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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Star Trek Into Darkness (trailer 2)


Skydiving from space! Benedict Cumberbatch in black! St. Paul’s dwarfed by skyscrapers! Kirk flying a space ship with Han Solo-style panache! Spock-ish understatement! Sea monsters!

Sorry. I’m gonna be geeking out about Star Trek for the next two months, longer if the film is as good as the first one.

A planet with red vegetation!


US/Canada release date: May 17 2013 | UK release date: May 17 2013


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  • That still can’t be Mitchell (no silver eyes), so I’m going with Garth. Who else could it be? Not Harry Mudd… no mustache…

  • beccity98

    BC still popping his collar ’cause he thinks it makes him look cool. And he’s right!

  • dwa4

    A benedict cumberbatch reference without a “squeeee” attached to it? It’s just not right. Is this really MAJ?

  • *squeeeeee*

  • Ah man why couldn’t it come out on my birthday? The 2009 one came out on my birthday…

  • RogerBW

    How far can Star Trek go in the direction of generic sci-fi action before it’s no longer Star Trek? If there’s a meaningful answer, I suspect this film is exploring it.

  • dwa4

    All is now right with the world!

  • dwa4

    The longer and farther away we get from Roddenberry the more generic it will become. There is such a dramatic difference in the feel and substance of the stories when he was present compared to what is there now that I don’t think Star Trek will really ever have the depth of story or be what we remember from TOS and TNG. i dont think anyone else can do what he did. I still enjoy DS9 and enterprise but they are very hollow compared to the first 2. The passion and stories about the human condition are virtually gone….stories like the offspring, i borg and the drumhead just dont appear anymore. (The most notable exception I can think of is the episode “Damage” from enterprise. The process Archer had to go through against what he knew was morally correct had an inkling of Roddenberry feel to it.). It’s kind of like listening to pieces by Mozart…even if you don’t know the piece you can hear and feel so many of the complex and rich characteristics of his work that separate him from others and tell its from him. Nobody else sounds or stands out like him.

    The thing that I still can’t figure out is why none of that feeling and complexity made it to any of the motion pictures. II Khan was good but still little more than a long chase scene and shoot out. How could he tell and wrap up such great stories in 50 mins yet not capture that same dynamic in 90-120 mins?

  • dwa4

    They can come up with some reason for him to not have silver eyes. Abrams has essentially given himself a blank check for stories by setting up the alternate/parallel timeline with his first movie. For me, the blond actress in the trailer bears way too much resemblance to Sally Kellerman’s Dr. Dehner to not have the story involve her and Gary Mitchell. I also think the back story of the friendship with Kirk and the early nature of that episode in Trek history has so much fodder for a movie that anyone writing a trek episode would love to use the Mitchell character. (Was the blond lab tech that mitchell set kirk up with Carol Marcus?). I’ll still put my chips on Gary Mitchell.

    I did review a summary of the Garth episode in which he talked about developing a revolutionary new type of explosive …and the darkness plot teasers on the internetz do refer to the federation fleet being “detonated” so maybe your onto something. Will have to watch the Garth episode on Netflix tonight.

  • Tonio Kruger

    MaryAnn is the Daisy Wick of Trekkers.
    ;)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    That last paragraph gets at the heart of, and the silliest thing about, the idea that Star Trek isn’t “really” Star Trek anymore. It’s the fundamental difference between a television series and film series. You simply can’t expect them to be the same. And yet people get surprised. And then there’s the not inconsiderable issue of nostalgia.

  • RogerBW

    For once, we seem more or less to agree.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Oh I think I agree with you a lot. I just don’t always bother to post about it. ;-)

  • Patrick

    “Kirk flying a space ship with Han Solo-style panache! ”

    See, this is why our POTUS got confused a while back. Let’s let Star Trek be Star Trek and Star Wars be Star Wars.

  • dwa4

    But it’s something different than the simple television vs film. The feeling and complexity of tos and tng never made it to enterprise, ds9 and I have no idea what happened with voyager….despite the fact that many of the best writers from tng continued to write for the last 3 series…piller, echevarria, jeri Taylor. The last 3 series were still 50 min tv yet they pale compared to the first 2 series and are much more comparable to the movies IMO when it comes to quality/complexity of story.
    And, for that matter, why can’t they be the same or why shouldn’t we expect them to be the same. We can’t expect a motion picture to create and develop thoughtful and complex plot lines and characters? Christopher Nolan managed to integrate complex issues and characters in his version of Batman. Take the TNG episode “the wounded” and look at the themes of conflict, loyalty, resentment, trust that are wonderfully woven and acted into a 50 min episode…how the renegade star fleet captain’s character is so quietly yet intensely introduced developed and then brokendown in the midst of conflict and battles. That story could have been expanded on with more of the Cardassian conflict and made into an incredible motion picture. Instead we get the renegade romulan captain of “nemesis” that was developed
    horribly. Maybe it’s that they are forced to mash all the quality into 50 mins instead of 120 mins but I don’t think so.

