Sorry for the delay. And I was doing so well too. …You can’t see it, but I’m pouting.
Happy 50th Anniversary Star Trek! It’s a long time coming. Seems like only yesterday it was your 25th (No it doesn’t. Back then we had Star Trek on television and I wasn’t born yet.) and now you join the ranks of Doctor Who and Captain America in celebrating having been around for over half a century. …Now make a better movie than Into Darkness.
I’m a big Star Trek fan…of The Original Series. I haven’t gotten around the other series yet (they’re on Netflix, I’ll get to them eventually), though I do have a working knowledge of what they’re like thanks to SF Debris’s reviews, which you can find here. The reboot films I enjoy overall, but I will admit they have problems. I’m probably in the minority in that I enjoy Into Darkness (minus the ending cause Come On!) due to being able to rationalize away most of the problems people have with it (I made a list at one point and I might post it eventually) , but I like the 2009 film better. Most of the problems with these films can be contributed to the director J.J. Abrams AKA Mr. “I’m not a fan of this franchise I just wanna prove I can do Star Wars so please please PLEASE let me direct Star Wars!”
I don’t like the Uhura/Spock relationship for the same reason I don’t like Bruce/Natasha and Cap/Sharon. They seemed to be made for one reason and one reason only: “It’s What The Network Wants, Why Bother To Complain?” They are forced in it to a) force in a romance where it isn’t needed or would make more sense with another (Male) character and b) (especially in Uhura’s case) try to elevate the role of a female character in a franchise where the predominant characters are male. In the latter case, I understand what they’re trying to do (make a woman of colour have a larger presence in a franchise where she couldn’t before because 60s), but they fail really hard.
The only thing Uhura’s really done in these movies has been about her relationship with Spock. They have trouble with their relationship and make up. That is her role in Into Darkness. The main characters in these films, no matter how much they try to push Uhura’s role in the marketing, are still Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (And sometimes Scotty).Not to mention the fact that Uhura’s big role in the 2009 film (comforting and being there for Spock in the wake of his planet being destroyed) would have been Kirk’s had this been the original series, though possibly without kissing. I’m not saying the relationship spawned from nowhere as it is shown in one episode that Uhura was attracted to Spock, but the possibility fizzled very quickly and she was later put with Scotty.
Thankfully, every problem I have with these films are now pretty much fixed.
Three years into their five year mission, Kirk and his crew stop for shore leave at the Federation Space Station Yorktown where both Kirk and Spock, for very different reasons, contemplate leaving the Enterprise. During their stay, the commander of a science vessel exploring a nearby nebula arrives alone in need of assistance and, as always, the Enterprise is the only ship that can help. However, they arrive to an ambush led by an alien named Krall, played by Idris ‘Why is he not Bond yet?’ Elba, looking for an artefact the Enterprise had recently acquired. In the ensuing takeover, the Enterprise is destroyed and its crew, with the exceptions of Kirk, Chekov, McCoy, Spock, and Scotty (who are separated), are captured and brought to the planet below. Cut off from Starfleet, Kirk and the others, with the help of an alien woman named Jayla, played by Sofia Boutella, must reunite, rescue the crew, get off the planet, and stop Krall before he achieves his goal.
The cast is still great. Everything people liked from the last two films are still good and this is no exception. There’s a change up this time in that the formula has changed. The formula being everything revolves around Kirk with Spock as the B story, McCoy and Scotty get in some good lines and reactions while everyone else is just sort of there. This time, the ones who spend the most time with Kirk are Scotty and Chekov while Sulu and Uhura lead the crew captured by Krall and McCoy and an injured Spock are stuck together, which is fun to see. In the show, McCoy and Spock were paired together frequently, almost as much as the two were with Kirk (both individually and as a group) so it was nice to see that again as Spock has almost always been shown exclusively around either Uhura and Kirk, mostly the latter, in the reboots while McCoy is relegated to sickbay when he’s not near Kirk.
Chekov also gets increased screen time as the one hanging around Kirk the most. In the series he was almost always with either Sulu (as comic relief) or Scotty when the latter was in command as Kirk and Spock were down on whatever planet while Chekov served as backup Science Officer. Considering this is possibly Chekov’s last appearance in the reboots, it was good to see as much of him as possible. Rest in Peace Anton. You will be missed.
No increased role for Sulu and Uhura, though at least the latter actually does something not related to Spock.
