arcanelegacy: (engage)
[personal profile] arcanelegacy
Welp. So this is my reaction post to Star Trek XII.

Please note that I came at this movie with intense reservations. I've been a fan of this series since I was very small, and given what I knew about the villain in this film, his actor, and the possible plot points Into Darkness might follow, I had VERY intense reservations. Those definitely reflect in my opinion of the film.

Spoilers to follow.



I will start off with this: I am no longer going to refer to this movie as Into Darkness.

No, it is now and forever shall be Wrath of Khan 2.0. Because that's exactly what it was. And for that, I am disappointed. As a fan of Trek, I am completely, 100% disappointed in this movie. I don't need WoK 2.0. I don't want it, I don't need it, and frankly I'd rather pretend it didn't exist because we already have WoK and 2.0 really didn't add anything to the idea.

Which sucks, because I feel like there was a lot going for the movie. It just got ruined by whatever executive meddling or creative decision that led to the direct rehash - at this point it's not even completely fair to call the end of this movie a reboot, because so little really changed from the original WoK.

I feel like the actors did amazingly, as they did in the first movie. I was, and still am, sold on their roles. For spiritual successors of the original cast they are amazing. AMAZING. I cannot pick a favorite amongst them. I just cannot. They all do SO WELL. They all have SO MUCH POTENTIAL to be awesome and badass and strong - so very, very strong. Uhura becoming a part of the main trio in a way the original show could never make her, because of censorship? YES GOOD. Sulu doing much of the same, and being cool and relaxed all at once? YES FUCKING PLEASE.

Pike's return was a wonderful thing. I loved him from the first movie and I loved him all the more in this one. I wept for him, but he was the only one. Scotty stole every scene he was in. Uhura got to let her linguistics skills shine, and let me tell you HOW FUCKING THRILLED I WAS TO SEE THAT. Sulu got to sit in the chair and be a dangerous, horrifying threat (further proving that PoC CAN PULL THE DANGEROUS VIBE OFF, WERE YOU TAKING NOTES JJ). The Klingons got a touch of a design upgrade AND I LIKED IT. I even loved the random tribble (seriously if the writers do anything going forward I want a tribble in every movie, even if it's just a cameo in the BG because that shit is gold).

But.

Because there is a HUGE ONE here:

After a point I felt like JJ and Co. were struggling to find a way to do something new with the idea for this movie, which is the only reason why Kirk and Spock traded roles in this film.

And just

Let me talk for a second about how much I HATED THAT.

I'll grant that maybe it meant something for people who are just now finding Star Trek and just now watching Star Trek and for whom the Reboot!Cast is their cast. I can see that, and I can see why the ending of WoK 2.0 would be moving and emotionally taut. I can even follow the logic that it made sense for this universe's Kirk to make that sacrifice to save his crew (because given the set up, it definitely made more sense for Kirk to do it than Spock, because this movie was ALL ABOUT KIRK with some of the other guys on the side). The movie was designed to make that scene possible. (I mean, holy fuck, from the second Khan's identity was revealed I KNEW WHERE THEY WERE GOING.)

But I've been a fan of Trek since I was a toddler. I grew up watching the films, and there are whole scenes in WoK I have memorized even though I go years between watches now. And with that in mind, the whole fucking idea of swapping out Kirk and Spock's roles and death scenes and...what, trying to play it off as innovative and startling?

NO.

No, because that isn't even a solid attempt at doing something new. Kirk's death played out almost point for point with Spock's in the ORIGINAL Wrath of Khan. LINES were even the same across the two films. Actions, cuts, staging, ALL SORTS OF LITTLE DETAILS were EXACTLY the same. This isn't new! And having seen it all before meant that this new version did absolutely NOTHING for me. There were no stakes. Kirk and Spock haven't been friends long enough in the AOS universe for that scene to mean nearly as much as the fifteen years of history Nimoy and Shatner had together by the time WoK came out.

Worse still, I knew Kirk was going to pull through. It was so painfully obvious that even as I was watching Pine do an admittedly wonderful job of being afraid of death, I wanted to laugh. Because I remembered that tribble from a few scenes earlier.

Kirk was gonna be okay.

