Film review – Star Trek: Into Darkness

There’s no Inheritance Books this week, because it went out on Friday, so I thought I’d do one of my random film reviews. There are spoilers, so if you’ve not seen the film, turn away now.

I watched Star Trek as a kid. I’m not a Trekker. I say this not because I want to distance myself from the misfit/geek aspects of it (I’ll happily admit to both), but because I’m not dedicated enough to be a fan. I’ve only seen the original series, although I’ve seen enough of the Next Generation to know who everyone is and the last time I watched The Wrath of Khan so long ago that I’ve forgotten the subtleties in it. Also I haven’t seen the first New Star Trek. So I watched Star Trek: Into Darkness as a standalone movie.

So, not a proper fan.  Got that? Okay.

It annoys me when I watch a film that leans on the knowledge of its predecessors to make sense. Like Serenity, which is a bit ‘meh’ if you haven’t seen Firefly, this movie really needs you to have seen the first new Star Trek movie AND The Wrath of Khan. Without them, it feels thin and confusing.

First of all, though, Spock and Uhura? Seriously? That’s just plain weird. Spock is a man of logic. The whole attraction of Spock is the fact that he has such a tight rein on his emotions. He’s not supposed to go around snogging people unless he’s been affected by alien spores or something. Just…no. Okay? NO.

Then there’s the random and pointless scene where Kirk sees Carol Murphy in her underwear. I’m sure it’s a nice treat for those who appreciate the female form in underpants and it’s a nod to the future, but it doesn’t serve any purpose in this particular plot.

And Spock prime (alternate timelines are a massive cop out anyway. Look what they did to Dr Who!). Again, a nice nod to another movie and a treat for the fans, but was it necessary for Spock to speak to Spock prime? He didn’t tell him anything useful. The great sacrifice presumably referred to what happened in The Wrath of Khan. Not much use here.

The darkest moment, where Kirk is irradiated was very good. Again, a nice nod to Wrath of Khan. But the seemingly miraculous bit with the funny dead badger thing was a tad predictable (although, that sort of thing does happen a lot in the original series). If you want to see this plot device done well, read Artemis Fowl.

There was no explanation as to why Khan was frozen. Yeah, yeah, he has to survive to come back later, but just a line to say ‘he was too powerful, we don’t know how to kill him’ or ‘we’re saving him in case we need his brain later’ would have solved the problem. Benedict Cumberbatch was a splendid Khan, by the way. Very… controlled.

I thought the younger versions of the crew looked a lot like the original crew. I was specially delighted to see Mr Chekov was just as cute and adorable as the original (I had a soft spot for him, can you tell?). But that rapport between them, especially the triumvirate of Kirk, Spock and Bones wasn’t there. Yes, they’re new to working with each other and some of the dialogue tried to show this, but the chemistry just. wasn’t. there.

So, there you have it. As part of series, Star Trek: Into Darkness works well. But as a stand alone movie it’s unsatisfactory and illogical.