Why I Didn’t Like Star Trek Into Darkness

STIDI’m a Trekkie.

There, I said it.

I used to avoid the title because I thought other people were more into Star Trek than I was, and I didn’t want lay claim to a title I didn’t deserve. I can’t quote trivial details about each episode. I don’t frequently watch the movies/TV shows over and over. I didn’t even like all of them. And I don’t speak Klingon. Well, not fluently.

But since I recently dressed up as Lt. Riker to a showing of “Best of Both Worlds” at my local movie theater, I think I can lay claim to the title, at least causally. More to the point, this last movie bugged me so much that I must have some Trekkie blood in me to be so riled about it.

Don’t think of me a purist. I liked the first JJ Abrams film and, though it had it’s faults, I was really looking forward to this one. He’s great at making action films and working with ensemble casts. So I really wanted to enjoy it… but I just couldn’t. Here’s why. (SPOILER ALERT: This is full of them.)

Transporter problems. So Khan can teleport out of a falling ship into a different galaxy but they can’t beam Spock out of a volcano without line of sight? Lazy writing.

Transporter successes. Wait… Khan can teleport out of a falling ship into a different galaxy?!? Huh? Wha? GAAAH! This insanely stupid technology (used in the first movie in an equally lame plot device) means that space ships are mostly irrelevant. I mean, let’s just beam from planet to planet now, shall we?

Gravity problems. Okay, this bugged me so much it completely pulled me out of the movie. The gravity plates work or they don’t. If they work, people are walking normally. If they don’t, people are floating. Especially if they are falling to earth (this is how NASA currently simulates zero-gravity in aircrafts.) The whole turning at a 90 degree angle with bodies flying everywhere was just plain stupid. The “Science of Star Trek” is one of the things that gave Star Trek a unique brand and fan base, and it seems that gets thrown out of the window (or space hatch) entirely.

Engineering. While I’m on the subject of technology: I’m sure Paramount saved lots of money by using some local water filtration system plant instead of building a real set for the Enterprise’s engineering section, but seriouzly? Couldn’t they have made it look cooler, or did they blow their budget buying extra light bulbs for the bridge? While I’m on that…

Why does the Enterprise only have five rooms in it? There’s sick bay, the water filtration plant, the prison, the bridge, and a really long hallway that connects to the transporter bay (which apparently you don’t need since you can teleport to a different galaxy using a device the size of your leg… GAAAH!) How about a “Ready Room” where a Captain can make important decisions not surrounded by the rest of the crew? Do they even have private quarters? I guess they don’t because…

Dr. Carol Marcus in her underwear. Was there a reason she needed to change in the shuttlecraft? Why wasn’t Bones running right behind her in his skivvies? Kidding aside, this scene really bothered me. Kirk responded with less tact than a 13 year old would. And it was such an obvious, “Oh no! We’ve gone an hour without sex! Have the pretty young actress take her clothes off!” Degrading to women; insulting to the audience. I doubt we’d have seen that scene if she was an older woman, but those kind of people don’t exist in the future because…

Starfleet seems to be made up of mostly 20 year olds. Captain Kirk screws up and they want to send him back to… the Academy? Scotty resigns and they replace him with a Russian teenager? This was the same problem I had with the first film (Cadet Kirk goes from being suspended in Starfleet to being Captain of a starship in the matter of a few hours) and it continued bug me here. But the thing that bugged me the most is…

By having Benedict Cumberbunch play Kahn, they made it a reboot, not an alternate timeline. I love the actor—Sherlock is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. When I heard he was going to be in the new Star Trek film I was thrilled. But when I discovered he was Kahn… my stomach turned. That’s not because I’m a huge Ricardo Monteban fan. It’s because up to this point the filmmakers had gone out of their way to cast actors who have some kind of resemblance to the original series. But with Kahn, the greatest and most dynamic of all Star Trek villains, they said, “Ah, screw it.” He didn’t look like Kahn. He didn’t act like Kahn. He wasn’t Kahn.

Like many Star Trek fans, when we heard about the first movie being made we were excited but also nervous. None of us wanted a “re-boot.” What I thought was brilliant about the first one was that it was not a re-boot, but an alternate timeline. What would Kirk be like without his father’s influence? What would Spock be like with his mother dead and planet gone? What will Starfleet be like having faced such a technologically superior threat? But turning Kahn into a hyper-military English guy broke the whole thing.

I wish they had made him someone else. How about having him as part of Kahn’s crew with a frozen Kahn in a torpedo? And while I thought the flip of the Kirk/Spock dialogue was kind of clever, all it did was remind me that this movie just “looks” like Star Trek, but it really isn’t. Oh, and one more thing…

“We need Kahn’s blood!” No you don’t. You’ve got 72 other people who have the same stuff in their veins. BTW, I hope they didn’t just leave those people in cold storage. At the very least, their blood could cure every disease on earth, and even raise people who were “mostly” dead, right?

That kind of plot device works in Princess Bride, but not in Star Trek. Or at least, it shouldn’t. And that’s why I didn’t like the movie.

COMMENTS: Normally, I ask for a a civil conversation. But not today! Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam!