Random Thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness is easily the best movie I’ve seen in theaters this year. Granted, the other films I’ve seen for review were Iron Man 3Pain & GainOblivion, and GI Joe: Retaliation (hardly a cinematic murderers’ row). I loved the movie and can’t wait to see it again, but I understand why certain people have issues with it. As a summer blockbuster, it has everything you could want — thrilling action, fantastic special effects, witty dialogue, and half-naked Alice Eve. If you’re looking for high-budget filmic fun then it doesn’t get any better than this.

That said, there are two types of moviegoers will have problems with this film. First are the hardcore Trekkers that hate the changes JJ Abrams introduced in Star Trek. They’ll have even more to hate in the new film. Additionally, the movie has several nods, references, and parallels to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. While they’re meant as a tribute to that great movie, some fans feel that Abrams was trying to be too clever at best and flat-out copying at worst. While I’ve enjoyed numerous Star Trek movies and TV shows, I’m not a stringent Trekker and I’ve enjoyed Abrams’ take on the franchise, but understand why some fans dislike it.

Then there are people looking for great sci-fi. Star Trek Into Darkness is more space-action-opera than science-fiction. The heady science that can be found in numerous Star Trek movies and episodes isn’t in this movie. Instead, there are several instances of fictionalized science that don’t make much sense. This criticism I understand more than obstinate Trekkers refusing to enjoy something new, but it’s sadly what Hollywood has become and what the majority of moviegoers want.

Like I said, I’m not a Star Trek or sci-fi purist. With that in mind, I loved this movie’s action, effects, writing, and half-naked Alice Eve. Here are some random thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness. Spoiler shields on!

The Crew: As expected, the movie focuses on the Kirk/Spock bromance, but the other crew members get some time to shine. Scotty and Bones had a bit more time than the others, and they made the most out of it. Scotty had a few scenes that completely owned, while Bones had several lines that killed. Sulu had one bad-ass scene that almost made me forget that he was the uptight stoner from Harold and Kumar. His scenes also foreshadowed his eventual captaincy. Uhura’s moments were slightly disappointing; some of her scenes made her seem like Spock’s emotional accessory, while one action sequence required the boys to bail her out. As far as I can tell, Chekhov exists to frantically run around while frazzled and to mispronounce the letter V.

Khan II: As many of you have learned, Khan Noonien Singh is this movie’s baddy. I thought that Benjamin Cumberbatch did a great job as Khan and was a fantastic villain — much better than Eric Bana’s Nero from the first film. To me, Cumberbatch was smart and intimidating. I felt a sense of danger every time he was onscreen. The character’s weakness had more to do with the writing than the performance. I know that Khan is supposed to kick all kinds of ass, but those unfamiliar with the character probably didn’t get the full sense of his badassery due to limited backstory.

The Pace: The movie’s runtime is 132 minutes, but it’s likely the zippiest 132-minute movie you’ll ever see. The vast majority of the movie is fast. Conversations, space chases, foot chases, and fight sequences happen at a mercurial pace. Many moviegoers will love the constant edge-of-your-seat excitement, but I understand people that feel that the movie could have used a few more breathers. There is such a thing as action fatigue and the movie could have used a bit more backstory for newcomers.

The Effects: This movie has so much eye candy. The special effects are glorious. I was particularly fond of the new warp sequence. I loved how the shape of the ship distorts prior to warp. I loved the new “warp line” effects. I loved the trail of star dust (at least, that’s what I think it is) left by ships post-warp. The sequence happened a few times in the movie and I marked out every time. The set pieces were phenomenal and the aliens looked fantastic. The 3D was good, but not great. From what I understand, Abrams wanted to shoot in anamorphic, which doesn’t allow 3D filming, so the 3D effects were tacked on in post production.

The Writing: As many of you know, I gravitate towards writers of comics, TV shows, and movies. I enjoyed what Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman did with the script from the first movie. The two, along with Damon Lindelof, did a stellar job with the dialogue in Star Trek Into Darkness. I really love the new versions of the classic Star Trek characters these guys created and especially love how they interact with each other. The conversations are fast, funny, and full of heart. When I think of fast-paced dialogue with heart, Aaron Sorkin and Kevin Smith come to mind. The former is probably the best known writer of this style, while the latter has been called a dumber and raunchier version of Sorkin. I guess Orci and Kurtzman combine to form Nerd Sorkin. That totally works for me.

Alice Eve: Honestly, Alice Eve’s character didn’t do much in this movie, but she had a scene that will definitely be one of the most remembered because she’s half naked! I’ve always adored this woman. Obviously she’s extremely attractive on a physical level. More importantly, she’s crazy smart (Oxford educated). Most importantly, she has heterochromia iridium, which is incredibly sexy (see Yuna). Any movie that features a gorgeous half-naked women with heterochromia iridium and a St. Catz education should win an award. Dozens really.

