Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Nitpicker's Guide to Star Trek Into Darkness Part 2

Well themes and ideas are gone so let's throw logic, creativity, and diversity out the airlock while we're at it.

 Five security guards and not one woman in the bunch, yay equal opportunity employment?

You know instead of kissing in public why couldn’t they have the Vulcan finger kiss here?  You know something discreet that would make me think the guys in charge of this fiasco remember that Spock’s an alien in more ways than the pointed ears; and my god the jacket he’s wearing is ugly.

Hey look they do have a brig!  Where the hell was this in the last film? 

Okay so Khan knows about the warp core malfunction which means he had inside information into Marcus’ plans and that Kirk going to Qo’noS and getting stranded there was part of the plan, presumably he would take out Khan and then get taken out by the Klingons.  That gets rid of Khan and his followers and with the Enterprise destroyed Marcus has his excuse to declare war on the Klingons.  Again why he wants war with the Kilngons considering Starfleet is down several ships and a large amount of personnel I don’t know, but Marcus is clearly meant to be a moustache twirling bad guy not a guy with complex motives so who cares.  Also since Kirk wanted to go to avenge Pike Marcus could lie and say it was Kirk going rogue that started the whole situation not any orders from Starfleet.  That all works expect it begs the question of why Khan attacked HQ.  Was that part of Marcus’ plan too to take out Pike and anyone else who opposed him?  If it was then where does Khan’s revenge fit into all this, and if it wasn’t why is Khan continuing with a plan set up by the guy he wants revenge on?      

How is a communicator able to reach from the neutral zone to Earth?  Do these things not have a range anymore?  If they don’t the end of this film is going to look really stupid.

I like that Kirk admits he was wrong about the torpedoes to Scotty.  What I don’t like is the bar Scotty is in.  Yes, bars have been used in Star Trek before lots of times, but to me it comes across as any old bar you would see in any movie that takes place in our own era.  Outside of a couple of aliens there’s nothing here that screams future to me.  I mean in The Search for Spock there’s the holographic fighter game, tribbles, and this table lit smoky atmosphere that gives it this out of this world look if you will.  Hell even Star Trek V tried to be different with the triple breasted cat dancer and the water logged pool table.  In essence I get the feeling that there was clear effort to try and come up with an alien look and to stand out from just being any old bar.  I get the sense that was a desire and a creative drive to make the locations match the subject matter.  Here I get the feeling of an apathetic attitude.  Like it’s a bar scene okay bright lights, pounding music, add in some CGI aliens cause it’s sci-fi and we’re done.  Have some pride in your goddamn work would you JJ?    

“Don’t agree with me, Spock, it makes me very uncomfortable” is a great line too bad it’s followed by dialogue that is re-worked from Wrath of Khan.

“Perhaps you too should learn to govern your emotions, Doctor.  In this situation logic dictates-”

“Really, Doctor McCoy, you must learn to govern your passions.  They will be your undoing.  Logic suggests-”

“Logic!  My god there’s a manic trying to make us blow up our own damn ship and you’re talking-”

“Logic! My god the man’s talking about logic.  We’re talking about universal Armageddon.”

Outside of foreigner knock offs and The Asylum films I have never seen such a blatant rip off of another artist’s work.

The Carol underwear scene will never stop being stupid and insulting.  It is gratuitous eye candy that serves no purpose at all to the plot, the line about Christine Chapel is awful, and it’s just clumsily written.  Also it makes Kirk look like an idiot.  He clearly see’s Carol take out an article of clothing right after she tells him to turn around.  What the hell did he think she was doing?!

Why does Carol even need to get changed?  We see her and McCoy in the uniforms later and they appear to offer no more protection than the regular uniform, and why can’t Carol just get changed when Kirk goes to get McCoy?  Hell if it’s equal opportunity as Abrams tried to defend with the shower scene he cut and Kirk sans his shirt then why not have both McCoy and Carol get changed at the same time so both genders can show gratuitous skin.  But no this scene is here because the writers wanted to show a women in her bra and underwear.  That’s all this exists for.  It is insulting patronizing and I hate it.

Okay we get down on the ball of rock to check the torpedo there’s two minutes of fun banter from McCoy and then it’s right back to the stupid.  Now the transporter can’t tell the difference between a human arm and metal torpedo really?  Also this was your chance to show Carol as a smart and capable character.  Instead you have her saying screw this and just yanking out the wires why?  The ticking bomb that has to be disarmed is an old cliché so why not have some character development going on during it?  Carol is supposed to be the weapons expert and you just demonstrated that she knows nothing about weapons!  Also what happened to the Klingons?  Yes there’s a line about them finding the Enterprise if they stay, but there’s no urgency at all.  How about scan's picking up Klingon ships or Uhura having to talk a Klingon transmission down and be successful for once?  Or Carol and McCoy having to rush the torpedo stuff and that's how he gets his arm stuck rather than having to up the fuel through the detonation technobabble stuff?   

Meanwhile Scotty finds the USS Vengeance, yeah real subtle there guys.  Also it being behind Jupiter I want to say is a shout out to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but more likely it’s in there so we can have a cool effects shot of the giant red dot.  And does this thing not have sensors?  How can Scotty just fly up to it and join a bunch of other shuttles unnoticed?  Yes, there’s a deleted scene that shows him bluffing his way in, but since it’s on the cutting room floor the stupid must stand alone.

