Star Trek: Into Darkness

I have to admit I wasn’t going to see this at the cinema. I usually don’t go to the cinema as it’s very expensive to do so, and I don’t feel that it is value for money. However, rather impulsively, last night I decided to go out. Man of Steel was released yesterday but I don’t like seeing movies when they are brand new, they are always busy and I much prefer an emptier room.┬áIt was a Friday night so it wasn’t as deserted as it usually is when I go. I have been known for the entire place to be empty, or only one other person there.

Anyway, back to the actual movie. My friend Waya had seen it and told me that he thought it was ok. I can’t remember specifics of what he said as I asked him ages ago, and quite frankly I’ve forgotten. I didn’t read reviews of it before I went, so I was just primed with lots of trailers, which proved to be somewhat of a problem. Spoilers abound, so don’t read if you haven’t watched and don’t want to know things.

Iron Man 3 Syndrome
I was quite unsettled watching Iron Man 3 because the trailers and the movie were very different from one another. The trailers had all of the footage out of order, but it was stitched together in what looked like a logical story order. It had voice overs from one part, over footage from another part, not that I knew that when I saw the trailers. So when I saw the film, it wasn’t what I was expecting.

In the Star Trek trailer there’s the memorable moment of it spinning out of control. You have Scotty on the voiceover saying “The ship is dead. She’s gone sir.” or something similar, and then the ship rises out of the water. So I rather imagined that they’d got shot down, that the ship was badly hurt, that everyone thought it was ‘gone’. Then when the bad guy least expected it, it rose up out of the water and exacted it’s vengeance.

As people who’ve seen the film know, it didn’t happen like that at all. Instead the rising out of the water is right at the beginning of the film, and wholly unrelated to what happens later. I do have a question about the water thing at the beginning. They couldn’t be seen right? So how did they get it under the water in the first place? I mean it was very visible coming up, so how did it get down there and how were they planning on leaving anyway? I voiced that question after the film and was told “you can’t be logical about it”, apparently movies are supposed to require a suspension of disbelief. I disagree with that idea and believe that they should make sense, if they don’t have sense then how are you to get into the story?

I digress, but the point being the way the trailer was laid out was very different from how everything wound up in the movie. With Iron Man 3 I suggested that this was a bad thing, as what I saw did not mesh with the idea I’d had of it. I thought perhaps this was why I hadn’t actually liked the film as much as I’d wanted to like it. It wasn’t what I was expecting and therefore I was disappointed. However, I now believe that not to be the case. I wasn’t expecting events in Star Trek to play out like they did, but I think they perhaps played out even better. I liked the film a lot, it’s surprising me was not a bad thing here.

So did you see it?
I was convinced going into the film that Carol Marcus, the blond lady, was going to be a bad guy. I don’t know why I was so convinced, but every scene she had, I was certain she was going to turn round and betray Kirk and everyone. I kept waiting for that moment of “you thought I was on your side but I’m not” and it never came. Thinking about it afterwards, I don’t know, maybe it’s because she across very Bond girl to me, and they are usually trouble. So this was a plot twist I never saw coming.

I realized as soon as McCoy took the blood sample that it was going to be used to save somebody. We’d seen it’s regenerative capabilities with the girl in the hospital at the beginning. There was the thread that McCoy said that Kirk’s vitals were off, this was after the attack on HQ, he’d missed his medical, so McCoy was looking at him in the shuttle. I thought then perhaps there’d been some sort of toxin shot into the room. However, Kirk’s status here is a dropped plotline, and rendered redundant with his exposure to lethal radiation later. Anyway, I just knew that this blood would come up later. So when Kirk ‘died’ I didn’t feel the dread that I should have. There was an awareness there of the loophole the writers had left, and also that he was the main character, so he wasn’t going to die. I think that scene was supposed to have a real dramatic impact, but it didn’t as I knew it wasn’t real.

