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.
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’.