Bottom Line: This movie is super-nerd fun, as long as you’re not on the extreme fringes of nerdom. Normals will love the action, special effects, and half-naked Alice Eve. Light to moderate nerds will love all of those things too, as well as the dialogue. The people that are bashing the movie are hardcore Star Trek and sci-fi fans, and while I understand their issues, I think they’re preventing themselves from enjoying one of the most entertaining films released in 2013.

Author: RPadTV


22 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness”

  1. [Spoiler] I also really liked it but there’s one colossal missed opportunity. They should have saved the resurrection stuff for the NEXT film. The last scene could have been the tribble, purring… Geekdom would be spending the next four years holding our collective breath…

    1. For those that don’t know what Dennis is talking about, Dumbledore was resurrected by Bones. *snicker* Seriously though, I think moviegoers have gotten too impatient and/or dumb for that long of a holdout. In the original Star Trek II, Spock was killed off because Nimoy didn’t want to play the character anymore. Things would have been strange if he kept that stance.

      1. I completely agree and had a great time watching the film. The ranting of people about the death of … would have been awesome.

  2. I completely enjoyed this movie and the 3-D on the imax screen was totally worth it. I am not a hardcore trekkie but i do have a gripe with this movie and thats when Spock makes that one call for help. Trying to stay spoiler free here but it kinda feels like a crutch for them to have, no?

    1. I didn’t mind that scream. Part of the reason I enjoyed it was because I knew that hardcore Trekkers were going to go nuts over it.

      1. I was refererring to another part of the movie. The “Khan” yell was awesome

      2. Yeah, I got it now. It was cool to see Nimoy, but Spock Prime breaking that promise of not talking about the future except for extreme cases of dickdom was not the best. Still, that wasn’t so bad. Explaining the logic and science of the opening scene was tougher for me.

  3. I can’t comment on this movie without MAJOR SPOILERS, so if you haven’t seen it and don’t want it ruined, stop reading now. Seriously, J.J. Abrams is the new M. Night Shamalamadingdong with his affinity for modern “twists” on older Star Trek stories.

    O.K., I saw this yesterday and this movie and concluded that it was basically the plot of Star Trek VI spliced with Star Trek II with a “J.J. Abrams coat of paint.” (if that makes any sense). The plot of the movie was a behind-the-scenes conspiracy to get the Federation and Klingons to go to war (Star Trek VI), but instead of the political involvement, J.J. decided to use Kahn as the catalyst, because god forbid we have a diplomatic-based Star Trek in Abram’s universe.

    I miss Ricardo Montalban. (sad face). All of the actors did a fine job, but Zack (or whatever his name is) shows a bit too much emotion for my tastes as Spock. If you look at the old stuff that Lennord Nemoy did back in the day (not recently), you’ll notice how he is damn near deadpan all the time. Even his body language was neutral. Zachary’s Spock is more emotional by both the expressions on his face and his body language. I’ll expect that some people will say that he is a younger Spock and can’t keep his emotions in check that well, or that his home planet and his mom blew up and that has affected him, but I still say that the guy should do a better job at remaining “emotionless” if he really wants to sell his performance as a genuine Vulcan.

    On a whole, I have mixed feelings about this Star Trek “1313” universe. I get the whole premise of the alternate timeline and I don’t really have a problem with that. I think it’s actually a pretty clever way to grow the franchise (just look at the DC Universe). On the other hand, what made Star Trek great was it’s intellectual stimulation. It takes real world issues with a sci-fi spin. They typically solve problems through diplomacy and highlight the adventure of exploration and science. Abram’s Star Trek is more Star Wars than Star Trek. Its fast action “move and shoot now, talk later” attitude is not as intellectually stimulating. Why can’t we have just five minutes before we see somebody running like a mad man or firing a weapon? What was once delegated as the climax for typical Star Trek stories is now a crutch. I do like the excitement of the action and spectacle, but for me, it is missing a key component of Roddenberry’s charm. So, for the time being I will take the Star Trek 1313 universe for what it is: one man’s re-imagining of what Star Trek is to him. It’s good enough to watch and will get mass appeal, which is great, but my heart will still be with the “original” Roddenberry/Berman universe. Actually, in order to get all of the references in J.J.’s iteration, you really have to know quite a bit about the original Star Trek series. There are so many!

    That aside. It was an O.K. movie. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. People with like or hate this movie simply based on their perspective of what Star Trek is supposed to be.

    That and lens flare. Star Trek is not supposed to be about lens flares. It’s distracting!


    1. It’s interesting that we have a lot of the same thoughts on the new Star Trek, but arrive at different conclusions. I completely agree that Abrams’ Star Trek is dumber and not as thoughtful as its predecessors, but it’s supposed to be. The franchise was stagnating and the studio wanted to broaden its appeal. From that standpoint, Abrams did exactly what he was supposed to do. While I do think of the new movies as Star Trek, I don’t really think of them as sci-fi. Like I said, it’s much more space-action-opera.

