Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

May 21, 2013

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


Niagara Gazette — The story is uncomplicated, although it helps to know what the Prime Directive is. That’s the Federation mandate that forbids messing around with alien cultures. Leave them alone. Whatever will be will be. This is a very hippie-like attitude, but then Gene Rodenberry, the creator of “Star Trek,” presented the first television series in 1966 quite near the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. He took pride in presenting his preferred social issues (civil rights, the woman’s movement, eradication of poverty, charity towards all and malice towards none) under the guise of science fiction.

The crew of the Enterprise, under the command of young Captain Kirk, violates the Prime Directive because that’s what the screenwriters need. It’s a weak beginning. So, the Enterprise is taken away from Kirk. Then it’s given back to him because there’s a nasty science fiction villain (Benedict Cumberbatch) threatening peace in outer space, that sort of thing. The Enterprise is always the only spaceship that can handle the ogres; stiff, waxy, and basically British though they may be. There you have it. That is your movie, in all its redundancy. When Kirk is leaping about endangered by red vines on a distant planet, can Tribbles really not be far behind?

I am always amused by the fact that a gang of pirates a gazillion miles from Earth can be so dangerous to that very same Earth. Isn’t space travel exhausting? Who can summon up the energy to fight after zooming through asteroids and planetoids and every other conceivable oid? Why don’t they ever just want to mellow out? Perhaps have a sandwich or a cup of soup?

There are long rounds of space fighting, but more violent than we’re used to from previous “Star Trek” adventures. Heightening the violence distracts audiences from the lack of a rich story. As the film wobbles to its lengthy conclusion, overstaying its welcome, there is a surprise for “Star Trek” fans, something that involves the central villain.

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