Another Opening of Another Box Office Blockbuster: Star Trek Into Darkness
By: Ellis Nassour
Summer blockbusters are rolling off Hollywood’s assembly lines so fast – and weekly breaking cineplex box office records, it’s hard to keep up with them. There’re sequels and prequels and remakes. Already, and still on screens, are Iron Man 3, with Robert Downey Jr. back as Tony Stark alongside Gweneth Paltrow as Pepper, and as the Mandarin, Sir Ben Kingsley; The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire; and upcoming, Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 6 to be followed only days later by The Hangover III.
But just before the latter two and opening this weekend, is J.J. Abrams’ much-anticipated continued retooling of the Gene Roddenberry 60s TV sci-fi classic, Star Trek whose legacy includes four TV series and 11 movies. The new adaptation began four years ago with Chris Pine (Rise of the Guardians) as young Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto (TV’s 24) as Spock – with another guest appearance from Leonard Nimoy. This second prequel, Star Trek into Darkness (Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot), launches the Enterprise into a "life-or-death chess game with unstoppable forces of destruction."
Kirk goes through the most intense shake-up, facing loss, doubt, and intense questions about what matters most to him. The film sets the future tone of the relationship between Kirk and Spock, who couldn’t be more glaringly different, and yet neither would be the same without the other.
The resolution of this adventure, marked by betrayal from within the ranks and the introduction of dastardly villain John Harrison, who’s revealed to be Khan – portrayed by Olivier Award winner Benedict Cumberbatch (Frankenstein at U.K.’s National; the War Horse flm; Sherlock Holmes in the Brit TV series) – sets the intrepid crew on course for their most epic journey yet. It’s one that’ll soon lead them into the deep space of the Final Frontier where no man has gone before.
Alliances are challenged, dilemmas and questions of trust run amok, in the wake of Admiral Marcus’ act of terror on his own Star Fleet. Though the Enterprise is called home to Earth, defiant Kirk leads a planet-hopping manhunt from jungle-like Nibiru to Klingon planet Kronos and beyond and back to Earth in a homage to Star Wars and the aerial chase through San Francisco.
Returning to the Enterprise are Karl Urban as "Bones," Bruce Greenwood as Admiral Pike, the irrepressible Simon Pegg as Chief Engineer "Scotty," Zoe Saldana (Avatar) as Communications Officer Uhura, and John Cho as Sulu. Also new to the cast are Peter Weller (Marcus) and Alice Eve as weaponry expert Carol, who comes aboard hiding her real identity.
In 3-D and with approximately 30 minutes of footage shot in extreme Hi-Res IMAX, into Darkness fills the large-format screen to the max and delivers unprecedented crispness and clarity.
"On the heels of the success of the 2009 Star Trek," says Abrams (the creative force behind the time-bending and edge-of-the-seat TV series Lost), "I had no intention resting on my laurels or disappointing millions of fans of the franchise. For the story to move forward, this had to be more ambitious. Our goal was to keep the comedy, humanity, and buoyancy while going into more complex and darker territory. For Captain Kirk, what begins as a mission of revenge becomes a quest for what it really means to be worthy of being captain."
He adds that every aspect had to go deeper, probe more boldly, into what makes the characters tick and why their mission is so compelling. This meant an incredible array of new challenges and for new worlds to be imagined and built. The decision to shoot the film in a mix of 35mm and IMAX and to add 3-D depth and gimmicks another progression to take into Darkness light years ahead.
Abrams says he and his team would have been "crazy not to shoot in IMAX. The resolution you get is insane. You’re swallowed into the movie. I’ve yet to see a space adventure presented this way. There were brain-racking logistical challenges but, in the end, it was worth it."
Co-producer Bryan Burke [Bad Robot] muses, "We started with one question: how to put the Enterprise team into the greatest jeopardy and conflict? We felt that if the first film was about how the team came together, then this story had to be about them growing up fast but with energy and possibility."