In the film Star Trek Into Darkness, this was really great, and then it most certainly was not. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
I really thought his film had something going for it, and when Cumberbatch remained a member of Starfleet who had a serious beef with his employers, I was hooked. The first hour of this film had so much going for it! It gave us a mission that wasn’t necessarily part of a bigger story. We saw Kirk make a terrible mistake, and HE ACTUALLY WAS FORCED TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT. Granted, Pike’s nepotism got Kirk a place on the Enterprise regardless, but Pike still went IN on Kirk. Y’all, he completely ignored protocol and messed up the fate of an indigenous species! Spock nearly died!
And even after John’s initial attack, this film still remained deeply, deeply uncomfortable. Was Kirk pursuing revenge or was he doing what was necessary? When is it wrong to follow orders? SCOTTY HAD SUCH A GREAT ROLE IN THIS MOVIE BECAUSE OF THIS! And while Scotty got to stand up to Kirk and tell him what he was doing was wrong, we slowly learned that even John Harrison wasn’t who we thought he was. Look, I’m not a Cumberbatch fan these days, but I was intrigued by where this story was heading. The glimpse of the Klingons was great; John’s display of his abilities was incredible; and this was a giant mystery that appeared to be shedding a negative light in Starfleet. Y’all know I love explorations of this (SEE ALL OF DEEP SPACE NINE, PLEASE.)
When John admitted who he was, my hope was that perhaps this wasn’t the same character from The Original Series, that Khan was just a reference or a nod to the previous canon. Which I wouldn’t have minded all that much! I was still interested in his endgame or interest in everything… right up until I wasn’t. The reveal that he was actually Khan Noonien Singh was just… so disappointing!!! You could have told much the same story without actually using a non-white character!!!! Just make him original like Carol Marcus!!!
It was like Into Darkness was in conversation with me, though. Once I felt critical of Khan’s usage and the casting, the goddamn movie DOUBLED DOWN. The plot with Admiral Marcus is poorly developed and non-sensical, and it exists just to prop up a flimsy excuse to copy The Wrath of Khan. This no longer felt like a clever reference; IT IS PRACTICALLY THE SAME PLOT, though it lacks the context and emotional resonance. SURPRISE, CUTTING SEQUENCES WHOLESALE FROM OTHER STORIES DOES NOT MAKE A GOOD STORY BY ITSELF. That whole “death” scene was such a terrible, terrible idea, both in theory and especially in execution. If you were going to do this, COMMIT TO IT, MOTHERFUCKERS. Have Kirk die! Make it the big climax of the film! Don’t immediately cut to another action scene, thereby ruining the pacing and importance of the moment. Don’t undercut your own emotional creations by actively undoing them within the narrative. IT DOES NOT HAVE THE SAME IMPACT UNLESS KIRK ACTUALLY DIES. I just???? Did these people not understand why The Wrath of Khan was so good? NO, CLEARLY NOT.
I really tried with this one, but it ended up trying ME. It’s well acted, and I still do enjoy this cast. The special effects were great, too! But it truly felt like five different people who all liked competing elements of Trek wrote this script, and it’s so messy. Y’all, Khan killed like… thousands upon thousands of people. Admiral Marcus did horrific things! Granted, he gets his head crushed (WHY WHAT THE FUCK WHY), but there is no weight to what happens here. It just happens.
The video for Star Trek: Into Darkness can be downloaded here for $2.99.
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