I am by no means a Trekkie. I have an appreciation for what it has done for science fiction, and there are a lot of concepts and ideas that have been put forward that I like and/or fear. Science fiction in general, and Star Trek specifically, has had a wonderful history of showing us ourselves in stark terms. What we can’t look at in drama, we can watch unflinchingly in sci-fi. It’s a wonderful genre for self-examination.
Hoo, boy – Star Trek Into Darkness misses that completely while trying to piggyback on nostalgia. I can’t watch this movie without thinking of how they missed so many good opportunities. I try not to be hard on movies. I mean, I try to sit down and find something nice about a film. There are a few movies (Spawn) where I can’t find one redeemable thing.
The one thing I find redeeming about this film is the cast. Karl Urban’s McCoy is as cranky, irascible and deeply devoted to the wellness of his crew as DeForest Kelly’s. Zachary Quinto’s Spock walks the fine line between his Vulcan superiority and his human frailty. We can see the confusion in his eyes when Uhura embraces him, and his anger as he goes after Khan.
It’s everything else I don’t like. I don’t like the two plots mingling when they could have just run one and made a powerful statement. They could have kept the Khan story line (more on that later), written as a ‘your sins will haunt you’ plot. Have Kirk and Khan duke it out, and turn it into the futility of nursing grudges:
How long have you hated us? Ten years?
Twenty years? And have you done with that hate?
Nothing but stewed in it. How has that helped you?
And that’s all you’ve done. You haven’t lived.
All your intellect. All your strengths, and you
chose to nurse a grudge.
[KHAN strikes KIRK hard, sending him to the ground]
So says the victor.
No. I’m saying we’re sorry
we treated you like garbage
when we should have treated
you like brothers.
Even if they didn’t want to bring in the Eugenics story-line, having the Marcus story-line would have worked as well. The whole thing about Star Trek is that they work for peace first. Someone like Admiral Marcus, who’s ‘if you want peace, then prepare for war’ mentality could be seen by many as an impediment to peace with the Federation’s foes: the Klingons and the Romulans. When the bureaucracy tries to quietly get rid of him, he rushes off to (in his mind) save the Federation by showing them the folly of their ways. He tries to push them to war if only to demonstrate that you have to negotiate from a position of strength, which he doesn’t see the Federation having. The Federation sends Kirk because he’s a capable captain, if not deeply unorthodox, to bring him in.
If Kirk brings him back – great! If Marcus kills him – great, still! Now they’ve gotten rid of a ‘cowboy’ captain whose antics make it hard for everyone else to do their job. That would have been a great movie. Both of the, would have been great films and great additions to the legacy.
Oh, well. Better luck next time.