Star Trek Into Darkness is Lost

AVAST! THERE BE SPOILERS HERE! (I finally saw Star Trek Into Darkness recently. It was so bad that I felt compelled to write about it r...


(I finally saw Star Trek Into Darkness recently. It was so bad that I felt compelled to write about it regardless of how old-news it is now.)

Under J. J. Abrams's leadership, Star Trek has become Lost; it's both lost it's way and become as pointless and low-brow as that other show of Abrams's. Star Trek Into Darkness is a hot wet mess, embodying pretty much everything that original Trek stood against. Yes, the acting is fine for the genre - although I don't think Chris Pine was channelling Shatner quite as effectively this time around. It's literally everything else about this movie that makes it an utter travesty.
I’m not going to go deeply into it; that would hurt my soul too much. Instead, I’m just going to list some of the spectacularly stupid things that happened in this movie. You decide.

The overall story is a retelling of The Wrath of Khan (1982), hereunder just TWoK, the best of the feature Trek films, but “updated” to fit with the New Trek “timeline” and Abrams’s complete disinterest in actual depth.

Even in principle, this is a mistake: you just don't fuck with perfection.

The reason that the story doesn’t work at all is that the original was 15 years in the making - starting with the TV episode Space Seed, which aired in 1967. To reconstruct the whole mythos and cult status of the Khan story in a two-hour movie is simply impossible. The audience just hasn’t the time to feel enough for either Kirk, or Spock, or Khan in this movie for the events to mean anything at all.

Similarly for Kirk’s death. We’ve only had a couple of Chris Pine movies to get used to his New Kirk. But by the time Real Kirk died, in Star Trek Generations, we’d had some 25 years worth of Shatner to acclimatize us.

Abrams lost a huge opportunity to easter egg the shit out of Kirk’s death scene. New Kirk’s last words should have been “Oh my!” That would have been a nice hat-tip to Real Trek, a weird time-echo thing from Real Trek to New Trek, and it might have even given some viewers reason to think Kirk was actually going to stay dead for more than a few minutes.

And while we’re on the subject of large-scale flaws, how about the total lack of moral quandaries that were so typical in Real Trek? Real Trek was, for its time, very advanced; all kinds of very controversial issues (for the time) were covered to a degree they'd never been before - both in TOS and TNG. The morality in New Trek is more like Morality for Dummies. Like, what about the ethics of using Khan’s blood as if it were free for the taking? Like, what's the ethical trade-off between killing Khan by fiat vs disobeying a direct order vs possibly starting a galactic war? These issues of galactic scope got about 2 minutes of screen time in Into Darkness. They could have used Carol Marcus as a good foil for her Robo-admiral daddy and his warmongering ways, but settled for a shot of her in her underwear, cuz hot blonde chicks always make sci-fi movies better when they just stand around silent and nekkid, amiright?

But it's not just macroscopic failures that riddle Into Darkness.There’s also lots of smaller, yet absolutely fatal, flaws in the movie; like death by 10,000 cuts.

I thought it was really weird that Scottie would just walk away from Enterprise like he did. Totally unlike him to do that; and totally unlike Kirk to accept his resignation. Clearly - far too clearly - Scotty needed to be left behind to be a set piece in some subsequent scene. And sure enough....

After the London attack, Khan transported himself from Earth all the fricking way to Praxis (moon of Kronos). WTF?!?! Forget about the energy needed to transport almost 90 light years away - what about the precision needed to nail a location that far away?!?! And why the fuck go to Praxis to begin with?

And while we’re talking about the London attack, why would you have a meeting of a war council above ground in the middle of a crowded city instead of a secluded underground bunker? And how did Khan manage to fly a helicopter right up to its windows without some kind of proximity alarm going off? And how about that total lack of security, red-shirted or otherwise? And why didn’t Khan just use another one of those “ring bomb” things?

When Kirk decides to invade the dreadnought Vengeance armed only with a phaser, his charm, and a clearly duplicitous Khan, why could Enterprise align airlocks perfectly, but have to stay at a distance of several kilometres? Wouldn't it have been easier to squirt Kirk and Khan between ships if they'd been closer?

And why did they have to go so fast as they transited from Enterprise to Vengeance? Since they had jetpacks, why bother with all the ejection crap at all? Why not just accelerate calmly around all the space flotsam? It’s not like they were being targeted by Vengeance, so why risk borking everything up by going like greased lightning?

What about the whole Botany Bay backstory for Khan?  Khan’s origins precede Nero’s mucking up the timeline, so all of that should have still been the case in Into Darkness. Yet the whole story seems to have changed.

Speaking about the time-line, if we’re to believe everything we’re told in the movie, then Khan was frozen in the 1960s. The real 1960s, cuz Nero didn’t fuck things up till later. Even in Real Trek, Khan comes from a time from which he couldn’t possibly have in fact come, but at least it was still in Roddenberry's future. They had a chance to fix this in Into Darkness, but I guess they think their audience is constituted entirely of morons. What's worse, in Real Trek, Khan was just a little stronger, a little smarter than regular folk - which at least made it conceivable that he could have been genetically manufactured in the 20th Century. But Abrams’s god-like, Kryptonian Khan couldn’t possibly have been decanted any time in the 1900’s, making Khan’s existence into a farce rather than a bit of a liberty.

