Into Darkness: The Redshirt of Star Trek movies

Cover Photo

Full Nerd Discloser:  I am a Trekkie, born and bred.  I spent many an hour growing up happily watching Star Trek with my father.   Now I watch Star Trek on Netflix almost daily, one series at a time, over and over again.  I just watched the last episode of Voyager last week.  I am between series now, mulling over Voyager before returning to Deep Space Nine.  Before the miracle of Netflix, I used money that I received as a wedding gift to buy Voyager DVDs.  I argue with many people about who was the best Captain and which was the best series.   Captain Kathryn Janeway and Voyager hold those places currently.  However, it is a matter of contention and up to reconsideration.  But the fact that we share a first name gives Captain Janeway a little bump over Captain Jean-Luc Picard any day.

I follow George Takei’s Facebook posts with much excitement.  I proudly tell people of the time that he liked something I posted on his page.  I post stuff on his Facebook page.  I was truly crushed when he pulled an internet April Fool’s Day joke and said that the next Star Trek movie featured an Admiral Sulu.  I believe that Star Trek directly led to the invention of the mobile phone and the iPad.  I hope to someday see medical tricorders and transporters come to life.  I have heated discussions about the merits of Wil Wheaton and Jonathon Frakes’ beard.  I visit startrek.com more than I probably should.   I wish Quarks was a real place I could hang out at and drink Romulan Ale.  I counted down the days until the release of Into Darkness, just as I did with the last movie.  And the one before that.   It is a matter of great shame that I have not yet attended a Star Trek convention.

So, coming from that deep space background of lifelong Star Trek nerd fandom, I am very sad to say that Into Darkness was a deep disappointment.  I wish that the first five minutes of the movie had been the entire movie.  It was visually stunning!  I enjoyed the race through the bright red reeds.  The jump off the cliff made me gasp.  And then the Enterprise was rising up through the water!  It was great.  Why was the Enterprise under the ocean?!

Instantly I was hooked and I wanted to know more, but JJ Abrams did not want me to know.  He never told me why.  They then rescued Spock from the volcano (also under dubious circumstances lacking real explanation) and off they flew.  That story was over.  It didn’t have anything to do with the rest of the movie.  All those beautiful aliens were never seen nor heard from again.  Did they have a name?  What planet was that??  That was a huge violation of the Prime Directive, but WHY?  Why were they on that planet?  Why were they running?  Why was the Enterprise under the sea?   That’s the movie I wanted to see!  But that was just the opening.  The rest of the story had nothing to do with that.  The rest of the story kind of sucked.    It was full of scenes that did not fit together.

The rehashed original cast isn’t my favorite.   I don’t need a retelling of an old story.  Apparently, Mr. Abrams can’t come up with his own new story, so he just changes a few things.   I want new stories!  I want new characters with new names, new aliens, not just Klingons in masks!  The new aliens that were introduced go unnamed.   They weren’t really a part of the story at all, just background wall paper, which is very disappointing to me.   I want aliens with backstory and a home-world and a language and a religious belief or two, perhaps a deadly disease.  All of the aliens running through the field of red were exhilarating, but it was pointless in the plot.  It had no explanation.  I don’t watch movies for only what I can see, but for the plot, the dialog, and the complex characters.  Into Darkness lacked in all of those.  Nothing seemed fully fleshed out.  It was all just a bunch of semi-inter-related intense action scenes.   That was not that movie I wanted to see.

I’m not even going to trash on the actors saying Shatner would never this or Nimoy wouldn’t that.  I won’t mince their accents.  They are all fine enough actors.  It’s not their fault that their characters are flat and 2 dimensional.  They’ve been only half way reimagined.  “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a real character!”

If I were Nichelle Nichols, I would be pissed at Abram’s new incarnation of Uhura.  Sure Uhura still looks good.  But she is a sappy sack that Nichelle never was!  Uhura was crying over Spock for a good portion of her screen time.  The Uhura I know and love wouldn’t take that shit.  When she kissed Shatner it was TV’s first interracial kiss!  She was a compelling character!  Abram’s Uhura has no depth, no class, no sass, and certainly does not participate in any groundbreaking worldwide events.  Interspecies aliens kiss all the time on screen now.  Uhura and Spock are in a boring stereotypical relationship.  Their fight is so contrived that I almost sprained a muscle rolling my eyes.  No Vulcan, let alone Spock, would get into a random yelling match with any woman in a shuttlecraft with the Captain.  The entire scene was highly illogical.

