When the Jar Jar Binks version of Star Wars came out, I was in the middle of a lot of traveling, and so I missed it in its initial run. By the time I got home, the collective opinion was that the movie was garbage, but somehow I was determined that I was going to be the one who realized that in fact the movie was actually great. It wasn’t! But I went to a second-run movie theater with the same level of anticipation that I had before hearing what other people thought of it, only to leave the movie theater feeling forced to acknowledge that they were right. (A very similar thing happened with the Matrix sequels!) So you can imagine the hard set of my teeth when, before seeing the new Star Trek movie I mentioned at lunch that I was going to go see it that afternoon, at which point my cousin wavered his hand back and forth to say that he thought the movie was so-so. Why would you do that? What is the point of doing that? Ugh, guys, aren’t families THE WORST? The only time I can imagine waving my hand to say that a movie was so-so to someone who hadn’t seen the movie yet would be if they announced that they were about to see it and if it didn’t live up to their expectations they were going to fill their pockets with rocks and walk into the ocean. Then I would be like “so-so.” Then I would be like “let us temper these expectations of yours.” I don’t have a good poker face. If someone says they are going to see a movie that I didn’t like, I’m not like “OH COOL!” But I can keep my shit together. In any case, Star Trek: Into Darkness is better than a hand-wavy so-so. It’s good! It’s not quite as fun or as good as the first one, but what is, and it’s certainly good enough that you can LET SOMEONE ENJOY THEIR PRE-MOVIE LUNCH FOR GOODNESS SAKE. OK. I’m done. I’m ready to move on. Let’s all move on:

In Star Trek: Into Darkness, Captain Kirk is OUR generation’s Maverick, while Spock is his Goose. These guys don’t play by the rules! Well, actually, Kirk doesn’t play by the rules. Spock ONLY plays by the rules, LOL. They put an ice computer inside of a volcano so that the weirdly future-racist “people” of Planet Music Video can worship the spaceship God. This gets Kirk and Spock into some pretty hot water (although not as hot as that volcano AM I RIGHT?) and they are separated onto two different ships except not even because ten seconds later they are back together on their old ship, so I guess that wasn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Anyway, there is a sick little girl and a stranger heals her by putting his blood into her blood, but in return he makes her dad blow up a library with an Alka Seltzer decoder ring. Then the stranger shoots everyone at Space Headquarters until Kirk throws a fire extinguisher into his engine (five million years in the future, there are portable teleportation pods, and 300 year old Super Humans, and hover-beds, but we still use hose-based fire extinguishers built into the walls) and chases him to the Klingon planet with a bunch of secret torpedoes and a pretty blonde lady. It turns out that the torpedoes are made out of people (Soylent Torpedoes) and the people are friends with Benedict Cumberbatch. The rest of the movie is, like, is Benedict Cumberbatch our friend now? Or is he still our enemy? Will Simon Pegg get the little door open in time? Everyone keeps talking about how war with the Klingons is inevitable even though the Klingons actually don’t seem to be doing anything so where are the Klingons, though? And is a nuclear-based warp drive engine really so fragile that it can simply get bumped off of its axis but then to get it to work again you can just kick it really hard? It’s fun! Fun movie.

There are a couple of things that fall apart when you think about them too hard, or also at all. The movie commits one of my big action movie pet peeves, which is when a bad guy is established in the beginning to be invincible, able to withstand impossible levels of physical abuse without batting a titanium eyelash, so that you are like how are they even going to be able to beat this guy, but then in the final scene he just gets beaten up and it turns out it’s pretty easy. I hate that! And, like, the evil George W. Bush guy wants to start a war with the Klingons by performing a drone strike so that he can become some kind of totalitarian hero, but as soon as Kirk breaks protocol and takes Benedict Cumberbatch as a prisoner and opens up the drones to discover they’re full of dudes, George W. Bush decides to kill all of them so that he can go ahead with his war, but so why didn’t he just start a war in the first place if he didn’t even need them it turns out? Also, when Simon Pegg opens that little door it just gets very windy somehow, and his eyeballs don’t even boil in his skull right before his head doesn’t even explode from the sudden pressure of the vacuum of space. You know, stuff like that. But whatever! So just don’t think about the movie very much!

