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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

feel the rush of endorkins (Star Trek Into Darkness review)

Star Trek Into Darkness green light Zachary Quinto Chris Pine

I’m “biast” (pro): love everything Star Trek; madly in love with Benedict Cumberbatch

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

There’s a thing that makes me very sad about Star Trek Into Darkness.

Clearly, it’s not the perfect geek storm of an opening gambit that evokes not only the old-school boldly-going adventures of the crew of the starship Enterprise but also — hilariously — Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yeah, in a Star Trek movie. Tee-hee!

Obviously, it’s not how Zachary Quinto (What’s Your Number?, Margin Call) somehow manages to make Spock more plausibly divided in his half-human, half-Vulcan skin than Leonard Nimoy ever did, with the judicious use of under-the-radar snark and a face that gets more expressive the stiller he becomes. Just as obviously, it’s not the sheer joy that Simon Pegg (Ice Age: Continental Drift, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) exudes in every nanosecond that he gets to be Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott. In a Star Trek movie. Somehow, he shares his dork-dream-come-true with all of us.

It’s patently not the pure nerdvana of Benedict Cumberbatch (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) — who instantly became a geek god with his brutally brilliant depiction of a modern Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s Sherlock — as Into Darkness’s villain, the sheer nerdly delight of which has only been enhanced by the months of teasing about just which canonical baddie he might, or might not, be playing. This deliciously excruciating seduction continues throughout the film as Cumberbatch slices out his own iconic room in geek headspace while en route to the moment when all is revealed (and then beyond that moment, too). His performance here will be remembered, fondly and with awe, for a long time.

None of these things make me sad. On the contrary: they flood my brain with endorkins.

I’m also not at all sad that, once again, the team of screenwriters Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof (who also collaborated on Prometheus), and director J.J. Abrams (Super 8, the previous Star Trek), have ingeniously crafted a Star Trek movie that works equally well for neophytes and devotees. The needs of the many on both sides of that divide are catered to with care. The in-jokes are many and range from visual callbacks of mirroring moments in first-generation Trek movies to ironic and poignant nods to how the fates of characters in this parallel universe align with or differ from those of their other selves. But the movie doesn’t stop for these in-jokes: either you see them and laugh or snort or cry at them because you’re a honking huge Trekkie… or they’re completely invisible to you, and the story has lost not even the tiniest whit of impact because you haven’t seen them.

No, I has a sad because — apart from one outrageously gratuitous shot of Alice Eve (Men in Black III, The Raven) as Dr. Carol Marcus in her underwear, for which Abrams doesn’t bother to provide even the slightest contextual pretense — this is a Star Trek for our times. Very much for our times. Of course, it is because Into Darkness has so much relevance for the here-and-now that it breathes with a very tangible power, and it is because it is so rooted in the emotional and cultural and political motifs of this moment right now that it works so well for those who aren’t particularly interested in Star Trek as a thing unto itself.

It’s not Into Darkness that makes me sad, then, but our times. The 1960s Star Trek series sprang from an era of enormous social upheaval — a tendencious civil-rights movement, assassination as a political statement, the sexual revolution, a seemingly endless war in Vietnam — but it embodied the hope of the time as well, particularly the one represented by NASA and America’s space program. Today, we have plenty of trouble yet apparently little hope… and there’s little hope in Into Darkness, either. No spoilers, but the main track of the plot — the what’s-really-going-on stuff — could be said to represent what happens when hope and a spirit of adventure and optimism get sidetracked into selfish ambition. This is a story about terrorism as an act of egotistical will, of military opportunism, of false-flag provocations… of even those right in the middle of it all finding that their talents and their aspirations and their loyalties are being twisted for purposes they’d never have anything to do with, and yet are now caught inextricably up in.

There’s a conscious pulling back from the old-school Trek spirit of adventure, in fact, for that Raiders-esque opening, which occurs on a distant pre-contact planet the Enterprise was surveying, is immediately followed by the Enterprise’s recall to Earth and a dressing down of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine: Rise of the Guardians, This Means War) by Commander Pike (Bruce Greenwood: The Place Beyond the Pines, Flight). Kirk’s foray onto that planet ended up in a situation in which he broke the Prime Directive, Starfleet’s highest law and the one that’s supposed to protect primitive, pre-spaceflight civilizations from all knowledge of a larger galactic culture. But the William Shatner Kirk was always breaking the Prime Directive, and never got called on it. It seems like a sorta funny, sorta paradigm-shifting thing to happen now, to this Kirk in this rebooted parallel universe… but then it turns out to be a sci-fi example of what’s happening all around us today, where the higher up the food chain of power you are, and the more damage you do, the less likely you are to be held to account for it. Kirk’s crime turns out to be breathtaking tiny in the grand scheme of what happens here.

I enjoyed Into Darkness immensely, and I can’t wait to see it again — in IMAX next time, perhaps; I’ll certainly skip the 3D, which is as pointless as nearly every other example of the gimmick — but I’m not sure I could call this a summery popcorny sort of film. It’s too grim for that. There are too many echoes of 9/11, some overt and visual and very upsetting, and of the insanity of the world since then for it to be truly escapist fun. And if there’s hope to be found here, it’s only in the moral and ethical stands taken in the face of all the bitter goings-on, which leave some characters in unpleasant places they’d rather not be, and where we’d rather not see them, too.

Still, that’s but a tiny bit of hope.

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
US/Can release: May 17 2013
UK/Ire release: May 09 2013

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated PN: pure nerdvana
MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence
BBFC: rated 12A (contains moderate violence and threat)

viewed in 3D
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Would it be SPOILERS if you finally confirmed that yes indeed Cumberbatch is Harcourt Fenton Mudd ALL ALONG! Yes? YES?!

    …actually I got my money still on Garth of Izar. I have no idea how they could get Khan to fix into this new context.

  • Beowulf

    Khan seems more likely.

  • PatrickD

    So, is the John Harrison character the Trekkian equivalent of Heath Ledger’s Joker– a mysterious figure with diabolical machinations so elaborate and massive that they could be measured on the Richter scale?

  • what an excellent review! SF is first and foremost a critical analysis of the times and culture in which it is created. And SF by its nature of cognitive estrangement is perfectly equipped to do so. So, your disappoint with the current times vs. the film that is a product of it is wonderfully deconstructed here. If I may. :)

  • Patrick

    But, Khan Noonien Singh was of East Indian descent (check the “Space Seed” episode). Cumberbatch is obviously not from the East.

  • Damian Barajas

    It seems the movie wont be out here until next week, guess Its just as well being as I’m also broke till next week! :)
    Anyway, would people around here hate me too much if I make the case that sci-fi ain’t what it used to be and that maybe science fiction shouldnt try to be about the present anymore? (I mean try, just try, seems to me that nowadays if you want to say something about the satate of the world today there’s not much to stop you, so why use sci fi if its not to tell a story that only works in sci fi?)
    I’m dreading seeing this movie a bit, precisely because part of what made trek great for me was the aspirational aspect, and that wasn’t present in the last movie. But I trust you MaryAnn, I’ll probably still enjoy it.
    Anyway, I’ll post back here once I see it.

  • Science fiction has *always* been about the present. Always.

  • I would say… no.

  • This sounds better than the big loud mess that was the Star Trek reboot.

  • Hollywood has this thing called “race lift” where they get different ethnics to play totally different ethnics. For example getting Ricardo Montleban to play the original Khan, or Sean Connery playing a Moroccan holy man/desert warrior. So getting Cumberbatch to play Harcourt Fenton Mudd (clearly a Canuck) is what Hollywood does.

  • I liked the reboot. Yes, there was WAAAAYY too much lens flare, but otherwise enjoyable.

  • James

    We’re not still going on about the lens flare are we? That’s not even an issue, and not even the reason why the 2009 Star Trek wasn’t very good. The plot was completely retarded in the 2009 film. The visuals were spot on though as far as I’m concerned.

