*** SPOILER ALERT ***
This post has been so long in coming for two reasons; one, I didn't want to spoil the movie for anyone, and two I was waiting to see it a second time, in the cheap theatre. :)
I realized I'm being really hard on Into Darkness because I expected SO MUCH from it - don't get me wrong, I think it's very good, especially when compared to a lot of other movies, but there were a few things that could have made it even better. I saw it opening night in 3D and when it was over I just sat there gasping like a beached fish because EVERYTHING happened so fast I almost wasn't sure what had happened. And after about an hour of amazed silence, the more I thought about it the more a few things annoyed me.
Star Trek was all BAM! Then it was BAM BAM! Then breathe, but no, just kidding-BAMBAMBAM! And I'm like WHAT JUST HAPPENED? Must see again...
— Michelle Heumann (@MichelleHeumann) May 18, 2013
And they still annoyed me the second time, but I think I understood the characters, at least Kirk and Spock, a little more. I still jumped out of my skin when Khan popped up off the floor where he was supposed to be stunned unconscious, and the friend I was with, who was seeing it for the first time, grabbed my arm. :)
One of the most entertaining internet things about Into Darkness has been all the crossover graphics, some of them combining Sherlock AND Star Trek AND Middle Earth, which I find highly amusing.
See? Fangirl fodder galore.
As for the movie itself, there were lots of things I really like about it.
Scotty's facial expressions are brilliant. Simon Pegg's Scotty needs his own movie. BUT I was disappointed that he actually left the Enterprise. It turns out there was a job for him to do, so it wasn't pointless, but I didn't really think he'd actually gone, and when the warp drive failed and Chekov was sent to fix it, I expected Scotty to pop out from behind a console and safe the day. After keeping him apart from the crew for large chunks of both of the first two movies, I really hope he's more present in the third one.
Which brings me to Chekov, who's now probably all of 18 years old? Just a baby, really, and he's ADORABLE. His accent and his puppy eyes - I just want to pat his head and tell him he's wonderful. :) It's also sad that he's exiled from the bridge for a good chunk of the movie, because he's such a wonderful character. I guess that's the problem with such a big cast - there just can't be enough screen time for all of them.
Sulu does an excellent turn as acting captain, which is one of my favourite moments in the movie, as is Bones' response.
Bones gets the best one-liners of maybe any franchise ever. But what I didn't like was the fact that he just happened to have a dead tribble on hand, and he thought that injecting it with the blood of a super-human they knew little about was a good idea. (facepalm) I get that they were setting up Khan's blood as a cure for Kirk's radiation poisoning, but that had already been done in the sequence that introduced Khan at the beginning of the movie. I just though that was really lame. And does that mean that there are now super-tribbles infesting the Enterprise?
This is one of my favourite moments...
I didn't really buy the relationship between Spock and Uhura, just because it doesn't seem to fit with what I know about Spock. I don't dislike it, it just didn't seem that convincing, but it made for some really funny moments. When they actually talk on the shuttle to Kronos, then it started to make more sense to me. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with it in the third movie.
But I think my favourite part of the movie was Uhura standing up to the Klingons.
There was a job she could do, and she did it, and it wasn't blowing things up, but simply using her linguistic skills to try to complete the mission. It almost ended horribly, but not for lack of her trying. Her bravery was amazing.
For me the movie's biggest flaw was lack of character development. I've never seen the original Star Trek movies (except for the Voyage Home), and I didn't realized that Into Darkness was going to follow the same general story arc that the original movies did. I BELIEVED J.J. ABRAMS WHEN HE SAID THAT BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH WAS PLAYING JOHN HARRISON AND NOT KHAN. I think that's what ticked me off the most - he didn't need to lie, he could have just not talked about it. So lame! I was looking forward to a totally new bad guy, and given what little I do know about the original series, I was thinking of someone along the lines of Gary Seven. Alas, it was not to be. :(
Anyway, lack of character development... I felt like the movie relied too much on character development that I assume had been built in the original series rather then building its own. Kirk and Spock's friendship was rocky, and the crew's loyalty didn't seem to have much of a basis when Kirk was acting like a spoiled brat for the first half of the movie. He was just going to blow up a city on the Klingon home world, and then he (tried to) beat the crap out of Khan - I just expected more honour from the character, so I was really disappointed. It was hard to root for the 'hero' when I wanted to give him a good lecture and a time out.
Don't even get me started on the epic lameness of Quinto's Spock calling Nimoy's Spock for help, and how despite his vow, old Spock told him what he knew about the Khan from his timeline, when there was so much scope to do something new with the character. Spock says that Khan's goal is genocide of anyone he thinks is inferior, but the character doesn't actually display any of those traits - he seems like a straightforward eye-for-an-eye type guy, and in that moment when Kirk and Khan were waiting to space jump to the dreadnaught, I really thought Khan was going to get his happy ending. Crushing Admiral Marcus' head with his bare hands, in front of his daughter, was a bit sickening, but then the Admiral was a manipulative bad guy...
Kirk's death scene was unfortunate, and I actually didn't even really see it coming. I figured, given the demonstrated potency of Khan's blood in the opening fifteen minutes of the movie, that they'd get Kirk injected with it BEFORE he died. But even when he did die, I knew they weren't actually going to kill off Captain Kirk, so I was actually a bit bored. Apparently in the original, it was Spock who died, and he stayed dead for a whole movie? But I didn't know that, and the hero appearing to die is such an overdone trope that it left me cold. Not to mention the fact that ever since I saw K-19: The Widowmaker the whole idea of radiation poisoning grosses me out beyond words - I find it scarier then zombies or vampires.
And finally, other then the poor character development, my least favourite thing was Carol Marcus' underwear. I mean really, was it absolutely necessary that the camera take a long, slow pan down her body? Seriously? Her and Kirk's reactions to the situation are interesting, and I read a good blog analyzing it, but her state of undress could have been hinted at in order to achieve those reactions. It felt cheap, and quite frankly I expected more from Star Trek then 'sex sells'. I sincerely hope that they avoid anything like it in the third movie...there was a bit of it in the first one, but I don't think it was as gratuitous as this was. Her character is really great and has a lot of potential - she sees things that she can do something about and she does them - and I hope they make good use of her character in the next movie.
I'm only hard on it because I love Star Trek so much. I really, really, really hope that the next movie spends more time on character development, and that breaks away from the established storylines. When it was first announced that J.J. was going to be doing the new Star Wars movie, I was really excited, but Into Darkness has made me a little bit more hesitant. I love the action/adventure stories, but if they don't have good characters, I don't feel them, and that's a problem that plagued the recent Star Wars expanded universe stuff, so I hope the lack of character I'm feeling in Into Darkness doesn't creep into Star Wars as well.
Of course, that won't stop me from buying Into Darkness, or seeing the third movie, or seeing the Star Wars movies... :)