Blatant but obvious about this review.
WARNING: major spoilers for the movie after the jump.
A friend and I sit down and chat about Star Trek Into Darkness. Spoiler free stuff: the main and supporting cast were highly enjoyable. The story for 2/3 was topical and lifts things from the real world into the rebooted Star Trek fiction environment well. The action is non-stop, and as the movie goes on it can desensitize you to the point of thinking “…really? Again?”. A lot of the movie feels closer to the original canon of Wrath of Khan. It doesn’t take as many chances as the 2009 reboot, which we felt was a shame.
Trix: Wooohoo Aight Laser, let’s Trek into this review!
Laser: PIE YES! The spoiler ridden, bad pun extravaganza!
Trix: Before we dive in, what is your trek background?
Laser: Well, I’ve watched TOS since I was a wee little lad. One of my favorite memories growing up was watching an episode and talking about it with a friend over the phone.
Trix: I was the same. I watched TOS and Batman live action and those were my two favorite shows as a kid, but I never got into the cult aspect of it
Laser: I didn’t either, but for whatever reason I always associated with Spock growing up. At one point I developed a neck pinch I used to deadly effect during recess
Trix: To the traps?
Laser: Yes. Someone actually cried and I was told to stop.
I guess that qualifies as going cult, eh?
Laser: I always liked Khan the best, and I’d have to put Nemesis second (with a young Tom Hardy!!!!). I thought it did a solid job of adding action while still asking an interesting philosophical question.
So you didn’t like any of TNG goes?
Trix: Movie-wise, not really, I saw the one with Kirk and I watched the first three seasons of TNG religiously but I got away from the sci-fi thing during that time period. I was more into booze and weed at the time. Though TNG was fun to watch stoned.
Laser: Yeah, I was too young for that with TNG. That was family time for us.
So you’ve definitely got the stronger old school background. How excited were you for this second movie in the reboot?
Trix: Like you, I was excited enough to watch the midnight showing a day earlier than most people would have thought. I was hoping for a bunch of cosplayers and the like, but nope just two dudes in the gold Kirk shirt and a half empty theater.
Laser: Yeah, it was half empty here in Hawaii. I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t been there for a retro-flick and seen the banner.
Trix: Yeah, I only caught it because I was on Fandango the day before for my second Iron Man 3 showing. Still, I was very excited and stayed away from any of the press and rumors about the “mystery” villain which is something I rarely do.
Laser: I indirectly did the same and avoided spoilers, but it was mostly because I wasn’t too excited for this one. Boy, was I wrong. As many warts as it has, it sure was entertaining!
How was your first blush impression of it?
Trix: My feelings on Star Trek Into Darkness mirrors that of the Doritos Cool Ranch Taco that I have in my hand right now. I intentionally sought it out, I’m enjoying the hell out of it, but I reserve the right to complain about it’s existence and I might have mixed feelings about it the day after.
Laser: Sounds like my relationship with Soju bombs.
Trix: So do you want to dive into the good stuff first or should we break out the haterade?
Laser: I think it was entertaining enough that we should end on a high note, but my childhood memories weren’t violated.
Trix: No, if anything, I think that the film tried a little too hard to give longtime fans bits and pieces of the old stuff to keep them satiated. I think that hurt the movie as a whole though.
Trix: I liked that every individual crew member had at least once chance to shine. However, after the Kahn reveal and the retelling of Wrath of Kahn starts the movie goes off the rails a bit from there
Laser: I was okay with post-reveal. I thought Cumberbatch played VERY nicely with everyone, and they seemed to step up when he was on the screen. Where they started to lose me was separating Kahn from everyone. The guy can only act when he’s around other people.
Trix: Cumberbatch was great, if anything his performance makes the Wikileaks movie a must see. I loved his monologue, which was one of the few moments when the movie had a chance to breathe.
Laser: It was like Abrams was channeling Bay-splosions. Everything needed to be topped. (And usually it worked)
Trix: I could have done without the extremely Star Wars-esque piloting of Mudd’s ship and the Iron Man-esque jump to Robocop’s ship. They were well done scenes, but I would have rather had that time utilized to showcase the strong cast.
Laser: Pay that forward. All of that came from J.J. Abram’s screenplay for ‘Armageddon‘ first. It nearly copies parts of that movie at times. Right down to Uhura being the girlfriend who’s left pining at home for her boyfriend until the very end.
