One Trekkies’ View on Into Darkness. Caution, spoilers ahead.
This movie was a huge let down after 2009’s Star Trek. It really must be some sort of intergalactic law that there can’t be two good Star Trek movies in a row.
That isn’t to say that the first film was perfect. It wasn’t. A time-travel plot which brought Leonard Nimoy and Eric Bana into the “alternate timeline” really should have been an anchor that kept the Enterprise from leaving Spacedock. Fortunately, the first five minutes of the 2009 film featured Chris Hemsworth (Thor to his other Sci-fi friends) doing such a great job as George Kirk that it’s a shame they killed him off. Even more fortunately, the rest of the cast did a fantastic job climbing into the skin of the characters we all love so dearly. They reinvigorated Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura, Sulu, Chekhov, and Scottie with something they haven’t had in about forty years: youth and athleticism! It was great to see these characters running for the first time in lord knows when. We all had a great time at a Star Trek movie and we waited patiently and anxiously for the next adventure.
That’s why it was so disappointing when this film was so incredibly lazy and cannibalistic. The first half wasn’t too bad, but it could have been much better. A dilemma regarding the prime-directive is always fertile. Kirk getting chewed out is always fun. The sub-plot of Uhura being angry that Spock was so willing to sacrifice himself without thought to her or their romance was very promising. Terrorism is a hot button issue, so when London blew up it felt topical. An admiral who breaks every rule in the book because he believes that war with Chronos is inevitable is so dangerous and edgy because many Americans feel that way about Islam. Star Trek: Into Darkness was tantalizingly close to boldly going where no one has gone before … and then the script completely cannibalizes Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and it’s a very sloppy eater.
Here’s a brief list of reasons why the second half of the film was completely unforgivable (Spoilers Ahead):
#1. Spock is not a cry-baby. The only reason we excused so much emotion from the Vulcan in the first film is because he was very young, and because Vulcan had just imploded. No more tears, grimacing, or being a diva Mr. Zachary Quinto. You want to be Spock? Good. Get used to being stoic and busting on McCoy, not chewing the scenery.
#2. Khan’s “Wrath” happened 15 years after his first encounter with the crew of the Enterprise. Here’s how this story should have played out. Instead of putting Khan’s crew in cryo-tubes in torpedoes (which actually makes time-travel seem less lame by comparison), simply have Khan take over the rouge admiral’s militarized starship and rescue his crew. Then, when Kirk and company outwit and out fight the inexperienced group with the superior technology, have Khan and his crew escape. How you ask? Khan’s crew could take another vessel hostage while escaping from Earth to the new militarized starship … let’s make up a name for that vessel, say… I don’t know … The Botany Bay. Then when Khan is forced to use the Botany Bay as an escape pod from the exploding pirated starship, have Kirk capture that vessel and have Starfleet order him to leave Khan and his crew on Ceti Alpha 5.
There I wrote a much better second half of the film in about five minutes, and we didn’t have:
#3. Kirk “dying” in the radiation chamber.
#4. Spock screaming “KHAAAAANNNN!!!” and…
#5. An incredibly lazy resolution whereupon Khan’s blood is apparently a miracle drug that can resurrect tribbles and captains alike. Then they just put him back to sleep without studying his blood to see if it can save everyone ever.
I can’t possibly be the only Trekkie who saw that this movie was freaking awful, and I hope that this cast will get another chance to be wonderful as they were in the first film. Until then we have to live with this bomb. That’s okay though: They really can’t make two good Star Trek movies in a row.
By Dan Kern, special to Influx Magazine
If you would like another view on Star Trek: Into Darkness, check out Nav’s review here!