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24 April 2014
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The silliness that was Star Trek: Into Darkness

Posted On: 11 months ago | May 22, 2013 | Filed under: Long Read - Movies

star-trek-into-darkness-edited

A movie that was not made just for the fans is a good bet. It allows a good thing to be more widely shared.

Star trek as a franchise needed the kind of new blood that was pumped into by J.J. Abrams and we are all happy for it.

The first J.J. Abrams Star Trek was a witty, juiced up adventure that genuinely had mass appeal. The second one is too busy tripping over it’s own feet. So here my favorite things that are wrong with the film.

******SPOILERS! (duh)********

Note: These are things that are wrong with the film as a film. I don’t really care what little nitpicks of the Star Trek universe they got wrong.We are only considering the things that are wrong vis-a-vis the two Abrams films.

1) The entire opening sequence

Here is the set up -

Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy are racing through a red forest while a band of natives chase them. The Enterprise men have stolen a sacred scroll and are using it to get the natives away from their village to protect them from an exploding volcano. The volcano is being taken care of by Commander Spock, his girl friend and Kumar the driver.

Things take a turn into the odd when Kirk decides to latch the scroll onto a tree somewhere and race ahead.

As if on cue, the natives, simple-minded buffoons that they are apparently, immediately drop to their knees and begin kowtowing like their life depended on it.

All religions have a caste of people who are allowed to function freely around religious icons – think Brahmins or monks. And all temple guards are expected to chase the thieves and not to bend over at the first sign of anything holy.

So why the fuck do these morons drop to their knees like they have no understanding on the concept “Get the blasphemers”.

Why the heck is any one, much less someone with advanced space faring technology, keeping an eye on these inbred idiots? If they can barely grasp the basic concepts of ‘cops and robbers’, I doubt that they are going to be figuring out warp speed, Klingon and the holodeck any time this millennium.

So while all of this running and jumping off cliffs into the sea where the Enterprise is hidden underwater, (oh we will get to that later…) Commander Spock is dumped via shuttle into the center of the volcano to place a cooling bomb – thereby saving this species.

Naturally things go to shit faster than you can say “live long and prosper” and now James Kirk is faced with two choices – Let the most famous and marketable character of the franchise die ten minutes into the second film of the reboot series OR break some rules that no one gives a long-term shit about. (Trust me they don’t)

Well, since Kirk is unwilling to let his bromance die, he proceeds to raise his ship out of the ocean within full view of the kneeling idiots, beam Spock back onto the ship and makes a quick get away.

WHAT? 

A) How the fuck is the ship in an ocean?

No one noticed a space ship submerge itself ten feet off the coast? How did it sink into the ocean COMPLETELY just off the coast anyway? (close enough that Kirk and Dr. Bones can swim to it from the shore).

Oil tankers, which are not even one fifth the size of this ship, cant approach coasts without special docks and you sink a kilometer long starship ten feet away from sunny sands? And no one heard or saw? You set off no tsunamis just through displacement?

Did all of you go out and night and dig a really, really deep hole first?

B) You are a SPACE SHIP. If you want to hide from primitive people….BE IN SPACE!

You used that stupid teleporter device to beam in and out of planets, moons and other ships like a sex addict in a whore house before. Why the heck do you need to be physically next to the people who definitely, definitely should not see your ship?

In fact, that Russian driver points out that they need a line of sight to beam anyone in and out, which is why Kirk had to reveal himself. You know where you can always have perfect line of light, at least vertically, while being invisible to the locals? IN SPACE.

Never mind the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, the brains of the many on the ship apparently do NOT outweigh that of a retarded kitten.

C) Speaking of beaming shit in, why did the bomb need to be armed by hand like a bear trap set by peasants in 18th Century Russia?

I can unlock my car, my house and hire a hooker to undo my pants from my cell phone today and you, oh advanced spare farer, must type numbers on it with your hand amidst a sea of lava?

Was the arming code – “We are Morons”?

All of this to simply prove that Kirk will save Spock’s life (pointless as we know he will – he did so last time as well) and that the Prime Directive was broken. Which makes it doubly pointless since by just setting the bomb off they have anyway broken it. (A fact pointed out by Admiral Pike in the very next scene.)

2) Stupid Von Robocop is stupid

Admiral Marcus, played by Robocop, was a fine mix of man and machine, but an evil genius he is not. No matter how hard he tries. In fact the harder he tries the more arsine he appears.

