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.

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May 2013

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