Sunday, May 19, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)


Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness

Movie or franchise remakes can be fun. There are some, like the 1940 film The Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart, that have been remade multiple times. And then there's the new Star Trek franchise. Not so much a remake as a rewriting of the Trek history that Gene Roddenberry so cleverly invented.

And I'm good with it. The originality of Abrams' first Star Trek movie was epic because it literally went where no one had ever gone before. The fans were given a story that hadn't been rehashed, sprinkled throughout with the characters that most Trekkies have loved far longer than I have been alive. Which is why I had such high hopes for Star Trek Into Darkness. You're sensing a "but" following that statement, and there is one, although not quite as serious of a "but" as you're picturing.

So, if you want to read about that "but," and don't mind spoilers if you haven't seen the movie, then continue reading.



Now for that "but."

But, what I hadn't expected was Abrams to use elements of previous Star Trek films.

I've already comes to terms with the elements that differ from Roddenberry's universe, like the whole Spock/Uhura romance that I'm not keen on, and this new, rather violent, James T. Kirk who makes rash decisions that his predecessor would never dream of making. Beating people black and blue is unlike my Kirk too, but I've accepted that change, even if I don't like it.

But I just thought that Abrams was smart enough to write his own story. Yes, spoilers here, so stop reading now if you don't want to know.

I'm great with Benedict Cumberbatch's character actually being Khan. You have no idea how brilliant that decision was, anything to get Ricardo Montalban's naked chest out of my mind's eye! So that was fine, epic, and absolutely perfect. One of my buddy's hates the changes made to Khan, and I think he's nuts.

So, that's fine.

What's not fine is Abrams utilizing certain other elements from The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock. Those movies have been done before, they've been filmed before, obviously, or I wouldn't be mentioning them. The fans do not need to see a rehash. In fact, my emotional response to the ending of the film was greatly diminished because of the whole Kirk in the warp reactor core and Spock on the outside flip-flop they did from The Wrath of Khan. It was disappointing that Abrams couldn't come up with his own climax so he felt inclined to steal it from another movie. Not cool. Seriously, not cool.

Everything else was epic. But as soon as the movie started turning that way, with Kirk taking on Spock's role in tWoK and dying (yes, he dies, but doesn't stay dead), my emotions froze and I started tapping my foot in impatience for us to move on to something else. Because I've seen that before and no one, certainly not Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, can do that emotional scene like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Watching Spock die and not knowing if he was going to survive is epic, it's traumatic, and it's brilliant. Anyone watching Star Trek Into Darkness who is at all familiar with Trek lore realizes that this is merely a retelling of a story that turned out all right in the end.

A fact that makes this part of the story pointless.

Okay, so maybe I'm being a little hard on Abrams. Perhaps. But I think him highly capable of developing his own story. Use Khan, by all means, but don't use a sequence from the original Roddenberry magic in a flip-flop fashion.

Except that it's too late now. The film has been made, and I really, really like it, except for that one story arc. So I can live with what I consider to be laziness on Abrams' part. He might have intended it as an homage, but that's not how it felt to me so that makes it a failed homage. Oh well, we march on.

What Abrams did RIGHT was casting Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan! And giving Scotty and Bones more lines and more to do! Because out of the entire cast playing original characters, Karl Urban and Simon Pegg are the closest to their counterparts which makes them brilliant! But really, Ben is an incredible Khan. He's ruthless, and heartless, and totally devoted to the members of his crew above anything else. He's Kirk in an invincible body and with superior intellect.

If I were to ever deliberately turn evil it would be for a man like Khan the way Benedict Cumberbatch portrays him. Because there would be enough of a ruthless logic in his methods to convince me that he was right. Fortunately, there are no real men like him in this world and I happen to be saved by grace. Yes, I am a Ben fangirl, a devoted one, but I also feel like Abrams breathed life into a villain that never quite reached his full potential because of that stupid chest-baring outfit and that absurd eighties hair. Ben took Khan to a whole new level and I hope, hope, hope that he'll be back again!

So there you have it. A mostly brilliant film by mostly brilliant director J. J. Abrams.

14 comments:

  1. I honestly didn't mind this addition, because I love that plot twist -- the emotion, the impact it has on Kirk and Spock -- but "The Wrath of Kahn" is such a boring, awful, cheesy movie, I can never stand to watch it again. So, for me, I get to have not only that epic relationship moment in a shiny new movie (and even though I knew he'd be okay, I still cried) but I also get a brand new, epic badass Kahn.

    Although -- Star Fleet is full of dumbasses. You do not freeze a superhuman psychopath again in a cryotube. YOU KILL HIM, SO SOME IDIOT DOESN'T LET HIM OUT.