    2. So what if Abrams has been toying with hardcore Trek fans and is incorporating quantum mechanics into the story without them realizing it? He has time travel already in the old movies and now this one. So with quantum mechanics you actually travel to alternate realities instead of across the timeline. So now in the new reality the events that happened in the old timeline for movies 2 and 6 are occurring in the new reality but at a different spot in the timeline.


      1. My problem is Abrams duality in dealing with regurgitated subjects, topics and characters that he either doesn’t know or care about.

        I don’t care that the new Star Trek is dumbed down for a new audience. I don’t care that they take radically new takes on people and places. I don’t care about the quantum mechanics or the alternate Star Trek “1313” Universe or whatever they want to call it. What I do care is about relevance because it’s necessary for good stories and good stories are necessary for good movies.

        Abram’s problem is the duality of the task he is presented with: “How can we make Star Trek fresh and modern to appeal to non-Trekkers while still getting hardcore Trekkers to come see the movie?” To be fair, it’s a difficult issue with an even more difficult answer. The ideal would be a movie that incorporates a fresh, new take on the original series with modern sensibilities, while still retaining the intellectual stimulation and “morality tales” that made Star Trek so great in the first place. Again, not an easy task.

        Abrams did well with the the whole “modern adaptation thing” (as evidenced by our company’s 19-year-old receptionist recognizing the insignia on my phone cover and saying that she recognized it from the new Star Trek movie. Prior to the movie, she had never even heard of Star Trek.), but he failed on the old “intellectually stimulating” part, which I can actually forgive, if it wasn’t for him slapping Trekkers in the face with a wet trout.

        See, I begrudge him for insulting us by putting people, places, and references to the older Trek in the most random or absurd ways that do not fit the movie or just plain don’t belong. He doesn’t understand or care about these past references and simply uses them as a small child would use a box of brightly-colored Legos to construct an architectural monstrosity. He puts characters like Khan and Carol Marcus in so arbitrarily that it is nothing short of an insult to the Trekkers that actually know who those characters are and should be like. He took great care in preserving the spirit of pretty much every major cast member in Star Trek, but outside the bridge of the Enterprise, he simply throws a dart at the Star Trek encyclopedia, reads the name/place/situation and just shoe-horns it in to whatever the hell he is doing.

        To clarify, Star Trek II worked not only because it was a good story, but Trekkers already knew the back story about Khan from a previous TOS episode. The people watching the movie were briefly filled in so they wouldn’t be lost, but it was done in a way that didn’t belittle their intelligence. There was continuity and context for him to be naturally escalated from a relatively obscure antagonist to a full-blown evil villain. For “Into Darkness,” there is no reason for Khan to be there. There is no context. There is no escalation. He’s just there for the sake of being there. They could have replaced that character with anyone or any alien. The same goes for the Carol Marcus character. It’s as if Abrams just randomly picked popular names out of previous Star Trek lore and shoved them into his movie as a cheap way to getting old Trekkers to like his movie. He figures that if he drops enough old references, we’ll like it better… and we would, IF it’s done intelligently. Abrams failed to do that.

        I would rather Abrams ….

        shit, I gotta go to the basketball game now… to be continued.


      2. See I think your nitpicks play perfectly into the quantum mechanics angle. The universe of his movies has the same characters but they occur at different times since the timeline doesn’t happen in tandem with the original universe. Maybe he should hire us to pen the 3rd movie?

        I thought about it some…and the old movies really didn’t have the exploration angle so bemoaned by us (long time fans). The Final Frontier was about as close as it got. I won’t include part 4 since the stupid sausage probe that would kill Earth had no rhyme or reason and old time fans are dismissing the time travel in the current movies.

        Go Spurs.

      3. Holy shit. If you see some of those photos her “friend” took of her modeling some bathing suits/tight clothes… I didn’t even recognize her in some of those shots. I felt embarrassed when I was gawking at them as I said something borderline inappropriate and then she turns to me and says “that’s me!”


        I doubt she’ll share those pics with me, but I guess I can ask her if those pics of her are posted in some private domain… of course I’ll have to ask her in a way that’s not completely conspicuous.


  4. JJ Abrams could have really irked Trekkies by changing what the Genesis device did. That would have been awesome if he made it so that it repopulated worlds with clones of Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford.

  5. Nerd factoid I forgot to mention: Star Trek Into Darkness features Bruce Greenwood and Peter Weller, two actors that have voiced Batman.

    1. The same Peter Weller who portrayed Robocop?

      I see your nerd factoid, and I raise you, sir.

  6. Taken by itself or in tandem with the first Abrams movie I’d say they are pretty damn good.

    As a long time fan I found it both lazy and interesting at the parallels between II and VI.

    They certainly provided somewhat of a continuity with keeping Khan alive so he can fight Kirk in part 2 later on. I didn’t mind Spock telling Spock about Khan since Spock knew what the outcome would be. This also goes to help explain how Spock always makes the right play…he’s done it so many times with help from his older self! JK.

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