Star Trek: Into Fan Service
If the box office numbers are any indication, you’ve already seen Star Trek Into Darkness. Probably a few times. I’ll probably see it again.
I think it’s a great summer movie. I love the new cast. I think their interpretations of the characters are great. I love that Spock and Uhura are a couple. In general, I was pretty pleased with the 2009 reboot and very happy to spend more time with this cast. And this is coming from a fairly die hard Trek fan.
I had been looking forward to seeing something new from the franchise and I felt, coming off of the 2009 high, that JJ Abrams was the man to do it. Sadly, Into Darkness turned into a weird mashup of “Space Seed” and Wrath of Khan that doesn’t quite push the franchise forward.
For once, I’m not going to get into the whitewashing of Khan Noonien Singh. Khan is supposed to be Sikh. Ricardo Montalbán was Latino. Sooooo not quite right in the first place. But my problem with Khan goes deeper than ethnicity.
For what it’s worth, I think Cumberbatch did a fine job as the villain. His voice is so freaking scary I think it would have been more cool if he was a super soldier developed by a secret branch of Starfleet gone rogue. You could have still gone with the fear of war with the Klingons thread and I think it could have been a very strong story. But by tying him to Trek history and desperately trying to placate Trek fans of old, the movie completely sabotages itself.
The exact moment when this film jumps into fanservice is when Leonard Nemoy appears on the screen. Quinto Spock asks Spock Prime about Khan. Spock Prime says, “Shit son, I can’t tell you stuff about my past. That shit will fuck up this already fucked up paradox. But on the D/L? Khan is an evil mother fucker.” Yes. Thank you for that. Vulcans must have become collectively dumber since the destruction of their home world in this new timeline because fucking seventeen year old Chekhov could have figured out that Khan is an evil prick!
Oh, but Spock Prime told Quinto Spock how to defeat Khan. Bull, to the fucking, shit. Nothing Quinto Spock does after this stupid vid chat with himself indicates any extra insight into Khan or how Kirk Kobayashi Maru’d his way out of Wrath. It was all fan service, plain and simple. And the only reason I can think of is that the scene is there to give us Trek faithful a fanboner.
I nearly walked out.
My fists shook for the final act of the film as we saw Kirk and Spock switch their Wrath roles as Kirk goes into the dilithium chamber to realign the fucking thing with a karate kick to turn the engines back on. The we get a reenactment of the famous scene with Spock in the chamber and Kirk on the outside and all the feels except this time Kirk is in the chamber and FOR FUCK’S SAKE I’VE SEEN WRATH, I’VE SEEN NEMESIS, I WANT SOME NEW SHIT!
Oh, and get this shit! Instead of waiting a whole new movie to bring him back or just leave him dead, they bring him back to live with Khan’s blood. So basically, New Trek has ended death. And with no death, gone is any sense of drama. Spock dies in a lava fire? Khan blood. Sulu dies in a shuttle accident? Khan blood. Scotty drowns in a Jeffrey’s tube? Khan blood. Uhura gets stabbed with a Batleth? Khan blood. Tribble dead? Khan blood. And instead of executing him, they put Khan on ice so now they have a Khan blood factory to tap anytime a Red Shirt bites it. Red Shirt dies? KHAN MOTHER FUCKING BLOOD! Fuck, Red Shirts should just be renamed Khan Shirts.
Still Gonna See It Again
It sometimes helps to go see a movie like this with someone who isn’t a huge fan of the old shit. Audrey’s introduction to Trek was the 2009 reboot and she loved it. She really enjoyed Into Darkness and though she noticed some of the geeky things I complained about, she had a good time with it.
And I have to say, even with my geek rage, I had a lot of fun seeing it on the big screen. The good outweighs the bad. And I actually want to see more from this cast and this universe. I suspect that a third film will probably introduce a war with Klingons which could be a good way to break from previous Trek history depending on the outcome. Although, I wouldn’t be disappointed if it didn’t go that way. I really just want to see how far New Trek can push the franchise, break away from its roots, and really establish some new shit. Fanservice is nice and all, but I think New Trek has a lot of potential yet to be explored.