  • Damian Barajas

    You’re right, I guess I’m not up for the way SF seems to very self aware about this these days and in doing so, becomes a meta analysis of the tropes of SF instead of just SF. I’m not talking about this movie which I haven’t seen yet, but definitely the last one. It had the trappings of sci fi, but that’s about it.

    If that doesn’t make any sense then maybe I’m just getting too old for this.

  • The casting was great (except for Eric Bana), the visuals were good, but the script was lame and the sound effects were consistently overdone.

  • I don’t think you’ll find that this film is a meta analysis of tropes. :->

  • Been playing a lot of Mass Effect lately, and had a “Oh THAT’S where they came from!” moment.

  • RogerBW

    Any thoughts on the non-screening for US critics? Makes a change from the usual embargo.

  • My thoughts are: Paramount is insane. I can’t fathom what they were thinking.

  • RogerBW

    My thoughts are: Paramount is insane. I can’t fathom what they were thinking.

    “Bet the farm on World War Z!” :-)

  • Prankster36

    Apparently the tracking is really poor, and this is actually the first good review I’ve read.
    But Abrams is also notorious for being ultra-secretive for no particular reason, which may end up biting everyone involved on the butt this time out.

  • It’s 80% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with almost 60 critics polled. It’s getting great reviews.

    If you’re suggesting that Abrams’ desire for secrecy is behind this, that makes no sense. The film has been screening for weeks — with no embargo — in the UK and Australia.

  • Prankster36

    The trouble with the reboot, other than some MASSIVELY illogical plot holes (Kirk becomes First Officer because…why, exactly?) is that there’s a certain contempt on display for the values of Trek, or even the idea that Trek should be about something other than banter and cool ‘splosions. It definitely cranks up the entertainment knob to eleven, and the cast sells it, but there are some SERIOUS issues which I only really gave a pass to because I knew it was a movie produced during the strike. I felt like it was a setup for a more entertaining sequel.

    Since then, however, I’ve become a non-fan of Orci, Kurtzman, and especially Lindelof, the latter of whom wrote the moronic Prometheus as well as steering Lost into the ditch. Lindelof seems to have active contempt for ideas like “science” and “reason”, which makes him…not the guy I want in charge of Star Trek. The fact that RebootTrek has put exploration and discovery and reconciliation with other races on the backburner in the name of being KEWL and BADAZZ has increasingly rankled me as we get further away from the initial rush of Trek ’09.

    Now the same team seems to have made something that looks an awful lot like The Dark Knight Wrath of Khan. Aside from everything else, I’ve already seen those movies. Why do I need to see them again?

  • Prankster36

    This is true in the sense that, obviously, no one can predict the future. But some of the best SF has tried to look beyond what’s happening right now and extrapolate the challenges of tomorrow. Trek itself actually turned out to be surprisingly predictive about admittedly goofy and minor things like cell phones and iPads, simply because they imagined would people might need in the future. Likewise, tropes like sentient computers and nanotechnology obviously don’t exist right now but could be extremely significant to our future. Or there’s something like Gattaca, which is definitely grounded on something that we don’t have to deal with right now but could be a major issue in the future.

    There’s nothing wrong with the branch of SF that extrapolates from modern trends for the purposes of commentary. But I’d argue the most useful and resonant form of SF is the kind that tries to be farsighted. For instance, think of how much 50s, 60s and 70s SF predicted a seemingly never-ending cold war or even outright nuclear annihilation. Seemed like a very reasonable future to imagine, and yet this kind of thing now seems dated. Compare that to (classic) Trek, which had the balls to propose a future in which the cold war would eventually end and we wouldn’t particularly care if the ensign over there was Russian. It was frequently considered pie-in-the-sky, hippie liberal thinking with no grounding in the pragmatic reality. But guess what? They ended up being right.

  • Prankster36

    Hmm, OK. I haven’t spent much time on RT lately. I’ve mostly been hearing from fellow geeks who have been grumpy that Abrams apparently continues the somewhat dumbed-down trend from the first movie. (This is just what I’ve heard.)
    I have no idea what goes into release schedules, embargoes, etc., so I bow to you on that. But you have to admit Abrams has a weird yen for pointless secrecy. Maybe he only cares about the US?

  • Prankster36

    You seem to have put more thought into it than the makers of the movie.

  • Patrick


    Star Trek (for some reason) is not to be taken with the same level of seriousness as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, ect. It’s in the Geek Charter.

    Star Trek is about green alien women, space battles, and NOTHING ELSE. So, “Just Shut Your Brain Off and Enjoy It” [TM]

  • CB

    Except for that one glorious moment of silence at the beginning when the blue shirt gets sucked out of the hole in the side of the ship. Most powerful moment of the movie imo and I didn’t even know who she was.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Except, an early/mid-21st century World War III has always been a part of Star Trek canonical future history. Yes, Roddenberry predicted that we’d survive it and go on to thrive, but he was sketchy on how we get from the 1960s to the 2260s.

    And Star Trek does see us in a never-ending cold war. He just swapped out the Soviets and Chinese for Klingons and Romulans. Allegories to Cold War era fears were a mainstay of TOS stories, right up to The Undiscovered Country.

    Star Trek doesn’t see us getting past these things. Roddenberry predicted we’d get both! Yippie!

  • Prankster36

    Well, Trek’s complicated. It contains multitudes. It’s all non-interventionalist, except when it isn’t. It portrays a utopian future, except seemingly every week Kirk shows us how Utopias are bad and he needed to blow up their ruling computer or whatever. It’s pro-war! It’s anti-war! It changes from week to week!

    My only point was that it saw past the present to a positive future, when far too many SF movies and TV shows see the future as “the present, except more so”.

  • Unless Abrams does not understand that the Internet respects no national borders, I don’t see how that makes sense. I’m sure he knows that Star Trek fans know how to access reviews and other coverage on the Net that originates from outside the U.S.

  • Prankster36

    I hasten to point out, if this movie turns out to be interesting (and some of the stuff they hint at in the trailer looks intriguing) then I will happily recant what I’m saying here. It’s just that I’ve lost my faith in this creative team, and some of the rumours I’m hearing (I’m avoiding spoilers), even from positive reviews, are making me very nervous. I don’t care how “fun” a “ride” it is if they botch the fundamentals of Star Trek.

  • guest

    A really good and very entertaining movie. Much more Trek vibes than the previous.

  • But 1960s *Trek* did exactly the same thing! There was a sense of hope, of impending change, of things about to get better… so *Trek* also saw “the present, except more so.”

    The original 1960s *Trek* was about its present, too!

  • ThisGuy01

    The movie was badly written. Not to mention the Truther conspiracies in it were rather disgusting. You know what kind’ve movie you’re watching when Peter Weller shows up to play Admiral George W. Bush & he makes a lengthy speech about how we’ll eventually have to go to war with the Middle East – er, Klingons – to protect our freedoms.

  • CB

    Given Lindelof’s involvement, I’d say we’re probably off with this being more Star Wars by way of Star Trek than a more “cerebral” version of Trek of the heavily-sarcasm-quoted kind that he would bring.

  • tinwatchman

    You know, I have to disagree with you on this. I think this film contains a lot of hope. Its entire arc, arguably, is about the restoration of the rule of law. Kirk starts out as his usual rule-breaking cowboy self — but in the end comes to appreciate the value of upholding Starfleet’s ideals. It’s pretty representative of the things we’re struggling with as a culture right now… And personally, it was kind of nice seeing the idealistic side win out, for once.

  • tinwatchman

    Soooo… Is every story about a false flag operation now about Truther conspiracies? Cause I’m pretty sure Star Trek VI got there first…

  • ThisGuy01

    I’d argue it is when one of the writers of the film – Roberto Orci – has publicly admitted he feels 9/11 was an inside job, that Bin Laden was working for the US government & the day of the Boston bombing felt it necessary to make accusations that it was a government planned attack to lure us into more military actions.
    Plus I see zero reason why Star Trek 12 should have a “dedication to the veterans of 9/11” after the main credits other than to make direct parallels to current situations.

