Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

So I finished with my final exams today at 3:30 pm. I went to work, and then saw Star Trek Into Darkness at 7.

I'm sure I enjoyed Star Trek Into Darkness. But I’m not sure I liked it.

I also thought I should let you know that Word does not like the grammar of the title. I think it might like if better if there was some punctuation.

I’m not going to give away everything that happens in the movie. But I am going to give away a few things. So if you haven’t seen it yet, for the love of God, man, stop reading.


The movie opens with Kirk channeling Indiana Jones, running from a pack of indigenous aliens on a ridiculously pre-warp civilization. The aliens are the typical native stereotype, whooping as they chase down Kirk, who has stolen something “they were worshiping.” We find out he had a noble reason to distract them—they were going to stagnate the volcano that was threatening to destroy the planet—but the approach struck me as distinctly un-Treklike (if that makes sense). Thus, my nerd-rage/nerdgasm coaster began with a height of nerd rage. Also, they parked the Enterprise underwater. That does not seem like something you should do with a spaceship.

Following this, though, were some solidly enjoyable portions of the film. I loved Benedict Cumberbatch’s ruthlessness, and I always enjoy a Kirk-is-in-trouble-oh-wait-he’s-the-only-one-who-can-save-the-day conundrum. I was thrilled to see some Klingons, and caught myself fist-pumping when one used a Bat’leth instead of a gun against Kirk.

I had pretty much recovered from the nerdrage from the opening, and was enjoying an amusing scene with Carol Marcus and Bones on a planet surface (Karl Urban is such a great Bones that sometimes I forget he’s not DeForest Kelley). And then they opened a torpedo and found a cryogenically frozen stowaway. And, being a good Trekker, I knew what this confirmed. And I was pissed. Warning: obscene language:


Of course, if you know anything about Khan, you know that he was a cryogenically frozen superhuman discovered by the Enterprise crew.

Also, if you know anything about Khan, you know that his full name is Khan Noonien Singh.

Does anything strike you about that name? Why yes, you’re correct. The character is of North Indian descent, often described as a Sikh.

In case you haven’t noticed, Benedict Cumberbatch is not.

Let me jump in here and say that I love Benedict Cumberbatch (though I can’t say I love him as much as the next girl, because he has some devoted fans). I do like pretty much everything he does, and I think he did a great job as Khan—especially once he came out as Khan and was able to act like the character. I just don’t think he should have been cast.

Or, if they really wanted Benedict Cumberbatch at the villain, why not have him be Gary Mitchelll or a similarly super-powered character with a great backstory? I know that means they couldn’t have Wrath of Khaned it up in the late quarter of the movie, but they could have done something unique with it. Of course, Khan has been frozen since the 1990s and Gary hasn’t come into his god-like powers in the timeline yet… but they could have changed that. They managed to resurrect without Project Genesis. They could have avoiding white-washing a character explicitly known to be of another race. I thought that they may be avoiding it, tweaking the character a bit so that Cumberbatch could be Khan, but they do address him by his full name. So no tweaking in that regard (though they did tweak the character by having Star Fleet wake him up “early”).

(Edit: I suppose part of why I'm so annoyed about this is that Star Trek is not supposed to be about whitewashing. They had Uhura, they had the first interrracial kiss. It should be better than this. I guess that's Hollywood.)

Sigh. While I’m being bitter and resentful, I might as well express my disdain at the fact that they had Chekhov, they had Klingons, but he never once said “Klingon wessels.”

Another thing: though Carol Marcus's scream during in the trailer kind of annoyed me--horror movie scream much?--when I saw it in the film it completely made sense. I was like "Yup. That would pretty much be my reaction in that situation." Though I might have a little more rage, but I'm just an angry person. 

I did enjoy the last portion of the movie, though. I liked how it mirrored the death scene in Wrath of Khan. I always love seeing Spock show his human side. (And I always love knowing that most bad things are fixed in the Star Trek universe).

For a minute here, before I wrap things up, I am going to diverge and overthink things a little (Gab, this is for you). What are the moral ramifications of keeping Khan frozen, knowing that his blood (and, presumably, the blood of everyone in his crew) can cure disease and bring people back from the dead? We know that the Federation doesn't use the death penalty, preferring incarceration and rehabilitation, and would probably avoid submitting Khan to it. Still, though, could they afford to lock him away with that healing power, especially since the information is bound to get out?

My biggest beef with Star Trek Into Darkness, though, is the feeling I get while watching it. I enjoy it, but it doesn't feel like Trek. It feels like someone took the Wrath of Khan and drained it of everything Star Trek related, and turned it into an action movie. It was entertaining, and Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, and Anton Yelchin are able to make it seem more Treklike, but it ultimately just seems like a generic action movie. An action movie with some of my favorite characters, but an action movie nonetheless.

I remember adoring the first Abrams Star Trek. I don’t remember it being inherently un-Treklike. Maybe it was just the first scene that put that thought into my head, leaving it unable to get out. I’ll probably have to go back and re-watch the first movie. But not tonight.

Tonight, I’m going to immerse myself in the some seriously Trek viewing.

Tonight, I’m watching The Trouble with Tribbles.

(And also The Voyage Home and The Savage Curtain).

My score? 6/10 Tribbles. Fun, entertaining, but not great and not very Trek-like. 


  1. After seeing this movie, all I can say is that Star Wars is in good hands. Nice review Amanda.

    1. Thank you, Dan! I really appreciate your comment.

  2. Speaking of the blood healing capabilities, there's also the fact that they had 72 other Kahn-likes in their little freezers... So... There wasn't really much need to let him live.

    I was thinking at the end that the whole "keep them frozen" thing was a cheap dodge for the Federation. They aren't *technically* putting them to death, but they sure as heck aren't rehabilitating them. That really turned my stomach.

    Also, this:

    1. I love that gif set with John Cho at the end of that article.

      Something about the other frozen superhumans--why not unfreeze them and see where they stand? Maybe they weren't that into conquering, like Khan does. Maybe they'd like to settle down and have a life--or see their families--again enough to renounce him. It seems like the Federation is imprisoning them for the crimes of Khan.