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Star Trek Movie Rewatch: Star Trek Into Darkness

Sunday, January 31st, 2016 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

Star Trek Into Darkness crash-small

I don’t remember if I groaned aloud when I realized that the second Star Trek “reboot” was going to be a Khan movie. It’s entirely possible. One might reasonably wonder why the production team chose to do a reboot of a reboot, if you’ll pardon the expression, when they could have taken so many directions with the story. I suspect that sheer commerce ruled the day and the notion, common in moviemaking and publishing, that whatever worked before must surely work again.

So did Star Trek Into Darkness work? Not so much for me. I’ll admit that I wasn’t disposed to be too charitable to either of the reboots in the first place. But I made a valiant attempt to be open-minded.

But, anyway. In my review of The Wrath of Khan I noted that it was something of a war of the overactors, with William Shatner going toe to toe with Ricardo Montalban. While Shatner’s character won the day in the movie, I awarded Montalban an honorary retro-Oscar for Best Overacting Performance in a Star Trek Movie.

Star Trek Into Darkness Kirk-small

But now I have beheld the overacting majesty that is Benedict Cumberbatch and I might have to rethink that position. He plays none other than Khan in this new incarnation of the Star Trek/Khan saga. It’s quite a rip-snorting performance, with volume knobs at 11 pretty much all the way through.

I could go into a detailed plot summary but as with The Wrath of Khan it doesn’t matter much. It’s walloping non-stop summer blockbuster type action. Black hats against white hats as mini-Kirk and our gang set out to foil the big bad Khan one more time.

Random Observations

Kicks off with a rousing scene that apparently serves no purpose but raising pulses and giving Pike a reason to rip Kirk and Spock a new you-know-what later in the movie.

Star Trek Into Darkness Enterprise underwater-small

Why does Spock have inflatable ears?

It wasn’t clear (to me, anyway) why the Enterprise was underwater early on but watching it rise up out of the water was impressive.

Were the scenes of Khan in his fishbowl prison cell meant to recall Hannibal Lecter?

Star Trek Into Darkness Khan-small

Alarm clock sounds will not change in the next several centuries.

Nice designs for the future version of London and the alien planet at the beginning.

More Beastie Boys. I have nothing against the Beastie Boys but I don’t get it.

Star Trek Into Darkness London-small

Some decent scenes. Pike reading Kirk the riot act and demoting him. Kirk and Scotty going to the mat over torpedoes and Scotty quitting.

Was the skirmish with the Klingons lifted directly from a video game?

Do we need more sage advice from wise old Nimoy Spock? And how is Quinto Spock able to dial him right up? I missed that explanation.

Star Trek Into Darkness Spock-small

Is J.J. Abrams the highest paid hack of all time? Not saying. Just asking.

The previous articles in this series are:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek (2009)


William I. Lengeman III’s last article for us was Mutants, Burger Creatures, and Genetically Engineered Sharks: Orbit 12. He holds forth at www.wileng3.com.

2 Comments »

  1. I still strenuously object to any sequences that involve the Enterprise flying in atmosphere, much less underwater, but that was one of the least of my problems with this film.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 1, 2016 12:23 am

  2. I think this movie was a train wreck.

    Kirk is not a genuine leader in this new movie. This Kirk sometimes a clown, sometimes a super hero, and it is confusing because the original Kirk was gritty and charismatic. He isn’t fallible, he is the stereotypical punching bag that is there for a laugh at masculinity.

    Spock is a caricature of the original. He is an idiot. Kirk and Spock would never be friends in this new universe unless it was forced fed as it was in this movie. Spock is passed over for the petulant Kirk. He is a crony of the admiralty. What is to like about them? The bullies on Vulcan…..facepalm cringeworthy crap. Do the writers know anything about Vulcans? Those were more like the Boys out of Compton than they were Vulcans.

    Scotty is a fun character but he is nothing like the original Mr. Scott. The new Scotty is subversive, insubordinate, and down right useless. He provides the technological rabbit-out-of-the-hat trick. Scotty was human and not a superhero.

    McCoy is probably the best of the bunch. I think this is the only bright spot in the film. He is comparable to the original.

    What is lost is the Brothers Karmasov of the original series. The three originals put into the ethos, logos, and pathos into the story which gave it STORY on a deep and meaningful level. This story trashed that relationship and did nothing to replace it.

    Uhura—don’t get me started. She is the OBJECT of interest. The new movie creates the romance between Spock and Uhura but I don’t see the spark. I’d put it up to a combination of bad acting and bad scripting.

    The admirals act like stereotype Dick Cheneys with out the intellect or the gravitas. How can anyone take it seriously when a single armed helocopter can take out the entire Star Fleet Command. It underscores just how fragile the Federation is from top to bottom.

    What are the consequences of violating the Prime Directive? Apparently none. Considering that it is called a PRIME directive it is treated more like an OPTIONAL directive that you can abuse whenever it suits an upstart Kirk who is the darling of the Federation.

    This movie made the same mistake that the first Star Trek movie did: It sacrificed story for whiz bang special effects. Yes the boarding of the ship was cool as they dodged space debris at high speed and then tumbled into the hangar without being splattered like bugs on a windshield. Leave that crap for a James Bond film.

    And Khan? What a joke! The Klingons were tougher and more realistic. There was no suspense. You knew what was coming because Hollywood does this formula scripting that is so tried and boring that it ruins most films nowadays.

    I love Star Trek but this was a snooze fest at best. I could care less when the next movie comes. Sure I’ll watch it–on blue ray after it is released but there is nothing about the franchise that I can’t wait to see.

    Kirk is about as pusillanimous as they come in the new series. If I were in charge of the franchise I would have Scotty beam them across the galaxy with the screen writers like they did Admiral Archer’s beagle. I’d have Chekov finish grade school. I’d slap Spock silly and jettison him and Uhura out the nearest airlock. Sulu would go back to the academy as a janitor. He clearly shows no aptitude to be an officer. None of them do. I would not want to be in a universe that would give these college frat boys the power of a star ship. Sadly, there must not be any real men or women in this future universe. If so, they would have taken over the Federation long ago. That’s my take.

    It was good to see the original Spock though. I’m sure he was ready to commit sepuku upon seeing him in this new universe. Leonard Nimoy could do in a few seconds what none of these new school lame latte swilling boneheads could achieve—respectability.

    Any questions?

    Comment by Wild Ape - February 2, 2016 7:39 pm


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