The banter between Kirk and Spock is very fun! Love those guys! And Benedict Cumberbatch is very good at acting. I like to watch him act in movies and on television. I also like in these movies when stuff is blowing up and stuff and then there’s a shot in space with all of the debris and the fire and explosions and stuff but it’s super silent because of how it’s space. They did that great in the first one and they did it a little bit in this one too and I like it very much.

Also, uh, when the ship was falling out of the sky? Yeah!

Probably the biggest problem with the latest installment of Star Trek is just that it doesn’t really seem to take us anywhere. At the beginning of the movie, Kirk is excited because he thinks he’s about to get assigned on a five-year exploration mission, and at the end of the movie, that is exactly what happens. OK, good for him. I am seriously very happy for Kirk and his career. But I don’t want to watch a movie about a five-year exploration mission, which, incidentally, doesn’t even seem that different from what he was already doing, which is ruining volcanoes and warping all over the place. I guess Spock has a feeling now, or something. So that’s cool. What I’m saying is that this movie was fun, and I enjoyed watching it, but what keeps it from being great is that it doesn’t really set up anything for the future. The movie started with the crew of the Enterprise being pretty solid and enjoying each other’s company, and it ends that way. For two seconds in the middle it seemed like the Earth was in trouble, but actually I think it is fine. With these types of franchises, the very best middle-installments are the ones where the world is changed in a meaningful and often times unpleasant way. You’re not sure what’s going to happen to these characters, because they’ve changed, or whether they are going to get back together, because they are now apart, or find what they are looking for, because they still haven’t, or whatever obstacles still remain in their paths. Not here. Here, we end basically where we began. Fair enough.

It’s possible, of course, that this has more to do with the Star Trek franchise itself, which maybe doesn’t lend itself to major upheavals or darker inter-relationships between the characters. Which might also be why I never really liked the Star Trek franchise before these movies. HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM SPACE APPLES?

Fun movie, though. Right? Guys?

Comments (67)
  1. I just can’t get over Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan Noonien Singh. I mean, he did a really good job. But he’s the whitest dude ever. I don’t mind the ‘invincible villain’ in this case as Khan’s backstory is that he was created to be the most superest soldier ever. I DO agree that the fight, while neat, was silly after that build up.

    • That bugged me too! And when bitching about it my sister I ALSO described him as “the whitest man of all time.” What I don’t get is like, there were 72 other frozen dudes in those torpedoes who were all evil space superfreaks or whatever, so why couldn’t he just be like “MY NAME IS HAROLD! AND MY FRIENDS INCLUDING KHAN ARE FROZEN IN THOSE MISSILES!” Enough with the white-washing, geez louise.

    • Also on this subject, this piece of IMDB trivia basically says it all:

      • They just needed someone with a very hilarious 6 syllable name for the role. In terms of fun names to say, Ricardo Mantelban and Benedict Cumberbatch are about equal.

    • I initially thought it was weird they went super-white-guy also…but he does some pretty terroristy things in the movie (convincing that dude to suicide bomb whatever whatever) so I was like “ok maybe that’s why they didn’t want to make him brown?”

  2. So I’m biased as you know, but I thought the movie was a lot of fun! I went with my nerd-girls (nerls?) for the sneak preview and the audience got really into it and it made for a good night at the movies.

  3. I kind of skimmed this because it’s probably a little cynical and I really don’t want to read anything like that in relation to Star Trek. I know if I think about it a bunch I will find flaws, but I don’t want to think about it! I just wanted to spend 2 hours with characters I like doing silly things and stuff blowing up. That is what I got and it was great. I will probably see it again at the discount theater with a Strongbow.

    • but also: Kirk should’ve stayed dead til the next movie (except I’m not sure they’re even making another movie).

      • I hope they make another one, and I hope that the Borg are featured. I know that they are a Next Gen thing but the Borg are great! How can you not love the borg?

        • The bar next to the movie theater had Star Trek themed drinks and the Long Island Iced Tea was called the Q. That made me giggle. He would be a Long Island Iced Tea.

        • They’ll make another one, but if it doesn’t perform well in it’s second weekend, look for that budget to drop. I think this is the last of the JJ directed ones too.

