Annyeong haseyo, yeorobun!
Today, allow me to review something that’s not remotely related to KPop. Not that I have outgrown my love for it (believe me, I don’t. haha), but instead, I want to expose you to another great passion of mine, one that predates my love for Korean Pop Culture. Yes, that’s right. I’m a Trekkie.
This time, I move from SM Academy to Starfleet Academy by giving my thoughts on the 2nd installment of J.J. Abrams’ rebooted (and beloved) Star Trek film franchise. And what better way to enjoy this science fiction film by viewing it in the most technologically advanced theatre system to date.
As with most of my posts, here there be spoilers.
7th Grade (mentally) Civil Servant Into Darkness
So Star Trek Into Darkness picks up a year after the events of 2009’s Star Trek with James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) et al in their respective posts onboard the Federation flagship Enterprise. While on a mission to stop an active volcano from turning the natives of a primitive civilization, James Tiberius Perfect Hair breaks the Prime Directive in order to save his First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto). If you’re not a Trekkie, you should know that the breaking the Prime Directive, which states that Starfleet Personnel shall not interfere with the natural development of a less advanced civilization, is just like wiping your ass with the only copy of the Declaration of Independence: you just don’t do that. Due to his heroics (and to Spock’s field report), Captain Perfect Hair is demoted, and subsequently relieved of his command. Admiral Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), his predecessor, is given command of the Enterprise and he takes Kirk as his First Officer, telling him that he still believes in him and no one deserves a second chance more than James T. Kirk.
Meanwhile, an attack on a seemingly unimportant place in London is carried out by someone who is later revealed as Commander John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch, also known as Sherlock Holmes), a rogue agent of Starfleet’s Section 31. For non-Trekkies, Section 31 is the super secret security and intelligence arm of Starfleet. Having known emergency protocols of Starfleet, Harrison attacks a command conference of all Commanders and Executive Officers of starships within the vicinity, chaired by Admiral Marcus. Pike is killed in the attack, and Kirk is ordered by Admiral Marcus to eliminate Harrison, who has fled to the Klingon homeworld of Qo’nos. Oh, and not making things easy for the Enterprise crew is the fact that the Federation and the Klingons are engaged in a cold war. Marcus also transfers to the Enterprise 72 Photon Torpedoes that they could use to bombard Harrison. A certain Lt. Carol Wallace (Alice Eve) also boards the Enterprise as Science Officer, despite the protestations of Spock.
They go over to Klingon territory, where the Big E’s engines mysteriously fail. Kirk heeds the advice of Spock to capture Harrison instead of bombing the shit out of him, and so they take a confiscated vessel (owned by a certain Mudd hmmmm) to the planet surface. After being chased by Klingon warbirds (not uninhabited as they were led to believe by Marcus), they manage to engage Harrison who surrenders to them after hearing about the 72 torpedoes pointed directly at him (btw, awesome way to give threats Captain Hikaru Sulu).
Back onboard the Enterprise, we find out that J.J Abrams decided to do a Talia al-Ghul and reveals to us that John Harrison is motherfucking KHAN NOONIEN SINGH. If you’re new to Trek, Khan’s been in the original TV show and in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He’s the ubermensch: a genetically modified human with superior intellect and physical attributes. We find out that instead of the Enterprise finding them (like in the original series), Khan and his followers who were in cryogenic freeze since the 1990s, were found by Section 31, which is also under the supervision of Admiral Marcus. He was woken up by Marcus from being a Khansicle and used his superior intellect to design weapons and ships that Starfleet could use in a possible war with the Klingons. Oh, and the 72 torpedoes? Turns out, Khan’s crew WERE the torpedoes. That’s why he surrendered to Kirk, to avoid killing his people. We also find out that Carol Wallace is actually Carol Marcus, daughter of Admiral Marcus (and possible baby mama of Captain Perfect Hair). Oh, and we’re also introduced to the U.S.S. Vengance, Admiral Marcus’ flagship and can possibly make the Enterprise piss in its pants.