And let me tell you, newfen, that if you go back and watch the TOS films, you might feel in your heart that Spock was gonna be just fine...

...but when that movie originally came out, no one knew that. No one knew that Spock was going to come back. For them, his death was final. Leonard Nimoy didn't want to be Spock anymore. He wanted to leave the role, and that meant killing Spock forever. That movie, and the excruciating wait in between it and the Search for Spock, meant that TOS fans NEEDED to mourn their friend.

Hell, they even had a funeral for Spock. You don't get much deader than that in TOS.

This movie didn't have that air of finality. While Pine and Quinto played it wonderfully, I was not moved by the scene in the slightest. (In fact, I laughed at Quinto's bellow of KHAAAAAN. I actually broke down at that point and laughed. Like an asshole. But, c'mon, the line was classic and classic Shatner at that. You can't ask anyone else to do it and not have it be seen as completely and utterly ridiculous.) Bottom line was, this was something that Kirk was gonna walk away from, and I knew that he was gonna be revived. There was no tension in it for me, no stakes, no fear. The only question I had and have is whether Kirk learned anything from this experience, and my guess is gonna be no. No, despite all of the setup and all of the drama.

I was so excited for this film when I first heard about it. I was so. Excited. Another installment in a wonderful new universe? With the awesome potential for NEW bad guys and NEW stories and NEW developments? FUCK YEAH, THIS IS AWESOME.

But no. I just...I do not understand why everyone did such a fine job setting the films up for new material and then just turned around and completely rehashed WoK. I get that WoK was and is one of the best Star Trek films ever made. But let it be, okay? Let that be something wonderful that exists in the TOS universe and doesn't necessarily make it over into AOS canon. (This is the part where I also rage at JJ Abrams for wanting his Trek to be the ONLY Trek, as if the generations and decades of previous material means utterly squat. Bro, respect. Without TOS and TNG and DS9 and VOY and ENT YOU WOULDN'T EVEN HAVE A UNIVERSE TO STEAL FROM, so stop.)

And, while I'm at it, why Khan? Why Benedict Cumberbatch?

This isn't to say that BC is a bad actor. He's not - he did wonderfully. His voice is perfect for that silky-smooth, dangerously intelligent, borderline sociopathic madman. I can see, having watched Sherlock, why he was considered for the role at all. But he wasn't Khan. He was not in any way, shape, or form Khan Noonien Singh, and I feel like all of the potential BC had as an actor was squandered in the way he was forced to portray what someone else had already done before.

I am angry that they chose a white actor for a part once played by a PoC. I feel it has horrifying implications across the board - up to and including the realization that a show filmed in the 1960s and 70s somehow managed to be more diverse in its casting than a movie made in 2013.

That frightens me. We're supposed to be getting better. And we're not. This wonderful vision that Gene Roddenberry had for the future is getting squandered by men who have NO idea what legacy they should be trying to living up to.

I am also angry because I feel like this movie didn't need to have Khan at all. I mentioned in the comments of my last post that I got more of a terroristic vibe from the trailers - that BC's John Harrison had once been wronged by Starfleet, somehow, and was going back after the entity in revenge. I had assumed his family had died, likely through Starfleet's neglect or through some poor decision or even malicious intent, and this film was that story.

And the thing is, I LIKE that idea. Starfleet has always been portrayed as this giant, infallible entity that perfected the art of being a governing body ages ago and is almost worshipped by those who follow its creed. But no entity is ever perfect, and the idea of having Kirk and Co. being forced to question what Starfleet itself stood for was compelling to me.

Alas, I might be relegated to turning that idea into fic, because this film was Wrath of Khan 2.0. And while I will give the writing a hat tip for doing well with introducing Khan in the new timeline and by going with at least SOME of the impressions I got from the trailer by making Admiral Marcus a slimy, war-mongering git that was willing to sacrifice Starfleet's ideals for his own goals, I am still vastly disappointed that they chose a white actor to take on the role of Khan. No skill on BC's part can make up for that failing on the part of the casting crew, not when they could have had BC play an equally dangerous NEW villain.

