People have some issues with the new “Star Trek” movie and they are the same issues that I’ve talked about before. People don’t really know what they want. It isn’t the job of a director or a writer to give people what they want. It’s the job of the writer or director to do their best work and hope that their best work is judged fairly. Making a movie for fans will never be a smart idea because fans are fickle children who have no real sense of story telling. Fans are driven by nostalgia And, sense their childhood will always be better than the present, it’s impossible to re-package their childhood and for that re-packaged package to be accepted. Thus, anyone who says that Star Trek Into Darkness is a bad movie is flat wrong. They can say that they didn’t like it, but they are wrong when they say it’s bad. Those are two different things.
I did like it. Spoilers ahead. I completely ruin the movie for you beyond this point.
Set a few years after the reboot, Into Darkness has Kirk and crew still bouncing around the galaxy. Kirk only follows the rules he wants and the Prime Directive is a suggestion at best. This is the main premise of the movie. If the first one establishes Kirk as Captain, the second one gives him a chance to learn how to be Captain. The best way to do that is to first take away his commission. Next, kill Chris Pike, his mentor. Next, give him a villain that will push him beyond his limits and force him to make decisions that cost him everything, including his life.
Khan is the villain, if you didn’t already know. JJ Abrams kept the villain a secret as a present to Star Trek fans. Sure, we all wanted Khan, but I’m glad we didn’t know it was Khan until the movie started. If we knew Khan was the villain a year ago, we would have speculated about it in an absurd way. Having this kept a secret is a much more enjoyable experience.
The good part about the movie is that it takes what happened in Star Trek: Wraith of Khan and twists it. Khan is still a bad ass, but the real threat is a war hungry Federation Admiral that used Khan for his intelligence and military cunning. Kirk has to beat the Admiral, then beat Khan, resulting in Kirk making the ultimate sacrifice, not Spock. This was a great idea. In the original, Kirk and Spock were close, but only Spock really knew how close. In the reboot, Kirk loves Spock, but Spock doesn’t know how to reciprocate that affection. It took Kirk dying to make Spock feel the emotions he’d been running from. Kirk dying was very well done (sort of. I’ll come back to it).
I also liked how the movie doesn’t give us this epic space battle. I mean, how many times do we need to see that? Instead, the Enterprise gets beat and beat and beat and then beat some more. I loved watching the crew and how they performed. Everyone had a chance to shine, especially Uhura. She was terrific and her character is quickly becoming my favorite.
The bad is the plot. The plot makes absolutely no sense. I don’t even want to explain it to you. There are more holes in the plot than there is dialogue and there is plenty of that. I’ve heard people complain that the dialogue was bad, but I actually think people are complaining about the dialogue’s existences in a bad plot. Wraith of Khan had a very simple plot that was easy to understand. Everyone’s motivations were clear and easy to follow. I’m not sure why Into Darkness was so convuloted. The only place where the plot needed to be more interesting was when Kirk died. Instead of having the audience deal with Kirk’s death and have Kirk stay dead, he’s brought back to life, and easily. Apparently, Khan’s blood is super-blood or some crap and McCoy was able to use it to save Kirk’s life. It’s cheap and easy and, honestly, dull and insulting. What’s the point of a character dying if he didn’t stay dead? It would have been bold and courageous for Kirk to die in this movie. I almost promise you there’s an original cut of that somewhere. I wish JJ Abrams had the guts to go through with it.
Art is created by risk taking and innovation. It isn’t created in a safe environment. Once you are concerned with how comfortable an audience is, you’ve betrayed yourself.
The star of the movie is Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan. He’s a fantastic actor and he made the movie worth watching. Chris Pine as Kirk also did a terrific job. The special-effects were sharp and the movie looked stunningly. You can tell a JJ Abrams movie by how clean and beautiful the set looks. It truly is fantastic.
Don’t go see Star Trek: Into Darkness expecting the grandeur and wonder from years past. Nothing new is ever going to satisfy your nostalgia Go see the new movie for what it is. It’s a science fiction movie with phasers and warp drive and punching and Klingons. It’s a fun summer movie and I’m completely fine with that.