        • I was definitely thinking that the Borg need to enter this series. Since this is an alternate timeline, I don’t see any reason they can’t have the Borg show up at some point soon.

      • The thing I didn’t get was, why did they need Khan back? I’m going to go ahead and assume all 72 of our little torpedo friends were superhumans, right? We couldn’t have just extracted some frozen blood from one of them?

  4. I loved the Wrath of Khan humor. Watch it before you see this movie and you’ll get what I mean.

  5. I think, as long as you hold your breath, you’ll be fine when you’re exposed to the vacuum for like two seconds. Or 2001 lied to me.

  6. Loved every minute of it. The SPOILER: reversal of the reactor room scene was a great touch. And also, I think it was smart that they didn’t have some young swarthy guy doing his Montalban impression. That would have made everything unintentionally campy. I thought Cumberbatch made it his own in a way that acknowledges but doesn’t even try to touch the brilliance of Montalban. I could have used more flowery monologues though.

  7. i could have done without the whole reverse-wrath of khan warp core sequence (and without the all the abrams lensflares, ugh), and the part where khan space/11-ed starfleet headquarters was DEFINITELY weird considering the dedication to our “post-9/11 troops” or whatever in the credits, but all in all i liked it a lot! i definitely loved that the carried over the first movie’s important plot point of having kirk love the beastie boys for no discernable reason.

  8. I like how JJ Abrams’s contributions to the Star Tek franchise are more scenes with bras and panties. Solid.

  9. I got so motion sick from the 3D that I had to leave 18 minutes into the movie. I hate 3D so much. Also watching it in 3D was like watching it on a stupid ViewMasterTM. I did get to see the Beastie Boys shout out, but I didn’t make it to the Tribbles.

    If I finish stuff today I’m going to see it in 2D like a grownup who has a purse pocket filled with salt in anticipation of seeing this movie again and eating popcorn at said movie.

    Also, I’m pretty sure I’m just going to keep the salt in there all the time because hey, salt.

  10. I have so many thoughts about this movie! On the whole I liked it and all the actors were very good and the space explosions were very exciting and it’s nice to see that Mickey from Doctor Who is still getting work. But also:

    1. It kind of bugged me that they started the movie by completely undercutting two of the major character arcs from the first one. Half of what the first one was about was Kirk proving he was worthy to be captain of the Enterprise, and Kirk and Spock learning to like each other and be friends. But then it’s like “Whoops, Kirk, you are totes NOT ready to be captain of the Enterprise and Spock only kind of likes you.”

    2. GIVE ME A BREAK with Kirk’s “death.” No way were they going to kill him off, duh-doy, so it seemed like a kind of a cheap and over the top way to prove that Kirk and Spock are Bros 4 Lyfe. Also, ya burnt Uhura! Spock can turn off his feelings when you are involved, but not when it’s about Kirk.

    • All three of us said, “Mickey!!!” as soon as he came on screen. Very fun.

    • Totally agreed on #1. I went in wanting to see Kirk go all Kirk on the Universe and instead he gets demoted, almost cries (nice acting btw), and spends the rest of the movie as kind of a supporting player in the Will Spock Deal With Emotions And Become More Human story, which (related to #2) if you’re going to put Spock in a romance with Uhura but then locate all his emotional moments in scenes with Kirk, that’s borderline slash-fic! I didn’t actually fully note that till you pointed it out, though, catweazle! And here’s why: because mainly I spent this movie waiting for it to be fun instead of being about 9/11.

      So much 9/11! Ugh. I wanted glorious escapism and instead I got ships flying into buildings and Kirk duped into militarism, and so on. Even Peter Weller — it was fun to see him, but later when it turns out he’s super-evil warmonger guy, his casting becomes meta and preachy, like, “What have we become, post 9/11? We have lost our humanity; we have become part machine, like Robocop.” The politics felt so overt to me.

      I mean even the fillmmakers decided they didn’t want veterans of Iraq to feel personally criticized by the politics built into this movie, so they dedicated it to them. That’s weird. Super weird.

      Oh yeah and: What the heck was Original Spock there for? New Spock asks him How did you win last time, and then they cut away so we don’t hear the answer. Later, New Spock punches Khan a bunch — so THAT was Old Spock’s advice? “Punch him a bunch. Then maybe beam the communications officer down with a phaser”?

      • i did like that both robocop AND judge dredd were in the same movie, though.

        • And Kyle Reese! And Sherlock Holmes!

          When discussing the rather good MARGIN CALL, my flatmate and I refuse to refer to Quinto as anything other than “Spock”. So you get conversations about Spock and Jeff Buckley talking to Simon Gruber. It would be less confusing to just call them by their real names, but having IMDB available on my iPhone has meant I no longer have to bother remembering anything ever.

      • I think old spock’s advice was “use what he wants against him” because they did that in both movies. The ol’ switcheroo with the beaming things over. Right?

        • What did Spock beam — oh, the torpedoes. Okay. He probably could have figured that out just using logic, though, instead of the Call a Friend lifeline.

          It’s weird that Earth had no defenses that could swoop in and take out the crippled Dreadnought. Like, Starfleet doesn’t even post a single Larson Class Destroyer to defend the UFP’s capital planet? Give me a break.

          PS I am not a nerd.

  11. Going to have to advocate for the hand-wavy so-so. Not going to complain about the “”"”"”"”plot”"”"”"” or things generally not making much sense. Overlooking annoying political references, questionable female roles, prior star trek comparison stuff, or other things that come from generally thinking about the movie. The truth is I was just bored by the end. Never really felt any suspense or much emotional connection to this between ‘splosions.

  12. “Kirk, you’re a loose cannon. We’re taking back your ship.” *BANG* “Oh well, admiral’s dead. Here’s your ship again.” PS I LIKED THIS MOVIE, TOO.

    • I liked it too, but I agree that it doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny. As soon as Pike said he was going to be the captain of the enterprise I was like “welp, he’s gonna die” but I didn’t expect it to happen BEFORE HE EVEN SET FOOT ON THE SHIP, so that was, I suppose, so cliche that it sort of subverted the cliche.

      My only other major problem is the fact that Starfleet’s response to a terrorist attack is to have all of their most essential personnel meet in an easily accessible, above ground room whose location is apparently public knowledge.

      But still- fun movie! All the actors are great in their roles, and it was exciting, and shit blew up real nice… in space!

      • I agree with that assessment. The plot hole that I couldn’t really forgive was needing Khan’s blood to revive Kirk when there were 72 OTHER SLEEPING SUPERBLOODS available on the ship. But my moviegoing companion remarked that the blood in question was “on ice” and probably needed to be microwaved or something.

        • Yeah I thought about that too, why not just use some blood from one of the other superdudes. I suppose that’s easily explained away as they didn’t want to awake ANOTHER one of those guys who would likely wreak even more havoc, but a single line explaining why they didn’t do that would have been nice.

  13. I enjoyed it up until the end. I thought everything was resolved too easily. “Oh, no! Everything’s ruined! Just kidding! We can suddenly beat Khan up and bring Kirk back to life and then also re-freeze Khan for some reason instead of putting him in prison or executing him or whatever. Let’s tra-la-la through the daisies because there’s a happy ending for literally everyone.” Direct quote.

  14. I know, I know. This is such a Trek nerd comment.

    “The movie commits one of my big action movie pet peeves, which is when a bad guy is established in the beginning to be invincible, able to withstand impossible levels of physical abuse without batting a titanium eyelash, so that you are like how are they even going to be able to beat this guy, but then in the final scene he just gets beaten up and it turns out it’s pretty easy.”

    Vulcans are significantly stronger than humans, this ostensibly explains why Spock was able to hurt Khan and Kirk was not.

    • No shame in it, I was about to say the same thing. Also, Uhura stunned him like 4-5 times, then Spock finally had to rip off a piece of space car just to finish the job. Not exactly a cake walk.

  15. Hi guys! I loved this movie, because I went to see it to have fun, and that’s exactly what I had. I adore Benedict Cumberbatch (she said, echoing the sentiments of every female Videogum commenter before her), I think the Enterprise crew is really well cast, and I like explosions and laser noises and “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a ____!” so this movie was pretty much everything I was looking for! I don’t care that it falls apart when you think about it. This isn’t a PT Anderson movie or something, it’s STAR TREK. If your critique is that it’s all entertainment and no substance, then I don’t think you really understand what this franchise is.

    (And hey, I’ve seen 5 of 6 classic movies and a handful of eps from each series and a LOT of Next Gen so I’m not just making this up, OK?)

    • Your point that it is STAR TREK is exactly why I was disappointed. Star Trek is first and foremost a sci-fi soap opera. I’m not debating that. But the problem is that the underpinning of the Star Trek universe is a vision of a utopian future, where social issues are debated amidst the swashbuckling. This movie had some dazzling action scenes, and a beautiful initial sequence where Cumberbatch is introduced in London. But any actual discussion or character development is pre-emptied by a lot of punching, and simply making arch references to another film does nothing in terms of creating an actual plot. Star Trek was supposed to be about something more than just shoot-em-ups with aliens, and that is why I and others are complaining about substance. If you aren’t going to include that, why bother calling it Trek?

      • I see your point, actually, and I think when compared against something like Deep Space Nine or the heavier episodes in Next Gen, it could be pretty disappointing. But I think both the movies and at least chunks of the original series fall into camp.

        …At the same time, The Undiscovered Country and First Contact are serious movies with solid subject matter, still tempered with playfulness. JJ Abrams’ interpretation is never going to be the same as Roddenberry’s, and I think accepting that going into it is how people familiar with Trek end up enjoying the movies the most.

  16. “It’s possible, of course, that this has more to do with the Star Trek franchise itself, which maybe doesn’t lend itself to major upheavals or darker inter-relationships between the characters.”

    I think this has more to do with the fact that the TV show it’s based on was a TV show. Meaning that they didn’t kill off the characters and everything had to reset to status quo at the end of the episode. This carried through to the movies (except for Star Trek 2, where they killed off a main character, but then brought him back in the NEXT movie). So I think this would be the case with any TV show adapted for films, including The Simpsons and The Beverly Hillbillies.

  17. I need to get this out somewhere, and Reddit’s r/movies is full of ’10/10, would watch-bang again’ threads. So here goes!

    I don’t think I liked it. And I say I don’t ‘think’ because it’s quickly becoming one of the ultimate Post-Movie-Smile-Quickly-Fades-In-The-Parking-Lot-Outside-Because-Wait-What-Happened? films. I tried real hard to justify it, and have come up short A LOT. It was fun, because bright things went boom… but I honestly now think it’s dumb as rocks.

    I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose I’ll say I didn’t watch the original TV shows, and didn’t watch the original movies. I’d say I was more of a ‘Next Generation’ man but that’s gross and inaccurate.

    But it seems with this one, being an ‘original’ fan was a pre-req to fully appreciating the movie. And that’s different. The 2009 reboot was hailed as a huge success because it was inclusive. It gave nods, few and far between, to original fans, but was mostly aimed at creating an open and engaging story that anyone could enjoy. My mom loves the 2009 Star Trek. Really, really loves it.

    This one felt like a gated-community. It felt like a fanwank (gross, but I guess that’s the word we’re using?). It made me feel like this movie wasn’t for me – that without watching the originals, I’d only enjoy 60% of what was shown. And that’s fine – lots of movies do that – but I guess after 2009′s reboot, I felt a little duped.

    The biggest reason was Khan.

    Oh man, Khan. Benedict was amazing, but my enjoyment of him was completely scuttled by the fact that I didn’t have prior knowledge of his importance in the Star Trek universe. Sure, I knew the name, and knew he was a legendary baddy in the cannon, but I didn’t really know why (my fault, I guess!). All I was given was a CRAZY RUSHED exposition dump by Khan himself in the jail cell that I barely kept up with. Afterwards I went home after and read about him. Turns out he was insane! He did crazy shit! Crazy, dangerous Earth-conquering shit! But they didn’t show any of that, even in some sort of a flashback, because the script writers wanted a big reveal.

    And that… that sucks, because I think the script writers sacrificed A LOT for that big reveal moment that ended up fizzling out. And I think it fizzled because the audience was divided in 2: people who knew who, what, and why Khan was such a crazy bad guy, and the rest who maybe knew the name Khan, knew he was bad, but were just being introduced to him now. They played to the first group, and the rest of the film suffered tremendously for it.

    I guess I look at it like a business. The 2009 movie made a repeat customer out of me because they said ‘Come on in, this movie is for everyone.’ Into Darkness has made me a little more cautious with my $10.50 next time around, because maybe it’s not for me.

    Lastly: It’s been said before in this thread, but 100% agree: why is Kirk still struggling to become the man he’s supposed to be? That was film 1… no? What’s he been doing the past however many years? Threeways with tail-ladies, apparently, which – fine, I get it, he’s a tail-ladies man. But in terms of professionalism and understanding of his responsibilities? I thought we dealt with that?

    TL;DR – I’m a bad person who didn’t watch the original movies and I was confused!

    • Agreed that the Khan reveal leaned too heavily on the audience already knowing who Khan is and his backstory, which is odd considering these movies are clearly meant to draw in new fans rather than requiring a bunch of prior knowledge of the “universe” going in.

      I think, in a real sense, all the major issues with these films stem from the “alternate timeline” thing, which basically destroys all the stakes. In my opinion, they should have just straight up rebooted the franchise. The way it is now, instead of Khan being the ultimate badass, he’s just *this timeline*’s version of Khan, and the “real” timeline already defeated him, so that kind of deflates any sense that he’ll ever get away with anything.

      If Spock can just use his prime timeline self as a sort of players guide for any baddies they encounter it gives the effect that we’re watching a lesser crew who benefits from knowledge that the original crew didn’t have. If it weren’t for the multiple timelines thing, they would have had to SHOW us why Khan is so terrifying, rather than just having Old Spoke tell us that he is.

      • See, this is interesting to me, because I feel that a lack of knowledge of Khan would’ve made a couple moments less cheesy than they were–Spock gets to shout “KHAAAAAN!” the way Kirk does the first time around, and the whole “touching hands through glass so Spock doesn’t get all kinds of radiation” thing happens the other way around in 2. Both these seemed more like imitations than paying homage and didn’t really ring true. (I loved the movie, but I didn’t love this.)

        Were these emotional moments for those who haven’t seen Star Trek 2?

        • I’ve never seen any of the original Star Trek stuff and I thought that that scene failed because there were no real stakes unless you thought it was a possibility that Kirk would actually die for realsies. It does seem even cheesier now hearing about how it’s copied from the original, but it just seemed weird and emotionally manipulative to me.

  18. I thought this was a good-enough movie that I was in the right mood for. Not going to be talking about it in two weeks, but that’s OK.

    With that said, I don’t know why they pay the writers so much when they are so bad. I’m not a Whovian, as I believe fans are called, but the Khan thing doesn’t make any damn sense except as a Big Reveal.

    There was some really shaky plotting the whole way through: Mickey seems to have killed himself right? In return for Khan saving his kid’s life. But then Starfleet seems to have interrogated him to find out who gave him the ring/bomb, so uh? But then John Harrison, having devised this very elaborate bomb attack, up and flies his own attack craft when taking out the Starfleet meeting? K. Anyway, I could get caught up in moments like Khan and Kirk jumping between spaceships but all in all gimme a break.

    Also ye gods Simon Pegg’s Scottish accent is, I dunno what the word is but it’s ridiculously bad, so bad it must be deliberate.

  19. JJ, I thought old Spock was a major bummer in this movie. Just leave him out! I like him and everything, but you don’t have to remind me of him every time we meet. “We’re having a big problem, let’s call my grandpa” – young Spock. So dum. I hope you don’t put him in star wars.

  20. Guys, I’m pretty sure that the commander of the ship they assign Spock to for the 30 seconds that he’s not assigned to the Enterprise was Michael Dorn (Worf from TNG) because I would know that voice anywhere, but he’s not credited and it’s not on Dorn’s IMDB page. Did anybody else notice this?

  21. Vulcan’s are stronger than humans so that’s why he could keep up with Khan.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcan_%28Star_Trek%29

  22. That’s ‘WEE’ door Gabe

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