And none of this is to say that the movie didn't have its moments. It had many! The acting is superb, and let me fucking tell you how much I utterly loved Simon Pegg as Scotty and Zoe Saldana as Uhura (ESPECIALLY WHEN SHE STARTED SPEAKING KLINGON. OH, MAN. I WAS SO HYPED FOR THAT MOMENT). I respect if you liked the film; that's fine. For me, this was an insult, for you guys, it might be the best thing to ever come up on a big screen.

I just really, really hope they go for original work from here. No more rehashing. No more asking Spock!Prime for advice. Give me more new stuff, unique to THIS crew and THIS Enterprise and THIS universe. Then I will be happy. And if you do it often and well, maybe I'll be able to forget WoK 2.0 ever happened.

Date: 2013-05-22 12:40 am (UTC)
mango_tango: (uhura; stxi. a shot of jack straight up.)
From: [personal profile] mango_tango
I totally respect that you didn't like the film. <3 Although I fangirled the entire way though I'm not sure that I liked it as much as STXI. For some reason people didn't think Nero was a ~cool villain, but I thought he was awesome! I don't think I've ever cried for a "bad guy" before STXI. I was crying for motherless Spock, fatherless Jim, and a whole heck of a lot for poor Nero driven insane by the death of his family. That being said, I though Benedict!Khan was extremely sympathetic character even though he was being rehashed. I started watching TOS (show and films) after STXI (but before STXII) so I have a unique point of view on STXII and the entire franchise. I think Benedict!Khan was both Khan and not, if that makes any sense? You were sort of saying something similar. I made a private post on Bene!Khan that essentially said that his Khan was more humane. It was...interesting. I definitely felt more for STXI Khan than Montalban!Khan though. I was also more frightened and less frightened by nu!Khan, but I yet to pinpoint why.

My favorite part of the film was definitely the characters/character development as well! Everybody rocks so hard ugh. I'm a little upset that people continue to be ragging on Uhura for being a part of the new OT3. I think their excuse is that she's OOC and not what Roddenberry created her to be. Lol. It's like, if the show wasn't created in the 60's she'd be exactly like Saldana!Uhura. Guys, come on. I can't decide if I think the Spock and Uhura relationship was well balanced in the film or overdone again. I think the bickering scene in the Qo'noS scouting ship with Jim, although funny, was unnecessary, unprofessional and out of character. Everything else seemed well done. I did like that Uhura and Jim got some bonding time because they were upset at Spock. Their dynamic is so much fun, and it draws attention to the fact that if nu!Jim wasn't so immature they would be darn good together.

For me the super cheesy moment wasn't ZQ's "KHAAAAN" (which I actually thought was better than Shatner's) but when Spock called up Spock!Prime. Like what. I understand that Prime exists in this universe, and perhaps that was a really logical decision on nu!Spock's behalf, but I wish the writers expanded on that. The scene was so brief that it seemed random. Oh, hey Spock!Prime. Bye, Spock!Prime. And then I'm sure poor Spock!Prime is just sitting on New Vulcan after the call loosing his ever loving mind because he's just been told that Khan exists in this universe and is meddling with the crew.

I was also disappointed by the resolution to Jim's "death". I knew the second I saw Bones testing on that tribble what was going to happen. It was just like Khan's blood being given to heal the daughter in the beginning. Hyper regenerating cells. The solution was just too easy. There was no difficulty or fun trying to figure it out. I don't think this made Jim's death scene any less sympathetic or climatic, but it just made the resolution itself less intense. There was no, Oh my gosh, is he actually going to die? for me. Personal thought: I liked Jim dying instead of Spock, moreso than Spock dying in WoK. I think it made perfect sense and was perhaps the most emotional part of the film. Spock, I'm scared tore my heart into ribbons.

