Okay, so here’s why I disliked Star Trek Into Darkness. (Spoilers ahead! You have been warned.)
It was not the acting, which is mostly fine. And obviously, the movie looks great – even though it never quite manages to recapture the truly striking visuals of the alien landscape of the first few minutes.
No, the problem is in the writing. The gaping plot holes, for one. I don’t mind some bending of plausibility every once in a while, but what happens in this movie is ridiculous. Here are a few examples:
- Supposedly Admiral Marcus is trying to hide the existence of the 72 genetically engineered supermen, yet he hands them over to Kirk, a notoriously unreliable officer, instead of letting his own henchmen dispose of them. (If he didn’t, Khan would have no reason to surrender to Kirk, short movie.)
- That same admiral supposedly was super-paranoid about alien threats to Earth, yet apparently he never got around to installing a planetary defense system. Not a single defense ship comes to investigate when a major space battle takes place between the Earth and the moon. (If they did, they’d cut short said space battle. Who wants that, right?)
- If the blood of the supermen can cure the dying and resurrect the dead, they did not even need Khan to resurrect Kirk, did they? They had 72 other donors right on board. (If they realized that, Spock’s chase of Khan would be so much less complicated/exciting.)
Sometimes the writers actually seem to know how preposterous a plot development is, so they reverse it within ten minutes. Kirk loses the Enterprise – and gets it right back. Kirk dies – and is quickly brought back to life. And of course, the viewers know that they are not really going to kill off Kirk; this is not their first movie ever. So what’s the point?
Actually, a lot of this is because the writers try to cram every last possible reference to earlier Trek into the movie – it’s a cornucopia of fan wank. A mention of Section 31 or the occasional tribble, fine. But when you actually have to kill Kirk just to quote a scene from Star Trek II, you’ve probably gone too far. The inclusion of the Carol Marcus character is a perfect example: She is only there as a callback to The Wrath of Khan; she has literally nothing to do. And when her presence on the Enterprise actually threatens to become a plot point (will her daddy shoot on a ship with her on board?), she is simply beamed away.
The other characters do not fare too well either. Khan, in particular, is actually boring as a villain, his lone motivation being revenge. Yawn. (It also does not help that the big reveal about his identity comes in the form of an exposition-laden monologue from himself.) Admiral Marcus is a paranoid lunatic, which is a bit more interesting, but he’s a cardboard cutout paranoid lunatic. What’s his story? We’ll never know.
And the main characters, the good guys? They are pretty much the same they were in the last movie.
Which also means that Spock and Kirk are really still fighting with each other most of the time. We are supposed to construct this as friendly bickering, but it did not seem like it to me. (Maybe it was the German dub?) But then their friendship does not seem so very amazing, and then it seems ridiculous when Spock starts to cry at the end at Kirk’s temporary death, and then there is zero emotional resonance. Because this movie is (if it’s about anything) about friendship. Granted, some other themes are introduced early on: Should you save a life now even if there are potentially awful consequences later? Should soldiers disobey orders if those orders are in violation of human rights? But these themes are discarded almost immediately, and the only one the movie comes back to is, “Aren’t friends great.” Which is so trite even Disney animated movies are more complex these days.
I’ll stop here. I still have more complaints, but those are Trekkie stuff.