  • Patrick

    I’d like to pose a question: if Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness had the budgets of Star Trek’s II-X, would they be just as wildly successful? Or would their intelligent storytelling, brilliant dialogue, and fine acting carry the day?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I’m sorry, but are you implying that one can apply the descriptors “intelligent storytelling, brilliant dialogue, and fine acting” to the entire Star Trek film franchise prior to 2009? You do remember the odd-numbered Star Trek films, do you not?

    You also seem to be implying that Abrams and Co bought themselves a successful movie, and that that somehow invalidates that success. That’s like arguing that a World Series winning Yankees team still sucks, because of their payroll. An a Sox fan, that might make you feel better, but the Yankees still won.*

    Meanwhile, because I’m trying to avoid real work, I used these numbers http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/franchise/Star-Trek and and converted to 2012 dollars with this http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

    The in raw box office, the most successful Star Trek film, TMP at $438M, is also the second most expensive, at $109M. Followed by ST2009 with $412M, TVH with $274M, and TWoK with $227M. The best return on investment was TWoK. Meanwhile, the 3rd most expensive, Insurrection at $98M, also had the second worst ROI and the 4th worst box office at $165M, ahead of Nemesis, TFF, and TUC. ST2009 was first in cost and second in box office, but interestingly, 4th worst in ROI.

    My point is, there is correlation here on budget to success, but it’s kind of weak, with several counter-examples. So that’s not a particularly strong argument, regarding either the individual films, or the direction of the series.

    *Funny, though, that those same Sox fans will, when the Yankees lose, blame that on their payroll as well.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Soooo… what’s the expiration date on spoilers in this thread, do you think? Or, MaryAnn, maybe you could put up a spoilerific discussion thread for this movie?

  • Isobel_A

    I just saw this for the second time today (first time was in a horrible cinema with bad 3D, so went somewhere nicer to see it in 2D today). I would argue that the acting in Into Darkness was very good, Chris Pine especially surprised me with some fine, subtle acting (the scene in the bar with Admiral Pike, for example). I wouldn’t be making the same argument about the original series actors (with the exception of Leonard Nimoy). I don’t like most of the original films because I find them hammy.

    Also, Mickey! All grown up and did good.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    On a separate note, regarding “fine acting”, I really don’t see how you can go after ST2009 on this. Anton Yelchin and John Chu do a fine job with what were never much more than character sketches. Zoe Saldana makes Uhura into a real character. Simon Pegg and Karl Urban give performances that just exude their love of Star Trek in general, and of James Doohan and DeForest Kelly, respectively.

    Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine have by far the toughest jobs, because there’s are the characters who are fundamentally changed in the alternate timeline. And the changes in Kirk run through his entire lifetime. So Pine’s Kirk has to be recognizable as Kirk, but a very different person in very significant ways. So, no matter how good Pine is, it’s easy to say “Well, that’s not what Shatner would have done.”

    As for Quinto, dude, he did a scene, as Spock, with Leonard Nimoy, who was also playing Spock. If there was ever going to be a time to claim that Quinto was lousy in the role, that was it. But, c’mon, really?

  • Patrick

    Star Trek (2009) had a budget 140 to 150 million dollars. It’s budget dwarfs Star Trek: TMP.

    Again, let’s see JJ and Co. pull out an equally successful Trek film with the budget of TWOK (adjusted for inflation).

    Also, even when Trek movies failed in telling an intelligent story–an attempt was made. These 2 films jettisoned any attempt if it got in the way of “kewlness”.

  • Well, Mudd *is* mentioned…

  • I notice you don’t mention whether or not the plot makes any sense. Having just seen the movie, I don’t blame you for skipping that aspect.
    Objectively, the plot *may* not be more gratuitiously stupid and nonsensical than that of the 2009 film. However, while the stupid bits in 2009 were spread throughout the movie, in this one, 75% of them are in the third act, so they contribute more to my take-away impression.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Dude, $140M does not “dwarf” $109M. It’s significantly more, but then again, the economics of movie making have changed in the interim 30 years. You couldn’t make TMP on $110M today, I’m not sure you could do it on $140M. Star Trek: the Motion Picture was one of the most expensive films ever made, at the time.

    I think anyone in Hollywood would love to re-catch the lighting in a bottle that was Wrath of Khan. Including, one must note, everyone involved in Star Trek III through Nemesis.

    And they didn’t do it by choice. Paramount was ready to completely abandon Star Trek, had basically fired Gene Roddenberry, and forced the production to cut costs dramatically. You might be able to make TWoK on $100M, but only if you did it the same way they did it then: take a hatchet to the budget and reuse most of your sets and nearly half of your effects from a previous production.

    I’m sorry that you find the recent iteration of Star Trek less than compelling. I’m less sorry that you feel the need to make a series of snarky, passive-aggressive, non sequitar swipes at them.

  • dwa4

    As a person who shares your frustration with the lack of story..I would say Roddenberry-esque story….in virtually any of the motion pictures, I would have to disagree with you on this film. I see very strong attempts and good success at an engaging and relevant conflict, twists and difficult decisions and creative un simplistic actions to resolve the conflict. Abrams has brilliantly set up characters and relationships in both movies that immediately make you care about them, what happens to them and makes them relevant to the rest of the movie. If our ideal for storytelling as an A+ is the best years of TOS and TNG I wold have to give this movie a very strong B-B+. (none of the movies get an A) One of my favorite episodes oF TNG is “Ensign Ro” which also dealt with and told a very complex and moving story in the context of terrorism. This movie draws on and nicely plays out similar themes of support, redemption, independent, difficult and creative decisions, abuse and callous use of power. While ST 2009 was a fairly straight forward entertaining shoot out chase scene with characters you care about, I think ID creates and tells a very nice and complex story. It’s Roddenberry-esque.

  • They’re losing the farm. Doesn’t look good.

  • Uh, he blew up. Not good. :(

  • dwa4

    Always a little iffy when trying to interpret MAJ, but perhaps she is not referring to the entire arc of the movie when stating there is little hope here, but rather expressing her sadness that the primary setup of the plot conflict so accurately reflects our times of terrorism and a seeming lack of clean/noble/courageous responses to the trouble in our world. She does state that it’s not ID that makes her sad..but our times. As you state, even as a reflection of our troubled times I find more hope in the entire arc of the film than MAJ briefly alluded to in her last sentences. I think that does touch on the spirit that TOS had for its times.

  • Isobel_A

    I meant his performance, I wouldn’t have expected it of him.

  • dwa4

    Fb nqzveny Znephf,va 1lrne bs nygreangr gvzryvar, vf noyr gb ybpngr gur obgnal onl gung jnf ynhapurq ?231? Lrnef ntb va n gvzr bs sentzragrq erpbeqf, fbzrubj svaq vg va gur infgarff bs fcnpr, oevat vg onpx gb rnegu, erivir xuna naq perngr n arj jrncbaf flfgrz. Vs jr ner gelvat gb xrrc nal frafr bs genpxvat bs gur gerx gvzryvarf gung whfg znxrf ab frafr gb or noyr gb trg xuna vagb gur nygreangr gvzryvar yvxr gung Hayrff frpgvba 31 unq orra jbexvat ba trggvat xuna sbe lrnef orsber Areb pnzr guebhtu…ohg gurl pbhyq abg unir qbar gung cevbe gb gur riragf bs 2009 zbivr

  • Dr. Rocketscience


    V unir n pbhcyr shaqnzragny ceboyrzf jvgu hfvat xuna nf gur ivyynva, ohg ergevrivat uvz vfa’g bar bs gurz. V’z bx jvgu gur vqrn gung frpgvba 31 unq xabja gur jurernobhgf bs gur obgnal onl sbe n ybat gvzr orsber gur ragrecevfr cevzr fghzoyrq ba vg, naq gung gur riragf vaibyivat areb pnhfrq znephf gb tb gunj fbzr bs gurz bhg. Gung[‘f rknpgyl gur xvaq bs evccyr-rssrpg punatrf va gur uvfgbel gung V’z ubcvat gb frr va na nygreangr gvzryvar. (Gur nzbhag bs jbex znephf naq xuna znantrq gb nppbzcyvfu va gur gvzr gurl unq gb nppbzcyvfu vg pregnva fgergpurf perqvovyvgl, gubhtu)

    Zl vffhrf jvgu xuna ner gurfr: svefg, vg fvtanyf gung noenzf naq cnenzbhag cyna gb rkcybvg gur nygreangr gvzryvar gb qb n frevrf bs erznxrf bs byq fgbevrf. Gung jbhyq or svar vs gurl gbbx yrffre dhnyvgl fgbevrf naq sbhaq jnlf gb znxr gurz jbex, ohg vs vg’f tbvat gb or gur jryy xabja fgbevrf yvxr xuna, gung’f fvtavsvpnagyl yrff vagrerfgvat. (Ba gur bgure unaq, gur jubyr cbvag bs na nygreangr gvzryvar vf frrvat ubj guvatf ner qvssrerag. vs gurl qb bayl bevtvany fgbevrf, gura bar unf gb jbaqre jul gurl obgurerq.)

    Frpbaq, jura phzoreongpu fnlf “zl anzr vf xuna”, zl erfcbafr jnf, “ab, ab vg vfa’g. Ybbx, lbh’er n fpnel qhqr, naq v pna gbgnyyl ohl gung lbh jrer ba gur obgnal onl. ohg lbh’er abg uvz. xuna vf synzoblnag naq vzcrevbhf naq ybirf gb gryy crbcyr ubj ur jnf n cevapr bapr. ur’f n glenag. lbh, wbua uneevfba, ner n fbyqvre, n bar zna nezl, jvgu whfg n gbhpu bs n tbq pbzcyrk.”

  • Rot13:

    Nyfb: lbh ybbx abguvat yvxr Evpneqb Zbagnyona, abe qb lbh ybbx yvxr n crefba anzrq “Xuna Abbavra Fvatu”. Gung nfcrpg bs gur zbivr jnf ernyyl qvfgenpgvat. V ernyvmr Evpneqb Zbagnyona jnfa’g Vaqvna rvgure ohg gurl unq gur cresrpg bccbeghavgl gb pnfg na npghny Vaqvna thl guvf gvzr nebhaq naq vafgrnq gurl tbg fbzrbar jub pbhyqa’g rira pbzr pybfr gb cnffvat sbe Vaqvna.

    V’z gbyq gung Phzoreongpu’f pnfgvat jnf n ynfg-zvahgr guvat ohg V srry yvxr vg jbhyq unir orra na rnfl rabhtu svk gb unir uvz or n qvssrerag punenpgre. Zbfg bs vg jbhyq pbzr qbja gb orvat n fvzcyr svaq-naq-ercynpr, naq gura Arj Fcbpx pbhyq unir nfxrq Byq Fcbpx “unir lbh rire rapbhagrerq n pelbtravpnyyl sebmra perj bs nhtzragrq fhcreuhznaf?” vafgrnq bs “unir lbh rire rapbhagrerq n zna pnyyrq Xuna?” juvpu cebonoyl jbhyq unir orra n zber ybtvpny dhrfgvba naljnl nf Xuna jnf bayl bar bs 73 sebmra crbcyr.

    Naq lbh’er evtug, gurl qvqa’g ernyyl npg yvxr gur fnzr crefba naljnl. PhzoreXuna jnf… V’z abg fher vs “fhogyr” vf ernyyl gur evtug jbeq ohg ZbagnyXuna jnf jnl vagb uvzfrys, gur xvaq bs thl jub jbhyq ebpx n ybg bs wrjryel naq n oner purfg ng nal ntr. Fb gurer jnf n cerggl frirer qvfpbaarpg nyy nebhaq.

    Nyfb, V gbgnyyl nterr jvgu lbh nobhg erznxvat gur fgbevrf gung znlor jrera’g rkrphgrq dhvgr fb jryy gur svefg gvzr nebhaq. Ng yrnfg gura gur arj bar unf n tbbq punapr bs pbzvat bhg ba gbc jura pbzcnerq gb gur bevtvany.

    V jbaqre vs jr’yy rire trg gb frr erobbg I’Tre?

  • Dr. Rocketscience


    V qba’g xabj nobhg “rnfl”, ohg vg’f pregnvayl n qverpgvba gurl pbhyq, naq znlor fubhyq, unir tbar. Vg jbhyq unir orra n qryvpngr yvar gb gbr. xuna unf gb svther vagb gur fgbel fbzrubj. rira vs ur arire ernyyl nccrnef ba fperra, gur guerng bs xuna jnxvat hc unf gb or gurer. (V raivfvba n pbhcyr fubgf bs na rkgen va n pelb ghor, jvgu zbagnyona’f snpr qvtvgnyyl fhcrevzcbfrq ba uvz.) v pna nccerpvngr vs noenzf naq pb jrer pbaprearq gung gur nhqvrapr jbhyq or yrsg hafngvfsvrq jvgu n ivyynva nffbpvngrq jvgu xuna, ohg abg gur zna uvzfrys.

    V guvax gur jbeq v jbhyq hfr gb qrfpevor phzorexuna vf qryvorengr, jurernf zbagnyxuna jnf vzchyfvir. Nyfb, phzorexuna, zbagnyxuna, jr zhfg fcernq guvf zrzr npebff gur vagreargf! :)

  • iakobos

    I loved the movie. As a 30 year veteran of Star Trek, it exceeded my expectations.

    I’m going to engage in some MILD SPOILER DISCUSSION HERE!

    MaryAnn clearly saw what jumped out at me in the movie. Star Trek Into Darkness carries forth a big criticism of our (USA) response to the war on terror. Specifically, the immorality of killing American citizens and/or killing people who have had no opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law with overseas drone strikes. Of course that criticism may rely on the assumption that anyone bothers to know about such things. I believe the movie should prove useful to engage interventionists,
    neo-cons and warmongers in a discussion of the reasons for and responses
    to terrorism, collateral damage and the immorality of drone strikes
    etc. In fact I did just that with a friend I took to see the movie
    (not knowing about this plot point) and pointed out the connection and
    the truth to him afterwards. Thankfully, the movie, in the context of
    the Star Trek universe, takes the high road in solving the problem. I
    also applaud JJ Abrams for having the courage to make such a contentious
    issue a central theme of a Summer blockbuster movie.

  • MAJ, I think we were watching two different films. Cumberbatch was fantastic, though. If the writers actually gave him more to do, he would be even better. As such, he was able to spin a silk purse out of a sow’s ear as it was.

    The script plays like competently written fan fiction. Fan fic can be good at times, but Orci, Kurtzman and Lindeof should’ve aimed higher instead of writing an AU ending to “Wrath of Khan.”

  • dwa4

    V guvax V jbhyq tvir Noenzf n cnff ba uvf hfvat Xuna gb fbzrguvat bs n shyy rssrpg. Ur’f nyernql tvira gur havdhr arj fgbel n fubg jvgu Areb…abg onq, abg terng…ur cebonoyl vf abg thnenagrrq batbvat bccbeghavgvrf va gur shgher naq, nf jr’ir frra, ur znl unir bgure guvatf ur jnagf gb qb orfvqrf Gerx. Vs V jnf va uvf cbfvgvba xabjvat V znl abg unir n fubg ng gbgny pbageby bs gur fgbel jvgu zl shyy nggragvba, V’q tb sbe shyy Xuna.