I regret that we didn't see more of a Jim-Spock dynamic. There was just so much going on. I think that while Jim's death and Spock's reaction was intense, it was a little out of no where. Spock is the guy who didn't even cry for his mother in public, and here he is sobbing for Jim in front of his girlfriend and Scotty. It's meant to be moving, and it is, but it's not as moving as it could have been. I think, had the audience witnessed the buildup to where Jim risked his chair to save Spock, the scene would have more impact. That's the stuff I want to see! Not enough information is given to the audience, so we have to rely on trust that the relationship is there. It's believable, but I want to actually see it in action. STXI did a really good job promoting the Jim-Spock bond. They literally walk and run in sync after knowing each other for what, less than a day? Jim stuns a Romulan, on automatic, and Spock runs out for a mind meld. That's seamless teamwork and really cool. Where was this in STXII? I understand that the Enterprise family, like any relationship, has its problems, but I think while STXI took three steps forward with Jim and Spock, STXII took two steps back. The relationship hiccups just came out of nowhere.
Oh, I also wish that Bones was there when Jim was dying. What was that all about? Logically it made sense, Bones needed to be in sickbay, but why was Spock, acting as captain, commed to come down to engineering while Bones wasn't? Jim didn't need a whole horde of people down there, especially not every member of the main crew, but...Bones? :'( I think his teary eyed close up almost made up for it though.

Thoughts on Carol Marcus? Expand, please! Personally, I liked her.

Oh, and Scotty totally killed it in this film. Wee door? Captain James Tiberius Perfect-Hair. Simon Pegg totally slimmed down too. Woah. On characters overall, I wish we had seen more Sulu, Bones, and Chekov. Room had to be made for Carol, but main cast is main cast.

I loved seeing Cupcake and Doohan's son coming back to their respective roles! That was so neat!

eta: What do you think about the new warp-trail the Enterprise leaves behind? It's so blue and sparkly! <3 <3 <3
Edited Date: 2013-05-22 12:46 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-22 03:17 pm (UTC)
mango_tango: (uhura; stxi. a shot of jack straight up.)
From: [personal profile] mango_tango
I was personally gunning for Commander April. That would have been awesome! I had this entire theory about how John Harrison was a younger, deaged April and he's back to take his revenge on 'Fleet for Section 31 reasons and was going to clash head-to-head with Admiral Marcus. Dude, I loved Section 31. I had a bet going on with my sister about who John Harrison was, and I was right on the money with black opts. I wish they hadn't gone Khan route but they did, and so really it's all about acceptance. I'm never going to enjoy watching the film if hold on to regrets about who they chose as the villain. If anything this makes me even more psyched for the third film. Now that Khan is out of the way, the villain has to be even bigger, grander than Khan himself, who is universally known as the "best" Trek villain ever. I think they're going to have to create an OC, and for that I am PUMPED. Tangent: I really hope JJ stays on board. I think he's made the franchise open to both Trekkies and non Trekkies alike. I like his directing style and I love his lens flare (THE FUTURE MUST BE BRIGHT AS THE SUN YO).

Anywho, back to my reply. Spock!Prime's response to nu!Spock's question is what's tripping me up. I really want to know what he said! I think, based on how ZQ played the scene when Scotty comm'd him from engineering, Prime must have told him that either Kirk or himself sacrificed themselves for the crew. Spock gets this terrified look on his face and just sprints, full tilt, down and out of the bridge. He knows what's happened. I think Prime was probably enigmatic enough not to give away exactly what happened in WoK, but yeah. What actually bothered me in the scene was the fact that Spock just took that call on the bridge. Seriously? Conference rooms, hello. Prime acted as a bond between new Spock and Jim. It was their funny little secret. And when Spock is just blatantly all up on the bridge in front of God and everyone like, Hey Spock, it's Spock, and it just ruins it.

Carol Marcus nakey scene was weird. It didn't need to happen. I think J.J. was trying to get across that Kirk and Marcus have an attraction, throwback to TOS, but no. You don't need to have her in her underoos to play that up. I wasn't enormously bothered by it, but the scene just didn't have continuity. I'm actually shipping Bones/Carol lol. Bones just throws on that southern charm (as a native Texan can I just squee about how GOOD THAT SOUTHERN DRAWL IS??) steady hands tee hee and even does a little bow legged saunter up to her before they work on disabling the missile. Ahh it was so cute. I hope Carol comes back too! Though, I think that it'll be difficult to fit her in without making her a love interest. There's just not enough screen time for the main cast + Carol. She'll have to be combined with another character's plot and development. I'm not too fussed with it, so long as they get Uhura right, but I do hope that we get to have Nurse Chapel again! I loved Carol referencing her hahah oh Jim, you're kind of a jerk sometimes.

