Thoughts on Into Darkness

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So.  StarTrekIntoDarknessI saw Star Trek Into Darkness.  It was exactly what I thought it would be.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I know there are a lot of people bitching about the movie – most of them are doing so on the Internet (big surprise).  I also knew that critics would compare the movie, unfairly, to another movie, and that’s wrong.  The two are not the same.  I want to talk about this, but I am going to warn the three of you who aren’t already aware, that there are going to be some spoilers in this post, and give you the chance to walk away now and come back after you’ve seen it.  Okay?  Sound Good?  With that in mind, let’s have a countdown, shall we?

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SpaceSeed_KhanHe’s Khan.  Okay.  But this is not a remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  As predicted, this is a re-interpretation of the events from the classic Original Series episode, Space Seed.  It makes sense for the writers playing in the Trek universe to re-imagine classic stories/episodes and characters.  In Space Seed, the crew of the Enterprise come across an ancient ship filled with a crew frozen in suspended animation.  When they wake them, they learn that Khan and his crew are refugees from the Eugenics War, a time on Earth when genetically engineered humans took over part of the planet.  They left the planet soon after and drifted through space until found by the Enterprise.

Khan and his crew try to take over the Enterprise but Kirk and crew stop them and strand them on a harsh planet called Ceti Alpha V that should prove a challenge to Khan and his people.

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Chekov returns to the Ceti Alpha V system, believing that planet was destroyed and learns that it wasn’t and that Khan and his crew still live.  Consumed with the idea of gaining vengeance on Kirk for stranding them on the planet and never returning to check on their progress, Khan sets out on a vendetta that claims the lives of Starfleet personnel and nearly gets the Enterprise destroyed.  When the Enterprise is unable to escape due to a warp core issue, Spock sacrifices himself to save the ship, an act that, to this day, brings Trek fans to tears.

Star Trek Into Darkness plays with these characters and the original episode and movie themes and does it well enough.  But Into Darkness is NOT Wrath of Khan, and the people who are claiming it’s some sort of remake are flat wrong.  Do I think Abrams and crew used that movie or alluded to it with Darkness?  Absolutely.  But the two movies are not the same.

StartrekIntoDarkness_harrisonNew Spock said something about an alternate timeline being created in the first movie, and he’s right.  This movie illustrates that point.  It isn’t the Enterprise crew who discovers Khan this time around (they haven’t even begun their 5 year mission yet), it’s Admiral Marcus.  And he doesn’t revive any more of the crew – he just uses Khan as an ends to a means.  He sees a war coming with the Klingons and doesn’t believe The Federation is prepared for it.  Khan is his only recourse.

The warp core/reactor scene was stolen from Khan – no way around that.  And we can certainly debate the decision to include such a scene and whether or not it was lazy writing on the part of Abrams and crew.

But the point remains – this isn’t Wrath of Khan.  And honestly, it isn’t even Space Seed.  It’s something different.  Some people love it, some hate it.  I thought it was a good movie, full of fun moments despite some weird logic issues.  Such as: the only reason to head to the Klingon homeworld was to introduce us to this timelines version of the Klingons (which was cut from the first movie).  There really is no other reason for Harrison/Khan to go there.  I mean, it didn’t help him get his revenge.  Didn’t move his plan forward (if he had a plan beyond killing Marcus).  So, little things like that distract, but not so far that I couldn’t enjoy the flick.

I have had one thought, though.  Will this new Star Trek inspire the way the old Star Trek did?  From Astronauts to Engineers, people who grew up with Star Trek have gone on to be the driving force behind our own efforts to explore space.  Will a new generation of scientists and explorers feel that same inspiration and drive those people felt watching JJ Trek lens flare its way across the silver screen?  I’m not sure.  The Federation of these movies doesn’t yet feel as idealistic as the one from the past.  The science certainly isn’t there.  Nor is the sense of wonder through exploration.  So what is left to inspire the next generation?

