STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS

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Star Trek: Into Darkness boldly goes where Star Trek films have gone before, and I swear I didn’t steal that sentence from any other reviewer.

Not everything in the latest Trek revamp  is a retread of Wrath of Khan. For instance, the main baddie in this thing is a member of the Federation. The entire conflict of the film arises from inside the good guys camp. In the past, Starfleet has mostly been viewed as the evolved human race, spanking the naughtiness of kranky aliens causing trouble. But here we see a point in Starfleet history that I’m sure they would like to keep buried.

After getting all goose-pimply at the sound of Michael Giacchino’s score softly rising as the stars swirl around Paraumont mountain, we meet up with the young Enterprise crew in the middle of a mission.  As usual, Kirk is being brash and disobeying orders. It’s always to save lives, of course, but this time it bites him in the butt cheeks. It’s only due to the kindness of Admiral Pike (the guy who recruited Kirk in the first movie) that our hero even stays on the Enterprise.

I’m going to be brutally honest with you, ok? This is me opening up. The scene with Pike giving Kirk another chance really moved me. It moved me in all the right places. Kirk never knew his own father, and drifted through his life answering to no one. He had amazing potential and legendary talent, but had no direction to point it. Until Captain Pike walked into his life and believed in him. He gave Kirk an opportunity to be something, to have an extraordinary life.

And Kirk blows it.

But Pike gives Kirk another chance. Why? Because he still believes in him. He still sees the greatness that’s in him. He hasn’t given up on him, even if he has already given up on himself.

Pike is the Father that Kirk never had, but always needed.

And that’s my favorite scene in the movie. Phew! Can someone turn the AC up?  My heart is melting.

Friendship and betrayal are strong themes throughout the story. The film also asks the question, “Do the lives of the many outweigh the lives of the….”

Wait, where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, the second Star Trek movie ever made. In several ways, Into Darkness really wants to be the second  Star Trek movie ever made.With this being the second installment of the  rebooted/revamped franchise, it would like you to believe it is. The only problem is… it’s not. It’s the 12th.

I’m about to drop into spoiler territory here, so if you haven’t seen it yet, get off here.

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The usage of Khan as the villain here doesn’t bug me. It actually does a better job of describing his origins and his abilities than Wrath did. It’s still the same plot as the Original Series episode, “Space Speed”, and this movie is more like a remake of that.

But then there’s the Kirk death scene which is identical to the Spock death scene in Wrath. It’s this small bit towards the end of the film that I have trouble with.

I can’t decide whether Into Darkness would play better if I was a complete Trek newbie or as a long-time fan. I know that’s the balancing act the creators are juggling. They want new fans while also satisfying the faithful.

A new fan might not catch the references to tribbles, the anticipation of seeing the Klingons, the dread of Chekov becoming a “red shirt”, or why Doctor McCoy seems like a parody of something. Above all, a newbie might view the Kirk death scene with no irony.

As a long-time fan, once I realized that Kirk was about to sacrifice himself, I wasn’t sure how to feel. Where were they going with this? Kirk couldn’t possibly die, right?  Is that the direction the reboots want to go, just doing the same stories in a “different timeline”? Would the next movie be called, ” The Search for Kirk”? Please, no.

Because of all this swirling around in my head, the actual scene was emotionally flat to me. But seriously, how else was I suppose to feel? They just gave me the EXACT SAME SCENE from a near sacred moment in Trek history. On purpose. How does  someone who loves Wrath of Khan react to that? The Shatner/Nimoy version is unquestionably more powerful. This new version felt more like a *wink-wink*nudge*nudge* to the audience.

And Spock yelling, “KHAN!” tipped it over into complete parody. It’s like the filmmakers all got together and were like,” If we have Khan as the villian, we have GOT to have somebody yell his name in anger like Shatner did because everybody quotes that and makes gifs out of it and it’ll be hilarious!”

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So what was it suppose to be? A Parody? A homage? An alternate timeline thing going on? When young Spock asks old Spock, ” How did you defeat Khan? ” Did old Spock transport over a blu ray of Star Trek 2? If he did tell him about the future, you would think that they would figure out how to beat Khan without ANYBODY sacrificing themselves. If not, what was the point of calling old Spock? Kirk didn’t need any help knowing that Khan was going to betray them. No, they called old Spock just so we could see Leonard Nimoy again. Which I admit that I highly enjoyed. But when I think about it, it had no relevance to the story whatsoever.

To me, that whole stretch of the movie compromises it’s integrity, it’s characters, and the freshness it so desperately strives for.

This might lead you to believe that I disliked Star Trek: Into Darkness.  I actually really loved it. The action was breath-taking, from the break-neck speed of the intro to the way-awesome scene of Spock kicking ass. I actually laughed out loud several times. And, as I expressed earlier, the moment with Pike and Kirk nearly brought tears to my eyes.

This is a fun movie, it’s even a fun Star Trek movie. I Just question a few of the choices they made with the 3rd act of the film. I think it may hurt the movie as time goes on, because we will always be able to watch  Wrath of Khan and the episode “Space Seed “. It’s like not those things were crap and disappeared.  But this is only the second outing of the new and improved Star Trek, and I’m totally willing to give it more chances, just like Admiral Pike would.

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