A few weeks back I finally saw the newest Trek movie, the sequel to the reboot, Star Trek Into Darkness, and I was, to put it mildly, underwhelmed and disappointed.
But first, some background info. I have been and always shall be a Trekkie. The majority, but not all, of the Star Trek television shows have entered my cranium. Every single Voyager, all the movies (First Contact many many times), and a whackload of books featuring Gene Roddenberry’s greatest creation have all been digested by this faithful Vulcan. My respect and love for Star Trek is massive, but I also can still turn a critical eye to it. Star Trek Insurrection and Nemesis were dreadful and awful and the first two seasons of Enterprise made me want to phaser my eyes out.
So when the reboot occurred, I did not moan and cry too much, since my favourite timeline was still awaiting in some pocket universe. This new Star Trek had many good things and multiple great things, going for it. With Khan being the villain for the new film, I was happy and looking forward to an epic adventure, full of emotion and thrills and great character moments.
And all I ever got was one of the three. More of this later.
Now onto my SPOILER filled look at Star Trek Into Darkness.
While the original Wrath of Khan was a sequel to an old television show, with centuries old despot Khan stealing a starship and a scientific device, all in order to get vengeance on Kirk. After badly damaging the Enterprise, Khan detonates the device and Spock dies (he gets better) when the good guys escape. Much pathos happens and the Star Trek universe was never the same again.
Now forget all that. Well, most of that.
We start with Kirk and crew on a standard mission on some primitive planet, with our hero Captain violating the Prime Directive all to save Spock. This lands him in trouble, but he quickly gets out of trouble when numerous terrorist attacks happen. Soon he and the Enterprise are barging into enemy airspace, all to take out Khan. But after a run in with the Klingons, Khan gives up and Kirk realizes something else is up. Turns out, Khan was dethawed and his people held hostage, all to build weapons for Starfleet. The corrupt Admiral shows up, tries to take out Kirk, loses his big evil ship to Khan, and the Enterprise plummets towards Earth. Kirk dies saving his ship. Bones finds out Khan’s blood has a healing factor. Spock goes on a wild romp to catch Khan, all to save his buddy. Cue happy ending for almost all.
Now for the butchering.
The basic plot outline is fairly sound, with the Federation doing something bad and Kirk being left to pick up the pieces. We have seen this many times in Trek. But when they elabourate the plot, add muddled social issues and so called nuances and non-sensical twists, it all falls apart rather quickly.
Starting with the terrorist attack on the library/Section 31, my alarm went off. Since when would background checks not be done on these personnel? Including blackmail potential? A man with a deathly sick daughter would qualify for extra scrutiny.
This kind of lapsed logic, sacrificed for quick plot advancement, is all to common for this movie. Kirk violating the Prime Directive is done with a flip ‘what the hey’ attitude from him, which is an insult to the character and a lack of imagination from the writers. Kirk can’t figure out an ingenious way around the situation? He did in the first one. This is all to show us, in a hamfisted way, that Kirk is a rebel. I thought they had already established that. All this, by the way, just to demote and promote Kirk is the space of a few minutes, all filled with mopiness.
Which brings up, after Kirk re-enacting Die Hard, Spock protesting a mission with drone strikes. But he protests this with Kirk, not the Admiral who is breaking Federation law. Since when has Spock been afraid to talk back to, and quote rules to, superior officers? I guess the plot demanded him to yak it up and argue with Kirk, so screw character logic.
The laundry list of offences this film perpetuates is long and getting longer. People on twitter, facebook, and podcasts, have pointed out even more transgressions Star Trek Into Darkness is guilty of. I mean New Spock can’t look up Khan on Star Fleet Wikipedia, or have already studied all about him in Earth history class? And Old Spock is useless with not giving information, then spouting off all sorts of warnings. Right in front of the bridge crew. I am guessing everyone knows about him then? Sigh. My brain hurt at this point.
So with the emotions and thrills not landing at all with me, since everything is so manufactured and not flowing properly from the story, the only part of this mess that resonates is the character bits.
Ignoring the plot, when the characters are just being the characters, it becomes Star Trek to me. Spock is Spock, and provides plenty of insight and sly humour into the mix. His ‘attitudes’ line to Pike still cracks me up. Kirk blazes all over this movie, with wonderful little bits and his intelligence on display. Bones blows me away every time he is on screen, and Scotty just gives me the happies at all times. Uhura is great and really tough, but slightly overused, while Checkov and Sulu get as much play as their predecessors did. Which is, of course, very little.
In so many ways, Star Trek Into Darkness feels like the writers and director did not bring their A game, while the vast majority of the actors did. Peter Weller, I am looking at you for channeling RoboCop, and not in a good way. If Into Darkness had simply been the characters going on about their usual Star Fleet business, it would have been a vastly improved film.
The actors have it all figured out, to bad the rest of them don’t.
…is currently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling.