Pop quiz hot shot. What is the most pretentious movie title in the history of cinema that didn’t even come close to living up to its expectations? Answer: “Star Trek Into Darkness.” I was confused as to the title choice when it was first announced, but figured it would make sense once I watched the feature. Now that I have seen J.J. Abrams’ second shot at the Star Trek franchise, I have to say that I am even more confused by the title than before. Darkness, real and metaphorical, isn’t even referenced in this movie. The title just comes off as a hipster’s attempt to market Star Trek. Or it’s just bad writing. Both explanations work.
However the title is probably the smallest problem this movie has. The directing is subpar from what we expect from Abrams, the writing is piss poor, and Zachary Quinto’s yelling of “Khannnn!!” makes William Shatner look like a great actor. Oh, in case you haven’t figured it out by the previous statement, the villain of this movie is Khan Noonien Singh. No spoiler warning for this reveal because it doesn’t deserve one. There was a great deal of misinformation spread around to keep the villain identity a secret, but they weren’t fooling anybody. Well, at least they weren’t fooling me. But bad marketing aside, they don’t make good use of Khan as a character. Sure Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance was hands down the single greatest part of this movie, but the bad writing doesn’t really do anything with it. Khan is inconsistent and his motives are more sympathetic than they should be. I was just never convinced he was the super intelligent threat he was supposed to be.
There are a few good things about this movie, but hardly enough to save it from the rental pile. The performances from all sides were nice. Peter Weller was the most interesting and his character was the only one I didn’t have at least a small problem with. The special effects, in both design and function, are splendid. The inclusion of Klingons was a good touch, but they are still the most under used aspect of the post-reboot Star Trek universe. And the movie has little bits of awesomeness sprinkled about with a better use of humor this time around. But everything good about this movie can’t save it from the overall lackluster emotional impact or the plot holes the size of the Mutara Nebula. Even the vengeance dialogue Khan recited in almost every single advertisement was cut out of the movie because it wouldn’t have fit among the lame motives the writers cooked up. Either that or I zoned out for a few minutes during the movie. Considering the continuing lack of interest I developed while watching this film, it’s entirely possible.
But despite all the good and bad this film has to offer, it still can’t surmount one huge problem. “Star Trek Into Darkness” isn’t really a Star Trek film. It is a Star Trek reference film. Instead of using the plot tools of the Trek universe to invent something new, this film has, and more often makes fun of, old Star Trek references. For example there is a part late in the movie with a dead tribble that is being used by McCoy for an experiment. Now, that tribble could have easily been replaced with a rat or a monkey, but a tribble was used for no better reason than because it’s a reference to an old Star Trek episode. It’s one thing for this movie to have a few references here and there for the fanboys, but the film’s script is operating under the belief that if five minutes go by without a senseless mention of pre-Picard Star Trek than you’re not doing it right. This film was created with the desire to please fans with in-jokes and tributes to the classic series instead of depth and characterization. If you take the bait you might actually have fun with this film. But if you’re like me, the only time you’ll truly enjoy yourself is when you realize you were right about the villain being Khan all along.
Also, in a shameless plug to myself, check out Bruce Osborne on Facebook. I post/link all my stuff there, including chapters on a book I’m working on. Feel free to hit the ‘Like’ button as if you’re an addict.
I also write publish works of fiction on my Bruce Osborne Blog. Feel free to read, follow, or even hate my stuff. I don’t care if people like it, only that they read it.
There are too many movies for me to review in full, so I created a twitter account to give brief opinions on the many movies I view. If you wish to read my smart ass remarks, follow M.O.V.I.E. Reviewer @MutantOpossum.