Brutally Honest Review #2: Star Trek Into Darkness is MEH
I really wanted to like Star Trek Into Darkness whole-heartedly, but I’m only entertained by it in the most superficial way possible. It is the definition of meh. Many things from this movie really irritate me, things like the Wrath of Khan imitations and the stupid plot holes. These problems weren’t present in the 2009 Star Trek (for the most part). That movie gave us an adventurous story. Star Trek Into Darkness is just a complete waste of a lot of things that could have been done better.
In fact, Star Trek Into Darkness has many things that HAVE been done better. Like 20 years ago. The death of Kirk is probably the stupidest thing about this movie because he’s brought back 5 mins later using the blood of Khan who Spock has to beat into submission. Spock is also stupid. His whole character in this movie is disappointing compared to the 2009 Star Trek movie. He just goes off the hinge when Kirk dies and yells Khan simply because THAT’S WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN TO HOMAGE WRATH OF KHAN. He didn’t carry on like a lunatic when his planet was destroyed. Or even when his mother died. He’s always had a consistent character. Until the plot needs him to do something else. Screw Star Trek Into Darkness.
Benedict Cumberbun playing Khan is a pretty dumb casting choice. Without being a canon nazi, can anyone see why a British Khan might be questioned by some people? I don’t care THAT much, but I just wonder how he was even cast. The character is Khan Noonien Singh, a minority character, and Cumberbun is more white than my grandma. Anyway, whatever. He’s at least a great actor. Sometimes.
Cumberbun becomes a terrorist and gives us 9/11 allusions in the most obvious way possible, then is captured. I hated the way Cumberbun talked as Khan. It did not seem natural. The slow, plodding, overdramatic speeches were just annoying. His overemphasis of every word made me want to leave the theatre. I think he went to the William Shatner school of dialogue recital.
The plot in this movie is so convenient and stupid that it makes me wonder if the writers were seriously trying to use hilariously stupid things on purpose. Now they can beam to other PLANETS, across the galaxy, apparently. They can solve disease and BRING BACK THE DEAD with superblood. They have no need for spaceships because they can go anywhere anytime and can revive dead soldiers if anything happens. Screw that.
When you do a homage or take things from another movie and USE THEM VERBATIM, there will be comparisons. Direct comparisons. Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan is a better movie than Star Trek Into Darkness. It has better dialogue, better action, better twists and turns, and a better ending. Wrath of Khan builds on what the Original Series gave us in the TV episode Space Seed, and just continues on telling us what happened next. Star Trek Into Darkness doesn’t have a “Space Seed” episode, so they have to shoehorn in Khan and his frozen pals without much explanation at all. I couldn’t tell you if this was the same character from Wrath of Khan or not. It doesn’t seem like it. Cumberbun plays him almost entirely different from Ricardo Montalban. It’s almost as if Cumberbun is imitating a Vulcan rather than playing a sadistic madman like Khan. He just plods along and tries to be menacing without much emotion.
I guess I can understand how JJ Abrams fell in love with Cumberbun and his ability to squint, but British Khan still makes no sense. That’s the problem with this movie, and to a lesser extent, what happened with the 2009 Star Trek movie. They just invent whatever the hell they need to move the story forward, so that’s why we get the stupidass transwarp beaming concept. At least we get some social commentary in Star Trek Into Darkness, so I’ll give it that. But JJ Abrams does whatever the hell he wants to do, like invent stupid new technology to solve whatever plot points he needs to. I’m guessing he’ll do whatever the hell he wants to do in Star Wars Episode VII too, but I have no doubt that if he screws around next time too with a “fun spin on things for fans”, there will be a real uproar.
Not only does Star Trek Into Darkness homage Wrath of Khan, but it homages the 2009 Star Trek for some odd reason. It REPEATS the space jump scene that was exciting and original, completely redoing it here for another go. Not to mention they took the TREK out of Star Trek and there are more scenes on Earth than on new or original planets. Many other things from the 2009 Star Trek are back too, like the lens flares, the Enterprise coming up from the clouds or mist or whatever, and Kirk acting like a rebel. Spock completely overreacting is stupid. Uhuru criticizing her boyfriend in the middle of mission is stupid. The shuttle or ship thing barely fitting through a tight spot is straight out of Empire Strikes back and is stupid.
The writers had a chance to do something new here, but they chose not to. They completely spent a whole movie establishing their alternate timeline to do nothing with it. They have something complete unique AND ACCEPTED by a majority of people, but they crap on it by recycling old Star Trek. I don’t know what that says, but shows LAZINESS to me. I can’t honestly explain it. Why is Khan even used in this movie? So you can appease a minority of fans? Why? Why does Starfleet have a secret organization to basically spy on itself? It is never explained. That’s certainly not in line with the hopeful vision Gene Roddenbury had. Also, why are the Klingons here? To shoot at, apparently.
Basically, this movie is someone’s attempt to recreate and do their own Wrath of Khan. Except it’s not theirs. They use the same situation(s) and some of the same dialogue, which is called clever by some people. Why? Was the Christopher Reeve imitation done in Superman Returns clever? NO. And they did in 5 minutes what it took the old crew two whole movies to do. I never thought for a second that Kirk was really, honestly dead, and there’s no way I could buy Spock getting more upset than the death of his Mom or the destruction of Vulcan. Sorry.
Something like Pulp Fiction is a good example of clever and is a homage. That’s what a homage is, guys. It takes the style and tone of some situational dramas to use for something new. Right now I fear for what Episode VII will be like.
JJ Abrams delights in his meh presentation of Star Trek and thinks himself clever for pandering to fans with poorly done recreations of Wrath of Khan. At least this movie has great action and passable performances. Everyone gets something to do and that’s nice. I didn’t buy my ticket for this one five or six times like I did for the fun ride in 2009. I expect Star Trek Into Darkness to fade away into the realm of meh where it will be remembered for years as something that was clearly the weakest entry from JJ Abrams.