A friend (who shall remain nameless!), who's a Classic Series fan, recently mentioned that he'd finally made time to sit down and watch Star Trek Into Darkness. But I have to admit to being very disappointed when he said he actually enjoyed the movie. Strangely, this felt like a betrayal of everything Star Trek is and the JJ Abrams new movies are not.
If got me thinking about Into Darkness and why I hate this movie.
I wrote a detailed review of it over on my Home Cinema Addict website back in 2013, so rather than simply copying and pasting the article here, I'll list a few choice comments I have about the movie. If you want to read my full tirade, you can do that here.
The new movie opens on the planet Nibiru. Now maybe that's an in-joke as it was the name of the planet that was supposed to come close to Earth on Dec. 21st, 2012 causing the end of the world. To me, including such a named planet associates Trek in a back-handed fashion with general nonsense (my take: Abrams is saying Trek is a load of tosh - but not in a good way).
There's a badly judged, ham-fisted "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one" moment and just as he's [Spock] about to die, the Enterprise shoots up from the sea, flies over the volcano and beams him aboard. No one in the transporter room seems to be bothered by the heat that should be radiating from his suit which should be red-hot.
Simple ideas just go over Abrams/Lindelhof's heads. For example, that Spock/Uhura romance. It just doesn't work for a species (Vulcan) that comes on heat once every seven years. The appeal of Spock's character, especially for women, was his unavailability - they could imagine themselves as being the one who could reach him. That's completely escaped Abrams & co. and they've ruined that idea by having Spock in a relationship with Uhura. Spock spoken for - period.
Besides, Spock is married (see TOS episode Amok Time). Spooning with Uhura would make him an adulterer and that's not a very Spock-like trait.
Stupidly thought out set pieces and idiotic characterizations like these abound in the movie.
I've already mentioned that Abrams doesn't "get" Star Trek (also by his own admission). Both his efforts have been action movies with big action sequences. Trek, at its best, examined social issues and held a mirror up to injustices and moral dilemmas that faced our society, through the medium of Science Fiction. There is nothing cerebral about Abrams' Star Trek, no social commentary, no moral dilemmas.
Into Darkness mangles the whole Khan story...
I like Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays Khan) as an actor. However, he's a somewhat unusual looking Caucasian male who's appearance doesn't really convey any racial attributes that a name like Khan Noonian Singh would suggest. At least Ricardo Montalban, who played Khan in Space Seed and Wrath of Khan wasn't Caucasian. So maybe Cumberbatch wasn't the best choice for the role.
Remember I said that people actually believed Spock was dead when Wrath of Khan was originally shown in 1982 (because Nimoy didn't want to play him any more)? No danger of believing that Kirk was really dead in Into Darkness. Another ham-fisted scene where McCoy takes a blood sample from Khan and uses it on a dead tribble to see what will happen flags that the magic blood will be used to revive someone later in the movie.
But what can you expect from the guys who gave us the last episode of Lost??
JJ Abrams delivers yet another shoot 'em up, pretty thoughtless, popcorn actioner that plays on the Star Trek ethos without actually capturing the essence and soul of Star Trek. That could only be achieved by an avowed Star Wars fan. The characterizations are worse than in the first movie. There are ludicrous set pieces that are so badly written they should have been excised from the movie. The writers (and presumably the director) treat genuine Trekkers and Trekkies with disdain and contempt.
I can only hope that once Abrams moves on to directing the next Star Wars movie that he'll stay there and someone else can come in and direct the next Star Trek movie (if there is one). He's probably the most overrated director in Hollywoood today. And Paramount made a serious mis-step in hiring him to reboot the Star Trek franchise.
I have a lot more to say in my full review about why this movie sucks in every way possible if you're an Original Series fan.
I know some fans really enjoyed the movies - anything Star Trek is better than no Star Trek, so to speak. But the new movies have no soul.
Abrams also flubbed the opportunity to reunite Shatner and Nimoy's Kirk and Spock in the movies (especially Star Trek XI) but decided not to. In hindsight, that was a huge mistake. Now that Leonard Nimoy is dead, that opportunity has forever passed. Yes, they could be reunited on screen in Star Trek 13 using special effects but even if that's the case, it will be a hollow reunion because real Star Trek fans will know that it didn't involve the two iconic actors and friends playing off each other. Thanks JJ for screwing up Star Trek even more.
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