Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

May 21, 2013

CALLERI: 'Star Trek Into Darkness' shows a comedic side

Niagara Gazette — If you’re not part of the “Star Trek” cheering section, you’re to be forgiven if you can’t keep track of all the incarnations of the outer space adventure. The best advice I can give for developing an understanding of the connectivity among all the motion pictures and television programs is to take them one at a time. You’ll slowly see how interwoven everything is. Of course, understanding doesn’t necessarily have to mean appreciating.

As for those of you who confuse “Star Trek” with “Star Wars,” be aware that people do take sides. Is there an empirical, or even a theoretical, difference between the two? The answer is yes. “Star Trek” is about philosophy and technology as it pertains to traveling through the galaxies. It’s more cerebral, more about discovery and exploration; encounters with aliens and a desire to know their worlds. “Star Wars is about aggression and mythology. Its vision is more grandiose; epic if you will. Political machinations and control of civilizations are part of the package. Large-scale battles ensue. If “Star Trek” is a dramatic reading. “Star Wars” is an opera.

As far as “Star Trek Into Darkness” is concerned, through most of the film there’s not much that’s genuinely surprising. Because this is the follow-up to the 2009 re-boot of the franchise, there’s still a lot of “Star Trek” history to mine. Director J. J. Abrams and his trio of screenwriters (Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof) delight in scooping up swaths of background material and tossing it into the mix.

The movie is not very original. Some of it is fun, even funnier than Ricardo Montalban’s pumped up pecs in “Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.” Fortunately, the comic highlights in this new adventure are rooted in the successful use of its characters. The verbal byplay between Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine), as well as among other members of the Enterprise crew, is wonderfully entertaining. It’s comedy drawn from depth. It also tells you how fine acting can enhance moderately interesting dialogue.

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