What’s Wrong With STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS? (SPOILER WARNING)
A spoiler heavy look at what’s not quite right with J.J. Abrams 2013 Star Trek sequel. As indicated there will be spoilers. How many? All of them.
Check out the embedded video below for the comprehensive analysis of Star Trek: Into Darkness or read the transcript found just below that. Though the video has pictures and is better. THANKS TECHNOLOGY.
Although the title indicates otherwise this is not an all-out attack on Star Trek: Into Darkness, in fact Star Trek: Into Darkness is a pretty great film. As of so far it could very well rank as my favourite movie of the year edging out both Iron Man 3 and somehow, unfathomably, G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I liken it to an unrelenting roller coaster, but the good kind of roller coaster. Not the kind that the person in front of you throws up and it somehow ends up on you. Or the kind of roller coaster where it breaks down and you’re stuck upside down for hours and all your blood pools in your head and you die.
Anyways, I do have minor gripes with it however, they are of course only minor, nit-picking petty gripes from someone who spent far too long analysing a film that’s not really meant for analysis. My problems with Into Darkness though don’t really stem from this movie not being what people consider true Star Trek, though that criticism could be fairly levelled at both new entries. I myself categorise this new set of films as their own thing and think we will one day see a return of the Star Trek that diehard fans love, mostly likely in an ongoing TV series. All that aside, let’s look at what’s not great about Star Trek: Into Darkness.
It’s Diet Wrath of Khan
A big issue that can be taken against Into Darkness is the way in which it borrows heavily from Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. It doesn’t borrow enough that it would be considered a flat out remake however, it picks and chooses the most iconic moments, slots them into the film where deemed appropriate with the end result being like watching The Wrath of Khan greatest hits. Not all the pieces fit snugly either, especially when most of them are relegated to the last thirty minutes of the film. Take for example the scene where Kirk sacrifices himself for the sake of the crew, an obvious parallel to Spock’s sacrifice in the original film. In the 1982 version that scene relies on knowing that Kirk and Spock have a relationship that extends back decades, they’ve been through so much together and this is the final moment they’ll be spending in each other’s company. Young Kirk and Spock have known each other, what, a handful of years? And they only stopped punching each other in the face a few months prior. Kirk dying is sad yes, but I hardly think Spock, especially this new Spock (who’s initial reaction to his planet being destroyed was a completely blank face) would suddenly completely wig out.
In addition to this the recreation of the iconic Khaaaan line as a result of Kirk’s death, as much as I always enjoy seeing it in any incarnation, is really Spock’s anger misdirected at Khan. Khan wasn’t the one who initially crippled the Enterprise, that was Admiral Robocop’s Skeleton. Plus Khan only retaliated after Kirk told Scotty to stun him in the face after utilising his abilities to board the dreadnaught.
It’s Now A Consequence Free Universe
I mentioned this briefly in my spoiler free review but the ending of this movie leaves absolutely zero impact on the on the Star Trek universe. Short of Captain Pike actually staying dead nothing else has changed. I guess Spock’s slightly more emotional and Kirk is a better Captain, probably I guess, but when you have your main protagonist killed then resurrected in the space of about fifteen minutes it kinda lessens the impact of his death. And the next time anyone gets the space flu or even space broken arm they could just defrost Khan, drain his blood, slap him for crashing that Starship into the city then re-freeze him before the handprint fades.
The Twists Are Easily Spotted
Even though at the end of the day 2009’s Star Trek is a very straightforward narrative it’s constructed in a way that you’re unsure which direction it’s heading. With beardless Thor being murdered at the beginning and Vulcan being destroyed you get the feeling that the franchise could go in any direction. Star Trek: Into Darkness however telegraphs it’s moves so far in advance it’s hard not to see them coming. The minute they popped open that missile and there was a person inside it I thought, this is Space Seed, the villain’s Khan, Benidict Cumberbatch is Khan. Of course you’d have to have some basic knowledge of the franchise to know that sure, but if you didn’t know anything about Star Trek the villains reveal wouldn’t mean anything to you anyways. Kirk’s resurrection, another of the films twists could easily be spotted by both fans and non-fans alike. Bones says something like, “Khan’s blood’s not like anything we’ve ever seen, what amazing healing properties it has!” It’s like The Bat’s autopilot from The Dark Knight Rises, how many times do they make mention that it’s definitely not working before that film wraps up?
It’s A Frankenstein Of An Action Film
On top of this Into Darkness feels likes collection of scenes from multiple action movies thrown together in a very obvious way. All filmmakers of course do this to some extent, some more obviously than others, but with this one there are times when I felt like I’m Neo from The Matrix, and no, not in the sense that I was blinded by my arch enemy with an electrical cable…yet…but in the sense I feel I can see the code behind everything. As I watched Into Darkness it’s blatantly obvious a lot of this is just Khan’s original story from Space Seed forward, crushed into one third of a film and that moments like the Alice Eve underwear scene purely exist to be put in the trailer.
The movie is just a tad uninspired in its execution, like it was assembled through a focus group comprising of males aged between fifteen and thirty five. Hell the entire film is bookended identically to that of Raiders of the Lost Ark, opening with our protagonist running from natives and closing with the dangerous weapon locked away in some kind of restricted storage facility. There is of course the odd original concept, one of which being the Enterprise being run down and fired upon whilst still in warp, (though that may have already happened at some point I have no idea) but overall this movie brings not much new to the table.
See this is what worries me about the upcoming Star Wars Episode 7. As much as I think J.J. Abram's is a good film-maker, and he is, he’s not really a risk taker. He’s developed a heavy reliance on recycling ideas, from the entire movie Super 8 to the Ethan Hunt revival scene from Mission Impossible: 3 lifted straight from Charlie’s revival scene from Season One of Lost. I’m sure I’m wrong and Star Wars will turn out great, and backed by Disney with a flat out terrific writer in Michael Ardnt behind it, there’s a good chance it will be.
One Last Thing
I couldn’t really fit this into anywhere else but I feel it’s worth a mention. Am I right in saying Spock outwits Khan not through his own volition but by calling the future version of himself who responds by saying “I’m from the future and I can’t tell you anything, that being said here’s what we did in Star Trek 2.” That’s gotta be the most blatant cinematic cheat in movie history! It also explains why Spock steered clear of the radiated area of the Enterprise this time around, that crafty Vulcan bastard.
All in all, as mentioned Star Trek: Into Darkness is a great summer movie, you’d be hard pressed to find those who flat-out hate it, though I’m sure they’re around. There’s one right now fuming over their keyboard as they read this. Calm down chief, don’t use too many exclamation points. It’s easy to forget that these days we’re spoilt for choice for big budget movie releases, we’re lucky enough to get at least one standout film annually with a handful and pretty decent titles scattered throughout the year. Seriously remember when we’d get the likes of Godzilla, Armageddon, The Phantom, Double Team, Anaconda, Speed 2: Cruise control, Twister, yeah check back on Twister it ain’t great, Zorro I’m assuming though I don’t remember and Wild Wild West? Grim times.
But what did you think of Star Trek: Into Darkness? Love it? Hate it? Somewhere in-between it? Let me know by leaving a comment here, or via my twitter or facebook account both ending in mrsundaymovies. Thanks everyone, take care.
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