    It’s more than tv vs movie. To me, the drop off after tng
    points to the influence of Roddenberry.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    1) I have to disagree with you about DS9. For much of it’s run, I think it was a superior show to TNG, particularly after TNG went off the air. It also had the strongest supporting cast of any of the shows.(The four leads, when given material to work with, were pretty much on par with each other.)

    2) Voyager became formulaic distressingly quickly (like, after 3 episodes) and never broke out of it’s formula. It was also weirdly afraid of its own premise. And it had the weakest supporting cast.

    3) Enterprise just was never able to settle into a tone. Nor did it seem to have a good reason to exist. And I don’t think Paramount threw nearly as much support behind it as it did Voyager.

    4) No we can’t expect a movie to develop plot lines and characters the same way a television series does. Because a successful television series does this over the course of dozens to hundreds of hours. Any given television episode benefits from every episode that came before it. There’s a continuity to television that simply doesn’t exist for film.

    5) TV also relies on a core audience, returning week after week, who know the show and the characters. But at it’s peek, TNG was only watched by about 11 million US households. And they all watched the show for free. A movie needs to draw a much bigger paying audience. That necessitates not only familiarizing the newcomers, but offering them something you know they’ll like. (These days, that action sci-fi, not ideas sci-fi. I wish it were different, but you have to work with the audience you have, not the audience you wish you had.)

    6) Having said that, you mention that many of the writers continued on between series, and yet the quality seemed to drop off with time. I think what you’r seeing there is plain old fashioned burn-out. Roddenberry living longer is no guarantee of holding that off.

    7) There’s really no correlation between quality and running time. By that logic, no sitcom should ever be as good as any hour long drama, and no 90 minute movie should ever be as good as a 4 hour one. Obviously neither of these statements is true, so why should a movie be inherently better, or even as good as, an episode? And besides, a lot of that extra running time between movie and individual episode is burned off, as I mention, doing things a TV series builds over whole seasons.

  • dwa4

    #4. The thing that was different about tos and tng is that the the majority of the episodes of the television shows were not at all dependent on a running developing plot line. They were a single isolated excellent story introduced, developed, and resolved all in 50 mins with the next episode being a completely different subject not reliant on the previous episode(s) to comprehend and enjoy the story. While there were a few very well done running/developing story lines in tng such as Worf’s discommendation/ redemption series andTasha’s death, reappearance and Romulan involvement series, the vast majority of tng was isolated stories that stand on their own. I thought that characteristic began to gradually fade out with ds9 and enterprise becoming completely dependent on the xindi storyline.

    #1. I will agree with you about the cast of ds9..Stewart and Brooks were both excellent..Stewart better,,..Dorn and Meaney good in both…after that ds9 was much better. I think the stories in tng were much more entertaining and developed than ds9..especially early ds9. After Brooks got the defiant to be able to get off the station it got much better. The stories that came out with the Cardassian occupation and then the
    founders storyline were better but not to the level of tng.

    #3. Enterprise was a struggle. The one thing I really enjoyed about that show was the friendship between Archer and Shran the Andorian captain….each of them having to step outside what following orders would have called for and doing what was right to help each other.

    #5. Your correct, you could not have a completely cerebral episode like Iborg for a movie. Your going to have to have photon torpedoes, explosions and chases. But why would you not try for both? The story and thought of “the wounded” with the action and effects a movie budget could have brought to the battles that were alluded to in the story. For some reason, it didn’t happen while Roddenberry was alive and I don’t think we’ll ever see it now. (not that you can’t still have a very good trek movie. I enjoyed Abram’s first movie very much. I liked the introduction of Kirk’s father, Kirk In his youth and thought the Kobayashi Maru scenario was well integrated and told. But as many have pointed out there is still a big something missing from he story as a whole that has been there in past trek stories)

    #6. I wouldn’t say the quality seemed to drop off with time. I would say there is a distinct difference at that point between tng and ds9 and all subsequent series in both “flavor” and
    quality of story. I’ll run the risk of making a broad and unproven statement and say that a majority of trek fans would appreciate that difference and that it’s born out in the general popularity of each series. And that’s despite using the same writers. Which is why I will still say the difference was the presence of Roddenberry. It’s like the scene in Amadeus where Salieri plunks out his composition for Mozart who then takes the exact same melody and completely transforms it into something brilliant….same melody but completely superior product. Same writers in tng and ds9/enterprise/voyager but completely different feel and IMO,
    superior product in tng. I could be wrong but the difference is so distinct I think it’s Roddenberry. As Roddenberry actually wrote only a few episodes of tng it would be really interesting to talk to the other writers of the show and see how much influence and effect he still had on their writing.

