Saturday, May 18, 2013


Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

   I honestly don’t know what to say about this one. The last Star Trek reboot (2009) started off strong with the story primarily setting new grounds where anything can happen, and Spock embraces emotion a little; Kirk becomes  a little more a captain. It was good. It had originality, it took risks. This one has none of that but some good “tributes” to The Original Series. (By which I mean lines and entire scenes lifted from other episodes.)

 You know how Kirk isn’t the captain yet in the first one? Guess what? He’s demoted again! And we get that same bar scene from the last movie about how Captain Pike still believes in him. Then, he’s called to a meeting about a terrorist who bombed London. Should I say spoilers…? I don’t care. This movie spoils itself. So, the terrorist attacks the meeting Captain Pike (not in a wheelchair.) dies and the Enterprise is given back to Kirk…what? Why demote him then for 10 minutes?

    Kirk is ordered to hunt down this terrorist “John Harrison”. “John Harrison” beams over to the Klingon homeworld where he thinks the Federation can’t touch him. This WOULD be interesting if the movie didn’t drop the legality plot point in favor of Kirk blasting the Klingons in a firefight, in which our terrorist comes to help.

I don’t know. Are the Klingons stupid? Why do they decide not to retaliate against this illegal Federation invasion? It’s a point the movie ITSELF raises! And they drop it! Sure, Uhura tries to talk Klingon with the warriors and appeal to their honor to hand over this Earth criminal, but guess what? The Klingon responds by freaking choking her!

 So, after John Harrison surrenders, what does Kirk do? He punches the guy anyway, and hurts his hand! No glib remark, no authorative stride. Heck, no…moralizing monologue…just punching. There’s no wonder and compassion  to this Kirk: no Shatner charm, I have to say. Look, I’m sure Star Trek 2009 proved that these guys can do good impressions of their characters. Simon Pegg can, yes, speak with a brogue; but he’s just impersonating. But, there wasn’t even an attempt by Kirk to be suave. He was just rude. For Pete’s sake, Kirk was daring yes, but his oratory skills are practically what makes him a good captain.

Kirk doesn't even attempt to communicate. “Risk is our business.” “There are no unknowns.” “Our emotions are part of who we are.” There’s none of that Old Kirk compassion here. There is however a monologue about how much he wants to kill Khan. Watching this movie is like watching Trek with someone who has no idea of what Star Trek is; "HEY! Remember that guy who did the THING AND SAID THE WORDS?" That's this movie. It’s a hodgepodge of context-free Trek references, with all meaningful dialogue replaced by action and jokes. Zachary Quinto as Spock does a good job with what he’s given; but, oh man…it’s not much.
So…Surprise! The main villain reveals himself to be Khan once he’s onboard the Enterprise. His backstory seems cool at first, but then he completes a sentence. He was unfrozen from the Eugenics Wars by Admiral Marcus (Also, Carol Marcus is abroad from Wrath of Khan.)   in the event of WAR WITH THE KLINGONS. Argh…so, let’s recap: Kirk invades the Klingon homeworld and then it’s revealed that the man who sent him on a manhunt to get Khan…wanted war in the first place. The Klingons don’t retaliate because…? They forgot? So…why wouldn’t Kirk now be a Federation criminal as well? It’s never explained, and it gets worse. Hang on.

Khan reveals that he put his cryogenetically sealed crew in some emptied out photon torpedoes. I should add that these are the torpedoes Kirk fires Scotty for objecting to earlier in the film. Geez, these new Enterprise crewmembers cannot handle an argument without someone being demoted, fired, or reassigned. Of course, he comes back on the crew and KHAN AND KIRK go after Admiral Marcus, as if Kirk doesn’t know Khan already wants to kill him. Long story short, they beat up Marcus, Khan takes over the U.S.S  Vengeance formerly commanded by Marcus. Khan fires on the Enterprise. I just can’t bring myself to write the next paragraph, but…here goes.

    There’s a warp core malfunction. Spock can’t get away. So after Kirk is menacingly beamed down to die with his ship, Kirk realizes the only thing to do is to…repair the warp core manually. Sigh. But, it’s radiated…and then Scotty calls Spock down to engineering quickly. No, no…they didn’t. Did they just RIP OFF THE MOST POWERFUL SCENE IN WRATH OF KHAN for a lame switcheroo? Just…no! You can’t just make your movie out of other movies! You can borrow elements, but think of your own movie! And to make matters worse…at the end of that scene, where in the original the usually-confident Captain Kirk utters a single hushed “No…” As Spock dies on the other side of the glass…that was powerful. But, what does Spock say now on the other side?


Okay, the “tributes” have gone beyond cute. Now, it’s just offensive. Really. I wish I were making this up. I’m not. Spock yells “KHAAANNN!!!” Okay…I think that’s the worst of it. Phew. Oh, one more. Spock calls old Spock and asks “What did you do?” to defeat Khan. So, they load up some photon torpedoes and convince Khan that they contain his crewmates. He beams them abroad and they detonate. So…Dr. McCoy took a blood sample of Khan’s beforehand and injected it into a freaking tribble while figuring out how they work. McCoy revives Kirk with this superhuman-tribble blood. Is this a Star Trek mad lib?  Of this film I can only say this…of all the tropes I have known…these were the most…humorless.

All this film does is remind me how original Star Trek was. And how unoriginal this is. Oh, the effects were good, but it has no story. Literally. Go see the original Wrath of Khan. I’m going to try to Vulcan mind-meld this out of my brain. Such a good setup with Star Trek 2009 and then it boldly went and ripped off Skyfall and Wrath of Khan. So disappointing! I repeat…watch the original…do not watch this movie if you respect Star Trek!