Kirk is asked to surrender Khan to Marcus, which he disobeys. The Enterprise is brought to its knees by the Vengeance, until Scotty (who snuck aboard the Vengeance under Kirk’s orders) disables the ship. Kirk and Khan sneak aboard the now-crippled too Vengeance in an attempt to take it over and disable it. Khan betrays Kirk and kills Admiral Marcus, and asks that the Enterprise transfer his 72 crewmembers in cryostasis to the Vengeance and in turn, he shall return Carol and Captain Kirk to the Enterprise. Sensing a possible double-cross (after consulting with Leonard Nimoy’s Spock), Spock lowers the shields which allows Khan to transport the torpedoes (without the Khansicles) onboard the Vengeance. After Jim and Carol are transported back to the Enterprise, the torpedoes are detonated.
Due to the result of the blast, the Enterprise is pulled by Earth’s gravity. And with no power to break from it, they’re stuck in a free fall that would lead the Big E to crash to Earth. Captain Kirk saves the Enterprise by realigning its Warp Core, in a scene reminiscent of The Wrath of Khan. It also ends the same way as TWOK, with Kirk on the dying end instead of Spock. Overcome with emotion, Spock does the infamous “KHAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNN” yell, and gives chase to Khan who decided to crash the enormous Vengeance in San Francisco. It is established early on in the movie that Khan’s blood has abilities that could bring back life, so Spock apprehends Khan alive. Kirk is given the transfusion, and awakens in a hospital 2 weeks later.
A year later, Kirk and crew attend the memorial and rechristening of the Enterprise, where he is given the Five-Year Mission (which is the events of the Original TV series). With Kirk firmly in the Captain’s chair, he leads the Enterprise on a voyage to explore strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations; boldly going where no one has gone before.
My thoughts (and review of the new IMAX theatre):
Star Trek Into Darkness isn’t as dark as its title wants us to believe. It’s actually in the spirit of the old Treks, a modern day allegory on the significant issues of our time, which is actually “what does it take to keep us safe?” and “do we compromise our principles in order to keep others safe?” But unlike other franchises, Star Trek Into Darkness also evokes the vision of Gene Roddenberry, that mankind can rise above the darkness of our times and live in a hopeful and peaceful future. To sum the movie up, it’s fun. Fun for new fans and fun for the old-timers like me since there were lots of Easter eggs in the film for the diehards as long as you could spot them (hint: one of them can be seen in Admiral Marcus’ office). It’s exciting to see where they’ll take the characters next. Will they do the Mirror Universe next? Will Kirk and Carol Marcus create the alternate universe version of David? Who will they face off next?
Now, I kept mentioning that I watched this movie in IMAX, specifically the IMAX Digital format in the new SM Aura mall. Now there are two types of IMAX venues: the original stand alone theatre set up (like the one in Mall of Asia), and the smaller (although small is relative) digital set up. The digital IMAX setup has two 2K resolution DLP projectors with xenon lamps that can project 3D images on the IMAX screen, backed up by a 14,000w speaker system delivering true surround sound anywhere in the theatre. Also, because the screen is curved and is bigger than your normal cinema, everyone gets a good view of the movie and gives you a sense that you’re part of the movie, as the screen can take up your field of vision.
Having frequented the SM Mall of Asia IMAX theatre, I wanted to try out the digital setup. Since the North EDSA and Southmall theatre were too far, I decided to watch it at Aura, since it’s nearer to my location. They have an awesome waiting area where you could sit in la-z-boy recliners while waiting to enter the theatre. The 3D glasses were better than the ones in Mall of Asia too, since the Aura 3D glasses had nose bridges while the Mall of Asia once did not have them. It’s also more comfortable for people who need to wear eyeglasses like me. The theatre, being in operation for two days, still has that new car smell. And since I mentioned the 14,000 watt speaker system, the acoustics were awesome. Also, they had multiple trailers for the Digital IMAX screenings while the stand alone setup had few to none.
Here are some pictures I took:
The ticket price was Php 400 (roughly USD$10). It’s twice the price of your regular admission, and Php 100 more than a normal 3D screening in a regular theatre. But if you have the extra cash, and if you really, really like the movie to be shown in the IMAX format, I suggest you boldly go and try the IMAX experience. It’s worth it.