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  2. I knew you loved it, absolutely knew, and apart from that miniature whine, I love it too. :)

    Benedict made me so happy as Khan. That was a brilliant piece of character design. For a seemingly bright guy, Khan was never that bright. And you're right tWoK is a dumb movie. There's no getting around it, but I liked and appreciated the ending with Kirk and Spock. It's one of those dynamic moments from my childhood, the only thing I remembered about tWoK until I rewatched it a few months ago. So, having that dynamic change, having it be Kirk trapped instead of Spock, just sort of hit me wrong because I'm sentimental about the original scene. Fortunately, I think I'm pretty over much my disappointment. I want to see it again to drool over Ben's beautiful voice!

    Are you saying that you think Khan will escape? Really, whatever gave you that notion!? I love how Starfleet often makes stupid mistakes like that. I'm not sure why they would have refrozen him, but logically, he should have been executed. If they could even figure out a way to actually kill him. His superhuman strength and invulnerability are AWESOME!

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  3. I figured out fairly early on from the trailer hints that they were doing Kahn -- and that one shot of Kirk and Spock's hand touching through the glass made me suspect it would be a reversal of the scene in the original.

    Ironically, I didn't cry when Spock died -- even though he was my favorite character, I KNEW there were more movies ("The Search for Spock"?) so I didn't let my emotions in. I intended not to with Kirk either, but when I saw Spock lose it, I started tearing up -- because he didn't cry when he lost his mother, he didn't cry when Vulcan imploded... but this has that lovely moment when he touches Pike, and reads his thoughts, to know what fear of death is like, to experience his emotions -- and he can't do that for Kirk; he can't touch him, he can't take away his anguish or fear; but because of Pike, he knows what that fear is like, he knows what it is to die. He can't build a mental wall for Kirk -- so his emotions escape him.

    Plus, for me, it's the conclusion of Kirk's story -- he starts out the film as a jerk, sluffing off his responsibilities. He goes to his death as a self-sacrifice, to save the people he risked to save Spock at the start.

    I appreciate both sides, but Kirk in the originals is always emotional; Spock isn't. So for me, this reversal is beautiful -- because it's a gorgeous arc from the first part of the film and Spock's total lack of emotion over Pike's death. It's a revelation to the audience that what Kirk said at the beginning ("But you're half human!") is true.

    I get sentimentality, and I get other people being upset about all the changes. I understand why some of my friends, like Savvy, are pissed off with this update (because stuff like RDJ's Sherlock Holmes and "Elementary" pisses me off for the same reasons!). But... for me, it's hard not to love something that is SO GOOD.

    Kahn... Ilove this incarnation of Kahn. Others complain that they took an Indian character and made him white -- so what? Others complain that the original Kahn was "noble, and just after one person." This one made him a psychopath. So what? HE'S A BETTER VILLAIN NOW. He's a SCARIER villain now. He got the upper hand on Spock! Not just anyone can do that!

    It's... it's... it's FRAKING AWESOME. I love it SO much. I want to see it again too. (Do you have any time off the weekend of the 26th? Maybe we could get Randy to babysit the kid, and take Brit with us to see it?)

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  4. I knew I should have gone to see this movie with you. I just KNEW it! There are times when you see so much more than I do, catch so much more profoundness, and it seems like this is another movie like that.

    As for the complainers againt Kahn, the last time I checked, Ricardo Montalban was Hispanic. So, no Indian actor has ever played the role which makes the argument a totally moot point. Where were their arguments 30 years ago? People are weird. *eye roll*

    You know what I loved about Kahn, apart from it being Ben? Everything he did made absolute sense. According to his logic, it made sense. Even his being caught off guard at the end, and that being his downfall made sense. I could see everything happening exactly the way it played out which made him PERFECT.

    So all of the Kahn whiners can go jump in the river and deal with it, just like I'm dealing with Spock and Kirk's flip-flop scenario. Maybe I'll appreciate it more if I see it again. It's "that" time of the month and my perception of things is always a little off.

    The secondary characters were amazing this time around. Anton Yelchin is fun as Chekov, and this time he sort of saved the day a little bit. It was neat how everyone had their important role to play, from Scotty opening that bloody door to Chekov saving them from a nasty fall to Uhura blasting the daylights out of Kahn (waaaaaaaahhhhhh). And of course, Bones is always awesome, he just exudes awesomeness.

    Maybe I really should watch "Heroes," just to give me a different perspective on Zachary Quinto. I wish I liked him more, I really wish I did. But I think my perception of that scene might improve once I get used to the idea. It's happened for me before so I have no doubt I'll appreciate that scene better than my first viewing. Now that you've given me some ideas and thoughts to consider.

    And speaking of 2nd viewings, I will consider the possibility of coming out to see the movie next Sunday with Caitlin. If I feel that I can go without leaving Mom and Dad in the lurch with home improvement stuff. We've got a lot on our plate this summer. Maybe if I can get the kitchen cabinets painted by then I'll be able to go. We'll see, but that would be fun to see it with you and Brit. You two should plan it even if Caitlin and I can't come. :)

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  5. I actually had someone enter a search term for Khan's mbti. He would be an INTJ, right? What say you?

