Curiously nerdy posts.
I apologize ahead of time, but this is going to be a Star Trek related post. I try not to write the same thing twice, but this thought popped up into my head, and I wanted to explore it.
I went to see Star Trek:Into Darkness this past weekend, and came away with mixed thoughts. First of all, I thought it was an entertaining movie. It had epic special effects, nice pacing, and some great casting. Seriously, I think I might have a man crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. He’s a bit goofy looking, but he’s a badass actor.
But the more I thought about it, the more something about this movie bothered me. I couldn’t quite put it together in my head until I took a shower last night. I do a lot of my best thinking in there.
Then it hit me: this movie had too many references. What do I mean by that, exactly? Franchise movies reference their previous material all the time, of course. I’m as big a fan of spotting these easter eggs as anyone, as I like to flaunt any obscure knowledge I may have at any given time.
And it’s okay for this reboot/alternate continuity Star Trek to do that, right? It kind of has to. After all, it’s using the same characters that have been around for 50 years. But something about the way that they did it went beyond a wink and a nod to the original material. Honestly, a lot of it started to feel like they were just being lazy.
To spoiler-land we go!
-In the opening gambit of the film (which felt like a Bond film in how it was done, honestly. I liked that part), the crew is saving a primitive village from destruction at the hands of an active volcano. The mission starts going south, and Spock suddenly appears willing to sacrifice himself to successfully complete his mission. He utters the phrase “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Okay. So maybe it’s just a vulcan mantra of his, right? Just like being logical, and pointing out emotions in others that he’s not supposed to have. I just sort of shrugged off this one.
The first and second act of the movie go by just fine. I like all that part, so no worries there. But then the last act happens.
– Not to go into heavy detail, but they basically lifted the whole idea behind the climax of The Wrath of Khan, switched Kirk and Spock around, and called it a day. Even down to the “KHAAAAAAAN!” scream. It was like they thought “Hey, fans loved that movie, and non-fans will have never seen the other movie. Either way, it’s a win win!” But it’s not. It’s just lazy script writing.
The truly frustrating part about it is that the details around it (Khan’s blood being able to heal people from the brink of death, Spock fighting Khan instead of Kirk in the last action scene) made total sense, and were set up well by facts given to us earlier in the movie. But the actual center plot points were a complete and total re-hash, with just one detail changed to make it different.
I tried to think of other remake movies in past years, and how they did it. Total Recall, of course, had the famous triple breasted woman, but didn’t directly steal other major points. Conan the Barbarian had a completely different plot, save for the whole “You killed my father” bit. The A-Team was completely different from the show, and was quite good as a result.*
*I still love the original show.
But this? This was just a bit weak, in my opinion. J.J. Abrams, the guy behind this movie, destroyed a planet in the 2009 movie that was a major plot point in Star Trek. Changing the timeline like that, he said, gave him the freedom to explore the iconic characters and change the stories as he pleased, with a reasonable explanation for why certain parts were different from the Trek we knew growing up. That was a great idea – you know, if he’d actually taken advantage of it.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie was a good watch. I’d give it ***, which by my rating system means it’s good for a one time viewing. But it could’ve been so much more, if they’d put more effort in.
Considering that Abrams is also doing Star Wars Episode 7, I’m glad that we already know that it’s going to be a different plot from the original trilogy.
Otherwise, a more cynical part of my brain might suspect that Abrams would just switch Luke and Leia in the “I am your father” scene, and call it a day.
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