Sunday, May 26, 2013

Boldly Going : A Commentary on Star Trek Into Darkness


I apologize for starting a blog with required reading, but the situation calls for it. The following article inspired my Star Trek Into Darkness experience to such a degree that I am unable to write without including it.

The article is ...

Harry dives into STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS' spoilers to reveal the truth behind the blockbuster we're seeing!

 ... You're back already? Did you even ... oh alright! I'll summarize with an excerpt ...

The first film saw a 9/11 shock and awe attack upon Vulcan that resulted in it’s complete annihilation.   The attack also targeted Earth…   In addition, that very first attack – it took Kirk’s father – a father that in our beloved Trekverse, lived and served as a constant inspiration for Kirk.   In JJ’s, ol Tiberius has the swagger and the libido of Shatner’s Kirk, but he isn’t prone to preach the ideals of Starfleet.   Instead, he’s raised with at least one step-father that he has zero respect for – and is prone to reckless adrenaline rushes.   Shatner’s Kirk was an adventurer at heart, marveling at the infinite variety of civilizations out there around the stars.  We can see some of that with Pine’s Kirk – he’s anxious to get way out there, but he hasn’t believed in Starfleet for most of his life.

Now – is this Starfleet still based on the idealism of the 1960’s America?    No.   With STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, the Darkness of the film isn’t Khan.   It isn’t the Klingons or the Romulans, it’s the Darkness that has infected policy in STARFLEET.   In other words, this is a metaphor for a Post-9/11 America.    In JJ’s Verse, he has a Kirk that doesn’t yet value the core beliefs of STARFLEET…   Meanwhile, the rest of his crew…   good souls like Spock and Scotty…   They raise these issues with Kirk, but Kirk doesn’t want to hear it.   He’s us.   Kirk has always been us.   But just like Kirk, we’ve changed.    - Harry Knowles @headgeek666
Classic Star Trek was classic for a generation because it was once relevant.

From the BoOk Of Knowledge 
Roddenberry wanted to tell more sophisticated stories, using futuristic situations as analogies for current problems on Earth and showing how they could be rectified through humanism and optimism.
It's this often unspoken of ingredient of Star Trek's appeal that J.J. Abrams has kept alive in this interpretation  The alternate universe idea has changed the setting of Starfleet a little more than it's core characters. From this perspective, Into Darkness succeeds in presenting us the "What If" scenario of the crew of the Enterprise being pulled into the politics of "The War on Terror".

I found this sequel to be more in tune with the characters than the original, both in scripting and in portrayal. Simon Pegg in particular stole the show with his Scotty performance, and it felt like Chris Pine had included a little more Shatner to his performance. The Enterprise Crew I knew and loved as a child really felt reborn this time around.

Well, for the most part ...

There were a few moments that threw me off as a fan. Namely moments where classic scenes were relived from different perspectives. While Kirk is the driving motivation for pursuing Kahn, it is Spock who actually does most of the battling with the genetic superman. It's a cool alternate universe idea, I admit. Seeing Spock and Kahn battle it out was most excellent, but Spock yelling "Kahn!!"? Too much Abrams ... too much. Yes, like the original Shatner scream, it had a nice flare of cheese to it. Yet Spock's "Kahn" scream just killed any tension and tone building with the scene for me, whereas Shatner's kept the tension building to Ricardo Montalb├ín's victory orgasm.

Despite my little geeky nitpicking, Into Darkness was an overall success in bringing classic Star Trek back alive. It's nice to see good guys be good guys despite the darkness growing in their/our world.

I'm also thankful they didn't abuse Spock's classic "The need of the many outweighs the need of the few" line as a pro-war on terror statement. That would have been awkward ...

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