Trix: Yeah, I can see that. Uhura’s portrayal really let me down. I was hoping they would flesh out her relationship with Spock a bit more. Because there is nothing on screen that leads me to believe that they are in a relationship.
Laser: It’s weird. They had a spark in that first movie. Any guesses why things went that way this time around?
Trix: I guess it’s easier to think that just because they make it so, it is. If anything she was the Bill Pullman, in the Spock-Kirk-Uhura love triangle.
Trix: I mean she’s the wet blanket significant other in the way of the two main characters realizing their true love.
Yes I want to go there, If you’ll allow me to state my case.
Laser: Go for it. It’s odd to think of those two characters in that way for me, but it’s overdue in Star Trek for a LGBT character. Persuade me.
Trix: Okay, now if this movie were treated as a true reboot, the only things we have to go upon with these characters are the two Abrams movies. So we establish that Spock and Kirk have known each other for a few years tops, and that Uhura and Spock have been dating longer than Spock and Kirk have known each other. Are ya with me so far?
Laser: Yup, those are valid points drawn from the available material.
Trix: Okay, so we’ve seen how Spock has reacted to not only the death of his mother but over 90% of the population of his home planet in the first movie.
Laser: Right, and his father being open about experiencing new things. If you want to really go ‘LOST’ information hunter on this.
Trix: Now I’m not saying that this was done intentionally, but because of the lack of attention of Into Darkness for developing any depth to the women characters and the forced retelling of Kahn in the second half of the movie, they have laid the foundation for an epic Sci-Fi LGBT inter special romance.
Plausible. I only see one problem, and it’s not story related.
Trix: Just hear me out.
Laser: Definitely. This is the second time this year I’ve had to consciously think about something in more than a superficial way.
Trix: Okay, now all the interaction they had in the movie can be taken in a hetero “Bro, I love ya dude” kinda way. Where it goes into “Homoeroticism, Yay!” territory is the Into Darkness Kirk-Spock scene at the radiation glass. Spock is so in tune with Kirk emotionally that he’s finishing Kirk’s sentences at this point (I am your friend). Mind you during this scene chicks are openly bawling during this scene like they would during Twilight. Now Spock has gone through the death of his mother, and his home planet, but he doesn’t totally lose his shit until Kirk dies. Because of the cutesy “Kahn” scream reversal given at that particular moment rivals only one other scream in response to lost love. 1
Just one last point
If you factor in that Kirk did not grow up with his military father, and he’s pretty much a lost soul sleeping with anything but yet to find emotional satisfaction, and that there isn’t a female character worthy of these two, it could flow naturally storyline wise that Spock and Kirk could take that next step
Laser: I could buy that. When the writing team wasn’t dodging questions about being misogynistic with the female cast during the press stops they discussed how far they could break from the old continuity. The Khan stuff could be their way of reaching back and giving the old fans some candy canes.
Still. One major problem.
Trix: I’m not giving them credit for being clever, it’s their own shortcomings that led me to this conclusion…okay go ahead
Laser: The creative team won’t be back for the next movie. Who could write that AND get Paramount to sign off on it? Iron Man 3 did well with a director change and the same cast, but Shane Black had been in on the previous movies.
Trix: I’m not saying that Paramount would ever greenlight Spirk but that’s lasting impression the movie had on me.
Laser: Fair enough. Except now I kind of want to see Paramount do that story. For problem solving though… who could handle writing that and is available?
Trix: I think if you google Star Trek slash fiction and see how many Abrams universe stories this has launched I think there’s at least a pool of writers to draw from
Oh and before we get off the misogynist track, what did you think of the Alice Eve scene?
Laser: You mean the one everyone is going to remember? Where she got out of her uniform for NO GOOD REASON?!?! Or the one where she saved McCoy’s life.
Trix: The former.
Laser: Waste of time. There wasn’t even a story driven reason for her to do it since the shuttle jumpsuit goes over anything. It’s about the time they started to give up on any pretenses.
Trix: I agree with the waste of time part, but only because Alice Eve nude clips are easily found. Well the Spirk issue covers most of my gripes with the movie, what were your trouble spots?