The supporting cast is also very good. Krall makes for an interesting villain though probably not one as memorable as…are Nero and Khan really that memorable? I mean I know Khan is because of the whitewashing thing and because it’s Benedict Cumberbatch, but is he really memorable in and of himself in the context of the film? Whatever. Krall. Does shit, looks cool doing it. Elba is still amazing. Similar motivation to other villains. Star Trek, find new motives other than revenge! Jayla is a badass, plain and simple. She’s the right blend of naive about human stuff, tragic, intelligent, and amazing. She’s a great character and I expect some cosplays, people. I will be watching. You will probably forget the people on the station very quickly, but it’s nice to know that people other than the Enterprise crew can do their jobs and it was cool to see Sulu’s family. Young Demora (I’m assuming that’s her) is so cute! There’s even a small tribute to Leonard Nimoy’s Spock (RIP).
Look Ma! No Lens Flares! You can actually see stuff! And it looks great! The sets for this film look amazing. The space station, the ships, the terrain, the Enterprise which you can actually see. It just looks great. We even get the return of a Star Trek staple: A rock quarry! Unlike the previous two films, where most of the action took place on the Enterprise or Earth, we’re out in uncharted territory. New worlds, new civilizations, this is what Star Trek was made for. I mean, they had to do this eventually, they’re on their five year mission. They can’t just stay around Earth all the time.
On the topic of design, the makeup and effects are great, particularly on the alien characters. Previous films have had an almost exclusively human cast, with the exceptions of Spock and a few others. Here, at least a quarter of the crew (not just the crew, but the civilians as well), not counting Spock, are noticeably alien and they look terrific. It really paints the Federation as being this big utopia where different species, races, genders, identities, and sexualities (we’ll get to that on this blog, don’t you worry) can live together in harmony and equality. I gotta say, the new uniform design threw me off a bit, but I got used to it fairly quickly and the other new outfits (the jackets and being able to see more people beside Kirk and McCoy in casual wear) look much better than the stale military look of the other films.
Paramount, please, do me a huge favour: Never let Abrams direct another Star Trek movie, please and thank you. Justin Lin, of Fast and Furious fame, is a far better director even if he needs to tone it down a bit with the sweeping camera shots. I much prefer them to the lens flairs. Also, stop letting Orci and Kurtzman write them. Simon Pegg, co-writer and co-star of the Cornetto Trilogy, and Doug Jung have proven they know more about Star Trek than the other two do and are more willing to let it be a Star Trek movie. That’s something the other films lacked, they were action films with the Star Trek name clearly made to let Abrams show off that he can do a space opera. This is clearly meant to be a Star Trek movie. Hell, the opening shot isn’t an action piece. It’s Kirk being diplomatic. When was the last time we saw that? I’ll tell you when, The Undiscovered Country, 1991. That’s 25 years ago!
Also, I hope you like technobable cause there’s a lot. Welcome back technobable, we’ve missed you! It makes the character look like the know how to do their jobs which makes the story work better. The story is a good one for the record. Hits all the right beats, not really any big plot holes like the last couple of films (I’m sorry I keep comparing them, but it was inevitable), and is just stronger for it.
If I did have a complaint about the film it’s that it feels short. It’s only a little over two hours long. I know that’s almost the same length as the other films, but this is short even by the reboot films’ standards. It’s not Search for Spock or Insurrection short, but when your biggest complaint is that you want more, they must be doing something right. Again, Sulu and Uhura don’t do as much as the others and when the film does focus on them, it’s mainly on Uhura as an audience viewpoint for exposition. It would have also been nice for Sulu to have a little bit more of an interaction with his family, a kiss with his husband would have been nice. Though, really, I’m just glad Paramount agreed to him being gay and having a noticeable family at all so I’m willing to accept the baby steps.
There’s also a distinct lack of Kirk and Spock interaction, again, compared to the other films, but, like I said, it’s cool to see them act with other members of the crew and they do get some nice moments together.
It’s safe to say that I recommend this film over the others. It’s a much better introduction to the Kelvin Timeline (as the reboot timeline is now called) than the other two, better written, better looking, just great overall. If you haven’t seen any of the other Star Trek Reboot films, see this one. It’s smart, it’s fun, it’s everything we’ve been wanting since the reboots came out. It’s Star Trek.
Live Long and Prosper! Or, as they say on Vulcan: “Dif-tor Heh Smusma!”
…Oh God, my Geek is showing.
Now that we have the reviews out of the way, let’s talk Comic Con. Late, I know, but important. So, better late than never.
(Photo via Paramount Pictures)