PG-13 for violence and death. Admittedly, one of the deaths is just undone. But there's a lot of violence going on here. With the word "Darkness" in the title, the movie just seems a little more bleak and a little darker. The scary scenes are just a little more scary. But like the previous Star Trek film, it's Hollywood blockbuster action. It's more intense than a lot of the other Star Trek movies, but that's still pretty tame. My kids sat through a chunk of this. Well, until I told them to go away because I remember that Alice Eve got into her underwear for no reason. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams
It is June 20, 2019. Today, it was announced that J.J. Abrams would be writing a Spider-Man comic. So I can say, from Spider-Man comic book writer, J.J. Abrams. It's for me. Everything I write is for me, even when I don't feel like writing. (That's when I should write the most, right? That sounds really smart and profound, but I don't know if it is true.) I also started watching Green Lantern today, so please understand that I'm not being masochistic. I watched Into Darkness for two reasons. 1) I've been trying to knock out all the Star Trek movies so I can add the movies to the Collections page and 2) because I actually don't hate this movie.
Yeah, I admit to it. I also admit that I should hate this movie. I get why everybody hates it. I'm going to comment on that a lot. But for some reason, the entire logical part of my brain shuts off and just enjoys the film. That very rarely happens. It's not necessarily a Star Trek thing. I don't like Nemesis. I have lots of franchises that I adore and hate individual entries in the series. I think Licence to Kill and Die Another Day are pure and utter trash. Into Darkness almost feels like it was computer generated based on what people liked about sci-fi action. The movie rides high on having charismatic characters doing exciting things, even if those exciting things don't make a lick of sense. I've now seen Into Darkness three times. Some people would claim that I've seen Into Darkness three times too many. You would be witty and handsome if you said that, but I have to disagree with you. The point of mentioning how many times I've seen this movie is to state that I hit a wall every time I get to the same point. You probably guessed at which moment. It's the moment that Benedict Cumberbatch reveals that he is not John Harrison, but in fact, Khan. I want to talk about the reveal and how there is a trend towards lying to audiences, but I need to finish my initial thought first. There is a criminal amount of exposition that is involved in this twist. Cumberbatch has to say a lot and I don't think I can fault him for it coming across kind of stilted. I'm going to ask my limited reading audiences to crowd-source this for me, because I can't make heads or tails of this. The big reveal is that Admiral Marcus (an American and I'll get back to that) woke up the crew of the Botany Bay (never mentioned) for Khan's expert tactical prowess. To keep Khan on a leash, he threatened to kill his crew, forcing Khan to listen to orders while simultaneously planning to betray his masters and free his crew. Okay so far. Got it. But why did Marcus load torpedoes with his crew? Or did Khan do that? Why threaten to shoot these long-range torpedoes at Khan? What...what is the logic there? Why not just...you know...kill them? Making these torpedoes Macguffins is elaborate to say the least. Did Khan put them there? Is he planning on freeing them from...torpedoes? Did Marcus want a whole bunch of genetically enhanced people on Kronos to fuel his war? If so, how does that fuel his war. The reigning theory is that the people inside the torpedoes were used to smuggle them away. But again, they are torpedoes that are remarkably hard to disarm and that blow up real big. Why put them in torpedoes? That seems...remarkably silly. I just can't wrap my head around this plotline. It seems so important to the story and I can't understand the logic. It's not like Khan had the torpedoes. One of three things could have played out. 1) The thing that happened. Kirk ignores his orders and captures Khan instead of using the torpedoes. The odds on this were way too slim. Khan didn't know Kirk was going to be the patsy. 2) The Enterprise uses the torpedoes. 3) The Vengeance would have used the torpedoes. Khan is actually incredibly lucky that Kirk listened to Spock and that Spock is so obsessed with rules. It's infuriating.
