Star Trek XII (or the new II)


JackFetch
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  • 2 weeks later...

Saw it on Friday and I have some thoughts. I'll spoiler them just in case anyone hasn't seen it. Broad strokes of it is that I liked it, it was fun but, like anything done by Lindelof and Abrahms it has some deep, deep flaws.

As good as Cumberbatch was, I wish they'd chosen a different villain for him to play. The Wrath of Khan is the best of the Trek movies and Into Darkness just doesn't compare favourably to it. That's why I was hoping that he was going to be Gary Mitchell, just because there was more potential there for them to establish their own legacy by using an idea from the original series that had some real potential to explore. As it is it feels like fan fiction with a big budget.

The fight scenes were pretty cool and visually the movie was a treat.

Once again Zachary Quinto was the best part of this movie.

Bit that annoyed me far more than it should: the Enterprise hiding out at the bottom of the ocean. It made for a fantastic visual image but ignores why Matt Jeffries designed the Enterprise the way he did, specifically that it was meant to work in a vacuum with negligible gravity. It probably wouldn't do so well under the stresses of an ocean.

That said, the crew doing their best to get around the Prime Directive to save those people had more humanity in it than the entirety of Voyager. The crew are breaking the rules but for entirely humanitarian reasons.

In conclusion: not the best film but far superior to Treks III, V, Generations, Nemesis and Insurrection. See it on the biggest screen you can.

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Like Chris said, it's entertaining but light. Which is problematic because they're trying to make a Star Trek film, and at its best Star Trek always allows the audience to think about what's going on. This was trying to tell a political-style Star Trek story in very different style.

I thought it was good but the flaw was mostly in the fact that it attempted to replicate both Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country at the same time, but with so little time to build the ideas and consequences it had little import when it came time for the punches to land at the end. This isn't Khan from Star Trek II, it's Khan from Space Seed, so he has none of the resentment against Kirk or the crew. What this really needed was to be the next two Star Trek films and expand the story, have Khan escape with some of his guys and have the rest be lost somehow at the end of this film. Khan blames Kirk, and Kirk goes after Khan to hunt him down. Spend the next movie doing some really personal stuff and then hit the Wrath of Khan beats where they sacrifice to save the ship.

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Saw it. Liked it.

Going in, I had some doubts. I've spent the last couple of years immersing myself in Trek canon (watching/re-watching every Trek episode of every series in proper order) and I'd heard lots of reports that Into Darkness was the last straw for a lot of Trek fans, making them finally resign themselves to the fact that Star Trek had devolved into something loud and stupid that simply wasn't Star Trek anymore. I was happy to see that that wasn't the case, at least not for me. It was definitely action-heavy, but not nearly as plot-hole-heavy and stupid as the last movie.

The Kirk resurrection thing worked for me, mostly because they justified it very well. Hell, Bones even referenced the fact that they still needed to keep Jim frozen in cryo because otherwise he'd die permanently. So this wasn't even a full resurrection; it was basically like CPR.

GOOD GOD the Trek references made me want to squeal. Seeing the entire lineup of spacecraft from the Enterprise opening as models in a line was too awesome for words.

If I have one major complaint, it's that the entire movie seemed like a love letter to The Wrath of Khan wrapped up in a gigantic 9/11 storyline. Were I to summarize it, I'd say "It's The Wrath of Khan, if Khan were a somewhat sympathetic Osama Bin Laden."

Still, though, I liked it quite a bit overall. It doesn't touch the top 2-3 Trek films, but that's still nothing to be ashamed of.

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One of the things Trek lost by becoming a modern action franchise was that slow tension-based pacing. So instead of having scenes where someone could go tell the captain "we have 16 hours until our destination" and then have a discussion setting up anticipation for what will happen when they arrive, now you've barely got time for a gobstopper before you're in the Delta Quadrant.

There was always some elasticity but any sense of distance is long gone.

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As a general rule I avoid IMAX movies that weren't actually shot as IMAX movies. A movie shot for IMAX is gloriously amazing; one that's not just feels distorted. Also, there's a bizarre thing where it greatly depends on your theater; not all IMAX theaters actually project the image the same way.

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Okay. As an action movie, this is pretty fun, has some really solid, awesome pieces, and would be something fun to watch to turn off your brain to. Scotty and Bones get to be pretty flipping awesome. Uhura gets to have some brief moments of awesome, but for the most part, she's eye candy in the uniform, as is our new chick.

This is the first film I watched in imax, I hate imax. It completely ruined the movie for me, I couldn't tell anything that was going on. I'll need to see this film again because I honestly have no idea what I just watched.

I'll agree with you on that. I saw this on the small screen, and the constant dutch angles, spinning camera work, and general quick cuts really made some of the action hard to follow in this.

However. By now, odds are that you know that this is a new version of one of the old movies. Let's discuss that over in spoilerville.

