Star Trek at its core is about explorers and their encounters with life outside planet Earth, new civilizations, suffice to say – new worlds. The previous movie (“Star Trek”, released 2009) focused on Kirk’s personal dilemma of losing his father and Spock losing his world.
I found myself raising my brows (already) at the first few minutes of “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. The film opened when the NCC-1701 aka USS Enterprise was sent to a planet in the Nibiru system to “observe” a primitive civilization but Kirk (Chris Pine) and his fleet ended up saving them. This event directly violates the “Prime Directive” – twice! First, when Kirk decides to expose the USS Enterprise to the people of Nibiru when Spock’s (Zachary Quinto) life was put on jeopardy. But actually, this is the second offense not first, since this very mission is a direct violation to that very “Prime Directive” which states:
“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Star Fleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.”
— Articles of the Federation, Chapter I, Article II, Paragraph VII
While the crowd went gaga on that shot of the Enterprise rising underneath the water, I was scratching my head. What in the world was the Enterprise doing underneath the water? Enterprise is a “starship” and not a “submarine vessel” and there is no need to hide from a pre-warp civilization underwater when the ship can be perfectly hidden in space. Correct me if I’m wrong but unlike Voyager, Enterprise does not have the capability to land on a planet surface nor does it operate underwater. And going back to that argument, the ship have shuttles and transporters so why exposed the whole fleet?
This whole Nibiru arc was beyond forced and is totally forgettable as it has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the film. They probably added this to compensate to the dying drama scene (and exchange of vows) of Kirk towards the end of the film.
Another letdown for me was the addition of Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) touted to have this incredible scientific mind and yet I will only remember her on “that underwear” scene with Kirk. But brace yourselves, for Dr. Marcus will be the mother of David – Kirk’s son (ooops, spoilers).
That ending was laughable too when McCoy (Karl Urban) ordered Spock not to kill Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) because of his regenerative properties that could reanimate Kirk. If that’s the case, wouldn’t the other 72 genetically engineered superhuman lying on a sleeper ship have it too? Not the mention that those capsules are with their possession? Writer Roberto Orci reached out and said “everyone is frozen, they could die if awakened improperly”. Hmmm, okay, so the bigger question now is, should there will be a sequel, can anyone from the Starfleet die now because there are 72 sleepers + Khan on board that they could use to literally revive the dead? And don’t go back to what Orci said because I would assume that by then (should there’ll be a sequel) alt-McCoy was already able to create a technology to wake them up. They obviously kept the sleepers for a reason. And furthermore, they can’t create a tech that would wake the superhumans and yet, they were able to build an extra cyro-tube for Khan that fast given the “complexities”? Or was there an extra tube to begin with? I don’t think so and I would assume that Khan’s tube was destroyed at Section 31 HQ. And where did they put the extra body when McCoy asked the staff to make room for Kirk? They can’t just put it somewhere given the complexities of the superhuman body.
On the plus side: it’s fast-paced and the visuals are absolutely engaging and outstanding. I think the casting was smart but special shoutout goes to Simon Pegg (as Lieutenant Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott). I love it when he said: “You don’t rob a bank when the getaway car has a flat tire!”, probably one of the most memorable lines if not the best in the movie. And Benedict Cumberbatch did a very good job on playing the role of Khan (let’s not dwell on his back story anymore as he was described to be an “Indian” descent as depicted both in “Star Trek: Original Series” and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”) and at one point, I guess he overshadowed Chris Pine.
There are so many callouts and Easter eggs to the Trek pop-culture too. One notable scene (if you are a Trekkie/Trekker) was when Kirk leading the shuttle to the Klingons and jokes on his crew and says: “take those red shirts off”. The “red shirt humor” refers to the characters who wear red Starfleet uniforms and winds up dead. Having said that, I won’t say that Abrams lifted the story from the remnants of “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan” (and a couple of references from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”) but I hoped his team explored other unexplored villains because there is a sheer volume of materials sitting out there.
New fans (from year 2009 after they saw “Star Trek” franchise reboot, *laughs*) will absolutely love this film but for me the overall story don’t fall together as coherent narrative because of the inconsistencies whether it’s Trek canon or non-canon. The promise of “awesomeness” from Abrams is there but it falls short of “greatness”.
I am a huge fan of Abrams + Orci + Kurtzman, having said that, I don’t think the addition of Damon Lindelof helped with the story. Here’s hoping to an EPIC “Star Wars: Episode VII” in 2015. Please don’t disappoint me J.J. Rating: 8/10