He made Khan to attack the library because that would cause a meeting of all the heads of the star fleet. Then Khan could attack that meeting with a gunship, kill a few of them, and then use his personal teleportation device to beam himself to fucking Klingon a billion light years away (beam that up Scotty)

Then he ordered Kirk, all angry angry over Admiral Pike’s death, to go kill Khan by firing rockets that have Khan’s secret family inside them. This would trigger a war with the Klingons and kill Khan, thereby fulfilling the Admiral’s desires.

Yes oh criminal mastermind, send the one and ONLY leverage that you have over the unstoppable crazy madman Khan far, far away from you and much closer to him, in a ship captained by a man FAMOUS for disobeying orders  – all the while hoping beyond hope that Capitan Kirk doesn’t do something crazy like talk to Khan before killing him.

Then, you YOURSELF go to the spot where Kirk is, secretly without anyone knowing, because he has not killed Khan.

I wouldn’t trust Kirk to follow the instructions on a packet of condoms and your entire plan hinged on Kirk doing your bidding without asking questions?And you thought you could outfox a genetically engineered genius/madman?

Are you descended from that kneeling tribe of idiots from the opening sequence?

3) The pointlessness of Khan

To be completely clear, Benedict did a great job. A fine actor, he potrayed a fine villain. No complaints there. On the other hand, Khan is a stupid, stupid villian to have.

A) Big reveal is small and pointless.

When Khan, so far known as Jim something, reveals himself as ” My name is Khan”, that moment is just flies by. The crew of the Enterprise can’t react because they have no idea who he is. And the audience doesn’t give a flying fuck because we don’t know ho he is.

(Don’t talk to me about the ‘Wrath of Khan’. If I had to watch that film to enjoy this film, I will just watch that film instead.)

Even the film knows it.

That can be the only reason why we have a pointless scene where Spock talks to Spock Prime (on the main Image screen of the bridge, because it’s common knowledge apparently that there are two Spocks. When did that happen?) and asks about Khan.

The film can’t establish who Khan is, so now the God of Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy himself, must assure audiences that indeed Khan is very dangerous and a mad man. Be afraid, he tells us, be very afraid.

Yeah whatever Gramps. I will fear it when I see it.

B) Khan’s character arc is stupid

Khan’s character arc seems to be -  Khan is initially manipulated by Admiral Marcus. He then lulls the crew of the Enterprise into believing he is a good guy wronged upon so they will help him. Then the Enterprise is betrayed by Khan, who is not all that he seems to be.

Not only does this plan make Khan look like a moronic bitch for half the movie, it also does nothing to explain anything about Khan.

I get it that the writers we probably going for a “oh everybody is gray” feel and also trying to make a whole “you can’t trust anyone” vibe. But they failed – epically.

We don’t know ANYTHING about Khan, so he is a blank slate on which you can spray fairy pink and it would make as much sense as dull gray. And in any case he is not gray in the start – when is his busy killing Admiral Pike. He is not gray in the end when he decides to announce to the world his plan for mass genocide. So he is just gray in the middle – to confuse Kirk?

There was never a time when we actually feel that Kirk should be confused about whom he should trust. So when Khan stood up and said “ah ha, All your base are belong to us, I presume only the script writers were ‘surprised’.

And even when Khan did take center stage – It took a little more than some ten minutes to essentially bitch slap the living daylights out of this fearsome and genius foe. Oh look at me shudder.

He is a little bitch for half the film, an obvious manipulator for ten minutes and in the end – bitch be crazy y’all.

To paraphrase Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Crowshaw  – Your character has the depth and feel of a cinder block. And kicking it out of the back of a truck and describing the trajectory as a character arc does not work.

4) Spock be a crazy hypocrite Y’all

The start of the movie shows us that Spock is a person who believes in the rules. He considers obedience to the rules not only a matter of personal pride, but also sees it as a judge of a person’s character. He truly does believe that the needs of the many outweigh the few.

Spock is also half-human, so he is able to see things from the point of view of the impulsive humans.

So when he tells Kirk to put aside feeling of personal revenge and instead capture Khan and bring him back alive to face trial, we know we are in good hands.

All of this is great and his advice is sound – as long as it applies to other people apparently.

Cause the minute Kirk goes down, Spock transforms from pointy-eared grim Vulcan to “Spock Smash!”.

After a ridiculously stupid “Khhhaaaannn!” shriek (I am not saying Shatner is a great actor, but the makers of this film seriously tried to beat him at screeching ‘Khan’? Were they high?) Spock teleports to the surface (yeah the ship is in flames but just because it in Space, transportation anywhere is now possible, opening sequence be damned) and then proceeds to beat the living Khan out of Benedict.

In fact his girlfriend has to come all the way from space (via teleport I might add) to tell Spock not to outrightly kill Khan because his blood might save Kirk.

