Star Trek: Into Darkness is a 2013 film directed by JJ Abrams, a follow-up to his 2009 reboot. I saw it in an Oxford cinema and I came out stunned by its fast pace, by the high volume of the sound effects and Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack, and also because the plot is so stupid that trying to follow it can only cause giant headaches.
In fact I think I won’t even try to summarize the plot. The opening scene with Kirk (Chris Pine) violating the Prime Directive to save a primitive people from a volcano eruption is just stupid, with the Enterprise being underwater only to have an epic scene in which the ship comes out of the sea (Michael Piller’s words always come to mind in these cases). But this is nothing compared to the inconsistencies that come after that.
I remember well the promotional campaign for this film, with Abrams swearing that Benedict Cumberbatch was not playing Khan, the antagonist of the second film of the original saga released in 1982. He was lying, of course, but in a way he was also telling the truth, because Cumberbatch’s character only has the name of the original Khan. But this is but a little detail.
The real problem lies in the illogical plot, with the following elements taken at random from the various incarnations of Star Trek: an admiral who betrays the values of the Federation, Khan, Dr. Marcus (Alice Eve), Spock (Zachary Quinto, who speaks with old Spock, Leonard Nimoy, who spoils him all the adventures to come), Section 31, the Klingons (who look nothing like the Klingons in either The Original Series or the series from The Next Generation onwards), and even the Tribbles!
And then, like in the previous film, the career advancements aboard the Starfleet ships once again are forced and therefore ridiculous. Plus, there’s a feeling that the movie alone does not hold up without a certain (albeit vague) knowledge of what came before. For example, the revelation of Khan’s real name is accompanied by dramatic music and camera movements that highlight the importance of the moment… Which is zero unless you’ve seen the 1982 film by Nicholas Meyer, which the Into Darkness characters cannot have done.
And then here are some gimmicks that simply destroy the entire Star Trek mythology. If interplanetary teleportation is available, why building starships? Suddenly the backbone of the entire brand fails! Who needs the Enterprise if you can get from Earth to Kronos in two seconds? And then it seems that Abrams cannot make a truly original film, here’s a scene mimicking Spock’s death in Star Trek II, but different! This time it’s Kirk who dies! But fear not: Khan’s blood can resurrect the dead!
If you haven’t seen the movie, you may be thinking I’m delirious. I’ll rewrite that sentence: Khan’s blood can resurrect the dead. So not only are starships obsolete, but you don’t even have to worry about dying anymore. How can they have a sequel with plot elements like these? Sure, they can write it by selectively forgetting what happened in this one (and they did!)! I don’t know about you, but on my book this is not called writing good scripts… And I didn’t mention the brilliant idea of awakening a man in cryogenic sleep for centuries to build a futuristic arsenal. Isn’t it contradictory? His knowledge is centuries old!
I conclude by saying that I fear that Abrams couldn’t have done worse at the helm of the Star Trek brand, yet he was successful in revitalizing it, and it was unthinkable before 2009. Clearly, the audience wants products like this, pumping so much adrenaline that the brain can only give up and switch itself off. In my opinion, this is not even a science fiction product, it’s pure action, perhaps bordering on fantasy (did I say that Khan’s blood can resurrect the dead?). In short, it’s not Star Trek but it’s called Star Trek. And thanks to products like this, nowadays there exist other Star Trek products like Discovery, Picard, and Lower Decks, the latter fortunately with some positive aspects unlike the former two. As for the films, after a lukewarmly received third chapter (Beyond, 2016), it seems that projects for a new installment have already stalled. And who would’ve thought that when the foundations were so solid? Yes, that’s sarcasm. Ciao!
PS: I will never understand the need to have the dialogues full of bad words in a universe that has notoriously never contained them, at least at the level of Starfleet personnel…
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