So last night when Therese and I went to buy our midnight premier tickets for Star Trek we didn’t realize that the film was getting a Wednesday night premier. What was meant to be a thirty minute excursion to Tempe Marketplace then turned into an all night affair. But hey. I’m not complaining. I’m down for just about anything – especially when it involves Star Trek and Karl Urban.
I’m going to get into a more detailed review in a minute but I know some people who are finding themselves directed to this post really just have one question: Should I go see Star Trek Into Darkness?
And my answer is: Yes.
You certainly should. The film has some problems and has the potential to piss off a lot of long term fans. Where Star Trek (2009) was able to set itself apart from the original series Star Trek Into Darkness tries to force nostalgia and rips some of the most iconic moments in the franchise and delivers them completely out of context. That said, if you can ignore that you’re a new Star Trek fan, then you probably won’t have that problem with the film. You’ll even enjoy it. It’s a fantastic action film with all the romatic, bromantic, and humorous moments that the first Star Trek flim did so well. It’s a lot of fun and well worth checking it out.
On its own, Star Trek Into Darkness is a pretty standard sequel. It doesn’t up the ante much but it plays to what the fans want and it’s got a fairly decent story. Granted, the story had the potential to be way better if they had only done something more original. But this is an alternate universe and a completely new way of looking at the classic series. I think that people need to set aside the expectations and judge the movie on it’s own merits.
But, at the same time, this is Star Trek.
So balancing both the classic series expectations and the new universe’s potential, I’d give this movie a B/C. B if I am look at the movie itself. C if I am looking at it as a life long Trekkie with every reason to be a bit iffy about the film.
And now let’s talk about why I came to this conclusion.
EVERYTHING BELOW THIS POINT IS SPOILERS. LIKE SERIOUSLY. EVERYTHING.
I’m going to get into the nitty, gritty details now and I hope that everyone will bear with me. I’m not going to give a play by play of the movie or recap things. I’m just going to talk through some of things I liked and some of the problems I had. And then hopefully you guys will all respond and tell me what you think about things!
First things first, for the most part, I did enjoy the movie.
In particular, I loved the opening. The first part of the movie was fantastic. It started out with the crew of the Enterprise on some wayward planet doing a simple survey of the planet. When they realized that the pre-historic race there was at risk of being destroyed by a volcano they decided to intervene. And hijinks ensued. It was all “prime directive this” and “prime directive that” while they, you know, pretended to blend in and basically ignored the prime directive all together like usual. It was fun. It was a good way to reintroduce viewers to the cast.
And it also was a great way to show that James Kirk – despite the fact that he’s a successful captain so far – is reckless, disregards orders, and doesn’t really understand what his position entails.
Which leads to him being demoted from captain – a rank he NEVER should have been given – to Starfleet Academy cadet again. So that he can actually finish his education. I’ve been concerned about that since the last movie. I feel like, yeah, maybe don’t make Kirk and his crew go back to the Academy but don’t give them the most advanced ship in the fleet. Maybe just let them be officers now or something. Pike apparently just gave Kirk his ship. And I feel like there should probably be more of a chain of command to go through before you just do that.
But apparently not.
Anyway Kirk doesn’t learn his lesson because JJ Abrams decided to go pull on our heartstrings and kill off Christopher Pike entirely this time around. Apparently having him kidnapped and maimed wasn’t enough. This time around he had to finish off the job. That, honestly, pissed me off. I love Christopher Pike as a character and I liked the potential the character had in this new universe. But they decided to kill him off to fuel Kirk’s blind need for revenge at the heart of this film instead of developing any of that further.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s character‘s as it was show at first was actually pretty cool and bad ass. I could think up any number of motivations for the character. I was really looking forward to him explaining why he was doing what he was doing – why he decided to blow up the London database (and how he only managed to kill 42 people when that happened because shit that was a massive explosion) and why he decided to massacre the top ranking Starfleet officials – including Christopher Pike. I was looking forward to that character development.
And then he told everyone he was Khan. Yeah.
Honestly, I was so hooked on the movie in the beginning that the Khan reveal caught me a little off guard. It didn’t surprise me at all. And I knew that Benedict Cumberbatch was going to say he was Khan the second they revealed that ‘John Harrison’ was a lie. I guess I was caught off guard because it just didn’t really fit. Also because they did so much during production to deny that Cumberbatch was Khan that I was willing to take them at their word. But it’s true. Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison really is Khan.
When he said that his name was Khan, I wasn’t really sure how to react.
My first instinct was to actually face palm. I don’t know how people reacted about your theatres but in the theatre Therese and I were in it was something of a mixed bag. A small number of people cheered but for the most part there was a sort of strange, brief silence. I think the more established Star Trek fans – like myself – were probably mulling over how they were supposed feel about this. Because it wasn’t unexpected. It just… Khan is Khan. I think most of us were trying to figure how how to reconcile decades of Khan with this new interpretation of the character. The rest of the theatre, though, was probably trying to figure out who the hell ‘Khan’ was and why people had cheered in the first place.