Laser: My biggest issue was easily Old Spock spilling the beans.Up until that point it wasn’t Wrath of Khan. It was a better Khan intro than he had in the ‘Space Seed‘ episode. In the movie, he really hadn’t made anyone beyond Kirk suffer. And really, he still hadn’t at the end of the story.
I’d have much rather Old Spock tell Young Spock to trust his feelings.
Trix: That’s a much better take on that scene, Laser. I was torn because like anyone I LOVED seeing Nimoy on screen, but Old Spock helping out Young Spock was such a cheat.
Though what would you do if you could give past Laser advice?
That’s why I’m torn
Laser: I’d let young me make his own choice. If we were meant to have all the answers life wouldn’t be full of hard decisions. This is the Doctor Who fan in me, but if I needed to make a different decision a big blue police box would pop up in front of me.
Trix: HA, awesome! Intervene just in case past you botch it!
Laser: Right, but that only happens if I might destroy the planet or something.
Trix: I think Future Me would know that any answer I give would piss Young Me off, then I would slowly fade into nothing like Marty McFly
Laser: Or Bruce Willis in ‘Looper’ after young him takes one to the chest.
Trix: See now ‘Looper’ is what I want my sci-fi to be
Laser: Agreed. Strong characters all around. Even if there was only one female, she was written as a very strong and independent character.
Trix: The only disappointing thing was naked Piper Perabo…
Laser: She’s like the bizarro Jessica Biel who waited too long to revolt from ‘Seventh Heaven‘.
Trix: She looks so great clothed though!
Laser: Yeah, if I channel flip to ‘Covert Affairs‘ I stay there until the commercial break.
To bring us back on track a bit though, the only other issue I had was how easily they ditched the story thread that drove the pre-Khan reveal movie.
Trix: Word! I was looking forward to more destruction on future Earth, he was like the Mandarin if Mandarin was, y’know…real.
Yes, we spoil all movies in theaters.
The scary thing is this. How much more riveting would that story have been if Khan keeps it together to work with Kirk and take down Admiral Marcus. And then they just let him go at the end of the movie.2
I might not have been able to walk out of that theater.
Trix: Or if Spock has to make that choice if Kirk had actually died.
Well, died waiting until the next movie to bring him back
Laser: Right, because Mister Eyebrow-Tribbles needs to stay with the franchise.
Trix: I think you have something here Laser…
Laser: He really needs to let his stylist wax those monster eyebrows.
Trix: Kahn and the Enterprise crew take down Marcus…Kirk dies in the process. Kahn forces Spock to say he will let him go
Laser: Wait, I had something? Was it Khan being a devious mo-fo and getting one over on a green cast?
Trix: Kahn takes off shoving it in Spock’s face, then we get the “Kahn” scream
Laser: Or he lets Khan go without knowing Kirk had died yet. Possible because of the distance and damage done to the ship.
Then that scream means EVEN MOAR!
Trix: It’s definitely less HOYAY!
Laser: Agreed. You ready to flip the script and go Light Side?
Trix: Word! Because I actually did have a fun time, despite my gripes
Laser: Yeah, it was easy to unplug the brain and enjoy the product.
Trix: Go for it
Laser: I loved Bruce Greenwood in this. More than the first movie. They gave him some material to work with. I definitely got the Coach Eric Taylor vibe from Friday Night Lights, where you WISH your mentor would yell at you instead of be calm when they’re disappointed.
Trix: Nobody does disappointed better than Coach Taylor, Kirk definitely deserved a “Damn you, Jimmy…just damn” I was surprised and pleased they brought him back if only just to murder him.
I think Pike the early years warrants a TV spinoff.
Laser: How would they place it? Pre-2009 movie and he’s teaching cadets? That’d give him the mentor role.
Trix: Captain Pike with his own ship to kind of show the values of Starfleet in this altered timeline.
Laser: Sadly it’d probably get crushed by expectations and low numbers. Like Firefly did.
Trix: I dunno, SYFY has some programming holes to fill…*ducks*
Laser: HA! I’m not one of those bitter types.
BBC America could pick it up. They’re replaying TNG on a loop most nights.
Trix: I’m not sure what would make fanboys crai moar, Spirk or SYFY getting their hands on a new Star Trek project
Laser: Probably SYFY. Their showrunners make some odd choices. I’m looking at ‘Eureka’.
