There are a few things that I didn’t like about Star Trek: Into Darkness.  The opening scene of the movie where the crew is on a planet doing a survey and they find out a volcano is about to explode and it will wipe out the indigenous life there.  So they hide the Enterprise under the ocean, use a shuttle to get Spock inside the volcano and use a device that will render the volcano inert thus saving the planet and its people.  It all goes wrong.   Spock gets stranded and they can’t beam him back due to interference from the planet’s magnetic field unless they get a direct line of sight of him.  So they fly the Enterprise over the volcano and beam Spock out who protests this, saying it will violate the Prime Directive if the natives see the ship.  Why put the ship under water in the first place, instead of in orbit directly above the volcano?   That would give them line of sight, and they could’ve beamed Spock there and back safely without being seen as anything more than a bright light in the sky.  Why not just beam the bomb into the volcano in the first place?  Also, saving those humanoids all by itself was a violation of the Prime Directive, but Spock didn’t seem to have too big a problem with that.

star-trek-into-darkness-fan-art1The ending of this movie leaves absolutely zero impact on the Star Trek universe.  Short of Captain Pike actually staying dead nothing else has changed.  I guess Spock is slightly more emotional and Kirk is a better Captain, probably I guess, but when you have your main protagonist killed then resurrected in the space of about fifteen minutes it kind of lessens the impact of his death.  The next time anyone gets the space flu or even a broken arm they could just defrost Khan, drain his blood, slap him for crashing that Starship into the city then re-freeze him before the hand print fades.

Even though at the end of the day 2009’s Star Trek is a very straightforward narrative, it’s constructed in a way that you’re unsure which direction it’s heading. With beardless Thor being killed at the beginning and Vulcan being destroyed you get the feeling that the franchise could go in any direction.  Star Trek: Into Darkness however telegraphs its moves so far in advance it’s hard not to see them coming.  The minute they popped open that missile and there was a person inside it I thought, this is Space Seed, the villain’s Khan, Benidict Cumberbatch is Khan.

It was no surprise to me at all the surprise main villain.  Benedict Cumberbatch did a great job, but I never felt that Khan was menacing.  In the original series, with Khan and Kirk it was personal and that connects with the audience.  It was deeply personal, and we sympathize with Kirk — we hurt when he gets hurt, and we cheer when he wins.  The revenge escalates with Khan’s obsession, but every time it does we ride along with it, and we feel the stakes getting higher.

star-trek-into-darkness-poster-benedict-cumberbatch-frontWith Into Darkness, that never happens.  It’s never personal, and we never get the idea that Khan is a madman bent on revenge.  Sure, the timeline changed, and so did his motives, but in the end what that means is that Khan was too distant.  I was never invested in him.  He was like a generic super-villain, a plug and play bad guy.

Also, am I right in saying Spock outwits Khan not through his own volition but by calling the future version of himself who responds by saying, “I’m from the future and I can’t tell you anything, that being said here’s what we did in Star Trek 2.”  That’s gotta be the most blatant cinematic cheat in movie history!  It also explains why Spock steered clear of the radiated area of the Enterprise this time around, that crafty Vulcan bastard.  All in all, as mentioned Star Trek: Into Darkness is a great summer movie; you’d be hard pressed to find those who flat-out hate it, though I’m sure they’re around.


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