Tuesday 21 May 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness Review (Spoilers, spoilers, and more SPOILERS)

Totally necessary T&A shot. Honest.
It's a mess. A magnificent, action packed mess, but still a mess.

First, there are two villains, and they detract from each other.

Second, the plot is so full of holes it makes your brain spin, if you've left it on.

Third, the film recycles elements of Star Trek II and VI, including chunks of dialogue and iconic lines.

It starts with eternal rebel Kirk being reckless, skirting around that annoying Prime Directive in a pre-credit adventure sequence on a planet wrapped in red vines and threatened by a world-destroying volcano.

To prevent armageddon, Sulu and Uhura zip Spock down into the volcano aboard a shuttle, to detonate a soothing Pepto Bismol bomb and shut down the eruption.

Meanwhile, Captain Kirk steals a scroll from the indigenous inhabitant's temple to distract them. Why? The shuttle went in under smoke cover, so they wouldn't see Spock's shuttle anyway. Whatever.

It gets weirder: for some unfathomable reason, Kirk's decided to park the Enterprise underwater.

At least, there's no in universe reason for it. Not even a tossed-off fig leaf line to justify the act.

But it does look cool rising up out of the sea, and for J.J. Abrams, that's enough.

Yada yada, naked chick, cool shit, explosions, the end. That sums the film up.

Now, if you're in the mood for that (and who isn't sometimes) you'll enjoy the flick. But if the numerous logic hiccups ever take you out of the action, your enjoyment is toast.

It's spectacle poorly serviced by story, Star Trek via Transformers.

Let's go through it, shall we?

CumberKhan (from Star Trek II) has been betrayed by Peter Weller's Evil Admiral Cliche (from Star Trek VI), who's unfrozen him to exploit Khan's bad ass brain in order to start a war with the Klingon space bikers. Yes, that. Again.

Let's think about it: Petey unfroze a 300 year old guy to help develop cutting edge weapons technology. That's like bringing back military genius Gustavus Adolphus (who admittedly handled pike men really well) to develop stealth bombers for the US Airforce. Petey needs some serious medication. Khan's military expertise pertained to war on earth, in two dimensions, on the ground. That was emphasized in the first movie.


It would take a lifetime to become a pioneer in any area of such advanced technology. CumberKhan's only been back a short time, and even with his great intellect and engineering background I don't buy him being able to pioneer anything more than a pop gun. What does he come up with, anyway? A really big ship with lots of weapons? Wow. That's original. Didn't we see that last time?

Stop thinking!

CumberKhan's out for revenge, so he attacks Star Fleet. Believing his 72 superpeeps are dead, he blows up a super secret Star Fleet facility using an explosive Alka Seltzer. All the local Star Fleet commanders go to a particular room to discuss their response to the attack; Batch hovers outside in a helicopter and  fires on them. You'd think a bomb might be more efficient. You know, planted in the room. Like he did with the super secret installation.

But no.

CumberKhan the master strategist gets shot down by Kirk, and as his stricken craft plummets earthward billowing smoke, teleports away to a Klingon planet.


He could have gone anywhere in the galaxy, apparently. Instead he goes to the very place Evil Admiral wants to attack, and kills Klingons.

Now, Batch hid his frozen friends in the torps. To keep them safe, naturally. Where better than inside a torpedo? But they fall into Evil Admiral's hands, who for some reason decides to fire his leverage at Batchy on the Klingon planet. Not keep them around, you know, as insurance in case Khan tries to squish his head. Bad move.

Admiral Petey gives Kirk the 72 torpedoes, all 72, and orders Kirk to fire them (all 72, because fewer would leave evidence) at Khan on the Klingon planet, which will start Petey's Awesome Space War.

Scotty quits early on in a fit of righteous indignation, because he doesn't want to take the mystery torpedoes on board (can't see what's inside, it's a secret), and doesn't believe in killing Batch without giving him a trial first. Wow. Abrams was so upset Obama iced Osama without trial he made a sci-fi movie about it? Hey, it's Zero Dark Thirty in Spaaaace!

The whole extra-judicial execution gig sits on Kirk's considerable conscience, deep thinker that he is, so he eventually decides to do the right thing and apprehend CumberKhan instead of ice him with the human mystery torpedoes.

Kirk and crew go down to the planet surface, only to get into a fight with Klingons. The kind of fight that would start a war. CumberKhan intervenes, conveniently kills the remaining Klingons, and then surrenders to Kirk, because he's learned that Kirk has his frozen homies aboard. Kirk discovers Dick Cheney's--I mean Evil Admiral's deceit, and teams up with Khan.

Inevitably, Weller gets his head squished, which would never happen to Robocop. Torpedoes explode and stuff. There's an anti-climactic chase on some floating garbage transports.

Kirk dies in a painfully hokey inversion of Spock's sacrifice in Wrath of Khan. There's much crawling around versus radiation (always dramatic, a guy crawling around fighting radiation, I love that) in order to reverse the polarity of the whatever flow.

Supposed to be sad, or moving.

I laughed.

Death scenes generally shouldn't do that.

But don't despair: there's an obvious setup where Khan's super blood will bring Kirk back to life, negating the need to redo Star Trek III.

Or worry about death ever again. It's synthesized! Odds are they'll conveniently forget all about that next movie...

Benedict Cumberbatch, usually so marvellous, plays his role so cold and you'd think he'd been refrigerated. Carl Urban does his goofy DeForest Kelly imitation. Not sure why he chose to play it that way. He was better in Judge Dread. Yes, I actually enjoyed that one.

Oh yeah, there was some chick on board so she could take her clothes off.

io9 has had some good articles on the film, and explain it better than I have. They may care more.

Check out their Spoiler FAQ and Charlie Jane Ander's excellent review, Star Trek Into Dumbness.

They've even got a defense of Wrath of Khan. It's come to that. Seems kids these days think it's slow.

Thanks a lot, Michael Bay, you dick.

More at Bloomberg about adrenaline dysfunction aboard the Enterprise...

UPDATE: The Red Letter Media crew now have their review up. Spot on.