Trix: I haven’t watched SYFY since they cancelled ECW, though I wish I had seen the movie with Tiffany and Debbie Gibson
Laser: Wow. That sounds like it should be riffed by MST3K.
Trix: I had to look it up ‘Mega Python vs. Gatoroid’.
Laser: If they haven’t rifftrax’d it yet, they should.
Trix: I love rifftrax, Star Wars 1-3 left me dying
Laser: So what was a positive for you from the film?
Trix: The humor first and foremost. What’s endearing about these characters is their interplay which is why I loved ‘Undiscovered Country’. I think Into Darkness topped it as far as being funnier. Just like life, funny goes a long way.
Laser: Do you think it was just an update to modern storytelling pace? Or did the writers nail the character dynamics.
Trix: I think more of the first. I think with sci-fi and comic book franchises, humor is increasingly a priority. I think Star trek humor on one level can be done in a superficial way and still be effective. There was just more of it in this movie. Nothing topped Sulu explaining his advanced combat skill was fencing in the first one though.
the exception to humour being DC properties for some reason
‘Man of Steel’ doesn’t look to have any intentional humor at all
Laser: It’s because of how they write their characters. They aren’t comfortable with themselves. Superman has a secret identity. Batman has dead parents issues.
Marvel has characters that, for the most part, accept and try to work through their problems. And humor is a tool to do that.
Trix: There was the mask bit in ‘Green Lantern’, but that movie was hilarious for different reasons
Laser: Yeah, that was a D movie with an A movie budget.
Trix: I think Into Darkness would have been an “A” movie for me if it wasn’t a Star Trek move. On it’s face, it excelled at hitting all the summer blockbuster prerequisites. It was funny, had non-stop action, and lots of things blew up in spectacular fashion.
Laser: It’s been said on other reviews. It was the perfect Star Wars movie.
Trix: Word, the alien mascot thingy even kept his mouth shut during his brief screen time
Any other positives you want to bring up? Do it now since you opened that HUGE Star Wars can of worms
Laser: Robocop! He was the perfect balance of Rumsfeld and Cheney. It was a bit creepy watching that performance.
Trix: Yeah, that was perfect casting! I can’t think of a better actor to represent the militaristic branch of Starfleet. The only thing that could have made it better was for Red from that 70’s Show to Viewscreen bomb the Enterprise with a “Bitches, leave”
Sulu’s little scene was pretty dope, I wish he had more to do though
Other than face potential court martial for refusing Spock’s order to get off the ship
Ah Enterprise, the ship where nobody listens
Laser: Yeah, you could say that about most of the movie though. A couple less “action rising” scenes and there could have been more character work.
Trix: Oh and Simon Pegg!! It’s too bad the one guy who can carry a movie gets cast as Scotty
Screw Uhura and Bones, it should be Kirk, Spock, and Scotty not necessarily in that order
Laser: Yeah, that would be an interesting switch in the Star Trek Trinity. I think Karl Urban is underused though.
Trix: True, he got his catchphrase in though!
Laser: DAMNIT MAN!
If he’s ever in a movie I do drinking game rules for… that’s what the group has to say when he pops on screen.
Trix: That and they have to say “Velvet Aardvark” Chekov style when he pops on the screen
Laser: Wow. This might deserve its own Drinking Game Rules.
Trix: I think I’ve got pages on Spock Kirk Hoyay rules
The lens flare rule alone would put peeps in a coma
You would have to have a lap your drink once like a kitten requirement to survive the lens flare rule
Abrams had to be trolling, right?
Laser: Yes to all of that. Especially Abrams trolling.
I wondered if my eye surgery had failed and my stigmatism had come back halfway through the movie.
Trix: Yeah, I could have sworn on multiple occasions there wasn’t even a strong enough light source in some of those scenes
Laser: I think we should rap this up though. Closing thoughts?
Trix: Yeah, if 2009’s Star Trek is the only Star Trek IP you have seen then you’ll have a great time. All the other Star Trek fan’s out there, you’ve already seen it and there is no changing your mind anyway. Go play Star Trek Online so you can do Trek your way and besides…ROMULANS!!!
We love you FYRE!!!!
Laser: Agreed, but I’d say it’s definitely worth a watch even if you aren’t a Star Trek fan. It’s enjoyable to watch and well worth a full price ticket. STO is a pretty awesome game experience with more options than lens flare.