    V jbhyq nyfb tvir Noenzf/Phzorexuna n cnff ba ubj Xuna jnf cynlrq. Juvyr vg pregnvayl jnf vzcerffvir naq ragregnvavat gb jngpu Zbagnyxuna qryvire gung tenaq ehyre crefbanyvgl, Phzorexuna unf unq arneyl n shyy lrne gb fgrj va gur ovggrearff bs frpgvba 31 jvgubhg uvf snzvyl juvyr sbezhyngvat uvf qryvorengr cyna gung jbhyq rnfvyl punatr fbzr fvtavsvpnag cbvagf va uvf crefbanyvgl. Uvf qbzvanapr, pbasvqrapr naq pbagebyyrq znavchyngvba bs gur fvghngvba naq crbcyr pregnvayl fubjrq guebhtu. V tbg cntrq..ba zl avtug bss…qhevat uvf erirnyvat. Gung jbhyq unir orra gur fcbg gb chg va uvf ehyvat cevapr fcrrpu. Ybbxvat sbejneq gb jngpuvat guvf ntnva va na VZNK naq trggvat gb frr gung frpgvba havagreehcgrq. Nf V guvax nobhg vg, jr frr fvtavsvpnag punatrf va ubj Fcbpx vf cynlrq va guvf gvzryvar nf jryy. Va GBF jura Fcbpx vf fgehttyvat jvgu uvf uhzna unys V qba’g erzrzore guvf zhpu rzbgvba fubjvat guebhtu ba n fbzrjung serdhrag onfvf. V’z abg fher juvpu V yvxr orggre ohg V guvax Dhvagb rkcerffrf gung pbasyvpg orggre…zber rzbgvbanyyl. Znlor orpnhfr ur ybfg uvf cynarg?

    Naq V nterr, Itre jbhyq unir terng cbgragvny va n erobbg jvgu gur Obet jrnirq va ohg tvira gung gurl whfg ynhapurq ba gurve 5 lrne zvffvba, V org jr frr n zber bevtvany fgbel va gur pbagrkg bs bhe xabja Gerx gvzryvar. Vg fgvyy nznmrf zr gung gurl pbhyq gnxr fhpu n terng vqrn sbe GZC naq znxr vg vagb fhpu n onq zbivr. Bar bs gurfr qnlf V’z tbvat gb sbepr zlfrys gb jngpu vg ntnva gb frr whfg ubj ybat gung fghcvq sylvat guebhtu gur pybhq va fghaarq fvyrapr fprar ynfgf naq ubj znal qvssrerag snpr fubgf gurl cnaarq guebhtu.

  • dwa4

    It is impressive and reminiscent of TOS to take obvious relevant and current problems such as terrorism and drones and weave such a coherent and entertaining story. The decisions that are made in this film as well as the outcome are uplifting and optimistic..again quite characteristic for TOS. It’s interesting though, and this may be why MAJ sticks her no hope tagline on BCs picture…actually, Quinto and Pine’s picture, as I translate that message to what I’ve seen in my own 40+ years of decisions corner of the world and what we have seen over the last 20 years of somewhat polar (possibly not polar enough) approaches to world events, I would have to conclude that the vast majority of time, Captain Kirk is going to get squashed while making those uplifting decisions. In the real world whether it be our own lives or in world events, we are not uncommonly placed in situations where any decision we make, noble or not, is going to be associated with a bad outcome. The hope would be that, amongst all those good and noble decisions that get snuffed out or passed over in the corruption of the world, more good than harm is done and a few of the Jackie Robinsons and MLKs, and their messages, still get through….I would add that for most of us, working to make those noble and uplifting decisions that Trek portrays probably won’t make a lot of difference in the picture of the world but we have an opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of our families friends and those around us with our influence.

  • dwa4

    What do you see so severely lacking in this film as to make it a sow’s ear and what Trek film has done it that much better to not be considered a sow’s ear?…granted, it may all be a matter of personal preferences and opinions.

  • Isobel_A

    How on earth does one translate this if one wants to read/participate in a spoiler-y discussion?

  • RogerBW

    rot13.com is probably the easiest thing to set up.

  • Isobel_A

    Ah! That’s what Rot13 meant!

  • I’m trying to put my finger on it, but “Star Trek: Into Darkness” plays like more of the same from the 2009 film. The stakes didn’t feel that elevated… even with John Harrison being a more palpable villain, there wasn’t a whole lot of tension with him around. There’s that excellent scene where he takes control of Marcus’ ship but that’s the only scene where we see Harrison as a force to be reckoned with. I wanted more scenes like that, where the audience could actively root against him.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Sorry, meant to put a rot13 link at the top of my responses. :(

  • Didn’t translate the posts below this one, so apologies if it’s already been brought up, but:

    Npghnyyl, Areb zrrgf erobbg I’Tre va bar bs gur pbzvpf.

  • I highly recommend the prequel comics, by the way. They make the 2009 movie plot make a ton more sense. The Into Darkness prequel is mostly unrelated (but still good).

  • Jurgan

    Thought you might like to know that I saw this published in the Charleston City Paper (it’s the local “alternative” paper that is free and supported by ads). I don’t know how much direct interaction you have with your syndicate, so I wanted to tell you it’s out there.

  • I_Sell_Books

    I loved this so hard it’s not even funny. And Benedict Cumberbatch – holy crap. Clearly he could totally be in any action film, because he was also smokin’ hot.

  • While I don’t always agree with you, Maryann, I generally don’t completely disagree.

    I have to completely disagree with you on Star Trek. Aside from some amusing interplay between the lead characters, it was a horrible excuse for a movie.

    Just a few things:

    no robots anywhere in engineering?

    while I liked the way Cumberbatch played a villain, I didn’t like which villain he turned out to be

    I nearly applauded when a character died, but then I realized “it was only temporary” and it was.

    Alice Eve has a fine American accent – why didn’t she use it when her father in the movie was American?

    More bad movie science per second than any other recent movie – it’s even worse than The Avengers or Iron Man

    I guess that’s my main complaint – I want something approaching real science and real situations in my science fiction movies. You almost got the idea Abrams was thinking “It would be cool to do X” and cobbled together a script to let him do X.

  • I really enjoyed ST:ID, but its like The Dark Knight Rises in that after I think about about it for a minute parts of it really begin to bother me.
    1. When the ship is falling toward the surface, yeah gravity would kick it, but so would g-force, wouldn’t they all have been pressed to the side of the ship that was furthest from the the planet?
    2. Why was Dr. Marcus English when her Dad was American (or possibly Canadian)? I mean I guess she could have been raised in England by and English mother or something but it just seems like a needless and convoluted plot point. Is it some sort of diversity thing? (She’s a special kind of white human!)
    3. Did Mickey Smith get through that whole movie without any lines? Was that the best acting I’ve ever seen that actor do? I think so.
    4. Wow, that secret base was easily infiltrated.
    5. When they decide they need Cumberbatch’s blood for plot device reasons, why are we to believe his blood is unique in its regenerative abilities? There are 74 other survivors of the Botany Bay in Cryo sleep, presumably they are genetically engineered the same way. Bones even had to thaw one out to put Kirk in his tube. So why is Cumberbaddy so necessary?
    6. Why didn’t Admiral Jerkface just start firing immediately upon showing up?
    7. The neutral zone was sure friggin’ close to the Klingon home world.
    8. He can’t beam them because they are moving? Didn’t Chekov beam two guys that were falling in mid air last movie? Did they get a crappier transporter?
    9. “I swore I’d never tell you anything about my time stream,” (except when I did last movie) “but her is everything you need to know.”
    10. “Vulcan’s can not lie.” (This statement is, itself a lie.) Okay I loved that.
    It’s not as bad as DKR, as the plot problems don’t take me completely out of the movie or just make me completely lose suspension of disbelief (aside from the gravity thing, but if the artificial gravity were broken, and the inertial dampener were still operating, what was shown could happen [I am way to big a Trekkie]), but those things were still kind of annoying.
    Still better than Star Trek the Motion Picture 1979.

  • Whutevah

    Maryann adores seeing 9/11 in movies I’ve noticed.
    I just see the echoes of a modern terror that’s been caught in focusing permutations of itself since conception.

