Disclaimer 2: I have tried to keep spoilers to an absolute minimum, but if you don’t want to take any risks, maybe save reading this until after you have seen the film…
So on Monday night I was lucky enough to be at an advance screening of the new JJ Abrams Star Trek outing: Star Trek Into Darkness. Going into it I knew two things: 1. I didn’t enjoy the first of his Star Trek’s much at all and 2. The second one, from the trailer at least, looked better. Hence, I went into it with an open mind and really hoping to enjoy the next few hours of fun and action-packed film making. I really really hoped I would. And I tried to enjoy it. I tried really really hard. But it just didn’t work. That’s right people. I am going to say it. I really didn’t like the new Star Trek film at all.
The film did, however, help me have an epihany, so I should credit JJ with that at least. And it was an epiphany I probably should have had ages ago, and that most of you have had before. But it is this: movies really are an entirely subjective thing. Whether you like them or don’t like them really comes down to whether you connect with the characters, whether you are interested in the plot, and whether, let’s be honest, you are in a good mood on the day or not. Sometimes, if you are in SUCH a grump, even The Princess Bride won’t make you smile (though I have never been in such a space, that would be inconceivable for me ;-)). But I wasn’t in a grump on Star Trek day, I just really didn’t connect with the film.
I realise now that I have been guilty in the past of lambasting people for not liking movies that I loved. I have been openly incredulous when people (you know who you are) told me you didn’t really enjoy The Avengers and thought it was a bit silly. Yes I did, on my mental tick/cross list I have for each of you, give you a black cross for that. Are you crazy? I thought. You must be nuts not to enjoy such a wickedly fun film. But no, I realise now you are not nuts (well, some of you are for other reasons and again you know who you are). You just didn’t connect with it in the same way I didn’t connect with Star Trek. But that doesn’t mean either of them is a bad film. I would argue, on their technical merits and in terms of script, story, performances and action, both were splendid films (though let’s be honest, The Avengers was WAY funnier). Both, however, require substantial suspension of disbelief. One involves a group of superheroes (some of whom are gods) fighting a puny god and an army of aliens. The other involves a crew of space explorers sent to deal to a bad ass terrorist on an alien planet. Neither of these scenarios is entirely relatable or believable. So we need to invest in the characters and the story enough to go along with the ridiculous premise. And if you do manage that, then you are in for a fun ride.
The problem too when you fail to suspend disbelief and buy into the premise is you then have a whole lot of time to either a) nit pick the whole movie to pieces or b) mentally write your shopping list. In Star Trek Into Darkness I did both. When you conciously know you are watching a movie then you look at the sets and costumes carefully (seriously, why were the girls wearing tiny short skirts when EXPORING SPACE? Not practical at all people); you laugh when people have emotional meltdowns (really not appreciated by others sitting next to you); you make a mental list of how many things you have seen before in similar and recent movies (a tall, British, sartorially savvy villain who manipulates and taunts his captors from a glass fronted cell? No, really? Have NEVER seen that before…). Oh and I finally remembered to buy Glad Wrap 😉
So why could I buy into superheroes but not space explorers (and yes, I know the Trekkies reading this will be going ‘they ARE NOT space explorers!’)? Good question, for which I don’t have a good answer. All I can tell you is I liked the Avengers’ characters more. I loved the villain. They looked like they were having fun. And they were damn funny. But the crew of the Starship Enterprise? Not so much. I could say some things now that will annoy the Trekkies so I probably shouldn’t…but will anyway 😉 I have never been into the whole Star Trek thing, so alot of the in jokes and references flew right past me. I also don’t particularly like any of the characters, and there are so many of them that you don’t really get enough time to get to know them. The only exception is Simon Pegg’s Scotty, and I think alot of me liking him is down to him as an actor. Spock got the best lines, and is arguably the best developed character but his main interactions were with Kirk, which led to problems for me because Chris Pine’s Kirk just left me cold. Another good looking playboy maverick who thinks he is above the rules? Yawn. So even when he was exchanging playful banter with his semi-human best friend, I was only half interested.
I would therefore say this: I didn’t enjoy Star Trek Into Darkness much at all. I wanted to have a little nap half way through but couldn’t because it was too noisy. BUT: if you like Star Trek and/or enjoyed the last Star Trek film, then you would probably LOVE this. I was sitting next to two battle-hardened film critics and they both thoroughly enjoyed it. So don’t trust me, trust them. However, if you, like me, found the last one a little bit ridiculous, then go and see Iron Man 3 in 3D instead. You won’t regret it 😉