Robo-admiral Marcus’s evil plot to make war on the Klingons is just a rehash from The Undiscovered Country, only decades too early in the Trek timeline. In Real Trek, this happens after many years of brinksmanship between the Federation and the Empire. But in new Trek, they barely had a clue about the Turtleheads. While this makes The Undiscovered Country’s Admiral Cartwright a sad and disillusioned man looking to maintain the prestige of his place in history - i.e., it indicts the uselessness of the military - the New Trek version makes Admiral Marcus a fucking lunatic and an imminent threat to peace - in other words, a paranoid delusion! Indeed, Marcus is drawn as the serious version of the "tin-plated overbearing, swaggering dictator with delusions of godhood" that was roundly derided in Real Trek. And I’m so tired of the old chestnut that all old military men are both insanely powerful and powerfully insane.

I let out an audible gasp at the sheer stupidity of how Scotty got into the Starfleet dry dock in Jovian orbit. Seriously, how did no one at all at a top secret Starfleet facility notice it? I think that was probably the most obviously stupid and contrived scene in the whole movie - except for the whole rest of the movie.

(Aside: was anyone else kind of hoping that the big, boxy drydock in Jovian orbit would turn out to be a Borg cube?)

Apparently, this whole Noonien Singh Khan passing as handsome white dude with blue eyes thing comes from the comics.... Comics?!?! They got their material from frickin' comics?!?!  Whitewashing and comics - ‘nuff said.

When Enterprise and Vengeance have their little space war, it’s right by Earth’s moon.  Yet no earth defences noticed? We know from Khan's attack in London that Starfleet monitored warp signatures near Earth - so why didn’t a whole bunch of starships come racing when Enterprise and Vengeance both came out of warp? And how about the total lack of reaction of everyone on Earth to the very existence of the secret dreadnought warship, especially when it plowed prow-first into downtown San Francisco after first dwarfing and then obliterating Alcatraz?

As far as I know, New Trek starships still run on antimatter. So, when Vengeance crashed and broke apart, should it have destroyed the city in an “earth-shattering kaboom”?

Shortly thereafter, Spock beams down from Enterprise in messy-hot pursuit of Khan. As soon as he materializes, he whirls around to face Khan, as if he knew exactly where his prey was in a plaza crowded with panicking Terrans. If they knew so precisely where Khan was, why couldn’t they materialize Spock so he was facing the right way? (Because “drama,” I imagine, but really stupid drama.)

Phasers don’t just have stun and kill settings; this is canon. So when Uhura shoots Khan the first time on the red floating barge-thingy, she should have just cranked it up a bit and put him down (but not terminally) with the second shot. There was no reason to just keep shooting him at an obviously too-low setting. Unless she’s just mean. Or stupid.

And the whole reason for not killing Khan in that scene was because Bones needed his blood to make a serum to revive Kirk. But if Khan’s blood can bring both tribbles and humans back to life, can’t it bring Khan himself back? In which case, why care whether he’s killed or not?

And how about that tribble?  Some sense of timing it had, coming back to life like it did just in time to give McCoy his Kirk-saving epiphany. Somebody buy that tribble a pint of Romulan Ale - it earned it!

And while we’re at it, why couldn’t McCoy have used the blood of any of Khan’s crew to save Kirk? Presumably, they were all endowed with super-duper DNA, so who cares if Khan dies?

Even though Scotty goes on at length early in the movie about how delicate the Enterprise’s reactor is, Kirk is able to fix it at the end by literally kicking it back into alignment. Was that supposed to be funny? Like when grandpa fixes the TV by whacking it?

After he saves the Earth and then dies, Kirk is brought back without any fanfare or melodrama. Is 23rd Century Terran society so jaded that death and resurrection are treated with about as much hoopla as a mild hangover? Neither Kirk nor McCoy seem especially put off by it. No time lapse. No angst-ridden bedside visits by Spock and the others. No questions about the other side. (Remember that life and death permeated pretty much the whole of Star Trek Generations without really getting in the way of the plot.) New Kirk was so scared to die, he actually admitted it (albeit quite poorly compared to Shatner's version in The Wrath of Khan) - wouldn't that have fucked him up?  Apparently not, cuz he wakes up looking ready for a dinner party. And why did someone do his hair just before he woke up? (Seriously, if you’re in bed for two weeks after being literally irradiated to death, wouldn’t you expect at least a little bed-head?)

Abrams also missed another tremendous opportunity by ignoring one of the best scenes of TWoK - the "I don't like to lose" scene.  Seriously, I remember seeing TWoK on opening day, and let me tell you I've never seen such a mass nerdgasm in a theatre as when Real Kirk said that, and Real Spock being all nonchalant about it back on Enterprise. If Abrams wanted to give older Trek fans something to cheer about, this was it.

Instead, the best we can do is New Spock completely losing his shit over New Kirk's death. Think of how that compares to Shatner's response to Real Spock's death in TWoK. See what I mean?

And finally, the music still blows dead monkeys compared to James Horner's brilliant score for TWoK.

And if you're still not convinced that Into Darkness is the most vile kind of codswallop, you can find many, many other lists of many, many other flaws in this movie via Google, some good examples of which are



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The Trouble with Normal...: Star Trek Into Darkness is Lost
Star Trek Into Darkness is Lost
The Trouble with Normal...
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