Basically, I just wish they had devoted more effort to creating a sense of emotional and psychological depth, and less effort to packing in ALL the cool stuff they could think of. In the end, I felt well entertained for a couple of hours, but I didn’t feel like I was taking much of the movie with me when I left the theater.
It was well acted, it was well directed, it was decently written.
It was fun, it was action packed, it was pretty.
But I found that when I was feeling emotionally involved, it was almost always in that one-step-removed, “gee this is emotionally involving” kind of way. There were very few moments (if any) which bridged that mind-gap of…meta-awareness? IDEK if that’s a good word for it. I just know that sometimes, when a movie has some kind of “It” quality, there’s this magical thing that happens where I don’t give a fuck that I’m watching something scripted and produced. Because I don’t feel like I’m watching a movie; I feel like I’m watching the people I want to see, doing the things they do, and I LOVE it.
The first movie of the reboot managed to get me into that headspace – not constantly, but for a fair bit of the movie. This one didn’t, much, and for the most part I attribute that to the movie’s own self-consciousness. I think the writer(s) had a (very understandable) case of we’re-writing-the-follow-up-to-a-huge-hi
Plus, they used a lot of what I think of as “self-acknowledgment as self-reinforcement.” A lot of humor along the lines of: “It’s funny Spock said that, because it’s such a Spock thing to say.” (Which I guess might just fall under the term “Lampshading,” come to think of it.) That stuff worked really well in the first movie, because as an audience we needed to have the essential Spock-ness of Spock emphasized—the essential qualities of all the characters emphasized—in order to re-forge a connection with the characters in their new incarnations. But Into Darkness used more of that tactic when it should have used less, and while each individual time it was used was still amusing, when added up, one instance on top of the next, it felt like cheap writing.
The whole meta-awareness thing also wasn’t aided by the fact that seeing Benedict Cumberbatch was, for me, an unavoidably meta experience (still not sure if ‘meta’ is really the right word in this instance, but whatever). My brain kept informing me that: “Psst, that’s Benedict Cumberbatch! He plays Sherlock. You’ve seen him play Sherlock a whole bunch. That thing he just did was really Sherlockesque. Also, your shipper instinct says you should be shipping him with somebody, yet there’s nobody to ship him with, because this isn’t that story and he’s not Sherlock. Still though, it’s totally Benedict Cumberbatch!” Despite my perception problems, though, from what I could tell he was very good. His acting was extremely decisive and magnetic. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t been so hyper aware of the fact that he was Benedict Cumberbatch, I would have believed in his character with ease. I think he may even have had that magical “It” quality.
There were plenty of things I liked about Into Darkness, though, so I will list them under a spoiler cut:
( CUT FOR SPOILERS: stuff I liked about Into DarknessCollapse )
Oh, and also, DEAR SWEET JESUS, since when is Benedict Cumberbatch the very specimen of physical excellence? Personally, I have a major thing for thin, somewhat lanky physiques, so I actually find him more physically attractive in S1 of Sherlock than in Into Darkness. But I do also have a strong appreciation for finely-tuned musculature, and holy fuck did BC ever hit the gym for this role. My brain kind of can’t deal with the fact that I spent as much of Into Darkness as I did thinking “Holy crap, check out Benedict Cumberbatch’s ridiculously well-built body doing ridiculously efficient combat moves.” Which is to say that it will not surprise me in the least if BC gains even more fangirls in the next week or two. (I’m not putting this part under the spoiler cut, because I’m pretty sure that BC being buff and doing combat is a spoiler to no one who has had the internet in the last six months. But if anyone thinks it should be under the cut, please let me know, and I apologise.)
Overall Grade: B