By David Mumpower
May 16, 2013
The memories of a miserable start to 2013 have begun to fade. Today, we embrace the prospects of a third consecutive blockbuster opening weekend. Grab a flashlight, nerds! Now is the moment when you Trekkies/Trekkers can head Into Darkness.
In 2009, upstart Hollywood director J.J. Abrams leveraged his ascending reputation as the producer of Cloverfield and Lost as well as the director of high quality action flick Mission: Impossible III into his best gig to date. He was named the new architect of the Star Trek universe. Abrams refused to cater to convention by creating another Star Trek sequel, instead choosing to re-tell the story of the most iconic characters from the franchise, James Tiberius Kirk and Mister Spock.
While the idea is difficult to imagine now, the Star Trek franchise was in shambles when Abrams was recruited. Enterprise, a television series expected to anchor the now defunct UPN network, was canceled during its fourth season. When the final episode aired in May of 2005, the future of Star Trek was bleak. No one could imagine at the time that Abrams would do for Star Trek what Christopher Nolan did for Batman.
Abrams delivered a flawless feature film that somehow encapsulated all of the dynamics of the original crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701. A popular television actor of the time, Zachary Quinto, was the clear choice to portray the role of Spock as his physical similarities to the original thespian, Leonard Nimoy, had been pointed out during the height of popularity of Quinto’s series, Heroes.
The combination of the executive producer from Lost and the villain from Heroes was in and of itself a huge gamble. This risk was negligible in comparison to the actor chosen to portray the most important role, though. I would be overstating the situation to describe Chris Pine as a virtual unknown when he earned the career-defining role of Captain Kirk…but not by much. Pine’s best credits up to then were ones where he was the love interest in a pair of female empowerment teen films. Pine co-starred with Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement and with Lindsay Lohan in Just My Luck. If you just spit coffee on your screen, let me reemphasize the point. When Chris Pine was cast as the most recognizable name in science fiction, he was lucky to be in a movie with Lindsay Lohan. A lot has changed over the past few years.
As everyone knows by now, the 2009 update of Star Trek was a perfect movie project. Everything went right in a way that is rare and awe-inspiring in Hollywood. Glowing reviews were hurled at the project, as Star Trek received a spectacular 95% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Action films simply do not receive scores like that the overwhelming majority of the time. Consumers were similarly orgasmic about the product. Star Trek received an A+ Cinemascore and currently maintains an 8.0 rating on IMDb. Note that the IMDb rating is the highest for any of the 11 movies in the franchise to date, easily besting Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’s 7.7.