Personally, I don’t mind that he was Khan. That’s fine. This is an alternative universe. I can try to accept that there are differences in every character.
But it just would have been much more compelling of a story if Khan had been left out entirely and John Harrison had actually been just a regular Section 31 officer who had grown a conscience and rebelled. It was so cool to see Section 31 get it’s due in this movie but think of what could have been done with all that! Imagine if Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘bad guy’ turned out to ultimately be the good guy. An over done plot twist? Yeah, probably. But who cares? It would have been so much better of a story.
Having Admiral Marcus be the only bad guy and John Harrison just a frustrated anti-hero would have been perfect. There was just so much more they could have done with it. The militarism aspect was begging to be explored more as was a potential war with Klingon.
Instead JJ Abrams was there trying to shove all these little homages down our throats.
I did really love that they sort of acknowledged that they were ripping most of this from Wrath of Khan. When Spock turned to Spock Prime to ask him about Khan, Spock Prime was like, “Yeah, usually I wouldn’t tell you about what might possibly happen in your life or how to make those choices but… Khan is another matter entirely.” That led to really the only blatnant homage in this movie that I was entirely okay with – the scene with Spock and Kirk and the engine radiation quarantine lock.
Because I think that scene wrapped thing sup very nicely for the characters in the film. Kirk learned what it meant to really be a captain. Spock learned what it meant to be someone’s friend. There were tears. And the part I liked the most was knowing that Spock here probably knew it was him that was supposed to die like that and instead had to watch Kirk take his place. Tears. Just. All of them.
I didn’t even mind that afterward Spock did the iconic, “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” yell.
The whole Khan thing just… it really colored the rest of the movie for me. And I’m not sure how I really felt about it. I didn’t care about the whole ‘enhanced humans’ thing because they didn’t make me care. There was no reason for me to care. Also, can someone explain to me why in the end to save Kirk they had to have Khan’s blood specifically? They had all those other frozen people on board. I mean, I know that the real reason was that they wanted to stop Spock from murdering some guy but still. I mean, yeah, maybe since they didn’t know how to dethaw the other people that might be a reason, too. But still. They figured it out enough to be able to put Kirk in one so… yeah. Why not just tap that guy whose cryotube they hijacked?
I’m just saying.
A few other things worth mentioning:
- ‘Captain’ Hikaru Sulu: Sulu in the chair was great. He deserved a lot more recognition and character development but at least he got this. It’s more than Checkov got.
- Uhura (and Spock): I loved the way their relationship was characterized in this movie. Honestly, loving a Vulcan has to be hard. And I would totally be pissed off, too, if the person I loved had just sort of accepted death and not seemed to think of her or even tried to say goodbye or anything.
- Scotty: How great is this man? I mean, his seventies dress shirt when he was bitching to Keenser at the bar was anything but great. But it was good to see the man stand up to Kirk. I do, however, think they could have done a bit more with Scotty than just making him the glorified comic relief. He’s such an awesome character and Simon Pegg is a great actor. JJ, c’mon. Look at all this potential.
- Checkov: Basically the same as above. He was adorable and he was working away in the background but he literally had no big moments except calling Spock down to say goodbye to Kirk.
- Bones: Everything Karl Urban does is perfect. “Let me work some magic on your missile.” Yup.
- Cupcake: OMG CUPCAKE! I was so happy to see them bring that actor back and to see that he and Kirk are cool now. Or at least he’s afraid o Kirk because Kirk is his commanding officer. But there’s respect there now. It’s sweet.
- Tribbles: Why on Earth would anyone use Tribbles as a lab animal? This is a bad idea. We all know this is a bad idea. Dead or not. This is a bad idea.
- Alice Eve/Carol Marcus: Am I the only one who thinks this character brought very little to the movie? Besides being Marcus’s daughter and being suspicious of the missiles… she really could have been removed and no one would have noticed.
- Poor Nurse Chapel: Driven away by Kirk’s douchebaggery.
- Klingons: Yessssss. I was so happy to see actual Klingons without their helmets on. SO EXCITED.
- Spock and Pike: Listening to Spock explain what he felt in Pike’s last moments literally had me in tears. I didn’t even cry with Spock and Kirk’s last moments but Spock and Pike? I couldn’t even handle it when he told Kirk and Uhura what he felt.
- Lastly: The villain letting themself get caught is getting old, people. Really old. As is the bad guy behind glass. C’mon.
So yeah. That’s what I thought.
Please, please, please leave comments. I really want to discuss this with all of you because I am still trying to figure out what I thought about this movie.