eta: I apologize for all these edits, I'm blowing up your inbox but really regret nothing ;) I forgot to reply to what you said about Khan and his crew, which I found really interesting! You're totally right. If Khan's cells were powerful enough to bring Jim back from death (or the brink of death), there is no way that just freezing the super-humans would just stop them from being a problem. I'm studying Cancer Biology right now so I'm very fascinated by Khan's cells and how he (and his crew) could possibly be destroyed. I've concluded that the only way to wipe them out is biological warfare. I think that would have been a fascinating tangent to the film. It's controversial and extremely unethical, which is what STXII was really about in regards to Admiral Marcus and his war. Khan could really only be destroyed if his cells were introduced to a mutagen, a virus, that hyper accelerated his oncagenes and wiped out his tumor suppressors. This wouldn't even be a lengthy process. If the mutagen took and Khan's body didn't grow/evolve to kill these mutagenic cells, the rate at which his cells recreate would take him down almost instantaneously. As cool as watching Spock beat the ever loving snot out of Khan, and Uhura stun him into next week, it felt a little pointless. Seriously, it barely phased him. He just sort of passed out in the end lol. I wanted to see ~science (after all Trek is sci-fi) be used to defeat the bad guy. Science did defeat "death", but it didn't take Khan down. :/
Edited Date: 2013-05-22 03:48 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-22 04:28 am (UTC)
cannedcoelacanth: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cannedcoelacanth
Oh man, all of this. Especially re: Kirk's death scene. It was a beautifully acted scene. Like you said, this cast is amazing and they nail every freaking moment of it. But, I called that twist from the very begining, as soon as we got a shot of Cumberbatch taking a sample of his own blood to save that little girl.

This also annoyed the fuck out of me because I could predict every fucking plot twist. And some how that was the most disappointing to me, it was just a very sloppy story. I knew Pike was going to die, how else would Kirk have gotten his captaincy back- which reminds me of another gripe. Once again, Kirk kind of avoids the consequences of his actions. I mean, yeah, losing a mentor, especially one of Pike's caliber is horrendous heartwrenching. But I don't buy that that one act suddenly taught him humility.

I mean, it was so freaking obvious Marcus was pulling for a war. I called the torpedoes being something other than what they were claimed to be, but I was expecting them to take out Kronos in a fashion reminiscent of Red Matter.

And oh man, I don't even want to start on his daughter. She was not a character, she was a plot point. She really served no other purpose than to draw attention to the torpedoes, and cast suspicion on her father. I also felt that Uhura and Spock being at odds with each other, especially the way Uhura brought it up in the transport tube and in the shuttle felt really... very petty. I get she and Kirk are friends, but it seems unprofessional for her to dump on the captain while they were on duty? It just sits wrong with me.

I admit, I laughed at KHAAAAAN, but I didn't feel bad, because so did most of the theater. Whereas everything else in the movie felt like loving references to the originals, that felt like a "we don't know what to do, so we're putting this in because it's iconic with the character."

You hit all of my thoughts so perfectly. Cumberbatch was an amazing villain, but why, my god, why. They could have done Harry Mud. They could have done Gary Mitchell. They could have done like the trailers implied, like you said. I would have loved the hell out of a movie that gave us Kirk as a first officer to Pike for a few actual fucking missions, that then led into terrorist attacks against Star Fleet. I mean, I think Pike and Kirk in the office and at the bar was the most powerful scene in the movie. I'd have said Kirk's death, but as mentioned before, we knew it wasn't going to stick, and that really took all the impact away from that scene. Also it played into the death = redemption trope. Oh, he saved his family, that makes all his arrogance at the start of the film forgivable.

In conclusion, Kirk/Spock/Uhura is my ship of choice, along with Scotty/Enterprise. Simon Pegg really stole every scene he was in. I just wish the story was tighter, you know? Not so obvious with every little plot point. But yay, less lense flares?

Also: ship porn. God that scene with the Enterprise, battered and bruised rising above the clouds. Unf.

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