Star Trek: Into Darkness

May 17, 2013

Pure space opera, delightfully old school.  As we know I’m a sucker for big spaceships, and oh they were so beautiful.

The plot. . .standard, and some of the details didn’t pass the refrigerator test. (Is your disbelief suspended until you get home to get a drink from the fridge?)  Heck, they didn’t pass the two second test.  So it’s best to skate as fast as possible through this thing.  Too bad most of the action scenes went on twice as long as they needed to.  That’s my big complaint.  And there was some really goofy science.  Cold fusion?  Really?  I do not think this means what you think it means…

But there also was a lot to love:  Peter Weller and Noel Clarke, for example.  Uhura speaking Klingon.  Pretty, pretty spaceships.  Some fan service in the climactic moment that I thought was marvelous, but some of my companions thought was goofy.  To say more would be a spoiler.  But did anyone but an old fan even get what was going on there?

Also, does it strike anyone else that the Enterprise is basically structurally unsound in its entirety?

HUGE SPOILER BELOW, WHERE I HAVE REWRITTEN A PORTION OF THE MOVIE IN MY HEAD BECAUSE I COULD:

There’s a moment in this movie where the story could have zigged instead of zagging — and I think I prefer the zig.  Like, what if Khan isn’t the bad guy?  This is an alternate timeline.  Things are different here.  What if old Spock tells new Spock this is the most horrible person ever — but before Spock can tell Kirk, Kirk has decided to give Khan a chance.  Kirk decides not to stun Khan on the bridge of the Vengeance.  Khan has been used and manipulated, and at this point he needs an ally — he’s planned on betraying Kirk, but has a change of heart because of the trust Kirk shows.  Because Admiral Marcus is the real bad guy who’s manipulated them both.  What if what if what if…  It’s a missed opportunity, I think.  The new Trek movies seem intent on rehashing old plot lines in shiny new ways (tribble cameo, anyone?).  Why not really make it alternate?  Really upend our expectations?

Anyway, that’s how I would have done it.

9 Responses to “Star Trek: Into Darkness”


  1. I want to like the new Star Trek films, but the “Lens flare-itis” from the first was just killing me. I guess I’ve turned into that grumpy old man…and I’m only 34!

    I’ll probably watch it on Blu-Ray, though.

  2. Jax Says:

    I’m waiting to see if the reanimated tribble is the ‘patient zero’ of the tribble plague?

  3. Mark B Says:

    Yeah, I agree — I think it would have been more effective if this Khan had been a lighter shade of gray. Show that this is truly an alternate universe.

    I enjoyed it while I was watching it, but afterwards felt used. Stealing the exact situation and dialogue from TWOK (albeit by reversing the characters’ places) made the emotion feel unearned. It was mostly resonant goodwill from the much better original. And Spock’s shout seemed arbitrary and had me stifling a laugh — surely not the intended effect.

    MY rewritten ending would have left Kirk dead at the end of the movie (not that I believed for a second that would actually happen). Then some of that emotion could have been earned, but I have a feeling that I would have been the only one satisfied with that solution.

    I have lots of other complaints — the plot really doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny — but I’m trying to just let it go. If I’m honest, I can find plenty of similar flaws in previous (and better) Trek episodes and movies.

  4. kyle Says:

    There were a lot of comedic moments, must have laughed out loud at least 10-15 times.

    Found myself wanting a little bit more at the end… another 10 minutes after the action was done, I guess I like dialog and emotions as much or more than tons of action.

    **spoilers***

    I was also waiting to see if Khan was a good or bad guy in the alternate universe too.

    agree with Mark K. too on simply replicating the exact situation.

    A little bit of True Blood in there too🙂

  5. sef Says:

    Khan was an antagonist, but not necessarily a villain. He acted a lot out of revenge — but so did Marcus. I’d say that revenge was pretty much the driving theme there.

    Don’t get me wrong, Khan’s not a good guy. But he couldn’t be, because his backstory was set before the timeline split. But they gave him a lot of depth and motivation here.

    I liked it a lot.

    Other than their uniforms. Why were all the federation people wearing Nazi uniforms?

  6. Jaws Says:

    Spoiling the Spoilers:

    Given that the alternate-alternate plotline was explicity rejected — several times, in fact — during the “publishing” history of STOS post-TV, I’m not at all surprised.

    Ironically, with the exception of 2, the STOS films have ALL suffered from having an episode’s worth of plot and character built around all of the kewl visuals that they wished they could have had on TV. The lens flare is a lot less noticeable when it’s not on screen all by itself… but then, I watched STOS on a black-and-white set during its first round of syndication (the ‘rents wouldn’t let me watch it in prime time, because it interfered with their programs).


  7. (SPOILERS ahead! Procede with caution!!)

    Carrie — I really like your rewritten movie portion, because that was one of the few things that frustrated me just a teeny bit about Into Darkness. I remember how excited I was at the end of the 2009 film: “They BRILLIANTLY set up this _entirely alternate universe_. They’ve just opened themselves up so that they can tell literally ANY STORY THEY WANT TO!! Even the SKY is not the limit! Literally! So: *WOW*!!!” … and then we get to Into Darkness and they tell, y’know, old plot lines in shiny new ways.