Okay. This was clearly meant to be the equivalent of Space Seed, in terms of introducing us to Khan. See, most of the people in my theater actually gasped out loud when they did the Khan reveal, in the good way. And that was fun. Cumberbatch does wonders with this performance, especially with what he's given to work with. Would I be okay with him coming back in this role? Absofuckinglutely, if only to have a better fucking writer attached. And the way things end, they definitely leave the door open to Khan coming back as a threat.

The rest of it, though? Wow. There was various things thrown in - Chapel, the tribbles, Carol Marcus, the torpedoes - that was clearly meant to be homages to the original, but it kind of fell flat. Khan being used as a tool to attempt to militarize that would eventually turn on them? Yeah, makes good sense, though the whole shit with Commander Marcus was a bit unneccesary after a certain point.

Honestly, I was miffed, but relatively okay with it, up until the the last fifteen or so minutes. Reversing the Spock death with Kirk? It was really well done, and the death scene as well. Spock being the one to scream Khan was a bit ehh, but understandable. I came in knowing the spoilers, and I was REALLY fucking hoping that Jim would stay dead. Instead, barely ten minutes later, oooh, Khan's blood is magic and can bring Kirk back from the dead, thus undoing ANY FUCKING IMPACT OF HIM DYING. I mean, holy balls. And Spock going full on balls out RAGE MONKEY for vengeance and attempting to beat CumberKhan to death? Come on, kids, just have Spock and Kirk make out already next movie and get it over with, their chemistry is more believable than his and Uhura's. And then everything's totally fine and we're gonna go gallivanting off to space now and Khan's conveniently available just in case we decide we want to bring him back? Fuuuuck that.

Have fun going and trying your hand at Star Wars, Abrams.

A general note - the reboot seems to focus way, way more on brawn over brains. I can accept this, but really, you can't punch every fucking enemy to death.

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It occurs to me that people are taking Kirk's death as an actual death that was magic-reversed, while I think narratively it was more of a death fake-out. Movies do this all the time with characters falling off cliffs, temporarily being dead until they get revived by CPR, etc. This movie just did a sci-fi heightened version of that. And hey, Kirk's seeming-death was the thing that made Spock finally break and give into his emotions, so it did have some type of impact. In TWOK, the death scene was a punctuation mark on the Spock/Kirk dynamic. In ID, it's what kicks off their relationship (on a deeper level anyhow). It's a bit forced, but I think it works well enough. They can definitely play off it well in sequels. Bryan Singer for director of Star Trek 3, anyone?

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I saw it tonight for what was essentially the first time considering how little I got out of it the first time. I loved it, it was a nearly perfect follow up to a nearly perfect reboot.

One question I have, not really a spoiler but I'll put it in spoiler tags just in case.

The Klingons had these metal wires woven into their foreheads. I read this as Abrams' way of explaining how the Klingons got those rigid heads after having flat ones in the original series. Maybe it's some warrior ritual that change their bone structure over time? Tell me if I'm wrong.

Anyway, as I said above I loved it. There were a few minor things I didn't like but overall I think Abrams did another knock-out job and I can't wait to see Star Wars.

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The Klingon metal head stuff is just ornamental.

Over in Star Trek: Enterprise (which is still canon in the JJverse), they explained that the ridged forehead is a Klingon's natural state. The smooth-headed ones in TOS come from a genetic experiment gone wrong (they were trying to make superhuman warriors that looked like humans so they could infiltrate Starfleet). The experiment mutated into a virus, which swept over the Klingon homeworld and turned half the Klingons smooth-headed. All the Klingons in TOS were the smooth-headed ones (which makes sense, since most Klingons on the front lines of the Federation/Klingon border would be the genetically-enhanced ones). It was hinted in Enterprise that "one day a cure might be found," explaining why some of the TOS Klingons showed up in Deep Space Nine with the ridges later.

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I thought it was really good and a great continuation of the first one out a couple of years ago. I love all the alternate timeline stuff that he is doing. Was a really smart way to do a reboot and totally avoid caring what fans think, while also pandering to them to a certain degree.

Also think it is much better than Iron Man 3, at least it had a lot less plot holes! And as a guy here in the office said, More Benedict Cumberbatch in everything please.

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One of the things Trek lost by becoming a modern action franchise was that slow tension-based pacing. So instead of having scenes where someone could go tell the captain "we have 16 hours until our destination" and then have a discussion setting up anticipation for what will happen when they arrive, now you've barely got time for a gobstopper before you're in the Delta Quadrant.

There was always some elasticity but any sense of distance is long gone.

During the third act I wanted to roll my eyes when the ship broke down within spitting distance of the moon. After the battle the ship then falls down towards Earth. If they were fighting so close to the moon wouldn't they fall towards the moon?

Also, for a group that has colonized such far distances across the galaxy the moon seems pretty bare. Did Scrooge McDuck buy it and kept it all to himself?

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  • 2 weeks later...

After seeing it twice, my opinion of the film went way, way down. I wrote up this review:

As of now, I have seen Star Trek Into Darkness twice. On my first viewing, I enjoyed it pretty well. On my second viewing... I liked it far less.

