Monday, September 2, 2013

QUICK REVIEW: Star Trek: Into Darkness

What happens when you take the fairly dire Star Trek, remove none of the issues, add a ridiculous plotline with further questionable backing and some British actors? You get a near-complete waste of two hours.

I mean, really? Come on. Let's look at this. Star Trek is meant to depict a fairly utopian (in principle) society, one where racial divides are broken. Fine. So we have a relatively diverse cast, and then it goes and shoots itself in the foot before we even get anywhere. Firstly, Benedict Cumberbatch is cast as Khan. Yeah. You know, that old dude who was played by a Native American actor originally? Yeah. They cast the character with a white guy. Oh and Simon Pegg (English) plays Scottie (Scottish) with a ridiculous accent too. Yippee. On top of that, the dodgy sexual politics of the first film continue. Aside from Uhura and Blonde Lady Who Gets Her Kit Off (Except For Her Conveniently New Looking And Matching Underwear Set), the only other women exist in unnamed roles, in Kirk's bed or dead within minutes (or running around in a panic), and I'm pretty sure that aside from the scenes where they are either naked, in tight clothes or in a jumpsuit (which is also oddly enhancing), they're always wearing skirts. Short skirts. Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez. And Karl Urban's performance is even WORSE than it was in the first film.

Visually the film is quite pretty, albeit overly bright in some places and too dark in others, but it has one flaw that wound me up. A number of scenes are done with what I assume to be a fish-eye lens, and with it in widescreen it distorts the image slightly which can be distracting, especially when you see a character's head *magically get thinner* as the focus changes (this is most noticeable when Dr. McCoy is stood behind Mr Sulu in one scene). The costume design doesn't seem to make too much sense, though, from Uhura's tight clothing on the Klingon planet to the made-especially-for-Cumberbatch black threads. It just looks too well put together, as if planned.

In terms of the plot and the script? Poor. Utterly poor. It doesn't seem to make too much sense (unless you're watching it with your brain switched off), and aside from some good moments, it falls back on familiar 'tropes' too much, especially when it comes to Urban's lines. They're just so ridiculously over-blown and forced that you do nothing but shake your head in frustration. Damn it, Karl Urban, I'm trying to enjoy this film, not pick it apart. Or something. There was one line in particular that stood out to me as a prime example (ha) of how utterly awful the script was. The other big bad guy said a line which contained "our way of life will be decimated", which makes utterly no sense with the correct meaning of decimated.

I don't know what else to say. Star Trek was passable, but not particularly good, and it has a whole heap of problems, especially for a film created post-2000. But for Into Darkness to not correct those flaws is unforgivable, and for it to whitewash a character (especially around the same time as the white casting of Johnny Depp as Tonto in Disney's The Last Ranger) is doubly so. This film does not make progress, it does not entertain. It takes the sledgehammer wielded by directors like Michael Bay and wreaks havoc with a franchise that can and should be handled with much more respect and tact.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I've been meaning to post a review of the movie myself, but can't quite get the time to wrap my head around what I considered its most major flaw!

    I believe Ricardo Mantalban was Mexican.

    1. Was he? Well, I knew he was a non-white actor from that part of the world, so... yeah. Ahem. My fault.

      But thanks for the comment, Maz!

  2. It is true that I was born Mexican, the son of Spanish immigrants. As to my skin color, yes certainly non-white. It would perhaps best be described as 'luxurious gold' though I must admit it is a little paler here in the afterlife.