  • Isobel_A

    Some thoughts on your thoughts…

    1. I also wondered this.
    2. Don’t see why this is ‘needlessly complicated’ – you instantly invented a perfectly plausible reason for her Englishness. I’d ask instead – why are there so many Americans on the Enterprise? Star Fleet is supposed to be international, yet there are only three non-American humans (including Ms Marcus).
    3. Yeah – great performance, I think.
    4. Heee!
    6. I guess from his point of view, he’d rather not have to explain the demise of a flagship if he didn’t have to, so, if the crew didn’t know, no need to blow ’em up.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The engineering sections of all Starfleet vessels contain one or more “kill rooms”, chambers containing equipment crucial to the operation of the warp drive but deadly to organic life, and into which only unprotected humanoid crew members can go to effect repairs. This is well established canon. ;-)

    Also, I can’t recall ever seeing a repair robot on any iteration of ST. But I can think of, off the top of my head, at least three dozen instances where such robots would have been exceedingly useful and life-saving.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    1. Intertial dampeners have independent power supplies? Seriously, you do not want those things skipping a beat. Two words: chunky salsa.

    3. He had a couple lines. But there weren’t more than a half dozen total lines of dialog in his scenes. And yes, Noel Clarke was very good.

    5. At that moment, McCoy would not know for certain that any of the other cryo-sleep passengers would have the same traits as Cumberblank. If necessary he could later have run tests to determine if his plan still had a chance, but at that moment, I think the best course of action was to bring in Cumberblank alive.

    7. On the one hand, Richmond, VA, 1861 – 1865. On the other hand, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have no sense of scale.

    8. The transporters on this version of the Enterprise are far and away more drama-sensitive than any transporter system in the history of Star Trek.

    10. Vulcan inability to lie goes back canonically at least as far as STII. Consider:

    Savik: …no unencoded messages over an open channel. (To Spock.) You lied.
    Spock: (raises eyebrow) I exaggerated.

    It was as silly then as it is now, but it’s not new.

  • OnceJolly

    1. Without artificial gravity, the ship and crew would all be in free fall. No g-force, since everything is being acting on by the same *external* force. G-forces occur when a car/jet/rocket accelerates because the vehicle is exerting a force on the passengers.

  • dwa4

    TNG had a very good episode “The quality of life.” with newly experimental repair robots..exocomps.. that became sentient…they are exactly what LM would be talking about. And as you noted, they were exceptionally useful. Given that the episode presents the robot’s technology as new and cutting edge at TNG’s era and, as you stated, no other instances of robots in engineering other than that episode, I have no problem with seeing no other robots in ID based on the time period it takes place in.
    BTW, that episode is another great example of Star Trek taking a relevant issue, what is your definition of life and to what extent are you willing to go to protect it…and spinning it into a great science fiction story. Would that particular story make a great motion picture?..no…but the story, story, story it tells with very good acting and writing is classic Star Trek formula. One that I will maintain is nicely accomplished by ID.

    added…actually, there is another TNG episode I cannot pin down at the moment that I believe has a group of microscopic bots that gets into Enterprise’s computer…will come up with the details of that episode and name as soon as I can get the correct synapses to fire.

  • Jim Mann

    I liked it more than you did but there were several things that bothered me:

    — the Enterprise is pursued from Klingon space by a much faster ship, which only catches it when it’s almost to Earth. The much faster ship should have caught it in interstellar space, but the plot wanted the final bit to occur near Earth, so they ignored that.

    — Earth has no orbital defenses? So, a huge ship falls out of orbit but really nobody notices until it falls on San Francisco?

    — the ships are powered by anti-matter, yet they can crash without a huge nuclear explosion?

    And don’t get me started on the idiocy of the Enterprise under water in the opening sequence (which the movie could have done without). The Enterprise is designed to work in space, and shouldn’t even be in the atmosphere, let alone under water.

  • singlestick

    New summer movie meme: a blond woman in black underwear. First it was Gwyneth Paltrow in “Iron Man 3” and now it’s Alice Even and the
    gratuitous underwear scene in “Star Trek.” I suppose we will have Superman reveal Lois Lane’s underwear with his X-Ray vision in “Man of Steel” and who knows what in “Despicable Me 2.”

    I kinda enjoyed “Star Trek Into Darkness” and understand why many like it. But ultimately it seems to represent dumbed down Trek for modern audiences. I have no problem with rebooting the franchise, but this reboot and re-writing of Old Trek is closer to grave robbing. Maybe some of this gave old time fans a thrill, but the callbacks to original Trek here and there were hit and miss, but largely unnecessary. And now HERE BE SPOILERS.

    Star Trek should be about the stars. Not Earth. I can easily imagine that JJ Abrams and the movie execs stupidly agreed that you gotta have Earth scenes in order for non SF people to relate to the characters. But apart from being unnecessary, you run into the huge logic whole that I simply could not believe that Earth and Star Fleet would be so easily open to attack by the bad guy. No defenses? No other star ships? Don’t buy it.

    It’s also clear that Abrams, like some other Trek show runners, hate the idea of any type of even semi-military organization. So the PR crap about Trek talk about Kirk learning to see his people as his family and friends (I think there is even so dialog about this). BS. He is the captain of a damned crew of professionals. Yes, they are also friends, but it ain’t the damn Love Boat. And the nonsense about Kirk not being able to work by the Man’s Rules is lame and unbelievable.

    Star ships underwater and crashing through the atmosphere are stupid. Good visuals, but stupid and lazy film making.

    Some of the visuals in the movie are well done, but the human drama is often ineptly directly, with TV style closeups. Abrams is not a good film director. And there is too much purposeless running in this movie. Again, lazy, unimaginative film making.

    There was no reason, none, nada, zip, to make “John Harrison” who he turned out to be. It almost ruined an otherwise great villain. And the great unrealized narrative opportunity was in having him as the lone villain, ANOTHER SPOILER) and depriving him of helpers, which would have upped the ante big time.

    The crazy thing is that there are places where Abrams and his writers indicate that the might have been able to put together an original script without grave robbing old Trek. Some of the best bits in the movie are when the characters are allowed to be more than just Young Gun versions of their old selves. Ultimately, they rely on old Trek as a crutch even as they bend over backwards to re-interpret old tropes and brag about how they are not mindless Trek nerds. You can’t have it both ways.

    The best, most creative reboots have been the Bond and Batman films. Abrams is in the minor leagues compared to these guys. This is the guy they think will save the Star Wars franchise?


    I agree with your point 5, but I do wish they’d have made it less of a leap for the audience to make in trying to figure why McCoy wouldn’t just assume the other cryo-people had similar superblood.

    Sometimes it’s okay to use subtext to convey character and plot motivation, but other times it’s necessary to have a nurse say “Can’t we just unfreeze one of these guys?” and Bones to say “I’m a doctor not an assumer!” Etc. and so forth.

    Overall I enjoyed it a lot, though my hope for a similarly emotional opening (to the first film) was dashed…. it was fun, and the Noel Clark bit did have some resonance, but the movie felt a little hollow until about halfway through, for me.

  • “Also, I can’t recall ever seeing a repair robot on any iteration of ST. But I can think of, off the top of my head, at least three dozen instances where such robots would have been exceedingly useful and life-saving.”

    Heh… well, let me tell you about a little show called Star Trek The Next Generation. In which all three dozen of your “robot saves the day” instances are used four times each. :)

  • Let me just go on record here and say this “rot13” thing is completely fucking ridiculous. Just say “spoilers”, how about?

    It’s like having a discussion with somebody’s 12-year-old twin sisters.

  • I bet the effects on VGER were most of the budget, too. Pretty impressive stuff, even back then.

  • Karl Morton IV

    Carol in her underwear and Benedict AWESOME Cumberbatch kept me in my seat – but I just about walked out after the “BONES, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT DEAD TRIBBLE?” exchange. Wonder what they’re gonna do with the third movie? Nobody to go searching for, is there? Will they skip to time travelling back to fetch some whales, perhaps? D’you think they might, I dunno, write an original Star Trek story maybe??? Hmmmm?

