Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Terrible Tuesday: On Star Trek Into Darkness

Like with Inception, I'm stretching my definition of 'terrible' this Tuesday. However, that does not really make this movie good. It has a flawed structure, a dull villain (or two), and a nigh incomprehensible plot. I'm really getting sick of movies nowadays trying to spruce things up with complications over complexities. Just because you can hardly track what's going on doesn't make it complex, just confusing. In this case, I'm mainly referring to the villain's ultimate goal, which he goes about achieving in a woefully questionable way.

Most Idiotic Review

"Visually spectacular and suitably action packed, Star Trek Into Darkness is a rock-solid installment in the venerable sci-fi franchise ...." — Rotten Tomatoes site consensus

Most Accurate Review

"If only the script actually made sense ..." — Keith Decandido (Tor.com)

Yeah ... that. 
Who cares about the script making sense?
What I Say

Before I begin, I want just say, this review is coming out of me when I'm not at my best. My  new semester just started yesterday and I've already run myself a bit ragged trying to keep up with the schedule that I have only myself to blame for creating. Normally I'd rewatch the entire film before throwing down with it, but frankly, I didn't like this movie nearly enough to sit through it again, having seen it at least three times I can think of off the top of my head. 
I won't really delve into the film today, so much as what's stupid about it. Somewhere out there, I know I just made someone very happy. The villain, played by Peter Weller, has a pretty stupid plan as to start a war with the Klingons in order to ... prevent a war. Smooth. His mentality is that war is inevitable, but he wants it on his terms. 

The way he goes about this is so painful I don't even like thinking about it. He manipulates Kirk into going after Khan (they try and fail for a reveal of this, but there were few if no people who didn't see it coming), and tries to get him to fire Khan's crew (secretly housed in torpedoes) at the planet to kill Khan. Then he rigs the ship to stall. Then, when he finds out they didn't kill Khan, he shows up himself ... and tries to kill everyone. 

I love villains who think they're the good guys, since I find them the most believable and the most interesting ... Admiral Marcus is not one of these villains. His plan is very solidly in mustache twirler area, and the attempts to change that really fail. He comes across less sympathetic than Khan, even when one considers Khan's acts of terrorism at the end of the film when he crashes a Starship into Starfleet headquarters. Khan is actually fairly sympathetic all in all, but I'll get to that later.

Outside the stupidity of the plot, we also have a few other things crammed down our throat. Kirk fires Scotty for reasons that at first seem really stupid, which are confirmed when it's revealed the writers just needed Scotty off the Enterprise so he could go do other things. 

They reverse the end of Wrath of Khan, putting Kirk in Spock's place, and reverse even their lines. It really doesn't work. Instead of hearkening to the original scene and then deviating to explore their own themes and their own character relationships (this Spock and Kirk do not have the same relationship as their Wrath of Khan counterparts), the identical dialogue just resonates wrong. It forces you to compare it to the original, which is unfair to Into Darkness. 

There's plenty else to complain about in terms of inconsistencies (I tend to blame Lindelof for the majority of these, since I almost always have a bone to pick with that guy), like 'needing' Khan's super-blood when you have the rest of his crew in stasis, or the tribble ... which is just a frankly odd and out of place conclusion. The relationship between Spock and Uhura is just uncharacteristic to me, and feels like Hollywood overstepping its bounds and trying to make Star Trek more hip for a younger audience. I don't think it adds to either character. Kirk is both similar and dissimilar to Shatner's portrayal. I don't think this would bother me if not for Zachary Quinto's damned impressive portrayal of Spock. I read that he purportedly based the majority of his performance on actually spending time with Leonard Nimoy, and I believe it. I still argue the best scene in the 2009 film is the scene with the two Spocks near the end. So my problem isn't that Chris Pine is doing a poor job, by any means. He's doing his version of the character, but with the other lead doing his version of the original's version, I simply find it jarring.

The film does have a lot of good moments, although I don't really care for how J.J. Abrams handles a camera. There is a lot of shaky cam overall, even in softer quieter scenes, and I found it very distracting. Also, the lens flares are back in force. Considering the audience reaction to the 2009 film's overuse of the damn things, there's a lingering sense of 'fuck you, got mine,' that I've mentioned about other filmmakers. 

Thankfully the movie has a star-studded cast and Benedict Cumberbatch steals the show. Someone pointed out on another review I read that it really is a testament to Martin Freeman's acting chops that he can so effortlessly play equal to Cumberbatch, who feels like he's walking over the rest of this cast. It's a surreal enough experience that it's almost reason alone to see Into Darkness. But, other than the aforementioned Abrams shaky-cam, the actions scenes are grand-scale epic, they're just difficult to discern what the hell is happening. It's a real shame that I've talked about before. 

If there's one thing I walked away from this with a sense of dread with Abram's upcoming Star Wars film ... something I wasn't excited for in the first place. 

No comments:

Post a Comment