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Where no one has gone … oh, wait

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May 26, 2013 by falcon7204

I saw the new Star Trek movie, “Into Darkness,” yesterday. I’m conflicted. As a Trek fan from way back, I wanted to like the movie. I still do. And yet, story-wise this could go down as one of the worst Trek films of all time. (For those who haven’t seen it yet, I won’t spoil it for you.)

So, first, let’s talk about the special effects. It obviously wouldn’t be Star Trek without CGI, and the effects in this movie were very good. There were also many practical effects (those accomplished on the set) that were also very well done. The sets were OK for the most part (part of the movie was shot at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, lending some real-world cred to the USS Enterprise). I still have issues with what the Enterprise can and can’t do, but those are geek issues for another time.

And (ok, minor spoiler) the ship finally gets seat belts.

The performances were good. Karl Urban, as Dr. McCoy, finally gets a little more to do in this movie than look exasperated. Chris Pine seems to be making Kirk his own, and Zachary Quinto is already Spock. Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, and Anton Yelchin all get more meat in their roles as Uhura, Scotty, and Chekov, respectively. John Cho as Sulu gets a little left out, but has a bit of fun in his role as well.

Benedict Cumberbatch makes an awesome villain. There is some pathos (real or imagined?) revealed by his character that makes one wonder if he’s really a bad guy. His voice can lend either sorrow or menace, and does so effectively. Alice Eve is actually kind of underutilized in her role, and at one point the viewer really wonders what her role is, except maybe damsel in distress. Peter Weller is a little over the top as a bad guy, thinking he’s unstoppable. But there’s a difference between thinking and knowing, as Cumberbatch’s character demonstrates.

Now, the plot. Really, guys? Is this the best you could do? Alex Kurtzman, Bob Orci, Damon Lindelof and J. J. Abrams seem as though they cherry-picked from both the original Star Trek series and early movies to come up with the plot. And to those who say the plot “reflects the times we live in today,” I say poppycock. What happened in the movie wasn’t an act of “terrorism” in any way, shape or form, it was the bad guy (Cumberbatch) getting back at those who had wronged him. Just because a building was blown up (which was in the trailer for the movie; don’t start hatin’ on me for that) doesn’t automatically classify it an act of terrorism. The villain’s motives were not to cause fear and panic among the populace, it was to destroy Starfleet. (And he damn near does, too.)

But many plot elements (and lines, and heck, even camera placements and character placements) seem as though they were ripped directly from the old celluloid, painted with a fresh coat of paint, and slapped on the big screen. And Abrams is not very good at foreshadowing, unless you call being clobbered on the head with obvious plot “twists” foreshadowing. A lot of what happened you could see coming from a mile away.

I think I can sum it up in one sentence: The script was a hack job.

And they had four years to work on it. Really, guys? This was the best you could do? With the potential for millions of “Class M” (Earth-like) planets out there just in our galaxy, and so many possible stories to tell, you rolled out a re-tread?

Having said all that, I’ll probably buy the DVD. I am, after all, a Star Trek fan (heck, I even have a copy of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, widely regarded as the worst of all the films). But the last two movies represent an attempt to dumb down Trek for the next generation.

How about this, J. J.? Take a cue from the opening narration, and “boldly go” where no Trek movie has gone before.

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