Hey Let's Star Trek Into Darkness! [SPOILERS]
In order to understand Hey Let's Star Trek! into Dahhhkness, our dear readers may need just a little bit of back story. Hey Star Trek! was a Star Trek and Media blog that started a long time ago in the city of Las Vegas and it was the blog over at Trekcast.com.
It's founder and CEO had Hey Star Trek! offices from which opinions about Star Trek and other things were launched at the internet. It was really just a rock in the ocean of internet opinion and sure, people liked it on Facebook, and yeah people got into following it's founder @super_spock on Twitter.
One day, without explanation, the blog came to a stop. It's been revealed only recently, that everyone and everything in the Hey Star Trek! offices was seized and stuck into a cryo-freeze of forty hour plus work weeks. But everyone (and everything) in those cryo-tubes has laid asleep waiting for an innocent, unknowing party or Star Trek film to wake it from its long, dark sleep.
They should have let it sleep.
Let the spoilers begin!
Living in Colorado, it was easy for us to not run to Internet every time a new exclusive picture from Star Trek: Into Darkness was posted. We only ever received the very, very broad strokes of any news. We didn't get on message boards and pick fights. We were content to trust in the magnificent casting and the writers we respected to do us a right and good Star Trek movie.
Even with our unintentional media black out, we still got just enough conflicting blurbs from the media to be lightly confused on the day we left to see it. We saw the usual coffee Barista that day and we flirted in the usual way. She asked us to let her know how the movie was.
So we left with our friends knowing and not knowing something about the movie.
"To Khan or not to Khan" has been writer Damon Lindelof's often comment to the media. He did this joke years ago and he's kept the joke going in recent media. We've read recently in interviews that the Bad Robot folks insist that the choice to keep Khan a secret was not a need to be coy.
They were creating their own special brand of intrigue on one level (oh you're gonna crap your pants when you know... actually it's not that big a deal). On the other, we suppose they're arguing, they were dedicated to weaving a story that kept the audience on the same page of the movie's characters. Nobody, they reasoned, should know more than Captain Kirk just because they watched the show.
We're sorry to report that their intentions played in the media to ill-effect.
So we live in an era where it seems that an entire movie production is geared around the opening weekend, wait, the opening night, wait, it's totally geared around the first screening over seas. Any and all of these Bad Robot secrets are set to explode as soon as one person without having signed a non-disclosure agreement sees the film and turns on their smart phone. That's it. The movie isn't made for fans of the show nor new audiences.
It's made for a singular audience, the first audience. History and box-sets be dammed.
We just dutifully avoided Facebook for a week and got our 3-D glasses to check out the movie.
We're the first to dismiss mechanics of canon or technology when it comes to storytelling in the Star Trek universe. If something doesn't gel in our head with what's been established, we are quick to dismiss such thoughts in favor of spectacle.
We weren't ready for Into Dahhknesss to challenge our ability to do this right away. Usually when mechanics and canon are shattered, a Star Trek movie has been plowing along for maybe 15 minutes or even an hour.
We love Indiana Jones. We love Star Trek. We are very happy to see both together with a fantastic other worldly scenario. We were even giddy when the Star Wars-esque planet name showed up over the jungle with the squirt-inducing label: Class-M Planet.
But our smile became plastic when we realized we had no idea why the crew were attacking this scenario the way they were. "Spock has to stop the Volcano" is a great idea, but the elements surrounding the premise are just a little too off... even for us.
Maybe we missed the contrived explanation for why this action unfolded the way it did or maybe, just maybe, the set up is on the cutting room floor.
We kept away from spoiler-specific reviews before seeing the movie. We only read safe stuff --stuff that basically praised the characters above all else. Most of the stuff we skimmed adored the actors and their scene work, so we knew that we had that to look forward to.
It's true the characters had lots of great stuff. A lot of it was exactly what we were hoping for. All of the little bits seemed to click okay for us. We laughed at quite a few of the comments and at a lot of Kirk's reactions to Spock... most of it feeling really, really good.
We thought it was cool that Kirk still loves the Beastie Boys.
