Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Into DarknessIf you polish a turd and give it to someone that loves you, you’d best hope they like polished turds.  Otherwise they’re going to be upset.

This review will contain spoilers.

Got that?  Spoilers Galore.  Stop looking right now, if you don’t want spoilers… and for the love of all that is holy, do not click Continue Reading.

Seriously.  It’s going to look like Fast & Furious with the spoilers in this review.  Indy 500 got nuthin’ on the spoilers in this bitch.  Top Fuel Dragster level spoilers, man.

Big Daddy Don Garlitts Flip Inducing Spoilers Ahead

Big Daddy Don Garlitts Flip Inducing Spoilers Ahead

So… I went to Star Trek Wars Episode II:  Undiscovered Khan tonight.  Based on my feelings about the first movie (it was an action/adventure movie, not Star Trek) I got almost exactly what I expected out of this movie.  It was a polished turd.  It looked pretty.  It was nice and round and it came with a cute little display box.   It didn’t even smell funny.  But there was no mistaking the fact that it was the previously digested and rectally evacuated food of a living organism.  I’m going to guess it came from a bull.  I’m not really sure.  It looked kinda bullish.

If you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll probably notice by now that on the average, I’m extremely forgiving of action movies I see in the theatre.  This is because I really, really like watching things blow up, get shot at, and deliver one liners on a screen that may or may not be larger than my entire home.  I don’t want to do the math.  So, I’m going to be a bit forgiving of this polished turd… because I really liked the action in it.  If I was watching this at home, I don’t know.  Probably not as much.  There are a lot of pretty action movies that haven’t held up over multiple home viewings for me (I’m looking at you, The Matrix).

But let’s start with the gooey, unpolished centre of this turdball, shall we?  This movie is fundamentally flawed.  It’s not Star Trek.  Most Star Trek movies aren’t.  Why can’t they make a Star Trek movie that both looks and feels like Star Trek, and yet, doesn’t suck?  This is the subject of another post that’s been in the can for a while, but I’ve never gotten around to finishing it.  Maybe someday.

Anyway, they’ve got the characters, sure… but they’re missing the core.  Star Trek is, and always will be, about humanity.  What makes us human?  Why can’t we, as humans, always do the right thing, even when it’s hard?  Why can’t we get along with other humans?  Why do we fight over nonsense that doesn’t matter in the big picture?  What is our role in the continued survival of our species, and our planet?  Why is being human better than being anything else, ever?  Are we really better than anything else, ever?  Star Trek asks (and sometimes answers) these questions constantly.  Yes… there’s hundreds of episodes of show that cover other topics, but at it’s core… this is Star Trek, and very, very few Trek movies deal with this subject.

But let’s specifically get back to Into Darkness.  Like it’s predecessor, the film decides to give us some Sci-Fi action with a few people that look like Star Trek characters, and slap the Star Trek name on it.  Most of the characters in this movie do not behave as their character would.  Kirk is reckless, and Bones is constantly shitting on his recklessness.  That’s about it, as far as similarities go.

Everyone else is fucked up.  Scotty resigns.  Spock shits on Kirk’s recklessness as usual, but he does it because it’s more reckless than his own recklessness.  He violates the Prime and Temporal directives like they’re a redheaded stepdaughter, and then has an emotional breakdown.  Meanwhile Khan… the once over-the-top, camptastic, genocidal super genius… is the most stoic character on screen.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the stoic Benefibre Cabbagepatch (sorry, it’s a fun name to make fun of).  His was the standout performance.  He was Loki, he was Hans Gruber, he might’ve even been Darth Vader for a minute or two…  But he wasn’t Khan.  Everyone else I haven’t mentioned is either criminally underused, a plot device, window dressing… or all three.

The plot is ridiculous.  The entire premise is that the leader of Starfleet…  you know Starfleet, right?  The military/exploratory arm of civilization’s pinnacle?  Humanoid utopia uniting countless races together in harmony?  No internal strife, no homelessness, hunger, currency or suffering?  John Lennon’s Imagine realized?  Yeah… well the guy in charge of that whole she-bang wants to go to war with the Klingons.  So much so he’s willing to go through an elaborate ruse, the likes of which have only been seen in pretty much every military drama ever and have never, ever, ended well.

Khan is involved in this plan somehow.  I don’t really care how or why, because it’s just awful.  Somewhere along the way, Khan and Kirk use each other, and get mad about stuff while blowing other stuff up.  Somewhere in the mix, Spock gets a warning from his future self, and Kirk sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise’s crew.  He dies on the other side of some glass, and Spock delivers the ‘KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” line.  Because someone, somewhere thought this was a piece of fan-service that fans were clamouring for.