    C’mon, guys! You got *Benedict Cumberbatch* to play your villain! He’s REALLY good! I don’t even watch “Sherlock” and I can tell how good he is!! So you can totally do a more complex character, and have him turn out to have a change of heart because Kirk’s own concern for the Enterprise crew makes him realize he can relate to this dude! And it would be DIFFERENT then! It would be NEW! C’mon, wouldn’t that be cool?!?

    (Also, I hear you about the refrigerator test: you guys put _what_ into the long-range photon torpedoes? Really??)

    But, like you said: there’s so much to love. Robocop and Mickey Smith, for sure … not to mention Uhura speaking Klingon like the awesome kick-ass person she is. But I was also so incredibly touched by the *emotion* of it all. (I teared up at least twice.) We’ve got a cast full of incredible actors, and they sold stuff to me that might not otherwise have been sold …

    I was also really caught up in Kirk’s whole emotional arc, to tell the truth. I enjoyed Chris Pine’s Kirk a good deal in the first film, but the character doesn’t really change there. He changes a heckova lot in the sequel, however, and I’m hard-pressed to think of a character in a recent sci-fi film that grows as much as Kirk does. That growth was emotionally hard on him (his face! His face when his surrogate father Christopher Pike dies!! I knew it was coming and it still broke my heart), but he does it, and it’s wonderful and relatable and powerful stuff. It was also brilliantly written and gorgeously acted, which makes all the difference. (Look, I’m a big fan of Will Shatner; he’s fantastic in Boston Legal — and he is THE James Kirk, the iconic performance. And Shatner really grew into the part of Kirk as the show morphed into the film series, I think. But … let’s be honest … Pine has the heartier acting chops, and they were on full display in this film.)

    I was pretty sure, from the metaphorical Chekov’s Guns that they’d planted in the earlier dialogue, that of COURSE Kirk and Spock were going to get flipped for the poignant ending scene of somebody dying in a radiation chamber. That didn’t mean I was any less moved when it happened, and Kirk saying to Spock, “I’m scared,” was so relatable it hurt. It also ended up tying back into Spock’s particular arc in the story — the idea that he is trying so hard to suppress these terrible emotions he is struggling with (less because He Is A Vulcan and more because they are painful emotions and he doesn’t want to *feel* them, which is wonderfully understandable), that he’s trying to suppress them and he _can’t_, because he cares too much about his friends, is really quite powerful. That’s why, for my part, I didn’t feel the emotional impact of the radiation chamber was forced or unearned — yeah, the idea of it is a copycat from TWoK, but the character development that brought these two characters to that place was beautifully earned.

    (The story also spent more time on the ethical implications of the characters’ decisions, and, as a TNG die-hard, I APPRECIATED THIS. REALLY DEEPLY. It *felt* more like Star Trek to me this time round than the first film did.)

    So: yeah, the movie had its flaws. (Is that SERIOUSLY what is in the long-range photon torpedoes? Are you KIDDING me?!?) But character development and emotional arcs were not one of those problems. I had my doubts about the whole thing when I left the theater, but I found myself liking the movie more and more the longer I turned it over in my mind. I’m very excited to go see it a second time this weekend, now that I’ve worked out what works so well for me (and am ready to ignore the crazy “science”).

    And, heck: even the lens-flares were dialed back.😉 (Not to mention there was a bonus DS9-fan shout-out with the existence of Section 31!)

  8. Amy Says:

    Given how things turned out, if Khan learns what Spock did, and that what he believes to be so is not actually so, at a future date…perhaps this could still happen. Maybe…’Course the survivors of incidents a, b and c and the families of the deceased will not likely be so forgiving, but it’s deep space. You take your allies where you can find them. Who has to know on earth?
    Say the crew of the Enterprise trip over Khan at some point and Khan says, hey thanks for not doing what I thought you did, and decides to help them.

    Yeah, the first few minutes and that whole first planet scene was…odd. And a bit too dramatic.
    I missed Bones as something other than the ‘Voice of Reason’. I felt that Bone’s role was handled more deftly in the first movie. Even though he saved the day.

    I am never going to be happy about the death of Pike. That was the AU switch I liked from the first movie. I loved how he was taking the step back and spending the extra time to fix what he didn’t quite get right in the first movie – I actually want to see what would have happened if he hadn’t died and things continued from there. Dramatically different, but interesting.

  9. Sara Says:

    I spent part of the movie expecting it to zig, just like you outlined. I thought they were setting us up for it by making this Khan more sympathetic than the previous one.

    Actually, taking this further, what if the character wasn’t actually Khan? It would explain why he’s white (which irks me) and why he doesn’t have the same level of genocidal arrogance that original!Khan did. New!Khan killed the old one and took his place/pod (before they were frozen). Or he was thawed by Starfleet who *thought* he was Khan and he decided to use that to his advantage.

    This is the movie I wish I’d watched. Damn.


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