Okay, I'm going to gripe. Again, I like this movie because it's fun, but there are such glaring mistakes in this movie. The thing I was talking about earlier really bothered me, though. When Abrams came out and said that they were going to do something with a major character from Star Trek, they cast Benecio del Toro. Yeah, everyone guessed that he would be Khan. del Toro said, "No." So they cast Benedict Cumberbatch. Everyone asked people who worked on this movie if Cumberbatch was playing Khan. Everyone straight up lied and promised that he wasn't Khan. I get it. You built up the movie to have a surprise and you wanted people to enjoy that surprise. But what you should have said...was nothing. See, playing coy means that people keep on guessing. At best, they can say that they guessed right and that's the worst thing. But people don't like being lied to. This has been a trend. We like our twists. But at what point does a twist kind of become insulting? This kind of breaks it down into something else. Should something as big as Khan, the most infamous Star Trek villain...be a twist? I mean, it's not like anyone really cared when he said it. Those few people who went into the movie not knowing that John Harrison was Khan probably, at best, went "Oh. Okay." No one lost their minds from it. What did happen is that a lot of people got alienated from a twist that didn't really matter. Starting off the movie with the knowledge that Khan was Benedict Cumberbatch (I got that in the right order. Shut up.) probably could have allowed for a lot of that information to come out organically. Also, the second the first Star Trek movie happened, everyone knew that Khan was going to show up sometime.
Man, for a guy who kind of enjoys this film, I have a lot of gripes. Because this movie kind of feels like the bad B-side of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Star Trek Into Darkness might be the most fan service-y movie of all time. What I adored about Star Trek, the first of the reboot films, was that it wasn't made by a die hard Star Trek fan. It was made by a guy who kind of appreciated it, but never really got into it. That means that nothing was really all that sacred for him. Telling the story of Vulcan exploding was what he wanted to do. As a result, his characters came out of that adventure a bit different than they had in the original universe. But there are SO many moments that hearken back to a much better movie. The sheer amount of references to other Star Trek stuff in this movie becomes almost a burden on the movie. It is so overshadowed by the long history of Star Trek that it almost can't enjoy being a movie in itself. There are choices that just add too many nods to the nerds. The first that bothers me is the addition of Carol Marcus to the crew. I like the idea that Kirk meets Carol Marcus. We never got to experience that relationship in the old show, so a young Kirk falling in love with a young Carol Marcus, spawning David (it sounds gross when I say it) is something that might be fun to explore. But she's not there for that reason. She's there because Khan is there. Carol Marcus was introduced in Star Trek II, so she's going to appear in THIS Star Trek II. It makes Carol a completely different character. Maybe this is nitpicky. Actually, I know that this is nitpicky, but I'm also voicing what a lot of people are thinking. Why is Carol Marcus British? The original Carol Marcus wasn't British. Her father isn't British. Maybe her mother is British. I don't think it matters in the long run. What does matter is that she gets practically naked for no reason. SHE STRAIGHT UP POSES! Ick. Then there's the whole forced "The needs of the many" element. The whole Kirk / Spock death reversal thing. Spock yells "Khan" in a completely different context than in Wrath of Khan. Also, how big is engineering? Why make the warp core alignment an action sequence? It's all goofy. Let the movie be its own thing. They kind of fix that with Beyond, allowing it to be its own movie. Well, except for the destruction of the Enterprise.
I want to believe that Spock and Kirk are friends. I can kind of squint and believe it. But there's a lot of mistakes happening here. But what can I say that does work. The movie is oddly super fun. I know. I'm going against everything I believe. The Enterprise crashing sequence is wildly entertaining. Scotty being aboard the Vengeance is great. Seeing 23rd Century Earth, despite the heavy 9/11 look to the whole thing, is great. J.J. Abrams, for all of his faults, knows how to make a pretty fun movie. I really don't get it. I get mad at myself and I have an easier time explaining why the movie is terrible than saying it's good. I know a lot of it is silly, but the entire opening sequence on the planet is just gorgeous. I love that the crew of the Enterprise gets into trouble. I like that Kirk doesn't like to break the Prime Directive, but will do so when he has a moral imperative to do so. I almost beseech viewers to completely abandon any sense of logic or taste and watch this movie for fun. It's...kind of bad. But I really like it. All three times I saw this, I thought it was fun. I haven't had a bad time with it yet, which might be on me. Sure, there are actually good movies out there that you should be watching. But just don't hate-watch this movie. It's fun and that's not worth your hate.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.