I’ve never seen fan-service handled so poorly.  The death scene, the appearance of the Kirk/Spock fight music, a Deus-Ex-Tribble (at least from the characters’ viewpoint), half-naked ladies…  everything that was probably “put in for the fans” felt tacked on to an already shitty story that was being held together by shitty characters and the flimsiest connection to the Star Trek name.

I stopped caring very, very early in this movie.  Fortunately, being me, I shut off whatever little bit of my brain was still on, and enjoyed the light-show. If you can do this, by all means, go see this movie in the theatres, while you still can.  There is a good deal of funny dialogue from Bones and Scotty, and some kick-ass action scenes.  I try to rate my viewing experience, not the movie itself, so this one ends up being a


but don’t let that mediocre score fool you.  This movie is a shiny, round turd.  If you want something more than a Michael Bay movie here, keep on Trekkin’.

16 comments on “Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

  1. Great stuff. The fan-service stuff should have been removed completely. i loved Cabbagepatch though, he was so much better than the storyline they gave him

  2. I’m sure that if I had a more robust knowledge of Star Trek, I would’ve disliked this movie a lot more. But as someone who is just now getting into the franchise, and actually kind of enjoyed the other new Trek movie, I had fun with this one. Although, I bet that once I catch up on all the other films it will lose some of its charm for me.

    • I doubt it will. Not if you only watch the films, anyway. They suck. I say that as a fan of them… but they suck. The ones that are enjoyable movies, aren’t good Star Trek. The ones that are good Star Trek, aren’t good movies. I’ve never been able to get through one from beginning to end without interruption without watching it in the theatre. (I’ve managed to see all of them since 6 in theatres)

      The closest balances between good Trek and good movie–for me–are 2 and 6. But again, I haven’t really given any of them before 6 a “fair” shake, because I’ve stopped and started and left hanging for months. Not wanting to sit through them from beginning to end is kinda why that post I was talking about is still hanging in limbo.

      • I love the show. If you have Netflix streaming and decent bandwidth… fire that shit up.

        The original series is camptastic, but meaningful.

        TNG is pretty consistently the best Human Morality Play out there, and arguably the best series all around.

        We won’t discuss my feelings on Deep Space Nine. But don’t avoid it just because I hate it.

        I liked Voyager, but I’m about to be eaten by hordes of landroving sharks for saying so.

        I liked, but didn’t get to watch much of, Enterprise, though it is pretty weak.

    • Yup. This is more of the same from J.J., which is fine. I have a lot of complaints, mostly because I noticed these things not after watching the movie, but during.

      The “We can’t break the Prime Directive” from Spock, while he was literally in the mouth of a volcano breaking the Prime Directive, had my mouth agape, and that’s when I knew my brain had to get shut off immediately, or suffer the consequences. I got it shut down enough to enjoy the movie, but not enough to ignore the BS.

  3. If you polish a turd and give it to someone that loves you, you’d best hope they like polished turds. – Words to live by, Spike. Words to live by. 😉

    I cant argue with you, you have a lot of valid points amongst the rant there. I’m forgiving of the reboot because its the only thing keeping Trek alive right now, it may breed a good movie of its own still with this cast, and perhaps one day it will give rise to another Trek franchise as good as TOS or TNG. [Shrugs]

    Taken as is, these are flashy mindless action packed movies… I know its hard to get past a lot of their issues, but if you can, people may wind up entertained.

    • Oh definitely. I got past the issues. I was entertained. I just wasn’t able to shut my brain off enough to love it as much as other mindless action flicks. I’m certainly not calling for a full stop on this branch of the franchise.

      Someday… someday… maybe they’ll make a good Star Trek movie that’s everything I want it to be.

      Chances are by then, we’ll actually be living in a Federation Utopia anyway. That, or on a holodeck… where I’ll make my own Star Trek movie. With Blackjack. And hookers.

    • You know, it really didn’t feel as ranty when I was writing it… but after reading it, and some other reviews… yeah… it is a nice rant. Thanks.

      At least the turd was polished.

      I’m worried, though. I’ve been able to enjoy the last 5 movies I’ve seen in theatres. The last time I had a run that long, the streak breaker was Dark Shadows… If history repeats…. well… I’m not ready for Superman or Thor to suck that bad.

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