    I was in a VERY receptive mood sitting down to this, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. Kinda fun in medium-sized chunks, but in a lot of ways “Into Darkness” was the dumbest thing with “Star Trek” stamped on it in ages. Considering where the series came from, it kinda jarred me to have everything boil down to “LET’S KICK HIS ASS!” I’d buy it as a thematic statement on something if every character in the film, including Pointy, wasn’t out to kick someone’s ass. Are they all gonna be about revenge? Is that the plan?

  • dwa4

    Ya, ROT 13 was brought up back in The Cabin in the Woods review. Wouldn’t typically use that, the problem with the spoiler label in this situation is that the conversation was going to have the spoilers name in it so often that even if you scroll over the spoiler conversation the villain’s name is going to show up so easily that you see it even though your trying to avoid it . has happened as I’ve scrolled through spoiler conversations in the past. It was a big enough spoiler to me early enough in the course of the movie release that, as a Star Trek fan, I would have been disappointed if this particular spoiler came out before I had a chance to see the movie.

    Actually, the easiest solution would have been to label it spoiler and use cumbervillain as somebody else did later in the thread.

  • And that moment is one of the “cobbled-together” moments I was complaining about.

  • Prankster36

    SPOILERS if we still care

    This movie was appallingly bad. I can usually see where MaryAnn is coming from even when I don’t agree with her, but this time out I’m stumped. Particularly considering her recent, justified rants about bad science in movies. This movie had some of the most laughably stupid “science” I’ve seen in movies since the mid-90s (The Enterprise underwater–which made no sense from a plot perspective, let alone the science; a “cold fusion” bomb freezing a volcano (holy shit the stupid); a spaceship tumbling straight downwards out of high orbit when its flight controls are damaged; and of course MAGIC BLOOD.) This from a franchise that’s historically been an inspiration to scientists and techies. Yes, there’s been dodgy science in classic Trek as well, but at least it was always *trying*. It viewed the world through an essentially rationalist perspective. This movie was made by modern-day pseudo-pagans (hello, Lindelof!) who don’t know or care how anything works. It’s all just stuff that looks cool when it explodes.

    There are almost too many stupidities and insipidities to go into here, but I’ll focus on the big one: Khan. While I agree with MaryAnn that Cumberbatch is awesome (who wouldn’t?) he’s given literally NOTHING to work with from a script perspective. The character is supposed to be Khan, but this is presented in absolutely the stupidest way possible: everything that makes the character recognizably “Khan” is shuffled offscreen (including his ethnicity, bizarre as it is in the original series–thanks, Abrams) and revealed at the midpoint in a burst of exposition. Why? So Abrams can hold back that the character is Khan until the halfway point. Literally everything that would have made for a good villain is sacrificed for a big “reveal”–which will mean nothing to non-fans, and once Treekkies get over whatever thrill there is in hearing him reveal himself, they’ll realize that THERE’S NO FUCKING REASON FOR THE CHARACTER TO BE KHAN. And from that point on, the movie becomes a chain of pointless, empty references to “Wrath of Khan”, including an utterly idiotic “KHAAAAAAAN” moment that made my audience burst out laughing. Constantly reminding us of a much, much better movie is not a good strategy, Abrams, and this is all the more true when the references serve NO PURPOSE except to nudge the audience and go “remember that? Remember that?” When, say, the Marvel studios films drop references to the comics it’s always for a reason–to help build the larger world and possibly to set things up for further down the road. This movie makes references as a replacement for themes, ideas, real character beats, or anything else. It’s the epitome of how Hollywood has been feeding us our own half-digested shit for years now.

    Bottom line: I don’t understand who this movie is for. If you know nothing about Trek, it’s a bafflingly constructed movie with no soul. If you love Trek, it’s a dumbed-down violation of everything that makes the franchise great. I guess if you just want to watch things go smashy-boomy for two hours (and, OK, watch a talented cast make the most of what they have to work with) it’s a decent time-killer, but I thought that was the kind of attitude FlickFilosopher was opposed to?

  • Kris Williamson

    I had very mixed reactions to this movie. Many parts of it stick in my head, those being especially the parts that have such political resonance to today and my surprise at the compelling performance of Benedict Cumberbatch. But I found I left the theater feeling that as a ‘movie experience’ somewhere toward the end of the movie the air had been let out of the tires. I found myself absolutely rolling my eyes to see them employ the most tired out cliche of every action blockbuster – that is, no matter what has transpired or what’s at stake or what it took to get them there, the story always climaxes with two guys having a damn fist fight, and usually, as was exactly done here, one that is preposterous and goes on to the point of being boring and ridiculous. As with that scene, I can easily think of how 15-20 minutes could have been nipped out of the film and would make absolutely no difference in the least to the story. And I had no sense of tension at the end. I could see every part of how everything would resolve long before it arrived. On the other hand, there were plenty of stunning visual images, I’m still chuckling at a lot of great dialog, and there many moments I found myself choked up with emotion. I’ll watch it again sometime and enjoy it, I’m sure. And I welcome seeing the next one. But this one just didn’t fully hit the mark with me.

  • Damian Barajas

    Finally saw the movie this weekend!

    Where to start? I had fun, and the toughest critic in my house, my 6 year old son liked it too!
    (He was explaining to my wife who Khan was!)

    There were big flaws though, the little flaws I can forgive, but Kirk dies without any drama at all, once you know he will be revived, (even if you din’t pick up on the super blood Mcguffin we swallowed with a tribble chaser, Kirk was not going to remain dead in a movie that is trying so hard to cash in on nostalgia)
    But the biggest problem I have with this is the way it tries to parallell current events and falls short.

    Khan is clearly bin laden (he was someone who was put in place to keep things in line but backfired), and (here’s my biggest problem with this) Admiral Marcus is: everything that’s perceived to be wrong with american foreign policy today.

    See, in the end, all the bad things done by star fleet came down to Admiral Marcus, and no one else! The last fight should have been agains star fleet, its a pity Abrahams didnt rip off insurrection while he was at it, it would have been a better movie. Just imagine, Spock in a room with starfleet high command, carrying Kirk’s dead body, telling them “You did this”, that would have been a brave thing to do.

    In the end, they took out the big bad, killed the rogue Admiral and evrythings right with the world again.

  • teenygozer

    One of the things you have to remember about TMP is that Paramount loaded all of the development costs of A) the aborted TV series and B) the aborted TV movie onto the budget of the movie that finally got made. All a part of that special Hollywood accounting that ensures a film never makes a profit. TMP did not cost nearly as much money as the books said it did.

  • teenygozer

    Paramount dumped the development costs of the TV series that never got made, and the TV movie that never got made, into the budget for the movie that *did* get made. It was a significant amount of money. The movie itself was actually not nearly as expensive as it was made out to be.

  • CB

    When, and why, did Original Spock even swear that? At the end of the last movie, iirc, he meets up with Young Spock and basically says “Normally I might avoid you, but holy hell our planet blew up and Vulcans are now an endangered species so I’m going to lend all the help I can.”

  • CB

    “Some of the best bits in the movie are when the characters are allowed
    to be more than just Young Gun versions of their old selves.”

    You know, that’s true. Like when Spock is explaining why he seemed indifferent to his imminent death. Hey, there’s an original character moment that — and this is important — felt earned. It wasn’t just an excuse to shoe-horn in traits or lines audiences would be familiar with from the original movies. It was based on the events of these movies, and this Spock’s character.

    Then, of course, they have to find an excuse for him to shout out “Khaaaaaan!”

  • CB

    Now that I’ve seen it, I have to say that while I enjoyed the film I ended up smelling way too much Lindelof coming off the script — twists that come from and go nowhere, a multi-layered conspiratorial plot that makes less sense the more layers are revealed. It’s like Prometheus all over again. The man treats plot twists and mysteries like Michael Bay treats explosions — the more the merrier, context be damned!
    Is he Abram’s go-to writer? Is it futile to hope he won’t be involved with the next Star Trek? Can’t wait to see what he’ll do with the Abrams Star Wars.