Into Darkness is a well-directed action film with plenty of thrills and explosions. The special effects are generally brilliant, the sound design is excellent, and the cinematography is very good. The script, however, is clichéd and pointless. It meanders about its major points without actually making them, and even basic logic seems to be less important than getting to the next scene so we can see something else blow up.

Even the character arcs don't make sense. Kirk is supposed to be learning a lesson, but most of what he does is find more and more clever ways to beat up the bad guys. At absolute most, he learns a lesson about self-sacrifice, but self-sacrifice isn't his problem; it's recklessness. He doesn't learn anything of value in this film.

Spock is no better. Apparently between the last film and this one, he's shut himself off emotionally, leading to conflicts with Jim and Uhura. He and Uhura basically spend the entire movie bickering FOR NO REASON. They end up in the exact same place they were in in the last movie. If they'd broken up, then at least it would have meant something.

Speaking of Uhura, she does basically nothing except worry about Spock and argue with him. She has no meaningful place in this movie. Granted, it's the same with Chekov and arguably Sulu, but at least they have their place and they fit in it very well. Uhura seems like she's given a ton of screen time without reason.

There's also the introduction of Carol Marcus, who seems like she's only there to give exposition and make us all squeal with fan joy because Carol Marcus from The Wrath of Khan is on-screen. Except that she's hardly anything like that Carol, and is probably more notable in the movie for being in her underwear than anything else.

Benedict Cumberbatch's John Harrison, however, is incredibly epic. He perfectly portrays calculating brilliance, brutal savagery, and single-minded domineering focus. Sadly, he actually doesn't get as much screen time as he deserves, which is one of the film's major problems...

As mentioned, I have several major problems with Into Darkness's plot:

Splitting the film's villain duties between Harrison and Admiral Marcus was a mistake. All it does is rob Harrison of the spotlight, keeping him restricted. Hell, Harrison spends a third or so of the movie in the brig doing almost nothing. He's only shown in control on-screen for a select few scenes; otherwise he's nowhere near the masterful villain that Khan was in

Star Trek II.

Speaking of Star Trek II, another of the big problems with STID is that it spends so much time aping The Wrath of Khan. Heck, it's in some ways dependent upon The Wrath of Khan. Lines and scenes are directly lifted from Khan, and much of the dramatic weight in Into Darkness comes directly from the audience's supposed knowledge of Khan. It feels quite a bit like what Superman Returns did with respect to Superman: The Movie, and it's just odd. In some places, it's actually frustrating. This is supposed to be a new storyline with a new crew, but it's still incredibly reliant upon the past. There's no reason to revisit The Wrath of Khan unless you're going to build upon that story, not merely echo it.

Something else that bothers me: the writers obviously had a political agenda with the story. Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have been quoted in the past as having purposely put political allegories into their scripts. According to them, the destruction of Vulcan in the first Trek movie was supposed to be equivalent to the holocaust, and the reason they chose military vehicles to represent the Decepticons in Transformers (yeah, they wrote that, too) was to criticize the Bush administration's use of the military. It's a shallow and simple type of allegory, but it's still allegory.

Here's how it works in Into Darkness:
-Harrison is Osama Bin Laden: A man who believes he's been wronged by the Federation/USA and begins terrorist attacks on a major city as retribution.
-Admiral Marcus is George W. Bush: A militant leader who uses Harrison/Osama as an excuse to start a war with a third party (Klingons/Iraq) he believes to be a major threat.
-The Enterprise crew are soldiers whose lives are willingly sacrificed by Bush/Marcus in favor of the unnecessary war.

It's not the fact that political allegory is used that's the problem; it's that it goes nowhere and it's stupid. Admiral Marcus is practically a cartoon character, not a real person with real motivations. Furthermore, the heroes' answer to the entire problem seems to be "let's just blow up all our problems, unless it's to our benefit not to."


Into Darkness is a Star Trek film that seems to be asking its audience not to think. As any Star Trek fan can tell you, that is as close to blasphemy as Trek can get. The Star Trek franchise is a shining beacon of sociopolitical commentary, philosophical discussion, and inspirational metaphor. Star Trek Into Darkness is a popcorn blockbuster with lots of explosions and nothing of true substance. While this isn't a cardinal sin, it does mean that this film falls well short of the mark. It's not nearly as bad as the worst of the Trek series (TMP, V, Generations, Nemesis), but it's nowhere near the top five either. It sits comfortably in the middle, neither gaining nor losing anything. It remains a stagnant point for Star Trek, and after waiting these four years since Star Trek's 2009 release, that is completely unacceptable.

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Just a thought, but isn't the point of the new reboot to be like the old series, but different? It's the same people, who even though their world had a HUGE event that changed their paths, they still somehow found each other. It stands to reason then, that they will go through a lot of the same struggles and meet the same people, but in a different way.

Not saying the movie is great or bad, but justifying why I didn't think the Khan stuff was bad.

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