Finally got around to seeing this today; my youngest and I went to the matinee. It was good….but…..
….this is where I alert you to all of the spoilers I’m about to write about. Not burying them under a cut; just warning you now.
Spoilers, spoilers, lots of spoilers for Into Darkness. Read no further if you don’t want ‘em. Also, TL;DR will apply to this post. Fair warning.
(As background, I have been, and always will be, a fan of the original series, and the first six Trek movies. I know far too much about the show, have always enjoyed it, the characters, the stories, the vision of the future Rodenberry conceived and developed. I’ve always thought of it as really good writing and story-telling. My youngest, meanwhile, could not be converted. Star Trek meant nothing to him….until the 2009 reboot, which he loved. I mention that because, as a young, non-Trek fan, we can share our differing opinions of the film, and I can enjoy a slightly different perspective.)
Now, in no particular order, these are the issues that immediately popped into my head after (and during) the movie:
No disrespect to Cumberbatch, but his casting as Kahn was, in a word, ridiculous to me. Not because he’s not a good actor, but because - if you’re trying to stay true to “canon” - Kahn was not British, English, or even caucasian. The back story of Kahn from the original series is well-developed: he’s a genetically engineered human from the Asian continent. He was played by Ricardo Montalban in the original series, and ST2, and, even though Montalban was not Asian, it was clear that Kahn’s ethnic origins were non-white, and were a big part of his biography - and, presumably, his motivations for world domination (and what a story arc that could have made in a two-hour movie!) What bothers me about Cumberbatch’s casting - aside from the total disregard of Kahn’s actual back-story (which is important if you’re trying to stay true to canon) - is that JJ Abrams took great pains to cast people in all of the other roles who closely approximated the characters from the original series. Why not Kahn? (I mean, even down to Captain Pike - there is a clear resemblance between Jeffrey Hunter, from the original series, and Bruce Greenwood in the reboot.)
No matter who played Kahn, we don’t really care about him in this movie, do we? I mean, bad guy on killing spree for no compelling reason other than revenge. The original Kahn had designs on once again ruling the galaxy (he had ruled a quarter of the world during the Eugenics war). This new Kahn? He wants to kill Admiral Marcus, and, perhaps, save his crew. *Yawn*.
I said this after the first movie, and I’m repeating it here: the Enterprise can’t land, much less hide in the ocean. It was (supposed to be) built in space, and isn’t supposed to fare well in the atmosphere. JJ Abrams doesn’t appear to see it that way. And, by the way, if you’re trying to hide a spaceship from people who just invented the wheel, why wouldn’t you hide it - oh, I don’t know - in space?
I like all of the “fan service” references: Carol Marcus, Nurse Chapel, red shirts, tribbles. But a “phone call” to the original Spock for some background? Don’t get me wrong: I love Leonard Nimoy. But this is how you want to use him? (As an aside, I’m sure he would have been surprised to find a British Kahn.)
Another death scene? And reversing the Kirk/Spock roles? It felt awfully forced to me. There’s better ways to do something like that than simply “borrow” it from ST2. And, if you’re going to kill someone, shouldn’t they be dead for a little longer than 3 minutes of screen time? Kind of lessens the impact, doesn’t it? (And, by the way, has Bones found the cure for death? Guess there’s nothing to worry about anymore, is there?) Kinda cheap, if you ask me.
And Spock bellowing “Kahn?” Really? I thought Shatner had the trademark on that reaction.
Also, Sulu had so much to do in 2009. Now, he gets to sit in the Captain’s chair for about 2 minutes, and that’s it. And, aside from speaking a little Klingon, where’s Uhura? And Bones is actually more than a wise-cracking second banana - or should be.
Oh, and the USS Vengeance - a ship three times the size of the enterprise, yet designed to fly with a crew of one, if necessary? Too convenient.
Now, for my youngest, none of these issues were a problem, although I did have to re-explain Kahn’s backstory, quickly and quietly, because it wasn’t made clear enough for him to pick up on, and he wasn’t really clear on his motivations either. He really liked it, really liked Kirk, and really liked the movie. But he doesn’t have the baggage of more than 40 years of Trekiness in him that I do.
All that being said, I didn’t hate the movie, but I didn’t love it either. There’s some good scenes, some great action, and some of the character relations are developing nicely - but others are just stagnating.
I really, really, really wanted to like the movie a lot, but this one - more than the reboot - felt forced, with too many things, borrowed, stolen, or otherwise crow-barred into the story to make it a Trek movie, rather than taking the Trek world, and creating a fresh story.
Instead of hinting at an impending war with the Klingons, why not do the origin story of that war? Or re-introduce Romulans? Or develop the story of New Vulcan, which is only briefly referenced in the movie? There’s a whole galaxy out there - mine that for some stories.
Sadly, I could keep on writing, but I’ve revealed enough of my inner geek for one day.