abrams’ 2009 reboot.  The best thing about it is still the chemistry between Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto), whose humorous ideological clashes provide the movie with much of that lightness.  There are exceptional action sequences, including an astonishing sequence of space diving to an enemy ship, but they aren’t nearly as entertaining as watching Spock attempt a romantic relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana).

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REVIEW: Unstoppable

Unstoppable
Directed by: Tony Scott
Written by: Mark Bomback
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, and Kevin Dunn

If you explain the basic concept of this movie (man v. physics) or any of the countless others it borrows from, people may think it sounds dull.  In the movies, time is one of the biggest perpetuaters of suspense and conflict.  Diffuse the bomb, rescue the falling citizen, stop the train- we’ve seen it all and then some when it comes to race against the clock movies.  In the hands of a Hitchcock it can be a deadly, precise cinematic weapon.  Tony Scott also knows how to utilize it with his series of fast cuts and unnerving suspense, and his characters are always racing against some kind of clock, but I don’t need to say that he’s no Hitchcock.

Here, Denzel Washington (returning from Scott’s only just-forgotten The Taking of Pelham 123) plays Frank, a 28-year blue collar railway veteran getting ready to endure a forced retirement.  By his side is newbie Will (Chris Pine), a typically spunky up-and-comer who got this job because of who he knows at the top.  Time makes another appearance here in this attempted generational conflict.  Mediating this conflict in a command center is Connie (Rosario Dawson), who helps Will and Frank against the orders from her corporate masters.

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