Thursday, June 20, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

When the 'Star Trek' reboot movie came out, I was kind of skeptical as to how it would turn out and whether or not I'd like it, but I and lots of other Trek fans were pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out.  There were a lot of mistakes and timeline discrepancies regarding official 'Star Trek canon', but most of us could let that slide and just enjoy the show, and the characters that took over the original roles.  Most of the cast did a fine job in their portrayals.

I waited a long time for 'Into Darkness' to come out, with sky high expectations, knowing what director JJ Abrams was capable of.  I do admire the guy's work.  He can knock it out of the park, like he did with 'Star Trek', or he can underwhelm with a show like 'Super 8'.  But like other directors, everyone's entitled to their wild swings at the plate.  Stephen Spielberg had his share of those.  God knows George Lucas did too.  Look at M Night Shyamalan.  Three or four good movies and he's made crap ever since.

'Into Darkness' sure starts off promising.  It gives a distinct feel of a terrorism plot, albeit earthbound, when a leaders conference takes place and at least one major character is killed.  Visually it was looking great.  It definitely had Abrams' trademark grandiose scenery and special effects that transports you to another time and place.  He's good with that.

Not knowing yet what the plot of the movie will be because it was shrouded in such secrecy leading up to its release, there was a lot of speculation over who the main villain, John Harrison, could actually be.  A lot of us thought a bland and boring name like that (why not John Smith for cryin' out loud) MUST mean that it's actually a cover for someone else in the Trek universe.  My hope was that it would be Gary Mitchell, one of the very first villains to debut in the original Star Trek TV series.  Timeline-wise, it made perfect sense.  It's very early on in the Trek story, and with a lot of the switcheroo-ness happening following the events in the last film, there were a lot of places they could take the story and make it tremendously interesting.

John Harrison is not John Harrison.  He is not Gary Mitchell.  By now, you must know who he is since the movie's been out a while.  Spoiler ahead.

It's revealed about 3/5 of the way through that he turns out to be who many hoped he would be, but a lot of us hoped he wouldn't, because in Trek canon, there's no way it could be.... Khan.  Khan made his appearance in the original series about three years into the five year mission of the Enterprise, which in this movie franchise reboot hadn't even begun yet.  This John Harrison guy seems to be incognito on earth while his crewmates are frozen in cryo in a place where no one would quite expect to find them, viewers included.  For a while, you feel for Harrison/Khan, because he's trying to actually rescue his people from imminent death brought on by someone who's also somewhat disguised as one of the protagonists of the story, but that I saw coming.  It seemed obvious as the story played out.

Of course, they go the one-dimensional-villain route with Khan as it turns out he's bent on conquest, which isn't quite the way Ricardo Montalban played Khan in the original series.  He did play a rather tyrannical role as Khan, but in said episode, Kirk winds up giving him another chance to thrive with his people on another planet, the now famous Seti-Alpha 5.  There was peace at the end of that episode, until, of course, 'Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan' was released in theatres, where Khan sought vengeance on Captain Kirk and his crew for not keeping tabs on their progress, during which catastrophe happened on SA-5.

In 'Into Darkness', it appears Khan's been roaming around earth for awhile even before the movie starts.  In the original series, the Enterprise only came across Khan's ship, the Botany Bay, adrift in space, as I said, three years into its five year mission.  So much for respect to the Trek canon.  Not to mention, the original Khan character is of Hispanic origin, and Benedict Cumberbatch, who's Khan this time, is about as Hispanic as I am.  No wonder no one could completely figure out who he was.  Why would a white guy play Muhammed Ali in an Ali biopic.

There were quite a few other things that bugged me.  Tribbles show up in this film, again way before they actually are supposed to appear.  Klingons apparently have been around for a bit too.  In fact Kronos appears to be right next door to Earth if you're to believe in how they travel in this story.  And the Enterprise underwater?  Really?  Sorry, NO.

Maybe the key scene that killed this movie for me was where they actually tried to reverse a key scene from 'Star Trek II', more or less doing a shot-for-shot, line-for-line, copy of it.  It bothered me a lot.  In fact it makes me angry to think about it.  To me it showed disrespect to those who are true fans of this franchise.

We'll see now where they take Trek, now that they've finally embarked on their five year mission, AFTER this movie is finished.  Don't even get me started again. Hopefully new writers will be hired, they'll use NASA as consultants again which I have to believe they couldn't give a flying shit about in this movie, and Abrams will be busy trying to get the Star Wars franchise right.  After seeing this movie, I'm actually worried about that now.

It's with great disappointment that I certify 'Star Trek Into Darkness' as Lumpy.

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