What happened to giving him a fair trial? Follow the rules and all that shit?

Apparently that was for Kirk, because Kirk is an imbecile. But when Spock wants to kill someone out of an uncontrollable rage fueled by a personal loss – that shit be cool cause you know – he is Spock…so help him god.

It kind off worked in the first film because he had lost HIS WHOLE PLANET and his MOTHER. It was understandable that he was emotionally vulnerable.

Are we now equating his planet and his mother with his kind-off buddy (but not his lover)/ Capitan?

Yeah Freud would have a field day with that.

So live long and be a little hypocrite would be more appropriate.

5) Resurrection of the stupid

There is no way that Kirk’s death was ever going to have meaning so soon in the franchise. We know James Kirk and Spock for a sum total of about 4 hours, give or take. Close to 2 hours of that is spend with them bickering and hitting each other, one hour of the remaining is spent with them far apart and working independently. Half an hour is spent with them saving each other.

And we have about half an hour of time, so far, when the two have any meaningful dialogue, half of which is spent in amusing “oh I don’t understand you” talk.

Why would I believe that Kirk had such an impact on Spock? (After all, Spock is sleeping with the translator…right?)

Most of Kirk and Spock’s relation is hinted at through dialogue,. But we are never shown why these two care about each other so much.

But I digress. the point is that the entire scene, which left most of the audience in chortles, was silly and pointless. No one thought Kirk could die (This Franchise has many a mission left in it yet) and Spock’s reaction was so out of character that it completely jumped the shark.

And the whole deal of resurrecting him via Khan blood deserves a lot more mocking than I can give it. There is Deus Ex Machina and then there is “Quick, a vial of warm Khan blood and it will all be okay”.

Basically Kirk’s sacrifice was made even more meaningless. He learnt nothing new since Kirk was never shy about risking his own life in any case. He didn’t gain any new understanding about the responsibilities of being a captain – captains die with their ships. I think Kirk’s father’s death already taught him that.

Here is an easy to remember chart -

Best: Almost died, but pulled through. This proves the man is ready to die for us, but happily he didn’t

Good: Dead. He gave his life for us. And we honor his memory even as we mourn. He will not be forgotten.

Stupid: Bought back from the dead! Hey, those kneeling fools are already praying to an image of the Starship Enterprise, why not give them a Jesus Kirk to really kick things up a notch?

Actually, when Kirk, losing all bravado, begs for the lives of his crew after Admiral Robocop threatens to kill them all, for me that was it. That was the moment when Kirk truly grew as a captain. That was when he understood the burden upon him. His whispered “I am sorry” as he faced his terrified crew held more meaning than every stupid, hypocritical punch that Spock threw.

Sadly, the jesus ending actually wipes that moment completely from the mind.

So all I have left is “Resurrection is stupid and Spock is an asshole.”

Congrats movie.

Now that we got those out the way, here are five ways that things might have been improved  -

1) The cooling of the volcano itself is a violation of the prime directive. So they whole “save Spock for 15 minutes” is pointless as the main point of the plot – Kirk’s reckless willingness to break rules – was unchanged. Instead of this crap (and that rubbish with Spock’s girlfriend), more time could be given to building up the relationship between Kirk and Spock, thereby giving the ending more meaning.

2) Instead of his human girlfriend begging Spock to stop only to save Kirk’s life, Spock could have almost killed Khan, but chosen to stop at the right moment so that Khan could be tried and sentenced.  Because though Kirk is dead, that was the right thing to do. It would have elevated Spock as a character far higher than his Hulk rage mode.

3) No meeting of the hands and stupid speech across glass followed by raising from the dead. Kirk could have been seriously ill (Spock only presumed he was dead) and then healed in time by existing medical knowledge, thereby giving Kirk’s actions more long term meaning and weight. As things stand now – do whatever the fuck you want Enterprise, cause Doctor Bones has a vial of magic juice.

4) Khan could have been manipulating both the Humans and Klingon to trigger a war that would kill the weak. Now Kirk has to convince the Klingon and the Fleet to back off and also deal with Khan. This would not only be more in character with Khan, but lets Khan actually be a manipulative evil person. It also allows Kirk to learn some diplomacy and a little less impulse. And more screen time for the Klingon. Besides, this is what was shamelessly hinted at in the trailers – that Khan was a mastermind working to destroy everything.

5) Follow the rules of Star Trek (Spaceships be in Space, transporters have limits etc). I get it, these movies have to be more flashy. But there are some basic rules of Star Trek that make Star Trek more impressionable. By reducing them all to a summer blockbuster, you are becoming Micheal Bay. If that doesn’t scare you J.J. Abrams, you have no soul.

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