“He’s 300 years old.”

Okay since according to memory alpha this film takes place in 2259 that means Khan and his crew escaped into exile in…1959?  Did anyone edit this script?

And oh boy now we get the reveal of Khan that’s no reveal at all, because when Kirk punched him and he didn’t go down I immediately knew who he was.  Ugh words cannot fully describe how much I hate this supposed twist, but let’s try.

Khan is only in this movie for nostalgia nothing more.  There is no need for him to be anything other than John Harrison.    Why would you wake up a 300 year old guy to build weapons?  There is nothing he would know about your technology that would help at all.  Yes Khan is genetically engineered to be intelligent, though we never get to see that in this film, but Thomas Edison was smart too and if he came back to life tomorrow I don’t expect him to build a movie camera that outshines IMAX.  Khan’s answer is that Marcus woke him up for his savage nature, but Marcus is ready to go to war for no good reason and is willing to send innocent people to their death’s to achieve his ends.  His savagery is well in place already.   Also Khan says Spock can’t even break a rule, but how does he know that?  Did Marcus let Khan have access to Starfleet personnel files?

And then Kirk throws the attack on HQ in Khan’s face and he goes on about trying to protect those he holds most dear, I’ll get to that in a minute, but Khan says he escaped alone so the attack was only his doing and not Marcus’ but then why did he beam to Qu’noS when that has been firmly established to be part of Marcus’ plan?  What did going to Qu’noS achieve for Khan?  

Khan’s goes on about how they were genetically engineered to lead people to peace in a world at war…uh no they weren’t.  The supermen were the one’s looking to grab power and to control and fought amongst themselves.  They were not condemned as criminals and put into exile where they hoped of a better future they did that themselves, presumably to find a new world to conquer. Also Khan’s followers are loyal to him he isn’t necessarily loyal to them so this whole family thing just comes out of nowhere.  Yes, it’s supposed to be a parallel to Kirk and his family of Enterprise shipmates, but I’d by more invested in the whole family dynamic if Kirk hadn’t been spending the movie being mad at Spock, Chekov wasn’t off screen in engineering being forgotten by the audience, and if we hadn’t had that stupid, stupid joke about a former crewmember Christine Chapel.

Most of all though this entire thing about Khan and his family of peacekeepers but not really pisses me off because it breaks the rules of this new universe.  The writers were too lazy to deal with the parameters they set for themselves so they tossed them out the window and hoped we wouldn’t notice.    

“Nero’s very presence has altered the flow of history beginning with the attack on the USS Kelvin culminating in the actions of today thereby creating an entire new chain of incidents that cannot be anticipated by either party.”

“An alternate reality.”

“Preciously.  Whatever our lives might have been if the timeline was disrupted our destinies have changed.”

“Going back in time you changed all our lives.”

“Coming back in time changing history that’s cheating.”

These were the guidelines they set out for their own continuity.  As I’ve said before it doesn’t bother me that they set this outside of the prime timeline and I don’t care about the debates of the temporal Prime Directive or any of that.  Yes, it was established in canon that changing the past alters the future, but with the existence of the mirror universe we also know that at some point the timeline can differ enough that it becomes its own entity along with the existing timeline.  So I think the rebootverse exists in that grey area of how much the timeline can change and that’s fine.  The sticking point for me is that if you establish your rules as such you can’t ignore them when it becomes inconvenient.  You established that everything before Nero’s incursion matches the original timeline therefore you can’t change backstory or appearance of a character that existed before Nero blew everything to hell.  Certain liberties like eye colour are fine you’re recasting it’s inevitable that not every last detail can match.  But here not only do they mangle the backstory of Khan so much that again he might as well have just stayed John Harrison, but they made it worse, by casting a white British man to play him.

And yes given all the information available this was a casting decision.  It wasn’t an open call where everybody auditioned and the best actor won.  Benedict Cumberbatch was specifically chosen for the role after it was turned down by others and was given no information about the character before hand to preserve the stupid twist.  Sure in the 60’s Montalban was put in brownface to play Khan, but Montalban was not white and was not seen as white by Hollywood.  Also having a genetically engineered person not be white was a slap in the face to the whole idea of white supremacy.  And it’s my understanding that the character of Khan was in fact changed when Monalban auditioned and got the part so even there, there was an open call and the best actor won and the part was changed accordingly.  So as I said before I should not be looking at two castings made nearly 50 years apart and finding the one made in the 60’s to be better.    

Having Khan being played by a white British actor doesn’t work within the context of the universe because Khan as he was originally conceived was Indian and a dictator where under his rule there was peace, but no freedom.  It doesn’t work in the larger context of Star Trek because it throws sand in the face of its message of diversity.  Again Orci attempted a defense of this by saying that they didn’t want to present a person of colour as a terrorist, but making him a terrorist was their idea.  It didn’t come from the backstory so that’s bullshit.  If you wanted to have a bad guy in your film that was white and a terrorist and not get flak all you had to do was not make him Khan.     

Continued in Part 3

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