Friday, June 28, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Imdb synopsisAfter the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

I thought that I could be geeky enough to go see Star Trek: Into Darkness without re-watching the first (newest?) movie. Silly Brie. Star Trek isn't for kids!

It's not necessarily that they relied to heavily on each other, I just forgot that they've been given free-reign to play around with the details of the Star Trek universe because of the rift they opened in the last movie with Spock vs. Spock. So when the movie started getting eerily familiar- haven't I seen this before?- there was a reason why.

This is actually an excellent movie to explain that there are choices in lighting/shooting a movie that can enhance the overall feeling or distract the viewer from what's really going on in a sleight-of-hand sort of way. Case in point: lens flare. JJ Abrams is really well known for his lens flare- that bright spot (sometimes a line of light circles) that is reminiscent of staring into or away from the sun, particularly through glass or a window. There are some people who find this very pretty and artistic. There are other people who so over-use this effect that it's ridiculous. You can decide which one Abrams is. In his defense, I think he might try to rationalize his use of lens flare because it reminds the viewer that there's a lot of reflection/ light going on in the scene. This makes sense on some level because Star Trek is very shiny and new and space-age-y so light will ping off all of the expertly polished surfaces, right? And all of those stars flying by and planets and lasers are pretty otherworldly, so it stands to reason you'd want the audience to feel transported and ethereal too, right? You be the judge.

Then there's dutch angles. This is when a shot is tilted- as in not level. Sometimes you see a shot that's upside down or from a character's perspective who is lying on their side or at some crazy angle. This helps invest the audience in the character's dilemma- one of the few shots that feels first-person. Dutch angles convey a sense of "off-kilter" to the viewer: maybe a pivotal moment or decision. It's also useful in action sequences because it gives the illusion of heightened drama or action because your eyes are trying to adjust AND follow what's going on on-screen, creating a sort of tension or anxiety. Or maybe you just use them because you're trying to be cutting edge. Whatever.

There are a lot of different ways that movies involve the viewer that we pick up on subconsciously, but I think I would prefer a movie that doesn't do them all at once.

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