The characters are cardboard cutouts of who they originally were.  I don’t know why they couldn’t all just have new names.  You can even use the same cast, just give them new characters!  Why were the old characters recycled?  It’s the 25th century for gods’ sake!  I want a completely new story.   Why do we have to have an alternate timeline?  Can nobody write a new Captain and crew?  Are we saying that everything that can be written has already been written and we can only reuse and abuse what we have?

Sure, sure, it was great to see Spock yell KHANNNN!  (Ha-ha, get it?)  But Khan is old school; he’s not a great villain anymore.  And Benedict Cumber-bund did not exactly play him as a great villain anyway.  At one point Khan cried a single solitary tear and I wanted to smack off his self-righteous face.   Who are these family members that he speaks so fondly of?   We don’t see much of them.  I feel like Khan should have had demanded to have one or two popped open when he was on the Enterprise.  Shouldn’t he have stood longingly over the cyrochamber of his wifesisterlovermothersonfatherbestfriend?  Where was that obligatory scene?  I think the story needed it.  The story needed a lot of things.  So many storylines were left abandoned and unfinished.  Why didn’t we see the little dying girl again?  Her story could have easily been finished instead of just dropped.

JJ Abrams said that he wasn’t a Trek fan until he was hired to make ST 2009.  That right there seems to be the heart of the problem.  He is not making movies that Trekkies want to watch.  He is trying to make movies that a person who doesn’t like Star Trek wants to watch.   He will give a tip of the hat to this or that, but he doesn’t want to work within the Star Trek universe.  Why else would he blow up Vulcan?!   Because he doesn’t like Star Trek.

Yes, the movie itself was visually stunning in many scenes.  But I don’t just want special effects, I want a well-crafted story.  And I didn’t find that Into Darkness.  It was not as finely crafted as I had hoped.  Perhaps my Star Trek expectations where too high.  But I did not like this movie, and it will not rank very high on my rerun schedule.  In fact, this movie made me like some of the other movies more.  I have more forgiveness for the Red Matter now.   I like the Borg a bit more today.  Please let this movie soon fade into the darkness and become the Redshirt of all the Star Trek movies.

We can only hope that we will have a new series soon!  JJ Abrams’ work sure makes the last series, Enterprise, look highly underrated.  Now I need to go watch some DS9 to calm myself down a bit.  Live Long and Prosper.  And please hire someone else to make the next movie!

Save us Rick Berman!

4 Comments

Filed under Essays

4 responses to “Into Darkness: The Redshirt of Star Trek movies

  1. Your review is one of the most accurate I’ve read. So true!! What you’ve expressed here is almost EXACTLY what I was feeling and thinking while watching this movie. JJ Abrams and his writers are LAZY. They have an entire GALAXY of imaginative possibilities and yet rehash old stories & characters, even DIALOGUE!!! What a lost opportunity.

    Pathetic. : (

  2. Christina

    Kat, this is a sharp commentary. You have some great points.
    But remember, the Star Trek fan universe is an entire universe. It is not just about your singular opinion that Patrick Stewart is a better actor than Shatner. (Your opinion is true,) As a whole, the TOS cast had MANY better actors than the TNG cast. So, many many many people like TOS better, and the characters better.

    A lot of the Star Trek universe wanted to see more of the raw exploring from the Original series back. Kirk, alone in the darkness on his star ship was not a pawn of Starfleet, but more Master and Commander of the far side of the quadrant. So, going back to those characters was a fantastic idea! Lets see the characters if they had to make some decisions over. Kirk’s first command. Spock’s reaction to being called a half-breed for the first time. Uhura’s rise in Starfleet.

    I am totally excited to see Star Trek given a shock of lightning again. You know I love me some Janeway, but they were all a bit softer since the Enterprise-D. Back to the Captain giving two-handed punches! Back the the Vulcan overpowering physically and logicaly! Back to the Doctor being the Captain’s closest advisor and best friend! Back to Uhura’s strength on the bridge!

    Let’s talk about Troi and Riker if we are going to talk about eye-rolling love scenes invading the real plot of the Enterprise crew. Gag!!!

    Oooh.
    Still gagging!

    Love you, and this editorial. I rejoice in the Cumberbund crack too.

    But love me some Star Trek redux!!!

  3. nirile

    I’m unclear as to your reference as this movie being a red shirt. Too much time in Thailand?

  4. Yes!! The red shirts are always the ones who die on away missions. you should know that!!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s