But, just like the little logic leap back on Niboroku (Nibooku, Neebowakoo?), some stuff just demanded our brain step out and question what was in front of us. We couldn't wait to see when the movie's plot would drop.
What we got instead of a plot drop was a strange Kirk story.
The Kirk theme for Into Dahhkness is established front and center to be: stop being so brash. Funny because a Kirk that learns that lesson ain't one we want to watch. And because the writers get the fact that Kirk and Spock are sort of a duo... they had another stroke of genius:
If Spock could learn to be brash from Kirk then Kirk could learn something from Spock!
Really? Like what? Humility? I think this idea just made the Internet yawn all at once.
Watch Into Dahhkness and look for what Kirk learns from Spock. It ain't there. Despite the thematic promise that resonates throughout its first act, Kirk can't learn anything from Spock. Even if he ends up sacrificing himself for the good of the ship and says to Spock: I did what you would have done.
He didn't learn that from Spock. Not in this movie, not ever.
Pardon us very much, but Kirk would have saved the ship no matter who his best friend/first officer was! There's a reason he's Captain of the Enterprise (even if this movie made you want to think he... gasp... didn't deserve it... gasp... didn't think he was ready... gasp... gosh guys, the screenwriters bible says a character needs a starting point and an ending point).
The real "character arc" of Kirk in Star Trek Into Dahhkness is:
This movie has a huge problem with telling us what they're doing and not delivering on it. Another victim is Uhura. Uhura has the chance to stop war between the Klingons and the Federation... she has all of our hopes on her shoulders and when she gets there, it sort of makes no difference if she speaks to the Klingons or not.
If you don't remember, the Klingons attack anyway. It would have been pretty cool and pretty Star Trek for the Klingons to entertain the notion Uhura brought. Want the Klingons to start fighting? Have Khan shoot and interrupt the proceedings... he is the bad guy after all, right? This small change gives us all what we want without leaving Uhura holding the bag.
Another thing, Chekov can't locate a coolant leak for a very long time, let alone discover the Enterprise was sabotaged. Maybe it can be argued that Engineering isn't Chekov's greatest skill, but the Chekov we met in 2009 would have beat the problem's backside pretty darned quickly. Want to foreshadow Marcus's evil intentions? Have Chekov uncover it and bring it to Kirk's attention, he's part of the best crew in Starfleet after all, right? This small change gives us all what we want: respected characterization.
It was a fight for us, at times, to get back into the movie because of these little things that did nothing but make the characters seem useless. Brothers and sisters, when we could finally get back into the movie, something else would happen that would jerk us right out.
One of these hassles, we hate to say, could even be considered small and of no consequence. But it's actually the prism through which to view all of our problems with Star Trek Into Dahhkness. There's a bit where Kirk orders McCoy to stop using metaphors. We're sorry to say that when this happened, there was no way we could get back to watching Into Daahhknesss...es.
The scene was the worst thing we've seen in an Star Trek movie, ever. McCoy is being McCoy when he tells Jim not to "rob a bank when the getaway car has a flat tire". We'll admit that McCoy is laying it on a little thick when he talks about "Sulu in a high stakes poker game." But...
But the whole thing is just setting up a baseball for Kirk to hit out of the sarcastic ball park!
By making McCoy so painfully two dimensional, we realized the guys writing this movie actually don't like Star Trek as much as they say (and wow they say they do). They are far more interested in making Star Trek something else.
They want it to be ironic.
They aren't interested in exploring this alternate time line, they only want to twist it, pervert it, and in a gross way, own it. They have to leave fat fingerprints on characters we've loved for so long.
That's why we sat through a scene from Wrath of Khan again without any of the support the original had. By "support" we mean characters with the right information, learning it in the right order, and arriving to a heart-breaking conclusion.
Color us cynical, but by the time young Spock finds young Kirk in the radiation room, he's known Khan is evil for all of ten minutes (and he only knows because old Spock told him). Kirk saved the ship from Admiral Marcus' damage and not Khan's. But it doesn't seem to matter to anyone if Spock's blame is in the right place or not... because, because, because... Spock yells:
And we Trekkies have to try and not feel embarrassed for loving when Kirk did it twenty years ago --because back then, it meant something.
