This post contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read another sentence.
I should admit upfront that while I enjoy J.J. Abrams’ update of Star Trek, I ultimately prefer the quiet, more thoughtful and ethical dilemma-driven Original Series to the more action-oriented approach of the recent movies. That preference drives my major dislikes below, but I ultimately think it is a weaker film for its reliance on action, and that it’s not just my personal preference saying so.
I should also admit that I’ve only seen The Motion Picture of the original series movies, so I have very little knowledge or preconceptions of the particular Trek lore that informs Into Darkness.
Things I Liked
Now, THIS is a villain. Cumberbatch is menacing every second he’s on screen, but menacing in such an extremely charismatic way that I never wanted him to leave the screen. It’s only been a few days since I saw the movie, but I already remember every one of his scenes 10x better than all the other scenes. Kirk who? No, but seriously, he’s a villian who gives you chills simply with a glance or a tone of voice, and I loved seeing that.
The cast’s continued embodiment of the roles
I just said I didn’t remember the rest of the cast as much as Cumberbatch, and that’s probably true, but they still all did a wonderful job embodying their characters from the original series. That was my favorite thing about Abrams’ first Star Trek movie, and nobody’s fallen down on the job since then. I particularly liked the extra time given to Checkhov, even if he did prove not to be as good an engineer as Scottie. He was trying so hard!
It’s been a few weeks now since Prometheus hit screens, but the vociferous dialogue about the film has barely died down – it has its fair share of lovers and haters, and it seems the only thing no one thinks is that it was just all right. I don’t fall into that category either, as I really enjoyed it and can’t quite believe the amount of vitriol I’ve seen hurled at it. In any case, here are the things I liked and disliked about it. I am NOT holding back spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, hold off on reading this until you have. There are plenty of other spoiler-free takes on the film around, both positive and negative.
Things I Liked
Nobody denies that Ridley Scott’s strength is visual; even the people who hate Prometheus acknowledge that it looks ridiculously gorgeous. That goes an awfully long way with me, and giving me something pretty to look at is perhaps all-too-effective at getting me to overlook flaws in other areas. I think the flaws people have pointed out in Prometheus are largely overblown, but even if I didn’t, I’m not sure I wouldn’t still have enjoyed the hell out of watching it. From the opening fly-over to the intricate interior of the mounds, not to mention the dazzling effects in the map room and even the static-filled holograms, my eyes were happy every second of this film.
The story it chose to tell
There are lots of stories that could be told within the Alien universe, but when I rewatched Alien a few days before going to see Prometheus, I realized that the story I wanted to see was about the giant pilot in the crashed spaceship. At one point in Alien, that seems to be a big mystery, but then they get attacked, horror takes over, and it becomes about survival rather than discovery, and I wanted to get back to the discovery. Prometheus is all about the discovery, and tells the story that had piqued my curiosity in the first place. Even though the mystery isn’t fully solved, I felt more at home, inspired and fulfilled by seeing this story addressed.
Excuse me while I geek out for a moment.
Okay, I’m cool now. Until this past year, I’ve never really been a comics or superhero type person (and I still don’t read much Marvel, though DC has their hooks into me something fierce), but Marvel’s movie series has been getting my business ever since I heard Joss Whedon would be directing The Avengers. But as the lead-ups have gone on, I’ve found myself more and more invested, even though I can definitely see flaws in Thor, Iron Man 2 (okay, I kind of hated Iron Man 2, but more on that in my April recap, hopefully coming shortly), etc. Would Whedon bring what I love about his work to such a big and bombastic franchise that’s been so long in the making, or would it end up being just another big summer blockbuster wanna-be?
The short story is I loved this film, almost from start to finish. It’s witty, funny, well-paced, well-shot, with plenty of thrills and applause-worthy action moments at all the right times. If you somehow haven’t seen it yet and it made $200 million last weekend without your $$$, then just stop there and go see it. The rest of this post will be spoilery as heck.