Quentin: Now that’s what I call a movie.
Jake: As you’ve probably guessed by now, we went to see Star Trek Into Darkness last night.
Jason: Full disclosure. We all agree that the J.J. Abrams first Star Trek was arguably the best reboot in franchise history.
Quentin: Amazing. I still can’t get over what he did.
Jason: So we came to this predisposed to like it.
Jake: And we weren’t disappointed.
Quentin: There is so much to enjoy here. Where to begin?
Jake: Let’s start at the top, with Abrams.
Quentin: He really steps back and lets his cast take the spotlight.
Jake: His hand is everywhere and nowhere. He’s smart. He knows that good directing is 90% casting. If you nail that, then you can just get out of the way and let them deliver.
Jason: It doesn’t hurt that he has writers like Damon Lindelof. The narrative is beautifully constructed. The dialogue shines, especially the banter.
Quentin: Banter is very important to me. I crave it, but it’s got to be well written.
Jake: Compare the banter here to G.I. Joe.
Jason: Night and day.
Jake: I still can't believe what a piece of shit that was.
Quentin: This is a movie made by master storytellers at the height of their powers.
Jake: Which doesn’t mean it’s not without its drawbacks.
Quentin: We’ll get to that part. Let’s talk about the cast.
Jason: Benedict Cumberbatch. I just like saying the name. Benedict Cumberbatch.
Quentin: Lots of hype around that dude.
Jake: I’ll say. He’s the big bad. I thought he was good, but the performance was a little one note. In the grand line of Star Trek villains—
Quentin: Let’s just say he’s no Ricardo Montalban.
Jake: I was going to say the Borg, but—
Jason: One thing is crystal clear. If anyone is under the delusion that Benedict Cumberbatch steals this movie away from Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, they are very much mistaken.
Quentin: The Kirk-Spock bromance is in full bloom here.
Jake: It’s spectacular.
Jason: The heart and soul of the movie.
Quentin: Chris Pine is astonishing. He’s so good it made my teeth hurt.
Jake: The way he takes a close up…on that IMAX screen?
Jason: Are his blue eyes the color of a Texas sky or what?
Jake: He’s on our list of guys we would have a threeway with.
Jason: Zachary Quinto is just as good, especially in the third act. I was crying behind my 3D glasses.
Quentin: Post-production 3D. I hate post-production 3D.
Jake: The entire Enterprise cast is perfect. Scotty and Chekov crack me up.
Quentin: And Bones. “Dammit, I’m a doctor, not a—“
Jason: There’s something to be said about why storytellers use formulas. That’s one of the things that struck me as I was watching. I was over at the Amazon page for The Nothingness of Ben the other day, reading some of the reviews. There’s this new one that gives the book three stars, which in my opinion is totally fair, but the primary complaint is that it’s a formula book. Boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy. And that’s an accurate description of the book. But it got me thinking about formulas, and why storytellers use them, and is that criticism fair?
Quentin: Of course it’s fair. Every week practically we rail against the formulas used by all these studio movies. What’s the best film we’ve seen this year?
Jason: The Place Beyond the Pines.
Quentin: And that was an anti-formula movie.
Jason: That’s not my point.
Quentin: Then what is your point?
Jason: This is a formula movie and you loved it.
Jason: It’s possible to come to a genre and respect the formula—
Jake: And then elevate it.
Jason: Yes. This is a great example of a movie that understands its relationship to the past and its place in the Star Trek canon, while boldly forging its own future.
Quentin: I get it. There’s a certain kind of magic to that. Breathing life into an outline is its own art form.
Jake: God knows we’ve seen plenty of movies fail with formulas that should have been easy home runs.
Quentin: The part that really stuck with me was the guy with the sick kid. This is not a spoiler. It’s almost insignificant to the plot. But the Benedict Cumberbatch character, John Harrison, needs to recruit a Star Fleet member to carry an explosive into a Star Fleet facility.
Jason: So he can blow it up.
Quentin: Right. He needs someone desperate enough to betray Star Fleet, and he finds a man whose little girl is dying. John Harrison promises to heal the little girl, and in exchange the father will become a suicide bomber. A terrorist. And I thought, “Is there any greater suffering than a parent watching their child die?”
Jake: It’s certainly in the top three.
Quentin: We lost our parents, but at least that was the natural order of things. Children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around.
Jason: And the father agrees to the exchange.
Quentin: Yes. And I understood his decision, even though I get that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. I understood a father who would do anything to save his little girl. And it put all my problems in perspective. I’m stressed out about going to college next year, when every day a parent is sitting in a hospital somewhere watching over their sick kid.
Jake: You’re entitled to your problems, Q.
Quentin: I know that. Like I said, perspective.
Jason: We haven’t mentioned the big twist.
Jake: We shouldn’t. I looked at two features in USA Today and The Daily Beast, and neither one mentioned it. So clearly the studio has asked everyone to keep a lid on it.
Quentin: It’s not a “Luke, I am your father” moment.
Jake: No. But it’s better to be surprised. Although I went to the Wikipedia page and IMDb, and they both give it away.
Jason: Weak points?
Jake: Did I count three times they used the “We have 30 seconds to disarm the bomb” countdown? Note to all movies: Please retire that!
Jason: The final stretch bordered on ridiculous.
Quentin: I agree. And this is sci-fi, where our disbelief is already suspended. But Kirk kicking the warp core back into place?
Jason: So stupid. And the superhuman strength, agility, and balance they all displayed. I was rolling my eyes behind my 3D glasses.
Jake: We have a special post coming up Monday.
Quentin: Yes, we do. On Monday, May 20, we will reveal the cover of Brad’s next book, The Return. And we'll also be holding a contest as part of the reveal.
Jason: What’s the prize?
Quentin: A $25 Amazon gift card.
Jason: We should make it $50.
Quentin: Do you want to put up the extra dough?
Jason: <laughs> No.
Quentin: Then it’s $25. Come back on Monday, because things are starting to heat up here in Austin.
Jake: Literally. It was 95 degrees yesterday.
Quentin: I can’t wait for summer.