OK, if you saw the headline, then you are probably thinking two things: a) I didn’t like Star Trek Into Darkness and b) I’m going to reveal spoilers. One is true, the other isn’t as clear cut.
Did I like Star Trek Into Darkness? I’ll say that I liked 95 percent of the movie, but the 5 percent I didn’t like pretty much ruined the movie for me. This review will include spoilers because I feel the more information you have, the less likely you’ll do what I did in the theater, which was scream “what the fuck.”
Let’s get a few things straight first. As you Trekkies know from the first movie, this is a whole new Star Trek. Spock screwed things up by not saving Romulus in time, and sending a grief-stricken maniac back in time with an extremely advanced ship, killing Kirk‘s dad. That act was the butterfly flap that created a new timeline, and therefore a new universe where anything can happen.
Several of my fellow Star Trek fans have sometimes expressed anger at J.J. Abrams creating a more militaristic universe, contrary to the vision of Gene Roddenberry. But you’ve got to understand, in the Roddenberry Star Trek universe, a gigantic super-advanced starship didn’t show up, destroying a shit-ton of Federation and Klingon ships.
It seems apparent that this incident, which was the basis of the Abrams Star Trek movie, sets up the new movie. Yeah, they’re still explorers, but now they’re preparing for a possible war with the Klingons and will do anything it takes to get the upper hand. They’re exploring, but looking for new tech. At some point they find the Botany Bay and famous Trek villain Khan plus his crew.
Yup, the bad guy is Khan. That doesn’t get revealed until halfway through the movie. This is a tactic Abrams uses constantly, which I hate. I understand wanting to keep the plot secret before the movie comes out, but was it a big deal to just say Khan is in the movie?
In the Trek universe, Khan is one of several genetically-enhanced superhumans. He became a dictator in the 1990s, but the regular humans fight back. They put Khan and the other superhumans in cryogenic sleep and shoot them into space. In the regular universe Kirk finds the ship, unfreezes Khan, who wreaks havoc until he is captured and beamed to a planet with his crew. Years later they escape to get their revenge on Kirk in “The Wrath of Khan.” Google it.
In the Abrams universe, Khan is given a new generic name of John Harrison and is forced to make advanced weapons of war, with Starfleet threatening to kill his still frozen crew if he refuses. He soon decides to bomb a special Starfleet facility, then kill several Starfleet admirals and captains in retaliation. Kirk loses someone close to him, so he decides to chase Khan to the Klingon homeworld, where Khan used a interplanetary beaming device to escape (which was technology that didn’t exist until the last movie, when Old Spock gave new Scotty the formula, changing the future once again. Thanks Old Spock).
All is well thus far. The acting and action is quite enjoyable. Kirk and Khan work together to battle a mad Starfleet admiral hellbent on destroying the Enterprise and erasing all evidence of his crimes. Again, so far so good. But then Abrams decides to steal from “The Wrath of Khan.”
You remember this seen from Wrath?
Or how about this classic scene?
Also, how can we forget the Khan scream?
OK, now just imagine those scenes, except flip-flop the characters. Kirk fixing the engines, Kirk on the other side of the glass giving his dying speech, and Spock screaming “Khan!!!!”
This was all about a 10-minute span, which caused me to yell back at the screen, scaring my fellow theater-dwellers. Seriously J.J. Abrams? You created a new universe to create new, original tales, and instead you steal the best scene from one of the greatest Star Trek movies? And your brilliant idea to make it different is to flip-flop who dies?
And before you accuse me of being just a fanboy, my complaint is more important than that. I’m not complaining as a Star Trek fan, I’m complaining as a fan of movies. I know filmmakers borrow ideas from other movies all the time. I get that. But some do it because they’re time-tested ways of moving the plot and stirring emotion in your audience. This, in my opinion, was laziness from a man I thought was pretty creative.
It also doesn’t work. The first five minutes of the movie Kirk gets demoted to commander because Spock tattletails on him to Admiral Pike. Kirk is not really angered, but annoyed at Spock for not understanding loyalty and friendship. The death scene with Kirk (they obviously bring Kirk back to life) is forced because they still didn’t feel like friends to me.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. Will I see the movie again? Yes, as my girlfriend is home from Florida and she is a big J.J. Abrams fangirl. We’ll probably see it today. If my opinion changes I’ll let you know.