Monday, July 01, 2013

It's my birthday and I'll eat cupcakes if I wanna (And my Star Trek into Darkness movie review)

Panel from "The Mirrors That Predicted the Future" in Shazam! (1973 series) #4 (July 1973), script by Elliot S! Maggin; pencils, inks and letters by C. C. Beck

Well, well, well, guess whose birthday it is? (Go ahead, guess.) It's mine! (And not Billy Batson's, which is February 29th. Thank you everyone for all the wonderfully nice birthday greetings and cupcakes! Today I am turning six years old. (Which is a very good age to be!) Also, I had birthday cupcakes!

As usual on my birthday I got! to go to the movies! I chose the matinee showing of Star Trek into Darkness in 3D because I'd been eagerly awaiting it and I haven't seen it yet. Also, I wanted to see it in THREE-D! With the starships and the phasers and the tribbles and the Alice Eve in her undies flyin' out of the screen right at me and stuff.

I think the people who run the AMC Empire Cinema 25 got confused when they put up the movie poster, though, because when I entered the long corridor it was into darkness! I had to run and I was hurrying to not miss the movie and trying not to spill my small popcorn ($16.50) and medium Coke (2.3 gallons) and my box of Junior Mints and my nachos and my Dippin' Dots and I was very very lucky as I managed to run into the theater, put on my 3D glasses just as the movie started! So here's my review.

Lots of people are not happy with the re-casting of the classic roles to contemporary actors, but I thought that Leonardo DiCaprio was fantastic as Captain James T. Kirk. He captured the swagger and boldness of William Shatner, and from the Hollywood movie magazines I have read in the barber shop, reports say that DiCaprio was so eager to get the role, he shaved off his hair and bought a bouffant toupee! Now there is dedication to one's role! I've not seen such strong work of an actor to fully get into his role since Daniel Day Lewis spent all his free time acting as lincoln, or since Gary Sinese chopped off his own legs to play Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump.

Director Baz Luhrmann (Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom, Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet) has boldly gone where no Trek director has ever gone before by apparently setting the entire movie on that planet of the 1920s gangsters that we saw in the original series. So there is magnificent costuming and eleaborate sets, although never enough moments of Spock (Toby Maguire) holding a tommy gun.

On the other hand, the themes and mood of the movie are very different than those of other Trek motion pictures. Previous films in the series are based around the ideas of "The means of the many outweigh the needs of the few," "the news of the one outweight the needs of the many," "Shakespeare was Klingon," and "Scotty apparently can't find a place to park in drydock." But Star Trek into Darkness takes its cue from its subtitle, or more precisely, half of its title, by not so much having a "trek" into "space" but examining in close detail the moral and sociological implications of a culture on the decline and the end of a grand age, and also alcoholism.

Baz Luhrmann (or, as I like to call him, Bluhrmann) potentially alienates the core center of Trek fans by not having Kirk and Co. face off against any of the traditional villains such as the Klingons, Romulans, or that guy who can only speak in metaphor. Instead he introduces a brand-new nemesis haunting the Enterprise with the spectre of omnipresent observation and universal decay: the eerie space watcher Dr. T. J. Echleburg.

In an unusual twist, the evil Doctor never actually physically threatens Kirk and his crew, but has a constant presence, even when not on screen, to loom over the proceedings. I'm not certain where Bluhrmann got the idea for this creepy villain, but all I know is I can't wait for the action figure. Maybe it's a homage to the villain in this classic Superboy tale:

Panels from "The Two Boys of Steel" in Superboy (1949 series) #63 (March 1958), script by Jerry Coleman, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Stan Kaye

Well, despite the surprising changes in cast, setting, soundtrack, tone, atmosphere, plot, theme, and the complete lack of any scenes set in out space, Star Trek into Darkness is

Now wait a minute...

(re-looking at my ticket stub)


Curse you, AMC Empire Cinema 25!


Blam said...

Happy 20 Minutes Left of Your Birthday, Bully!

Dave Lartigue said...

Happy Birthday Bully! May you have many more!

Steve Kopian said...

Happy birthday- once again you make it redundant to try and review either film...

Evan Waters said...

Happy Birthday!

SallyP said...

Have a wonderful Birthday, Bully!

Michael Jones said...

I wish you had uddered, "Spoiler Alert". I haven't seen ST yet (and won't be able to until August. Sigh.)

Sappy Mirthday!

-- MrJM said...

Happy belated etc.

-- MrJM