An excellent question isn’t it?

~P

7 comments for “Thoughts on Into Darkness

  1. May 28, 2013 at 10:56 am

    You made some good points. I hadn’t actually heard people saying it was a remake. It never occurred to me because it was an alternate timeline. I enjoyed the movie, but I think it was more enjoyable as a generic action thriller type movie than traditional Star Trek. Like you said, it lacks the idealism of the original series, which might have something to do with its inspirational quality, but I think its a more realistic take on how people would behave.

    That said, I really enjoyed it, and (though it may have been a bit over the top) I loved all the fan references like yelling “Khannnn!” and the tribbles. :)

  2. May 28, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I think you make a good point. Star Trek TOS was very idealistic. It presented a brighter, shinier future where people are better in many ways because they have learned from the past. I haven’t seen Into Darkness yet (I’m still planning on it because it has spaceships and all sorts of awesomeness, regardless of whatever plot holes or problems it has), but judging from the first JJ Abrams Star Trek, it presents a grittier future where Bad Things Have Happened. That by itself is enough to say that the movies won’t be the inspiration the original series was. When people are the same people and the world isn’t any better, just bigger with more lens flares, it won’t have the same impact where fans say, “I want to live in that world so I’m going to figure out how to invent it so I can.”

  3. May 28, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I’ve heard a few grumblings that this was a remake of Wrath of Khan, and I’m with you that I completely disagree with that. it IS something different. I’ve been calling the warp core scene from Into Darkness the scene where “Kirk pulls a Spock”. Nice little reverse there.

    I’m of the old school, where these new movies feel like fun silly scifi action flicks to me, and not like Star Trek movies. the idealism and hope isn’t there. Chris Pine’s Kirk enjoys beating people up. The Kirk I grew up with didn’t do that (or at least not as often). I’m with Scotty, that we’re scientists, we don’t hurt people. It boils down to that J.J. Abrams’s directing style just doesn’t do it for me. I find most of his movies fun, silly, and unfulfilling.

    also “into darkness”? a more apt subtitle would have been “what could possibly go wrong!”

  4. May 29, 2013 at 3:36 am

    Not only isn’t ‘Into Darkness’ NOT The Wrath of Khan, it isn’t even Star Trek. Neither of these two Abrams light shows are Star Trek.

    Star Trek (TOS) had somewhat plausible to eminently do-able science as background and for better or worse it offered a morality of the future, a coherent vision of the history to come, philosophical conundrums to ponder and a clear message that intellect can and should overcome force. In other words, the human species WILL mature, it WILL get better, less violent, less capricious and WILL be the better for it.

    This Jtar Jrek stuff? Violence is fine (and fun); pay no attention to science cause no one cares about that stuff cause it’s too hard anyways; philosophical questions make our heads hurt worse than science – who cares? Nothing in our world right now makes any sense so why assume the future is going to be any different? And carries the clear message that the only way Abrams is going to be able to make a success of the kind of mindless BS he is fond of producing is to destroy any last vestige of a connection between real original ST and this …. stuff.

  5. May 29, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I understand it’s a different timeline or a reinterpretation. It’s still a dreadful movie with horrific science and massive plot holes. Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain makes it slightly better than the first reimagined Trek, but two horrible Abrams movies makes me fear what he’ll do to Star Wars.

  6. Scott Laz
    May 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    It’s the need to fit the current “action movie” template, combined with the “post-9/11″ sensibility, that hurts it. The ending rededicates the original mission (“exploring strange new worlds”), so hopefully any future installments can leave the deadly threat to earth/terrorism storylines behind.

  7. May 30, 2013 at 7:00 am

    I don’t see introducing the universe’s version of Klingons as questionable logic. Especially if the series is going to continue, they set up earth, the Federation and Klingons as being on the verge of war. It seemed like a readymade Star Trek 3 plot, though I’d rather it be about the Enterprise messing around on their five-year mission.

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