FULL Spoilers below.
"From hell's heart I stab at thee. For hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."
The family decided to go see Star Trek: Into Darkness tonight. Now that I'm home, it's rattling around in my brain too much, so I need to write it out!
Star Trek II (1982) borders on camp, but is still a fantastic movie. I can still watch it from start to finish without getting bored. Brief overview. Super duper terraforming project led by Kirk's ex love-interest and son. Super duper genetically advanced humans out for revenge against Kirk. Ear worms. Pew pew. "KHAAAAAN!" Good guys save the day. Spock dies saving the ship from warp core. Kirk and Spock do the hand thing through the glass. Super sad.
Star Trek (2009) rebooted the franchise that I grew up watching and love. I loved it. It was Kirk and Spock, but due to some time travel, a different Kirk and Spock timeline. All the actors nailed the roles, while bringing something fresh to the characters. The story was new, the bad guy new and the destruction of Vulcan was a jaw dropping event. This opened the door to see a new take on these great characters. To tell new stories. Or so I thought.
Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) or, "Star Trek II: The Remix". Khan is being used to make weapons for an evil Admiral. Dr. Carol is there. The death of Spock is recreated with roles reversed. Hands on the glass. KHAAAN! It was exactly what I hoped they wouldn't do with this reboot and new timeline. The opening sequence was great, showing a rookie crew saving a fledgling civilization. It was funny, dramatic and awesome.
From there it sort of became a mess. I can see a meeting taking place when they were first pitching the sequel. "We have this new Trek timeline, so what do we want to do?" ... "I say we pull characters from Star Trek II, the most popular Star Trek movie, and put them in this one" ... "How?" .... "It doesn't matter"
Let me say, all of the performances were terrific. The crew of The Enterprise nailed it, and I LOVE the extras. Very diverse, alien, and a freaking android! I want to know more about that guy! Is he kinda like Data? I bet he is kinda like Data. They have such odd and wonderful creatures on board, but they don't make a big deal about it. It's one shot and one line and we are moving on. Benedict Cumberbatch was an awesome Khan and an imposing presence. Chris Pine as Kirk is still a little too much flippant frat boy, and I had hoped that the events of this movie would change that. More on that later.
The action, likewise, was top notch. Especially the Klingon stuff. Khan taking out three ships worth of Klingons was amazing. The enterprise getting destroyed is always a highlight. I also like the important distinction that Starfleet is not a battle armada. They are explorers. I wish the entire movie focused on that. Although, if you are going on a 5 year space mission, as explorers, why not have a super awesome battle ship... just in case!
My main problems with this movie; Khan, Dr. Carol Marcus and the Tribble. On the two characters; Their inclusion makes no sense. They explain it, but almost to a premeditated amount of complication so we won't think too hard about it. Khan is making weapons and his comrades are frozen and he puts them in torpedoes. Carol wants to know about the torpedoes because the bad guy is her dad. They both operate under fake names for awhile, not because it makes sense, but to be a "Oooooh!" moment for Trek fans. I wonder what those moments were like to people with no idea what those names mean. They fell flat for me. It comes back to that "It doesn't matter" comment from above. It does. The main story line of this movie was just an excuse to reassemble the characters from Wrath of Khan, and it suffers for it.
The Tribble. My biggest issue. Not because it was a Tribble, but because of what it meant. It would have been awesome to have a throwaway Tribble reference. But this Tribble was a groan worthy example of a dramatic principle called "Chekhov's Gun". No relation to the Star Trek character.
"One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it."
The primary purpose of this is to keep writers from including unnecessary elements in a story, but can also be used to examine foreshadowing by changing it to "If there is a loaded rifle on stage, it will be fired later." In the middle of an important scene, we cut to McCoy examining a Tribble. Kirk asks him why. McCoy says that he is testing Khan's blood on dead tissue (poor dead tribble) because of the amazing regenerative properties it contains. Oh okay. I wonder if that will be important later in the movie?
Then we get the super dramatic Kirk is dying scene. He saved the ship, the crew and his best bro. Spock cries. Hands on the glass. And all I could think about was that damn Tribble. Before Kirk even died, it was clear he wouldn't stay that way. It ruined the moment for me. The recreation of this scene could have been great. If they would have actually killed Kirk, it would have been an amazingly gutsy move. I might have cried with Spock. A timeline with a dead Kirk and a Captain Spock driven more by emotions, possibly vengeance, would have been terrific. Spock yelling "KHAAAAN!" would have been earned. But that damn Tribble. The impact was lost. The importance was gone. It was all hollow.
In the 1989 movie, you believe Spock is going to die. There was no foreshadowing of a way to save him (Genesis was terraforming, and the fact that it saved him was a surprising side effect, and there was a small hint that he MIGHT come back, but it was left open). He DOES die and remains so for the rest of the movie (and for the two years between movies). It is powerful, it means something. What they have done here is recreate that powerful scene, just to recreate the scene because it is iconic, and then completely undo it 5 minutes later. They had no intention of making any of it stick, or even letting the audience dwell on Kirk's death for long. At the end of this movie, Kirk walks onto the bridge, stops with his smirk, looks around and then continues. (Seriously, who does that? Flippant frat boys. That's who.) Nothing has changed.
The movie was fun, I'm glad I went. Anything that gives me this much to type was worth it regardless. I have watched 2009's Star Trek at home many, many times. I was eagerly anticipating the next installment. I don't have much interest in watching Into Darkness again and I can't say I'm chomping at the bit for more. I will probably watch Wrath of Khan many more times though.
- For the first time, I am a bit worried about J.J. Abrams directing the new Star Wars movie.
- Saw the trailer for Elysium for the first time and I can't wait.
- For a great roasting of foreshadowing, see "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", one of my top 10.
- I will forgive J.J. Abrams if he puts Kirk, Spock and McCoy in the same room with Q in the next one.