I make my living, quite literally, by telling stories. Either I’m working on something of my own or I’m working with a client to help them tell their own story the best way possible; this means I spend a lot of time thinking about how you’re engaging with your intended audience. This also means I sometimes find it hard to enjoy movies, television shows, and other entertainment because I’m constantly evaluating the creator’s storytelling techniques and thinking in my head. Unfortunately you’re like a cat sharpening its claws on the furniture when you do this: sure, you accomplish your goal but you might end up destroying something beautiful if you keep doing it.
Luckily I didn’t have to worry about this problem when the wife and I took the opportunity to go see Star Trek: Into Darkness this weekend, as my parents came out to visit and offered to babysit our daughter for the evening. We jumped at the chance and we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves – and not just because we weren’t changing diapers for a few hours; the movie was genuinely entertaining for a pair of dyed-in-the-wool Trekkies like us.
(An aside here: I don’t take umbrage to the term Trekkie, despite the fact that many Star Trek fans prefer the more pretentious “Trekker” because the’yve gotten it into their heads that Trekkie is somehow pejorative. To quote Bill Shatner: get a life, people.)
This isn’t to say that Star Trek: Into Darkness is a flawless piece of storytelling. It’s not – and a great breakdown of the problems in the movie can be read here. Just beware following that link as there are major spoilers. Still, the good outweighs the bad as far as I’m concerned. What made the movie for me was the absolutely massive number of Easter Eggs hidden in plain sight throughout the entire film that called back to not only the original series but also the previous films in the Star Trek franchise. Most were subtle without being obscure; in fact the only one that may be a bit too esoteric for some is the mention of a “USS Bradbury” as a Federation starship early in the film as a reference to science-fiction heavyweight Ray Bradbury, who was also a close friend of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry for many decades, though contrary to popular belief Bradbury never worked on any Star Trek scripts like so many of his contemporaries such as Harlan “Grumpy Cat” Ellison.
Still, if you’re the kind of person that knew that Ellison hated Roddenberry as much as Bradbury loved him – and will grin like an idiot when “the Mudd incident” is mentioned in the new film – this movie will definitely be right up your alley. There’s enough emotional nuance there to raise it above the bar of the majority of dumb-ass summer action movies like, well, like anything that comes out of Michael Bay’s diseased, explosion-riddled mind. I know that “Well it’s better than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” isn’t exactly high praise, but it’s true: Star Trek: Into Darkness is not-quite-so-dumb entertainment that will make most people happy. Just don’t look too hard for the cracks.