J.J. Abrams has brought true genius in the form of his second film in the Star Trek saga, and Star Trek: Into Darkness leaves the audience reeling with an entertaining and powerfully emotional experience.
The original 1979 movie Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the subsequent series had to follow in the steps of an innovative and boundary pushing 1960’s TV show that had become a cult classic and legend, and when that first flick hit theaters there was a lot of disappointment from a fan base that expected more than a reintroduction and reestablishing of the characters and what has been dubbed a cool looking and fun “sightseeing tour” of a movie. It was a success but did not offer much of the groundbreaking that went on time and again in the Star Trek TV series.
Then came Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and the obscure and wonderfully ruthless, strong, and cruel Khan was the perfect foil for Captain Kirk and company. The gritty movie showed suspense, terror, and a maniac as an edgy villain that propelled its box office breakthroughs into the stratosphere. The characters had flaws, depth, and growth, and they were tested repeatedly in an all too dangerous bout.
Abrams provided a phenomenal reboot with Star Trek and aptly made his series an alternate timeline in the history of this fictional universe that does not need to follow in the original’s giant footsteps while leaving room for new and interesting plots and legendary adventures. So really J.J. was one up on the original film, and with Into Darkness he waxes his reach into the Star Trek mythology with a smart and ruthless killer in John Harrison, played by the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch.
This film will be hard to overtake in terms of its amazing mix of story, villainy, supreme acting all around, and sheer emotional weight amongst myriad thrills.
Visually, it is stunning and fits perfectly into Trekky lore, and there is a sense of awe that comes out of seeing this on the big screen, which is not unlike the Wrath of Khan’s cloudy supernova battle invoked thirty-plus years ago in theaters.
I cannot wait to see what Abrams will have in store for the next in the series.
IMPULSIVE REVIEW Grade: A++
by R.J. Huneke
Though the blockbuster Iron Man 3 has higher expectations than possibly any other Marvel super hero flick, Shane Black’s comic book adaptation thrills and brings new depth to the characters and world.
Because of the tremendous success of the brilliant previous Iron Man films that were directed by Jon Favreau, The Amazing Spider-man reboot, and Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, many are mistakenly trying to compare this newest Iron Man installment to the past projects and not look at it in its own light.
Though Marvel and former Iron Man director Favreau had a dispute that ended his controlling the third movie, Shane Black who co-wrote the Iron Man 3 script stepped in to add more action and more darkness to the story arc.
No one can deny how perfect the first two movies fit the Iron Man comic book character and Favreau emanated the spirit and the great story from the books in two fun, thrilling, witty, and entertaining pieces of art.
What Black has done in the third Iron Man film is completely different and a bit rougher, and this is not a bad thing.
Tony Stark the genius, billionaire scientist turned machine-suit superhero is still depicted brilliantly by Robert Downey, Jr. whose acting prowess continues to wax brightly.
SPOILER ALERT: And Stark is tested throughout with a newly acquired anxiety disorder stemming from certain largely unexplained events from New York, alluding to Loki’s alien invasion of the Big Apple, a terrorist attack leveling his own home and close friend, Happy (played by Favreau), and numerous suit malfunction from his prototype toys.
The major theme of the movie involves the coping with adverse conditions of change that affect everyone, including billionaire playboy philanthropists, and finding the perseverance to endure.
That said, there is a lot of fighting (in every type of way), a few grim and eerie hacking of TV’s that the Mandarin uses to highlight terrorist attacks as his own commercials, and a very human Tony Stark that becomes desperate to keep his new girlfriend Pepper – played by the starkly talented Gwyneth Paltrow – even at the cost of killing people.
Tony Stark as the drunk is referenced by not shown as much as Tony Stark the lost tinkerer who is desperate to avenge and protect what he cares most for in the world but does not know how to accomplish this. This could be foreshadowing a darker and meaner side of Stark that we have not seen before for future movies, as the comic books often delved into his substance abuse and his volatile personal relations, which often caused strife between him and Captain America, amongst others.
This movie is funny, thrilling, surprising and full of great acting; Ben Kingsley is a great Mandarin (I hope for his return in the future, though the story made that unlikely), and Don Cheadle reprises Tony’s friend Col. Rhodes (and the War Machine and/or Iron Patriot) very well once again.
This tale is deliciously dark, full of explosive action, and very funny from start to finish.
Impulsive Review Grade: A-
by R.J. Huneke
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