The point of the "new" scene is to demonstrate how clever these screenwriters are. This is their mark on Star Trek. Their intention is to take these big scenes from the other timeline and turn them around a little to make them their own. As this seems to be the only goal (and not dramatic reward), it just plays as flat out parody (even with the sad music).
In theory, we don't mind the idea of inevitable scenarios that bridge timelines, but (for god's sake, man) make it earned.
Some call this nitpicking, we call it not letting Star Trek get crapped on.
The other trouble is that these guys went to write a movie with Khan in it, but Khan was approached as an inconvenience. These guys were hemming and hawing. They were answering the really big questions like: what will be our "spin" on Khan? How do we keep Khan a secret, even from the audience while they watch? instead of answering questions like: how can this be more bad ass than Wrath of Khan? How will the iconic relationship between Kirk and Khan happen this time?
Because the writers of this movie didn't want the audience anticipating Khan, they left the sleeper ship out of it. They decided to give Khan's alternate timeline story a different spot --they woke him years earlier than the OG series so that there would be no sleeper ship to "spoil" the story.
We can appreciate that, but there's a small problem with their idea that Khan was woken up by someone else and has been hanging around Starfleet for a year. The problem is: Khan was woken up by someone else and has been hanging around Starfleet for a year.
We've only ever seen what Khan has done in like a twenty-four hour span or maybe days. But a year? We're pretty sure that business wouldn't have gone down the way the Bad Robot team wants us to believe. He wouldn't have played nice with Admiral Marcus, in our humble opinion, because, well because he's a power mad, ego maniacal, superior-in-intellect-and-strength super soldier.
Now, gentle reader, this can be inconvenient for a writer, or a fierce opportunity.
If they really wanted their political intrigue/possible Klingon war story, they actually could have delivered something better just by using Khan the way he is: an unstoppable tyrant!
Yes, we submit to you readers that Khan would have been running the black-ops of Starfleet if given the "weak sauce" Bad Robot scenario and doing something awesome (and evil) with it. We also hope you can extrapolate that there is nothing in our pitch that makes an audience member want to sympathize with Khan.
Having Khan be sympathetic did not make this movie "deep," it let the air out of the Khan sack. We're going to look up a word for "flattened ball sac". We also think it complicated further an already complicated scenario.
Khan doesn't want sympathy. Yes, it can be argued that his move was just manipulation, but the end result was more than a little boring.
There's enough complaining on the Internet about this movie's incoherent plot, but we're a strange animal. We at Hey Star Trek! often obsess over how the writers thought their plot was good to begin with. Ever hung out with somebody who constantly tells you how great you are and you just want to run away screaming?
Well if you didn't ever feel like running away screaming, you just might have what it takes to write Into Dahhknessssess.
Here's the really spooky thing. We at the Hey Star Trek! offices don't even want to mention it.
To understand why we hesitate, it's important that you acknowledge our own personal canon blog entries on Star Trek. We've cried from the widest fields and across Internet oceans, defending Star Trek 2009 as a bold new turn in this series.
We've shot down remarks from fans who hated that movie. We've deflected every criticism we could get our hands on and now, years later, we can't help but ponder...
...were the boo-hooers right?!
Were Trekkies right when they saw Star Trek 2009 as an afront to everything cool about Star Trek? Were we blinded by our own love of something new and Trek that we let 2009 get away with every single crime we're holding it's sequel accountable for?
These questions shake your blogger(s) to the core.
There is another theory.
Some subscribe to the notion that odd numbered Star Trek movies are terrible and even numbers are are awesome... it's been said that the alternate timeline is the exception to the curse. If Star Trek 2009 (eleventh in the series) reversed the curse, then can it be that now, in the teens, it's the evens that suck? Could it be?
Could it be that there was no way this movie could be any good because of it's number? That no matter what the writers did with the idea they had, everything would collapse under the dreaded number curse?
If the number curse is happening still, then well...
The next one is going to rock!
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