I was convinced when Kirk asked Chekov to be his new Chief and told him to “go put on a red shirt” that he was going to die. I was all but certain of it, as red shirts have a legendary death sentence in Star Trek. I didn’t want him to die, I liked him as a character, but I thought the red shirt condemned him. So the fact that he lived was a twist I didn’t see coming. Much like I was waiting for Carol Marcus to be evil and it never happened. The writers didn’t do what I expected and that was a good thing. I expected that Kirk would be saved and that ruined the dramatic impact of his ‘death scene’, so expecting things and having them not happen makes an impact, just as much as not expecting something and it happening.

While I’m thinking logically, the beginning really didn’t make sense exactly. Kirk said he had to save his first officers life, the retort was that he should never have been in danger, that he was supposed to observe only. Now, I’m confused here. They were supposed to observe this embryonic civilization, but they can’t observe them if their planet is destroyed by a volcano. So it’s like a catch 22. What is better? That we interfere and they live, we can then observe them. That we don’t interfere and they all die, which is what would happen if we weren’t there, but then you can’t observe what doesn’t exist. Coupled with my confusion about how the starship even got under water in the first place, and really that whole opening scene makes no sense.

The bad guy
I haven’t really seen any of the original Star Trek. I think I might have seen one or two of the movies, but I’m not a Trekkie. I watch the reboots as they are good movies, and because Kirk and Spock have entered popular culture. I don’t need to be a mega fan of the original series to know who they are, and to be interested in their blockbuster adventures. So I didn’t know anything about ‘Khan’ the bad guy. I didn’t know what his capabilities were, where he came from, anything about him.

From the trailer I thought maybe he was from the future like Nero. He seemed to have capabilities that Starfleet couldn’t match, he also seemed to be sort of ‘super human’ in his jumping about. Now Nero could jump super far, so it didn’t seem a complete logic leap. He had science and weapons beyond what the good guys knew about, ergo the future. His almost robotic intelligence and dis-attachment, sort of cinched it in my mind. So him being from 300 years in the past, from our time, was completely out of the left field. I know this is Star Trek universe but I’d always imagined it being ‘our’ future, rather than a completely different universe like Star Wars. Also did anyone get a flash to the Death Star when Scotty was circling that ship in space? I have to say I didn’t realise it was a ship at the time. It looked like a square mesh, like a cube with interlaced flat panels, I’m not explaining that very well. It looked like a wreck, like it had been destroyed anyway, or maybe like the second Death Star, like it was still in construction.

Anyway, I thought he made a very good villain. Though partway through when Admiral Marcus was revealed to be a bad guy I thought they had done an Iron Man 3. I thought perhaps Khan was like The Mandarin, and a front, and really not a bad guy at all. Part of me wishes they had explored the angle of Admiral Marcus a little more, he died relatively soon after he revealed his intentions, so we didn’t really get to investigate very much.

I looked up Khan when I got home, and found out what had happened in the original series. The fact that the same sort of plotline, of the warp core, and radiation was used was interesting, especially as they reversed roles with it being Kirk rather than Spock. Some of the lines there make more sense “I did what you would have done”, a nod to the true fans who would understand the reference. I like that, it’s a mark of a good film having things like that in it, makes the film mean something more. That they left him alive leaves the door open for him to return again. Mind you they did the same with Nero, he sort of got sucked into another black hole. They were firing on his ship at the time so it was bound to be badly broken, but it didn’t look destroyed. So he could be out there somewhere, at a moment in time. Maybe in Star Trek 3 Nero will return, he’ll free Khan from his prison and they’ll join together in revenge on Kirk and Spock.

Conclusion
A solid film, very enjoyable. It was a little predictable in places, and sometimes the timing was a little neat. The main cast managed to survive a little too well, when really things should have been worse but then the stars never are in actual danger. That awareness really does spoil the feeling of jeopardy that you are supposed to feel.

JJ Abrams did a great job as always. There’s a rumour that he won’t be on board for Star Trek 3 as he’s got tapped for Star Wars 7. I don’t see why he can’t do both but maybe in his absence Joss Whedon could be persuaded. Just so long as they get somebody good, somebody dependable. Sometimes I wonder if that was the problem with Iron Man 3, the guy at the helm just couldn’t live up to it. Joss Whedon did such an amazing job with The Avengers, that anything else just didn’t feel real. Anyway if Into Darkness is the last Star Trek film JJ Abrams will do then he certainly left on a high note.

Recommended.