STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS: The HCF Alternative Review
IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 132 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Kirk and Spock attempt to save the inhabitants of the plaent Nibiru from an imminent volcano eruption which would wipe out the civilisation. When Spock’s life is jeopardized, Captain James T. Kirk breaks the Prime Directive, exposing the Enterprise to the planet’s civilization during Spock’s rescue. Called back to Earth, Kirk is demoted to First Officer and taken off the Enterprise, but in London, Starfleet agent John Harrison bombs a secret installation, then carries out an attack by gunship an emergency meeting of high ranking officers at Starfleet headquarters, killing many. Fleet Admiral David Marcus authorizes Kirk to hunt down Harrison, who has used transwarp beaming and fled to the Klingon homeworld of Kronos…..
It’s Star Trek Jim, but not as we know it!
Star Trek. I’m not sure I would even call myself a casual fan: I never liked what I saw of The Next Generation, though I could see why many loved it, and I never bothered with the ones that came after, though I have fond memories of the original series [you know, the fun one] from when I was young, and every now and again I’ll watch one of the films on TV and usually get some enjoyment out of it, even if they are definitely hit and miss. The 2009 Star Trek was certainly an entertaining movie and won much praise as a film that pleased the Trekkies as well as a great many people who previously would have had little interest in something that has such an obsessive fan base that many folk who deem themselves ‘normal’ just don’t want to know. Me? I enjoyed Abrams’ s film, though it didn’t seem very Star Trek to me. But it’s a masterpiece compared to the idiotic mess that is Star Trek Into Darkness, which could be called a great many things but not a film with Star Trek in the title. I don’t love Star Trek, but when I go and see a film containing those two words, that’s what I want to see, not a pumped-up, non-stop action movie that may have the Trek characters but for much of the time could have featured anybody.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, Star Trek Into Darkness didn’t please this writer much at all. I wish I was willing to forget it was supposed to be Star Trek, or accept it as being a very different take on it, but it just wasn’t done well enough. On one hand it’s filled with familiar characters and situations and even copies a fair bit from earlier films and episodes [though I couldn’t tell you the name of the episode, I distinctly remember one when he was suspended and taken off the Enterprise because he had not followed protocol], but on the other hand, it’s saying none of that’s important, because it’s all about constant rushing around and fights and space duels and stuff. And before you ask, yes, I’m a huge fan of action. Though action cinema is in a bad way at the moment, The Avengers was a blast and dare I say I’m already looking forward to more guilty pleasure with The Expendables 3, but those never try and sell themselves as something they are not. J.J. Abrams has said that he isn’t really a Star Trek fan, so what he and his writers [more on them later] seem to have partially tried to do is make it more like Star Wars, only they haven’t really succeeded in that either. Frankly, though as I have said I am not really a Star Trek fan, I would have thought any die hard Trekkie would be offended by, for instance, Kirk and crew being sent to kill someone. When on earth did they become sanctioned assassins?
This film has no Star Trek feel even while it pilfers from here and there. It may have the usual folk, albeit younger, saying and doing the things you may expect, but it all feels so forced and mechanical, as it the film was written by a computer. Maybe we’re meant to care about, for instance, the relationship between Kirk and Spock, but all I could think of how all of the emotional beats were predictable and laboured, and how ridiculously indecisive Spock was – the writers clearly had no understanding of the character. The whole film seems to have been mathematically worked out: action scene, character scene, a mild laugh, action scene, character scene, and so forth. It doesn’t flow, and o, I forgot lens flare, yeah bloody constant lens flare, the trademark of this mediocre director, used to downright stupid extremes here. It looks like half the time they ought to all be wearing sunglasses. And then, eventually, it all turns into a remake of Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Khan, but without the doses of intelligence and genuine emotion that film managed to throw in to give wait to what could itself have been just a run-of-the-mill space duel.
So forgetting that it’s supposed to be Star Trek, does Star Trek Into Darkness work as a simple space action film? Partially. The fast pace is certainly very well maintained and, for the most part, Abrams has left behind the stupid shakycam/hyperfast editing nonsense that he was using before, though the most potentially exciting scene, Kirk and Spock free-falling through space amidst loads of space junk, is little more than a blur and features not-so-special effects. But the film is hampered by downright shoddy storytelling, and yes I know this is coming from the same writer who is reviewing lots of Godzilla movies, but this kind of stuff should just not be the case in such an expensive, high-profile project that has taken a while to conceive and make. Now I can accept loads of plot holes, inconsistencies and silly stuff if the film they are in is tongue-in-cheek, or if I only think of them after the film, but throughout this movie I kept asking myself things like: How can a single small ship keep shooting for ages at a secret meeting and nothing intercept him? Why, if they’ve invented Trans-warping, don’t both the goodies and the villain take advantage of it? What exactly is Khan trying to do? Almost every plot ‘twist’ [like, wow, Khan surrendering, oo I wonder why he’s doing that?] is heavily signposted, but then why would anyone expect decent writing from those genius scribes Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. I left the cinema feeling very worried about the fact that Abrams is directing Star Wars, but it’s possible that the writers are the real villains, and that Abrams thought that the best thing he could do was to race through everything at top speed.
Of course political correctness, the thing that’s destroying freedom of speech, has meant that Khan can’t be an Indian [which is how he was written] or a Mexican [which the guy who played him was]. He has to be American or English.It’s like in Iron Man 3, where they chickened out of having the main villain as Chinese, which is how he was in the comics. What on earth is the world coming to when you can’t have an ‘ethnic’ villain in case idiots will think that because, for instance, a film has an Asian baddie, the film is racist? Having the very English Benedict Cumberbatch playing a guy called Kahn Noonien Singh is pretty funny. This is not meant as an insult to Cumberbatch, who is really frightening, quietly simmering until he lets rip in a rather startling scene that gave me the impression the film was going to recover [it didn’t]. The rest of the cast do okay and are mostly [except for the constantly uncharismatic Simon Pegg] fitting for their roles, but Chris Pine just cannot fill the shoes of the Shat, no matter how hard he tries, bless him.
There is an insidious wave of dumbing more and more things down at the moment, in an effort to make something more popular and ‘cool’. It doesn’t just exist in cinema, it’s everywhere you look, from language to education. Cinema has always done this in an effort to attract the ‘moron masses’, and is often all the more fun for it, but it seems worse than ever at the moment. Star Trek Into Darkness is a pretty major instance of it. I can often forgive stupid cinema, in fact quite often I love it. But this movie takes something which was formerly rich and unique, and then turns it into disposable trash. No, I’m no fan of Star Trek, but I respect it, and this isn’t it.
Read Matt Wavish’s far more complimentary review here: https://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/2013/05/star-trek-into-darkness-2013-out-now-in-cinemas/