  • Tee-hee

    Loved what you wrote Prankster–couldn’t have said it better. Such a disappointing script. Every time the boys were setting up a big speech it would fall flat on its face and end up being nothing, not even a “we’re family” kind of thing. The most appalling thing in the film was the gratuitous and plebeian hand-to-hand violence. Punch-punch-punch-punch-punch. My gawd, a monkey could’ve directed that. Those scenes: so protracted, so boring, so poorly directed/edited/written. Twice in the film I thought I was watching a garam masala tishum-tishum flick. … Such a waste for such perfectly cast actors. Poor Benedict had sod-tout to work with.

    Oh yeah: Great final speech: “This was not about revenge.” …. Really?

  • dwa4

    “This movie had some of the most laughably stupid “science” I’ve seen in movies since the mid-90s”
    I saw a video with Colbert interviewing NdGT talking about his approach to bad science in movies. His stance was that as long as the movie did not purport to be an accurate representation of events he’s perfectly willing to sit back and enjoy a story without getting bent out of shape about shortcomings in scientific rigidity. Specifically, they were talking about ST 2009 and how they could simply invent a device that could hold the black hole inducing red matter in the romulan ship. He really had no problem with this. He found it interesting that they needed a drill to get the red matter to the center of the planet….why wouldn’t it create a black hole if you just dropped it on the surface of the planet? In the end, he’s willing to give lisence to the storyteller if they are not standing up claiming accuracy for their subject matter. The funniest part of the interview and WELL WORTH WATCHING is that he then goes on to lambast James Cameron who did claim precision and accuracy for Titanic and then failed to deliver in NdGT’s field of expertise. He goes on to detail the subsequent hilarious interactions and meetings between the two of them. You can google NdGT on star trek movie red matter and find this short section of the Colbertinterview at 33:42 of the 1 1/2 hour piece. While Trek has science advisors and certainly has been significantly accurate, even prophetic in some of its material, I think Trek at its best has been far more story than science. There is a documentary out there that interviewed Nichelle Nichols who recalled confronting Roddenberry that what he was really making was morality plays in his episodes….to which he replied…sshhhhh..don’t tell anybody.

    “This movie was made by modern-day pseudo-pagans (hello, Lindelof!) who don’t know or care how anything works. It’s all just stuff that looks cool when it explodes.”
    Do not know about Lindelof but I would propose that this movie is far more than cool exploding stuff. Abrams did an outstanding job of creating characters you relate to and relationships you care about and invest in. The Kirk/Pike relationship was extremely well constructed and presented in a remarkably condensed period of time. (as was the George Kirk father figure in 2009). He presented a relevant story with the section 31 buildup and wove in Khan’s character. Kirk had to deal with and make a choice in how he dealt with the torpedos, Marcus, the Vengeance and Khan.

    “including an utterly idiotic “KHAAAAAAAN””
    Completely agree with you on this. Abrams went way to far in trying to parallel the previous Khan episodes…dying in the chamber, reversing the characters…KHAAAAAAN…so bad he had to do it twice..The pinnacle of the overreach was not only having the character dying but then being brought back in such a tribbial manner. At least WOK took an entire movie to bring Spock back to life.

    I was hoping for a villain other than Khan but really did not have a problem with his presentation of Khan. He presented a plausible and even relevant to our times reason for him to be brought back by Marcus. That is perhaps the most Roddenberryesque true to trek trait that I enjoyed in this movie (or any other trek movie) Khan’s ship was discovered 20 light years from earth in TOS so it’s realistic for them to find him given the warp capability of the ships at the time. It’s also c/w the behavior section 31 displayed in previous series. While he certainly did not display the exact character of Montalkhan, the timeline change and the misuse and abuse for several years by section 31 can explain some change in his personality. He does display a consistent connection with and desire to reclaim his fellow augments. It would have been entertaining to see a bit more of the arrogance and confidence that Montalkhan showed in TOS episode.

    “it’s a bafflingly constructed movie with no soul”
    I thought this movie had huge soul. Kirk Pike relationship was real and motivating. Kirk’s brashness and willingness to jump in attitude is very well played and very realistic for many leadership/immediate crisis situations. (though quite the opposite of Picard). The rivalry and quips between the characters and their personalities.were outstanding.

    As always however, to each her/his own.

    Colbert also interviews JJ Abrams who describes his overall intention to make the 2009 movie an action adventure movie and less of a purity for star trek fans. I would like to think there is someone out there who could meld a pure trek movie with an action adventure tone but even the best of the trek films…….WOK and First Contact……fall significantly short in that effort. No one has come close yet. I would have to say that I enjoyed ID as much as either FC or WOK

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    New summer movie meme: a blond woman in black underwear.

    I’m not sure two unrelated examples* and two made-up examples constitute a meme.

    Good visuals, but stupid and lazy film making.

    I don’t understand this. It’s stupid, perhaps, but how is it lazy?

    * one of which is inaccurate (Pepper is strawberry-blonde, i.e. a redhead),

  • Danielm80

    Also, I’m not sure sexy-blonde-in-underwear qualifies as new, even if the underwear is black. Objectifying women isn’t so much a meme as, y’know, our culture.

  • singlestick

    RE: I don’t understand this. It’s stupid, perhaps, but how is it lazy?

    For starters, the previous movie “rebooted” the franchise, but then this latest film pointlessly recycles plots and villains from the TV series and movie instead of having the courage to try for an original story. There is no real reason for Harrison to be who he turns out to be.

    Abrams and his screenwriters also keep hitting over the head with the cheap melodramatic short hand of giving us characters with dead parents or mentors (and in the case of Spock, most of his home world). This is supposed to give the characters an extra dose of angst, and to over-do the lame idea that the crew of the Star Ship is really a family.

    Funny thing is, I like a lot of the film, but am just disappointed that they tried to play it safe. Unfortunately, the box office has not been stellar, and this may make it even harder to continue the series or to try to be more creative.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Sorry, I was actually referring specifically to this comment:

    Star ships underwater and crashing through the atmosphere are stupid. Good visuals, but stupid and lazy film making.

    I don’t think they’re “pointlessly recycling”. The specific choice in the reboot, creating an alternate universe, is only interesting if they do exactly this: revisit old characters and stories and explore how they might play out differently under these circumstances. I actually think that this was much less pointless and cynical than simply recasting the roles and updating the effects. Ditto the “melodramatic” aspects introduced into the characters. YMMV, of course.

    That being said, the biggest problem with this movie is that while I can buy the character of John Harrison, I’m not buying his other identity. Too much of that character is missing from both the script and the performance.

    I’m not as pessimistic regarding STID’s box office performance as that. It’s not going to outperform ST’09, but it will clear $220M domestically, it will take in more than it cost once international box office is accounted for, and having a sequel exceed the previous installment is still the exception, not the rule. We’ll see a third film in this series, at least, though the next will likely see it’s production budget scaled back.

  • Lianne

    I don’t agree with you on point 5. Khan was already alive and earlier in the film someone (I believe it was Bones) said that he didn’t know how he had to defrost the cryo-people.

  • WardKendall

    The Star Trek universe is becoming unrealistically over-populated with alien planets and alien civilizations, and is thus losing its sense of “remote wonder”, as I choose to describe it. It’s almost like finding a McDonald’s at every Star Base along the way, so common is the spread of human civilization in the Star Trek galaxy. In the beginning, it wasn’t that way, and it created a sense of wonder and mystery that is largely gone now.

  • asimovlives

    You just killed, murdered and throw the body to the sea of any credibility you once had, Maryann. To be this gushing on what is without a doubt a very stupud, dumbed down, disrespectful and cynical movie is just the last straw. But you also went dumb wrong on the first movie as well. There was hope you could had wised up to Abrams’s deceivings, but no such luck. Beyond disapointed. Credibility lost forever now, girl. Good job!

  • Of course your opinion is fact. Good job!

  • Bluejay

    Do you mean to say, Asimovlives, that you really hated JJ Abrams’ two Star Trek movies? I had no idea!

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