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  6. Glad you ladies liked this one! I am for sure anxious for it to be out on DVD so I can rent it already.

    I don't think it's too soon to demand that already, do you!? ;)

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  7. (I’m sorry, I meant to ask if you had time off during the week AFTER the 26th – that’s when Britt arrives, on Sunday, so later in the week is best, but I can’t do it on Friday since we’re going to Monument with my sister. Any days off next week?)

    Yes, you should see this movie with me! Heh.

    Their complaint seems to revolve around Kahn not being “ethic,” just white, not that whazhisname wasn’t Indian in the first place. They claim it’s “white washing” the cast. Yeah, yeah… so what?

    Yes, Kahn is a flat out INTJ. (I want to write a post about this, if I can gather my thoughts together.)

    He’s always one step ahead of everyone, and everything he does is to get THEM to do what HE wants them to do – come after him with the torpedoes, capture him alive and take him on board ship (he figures out Kirk, and uses him to his advantage), cry a few fake tears about his crew to make them doubt their commanding officer (he releases that information just when it is most advantageous to his intentions, not before), get them to land him on board the only Star Fleet vessel fully built and equipped for war. The only thing he didn’t see was Spock. As an ISTJ (this incarnation tends “S” more than the original), he disrupted his behavior pattern and out-manuvered Kahn by arming the bombs (something Kahn didn’t think he’d do, since he didn’t figure would blow up innocent sleeping people – he never thought they’d take them out of the tubes).

    (My INTJ-ness had a real battle at the end of the movie, over the fate of Kahn – logically, the best thing to do is kill him; but at the same time, I liked him so much I was relieved not to see him die.)

    I loved the roles they let everyone play – even Uhura gets to speak Klingon. Chekov got to run the engine room. Scotty got to be a hero. It was just… very well done.

    Zachary being gay sucks so much, because he’s one of the few men I’m actually attracted to (much more as himself than Spock, though – but he’s a good Spock; not as great as Nimoy, but still good).

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  8. I can't think of a single Indian actor who would have made the role of Khan work. Most Bollywood films are absurd to the max and their actors only less so. Maybe Hrithik Roshan would have suited the role, but then I happen to think he's gorgeous so I'm biased. ;)

    I'm good with white-washing. Sorry to all of you folks who now believe I'm prejudiced, but I just don't mind it. My brain doesn't jump that way, so I don't care if every ethnicity on Earth is represented in films or not. I go to most movies for fun and entertainment, to watch white hobbits get chased by white orcs. Oh well! If they were any other color, I wouldn't care either, because it just just doesn't matter to me.

    Please, please, please do a post on the INTJness of Khan! Because that would be brilliant and I would love to read it! I knew he couldn't be an S because they're more truthful. Khan lies to achieve his ends and an S would have a hard time with that, I think. Hence, the S of Spock.

    Just talking the movie over with you makes me think of it fondly. I really do need to see it at least once more.

    *hugs* about Zachary!

    Is Brit going to be in town for an entire week or longer? Because if she'll be here longer than 2 Sundays out, maybe we could make the following Sunday work. I think that's the 2nd?

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  9. As someone elsewhere said -- if you have a role that the greatest actor of his generation can play, why WOULDN'T you use him? Hence, Benedict. And he IS brilliant, as I knew he would be. I've never been attracted to him before this film -- and I suspect I won't be again. It's the evil brains. It's like Charity Catnip or something.

    I'm working on a post about the religious symbolism of the movie, but I'll mull over an INTJ post on Kahn. No, he's not an S -- he doesn't believe in following the rules, he's deceitful, and he has more of a long term goal than an S would. Textbook INTJ.

    Britt is going to be here 8 days, I think. I don't know -- I can check. Is Sunday the only day you (both?) have off?

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  10. Laughs! Charity catnip! I'll have to remember that!

    We have every other Saturday off and then most Sundays off together. I'll have to see what her Sunday schedule is. The Saturday wouldn't work because she's working that one. :(

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  11. Rissi, I hope you enjoy it when you do see it!

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  12. I had a REALLY sassy, highly inappropriate remark about catnip and Kahn but thought better of it. ;)

    Darn. I'm thinking Sunday won't work, since she has church until noon and being Britt, a social butterfly... =P

    Ah well, it was worth a shot.

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  13. I've seen this movie twice now, and I'm already plotting how and when to see it a third time. I posted some thoughts on the film yesterday -- here I'll just say that as a new Trek fan, I really loved the role reversal at the end of the film. Same story beats and characters, new twist, you know? :)

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  14. Ruth, I'm glad you've enjoyed it so much and have joined the fandom. Are you planning to watch anything else Trekkie or just the new movies? When I latch onto something like I did with that Spock/Kirk scene, I don't lilke to see it changed. But that's just me, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and it seems most people did like that little flip-flop. I'm in the minority! *dramatic sigh*

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