    #7. Agreed. So then the antithesis. Why should a movie be..I won’t say inherently because I don’t believe that’s the point…but consistently worse than the episode? … That’s the situation we have with the trek movies, especially the early ones when Roddenberry was still, according to the credits, actively writing. For me, I can explain the generally accepted discrepancies between the quality of the TV series because of the loss of Roddenberry. But, and this brings us back to he original question, why did the complexity and quality of story not show up at the big screen. It makes no sense for a brilliant story writer to drop that in favor of special effects and explosions when he can just add those effects to the good
    story.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    They were a single isolated excellent story introduced, developed, and resolved all in 50 mins with the next episode being a completely different subject not reliant on the previous episode(s) to comprehend and enjoy the story.

    I’m not talking about serialization. I’m talking about the long term development of the setting, themes, tone, and characterizations, that extend through the entire franchise. Imagine never having watched a single Star Trek episode, and then being shown “I, Borg” or “All Good Things” or “A Mirror Darkly”. How would you make any sense of that? The films lose a significant amount of the benefit of that long term work.

    To my mind, the Star Trek movies that were most like episode of TOS were I, IV, and V. Yes, V, don’t judge me. I didn’t say it was a good episode.

    As Roddenberry actually wrote only a few episodes of tng it would be really interesting to talk to the other writers of the show and see how much influence and effect he still had on their writing.

    I just went and looked. Roddenberry is credited with two TNG teleplays, both from the show’s (rather abysmal) first season. I’m also seeing references that his involvement in TNG steadily declined after the first season. And of course he passed away a month into season 5. So now I, too, am curious just how much influence Roddenberry actually had on that show.

    Why should a movie be..I won’t say inherently because I don’t believe that’s the point…but consistently worse than the episode?

    At this point I think we’re talking about a numbers game. There were 79 episodes of TOS. 7 films feature the same characters, four of which are generally considered “good”. I don’t think the series had nearly that success rate. TNG ran 176 episodes, and 4 films, only one of which is really successful, thematically. So, can we come up with list of at least 44 TNG episodes that were as good or better than “First Contact”? I’m not so sure, but I’m not going to rule it out either.

    when Roddenberry was still, according to the credits, actively writing.

    That’s not really true. Roddenberry only wrote the first film. His script for a sequel was rejected by Paramount. After that, he was credited as an “Executive Consultant” and in the writing he was given a “Based on ‘Star Trek’, created by” credit, which I think is mostly a WGA thing. Which is not to say he wasn’t involved in the writing at all, but certainly not enough to warrant even the “Story by” credits Harve Bennet, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner received variously throughout the franchise, and that George Lucas took on every Star Wars film.

    I also think TNG films have another disadvantage over TOS films: TNG was built as an ensemble show, featuring 7 major characters. But while it’s easy to build 2 or so episodes each season that feature any of those characters, giving them all something to do in each film is a daunting task. TOS was only ever about Kirk, and a little bit Spock. (I think we have DeForrest Kelly’s agent to thank for his appearance in the opening credits, more than the writers’ focus on McCoy.)

  • teenygozer

    Yes, the question we’ve been asking ourselves is if the blonde screamer is Sally Kellerman’s Dr. Dehner or Bibi Besch’s Dr. Carol Marcus, the “blonde lab tech” Gary Mitchell aimed at Kirk to distract him when he was a teacher in a course Mitchell had trouble passing (a great way to suggest that Mitchell started out a douche-bag, long before he got the silver eyes.) FYI, Harve Bennet said in an interview that that line about the lab tech *was* where they got Carol Marcus, Kirk’s baby-momma.

    I wondered if maybe Gary Mitchell couldn’t have become a non-corporeal force who invades another human and takes him over. They did that on Stargate, where Anubis, a goauld, had a very long and complicated run as a truly malevolent bad guy: when last seen, he was a black smoke that invaded various human hosts’ bodies and wore them out, then jumping to the next host when the last one is used up.

  • teenygozer

    Star Trek: the Motion Picture came out on my birthday. I was depressed for three days. :(

  • You mean Star Trek the Motionless Picture. My 10 year old nephew joined me watching it on cable a few months back and even he noticed how padded the V’ger stuff was.

  • dwa4

    Found an interview w alice eve saying her character is carol marcus…which still keeps the gary mitchell story very much in line as a possibility…I’m still not sure how cumberbatch’s character fits in as his character’s name is in the movie is john harrison, not gary mitchell, if the netz is to be believed. May be that he’s a completely new character that interacts in the kirk,marcus, chamberlain story.

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