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Abrams' New "Star Trek" Loaded with Political Parallels: Kirk as Obama

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by Anthony Kaufman
May 14, 2013 8:14 PM
8 Comments
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Oops, Hollywood did it again. It seems every big-ticket summer movie these days gets loaded with overt political content. First, it was "Iron Man 3"; now it's the latest "Star Trek" installment from JJ Abrams. You people sometimes think I make this shit up. But judging from the early reviews, "Into Darkness" is the most obvious popcorn appropriation of international geopolitics since, well, "Iron Man."


As L.A. Weekly critic Amy Nicholson writes: "In the opening minutes, Khan terrorizes London, then makes like Osama and flees to the mountains of an enemy planet, causing Starfleet Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller — welcome back, RoboCop!) to make like Dubya and order his assassination, sans trial. Picture Zero Dark Thirty with bright pullovers and laser guns and you'll have Darkness, whose heavy-handed political parallels just might feel smart in a summer of Vin Diesel crashing cars."

"Instead of Jessica Chastain's overrated ice queen, vengeance here will be served by the blubbering James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), who so bleeds his humanity across the Enterprise's deck that it's a wonder Chekhov (Anton Yelchin) doesn't slip. Again, the central conflict is between the captain's swaggering impetuousness and the cold-blooded logic of First Mate Spock (Zachary Quinto)."

According to the Socialist Worker, "Kirk talks about going back to 'who we once were and who we must be again.' It almost feels like he’s replying to the recent Batman and Transformers films that made a virtue out of torture and militarism.."

The review even goes so far to compare Kirk to President Obama. "To make Kirk relevant again Abrams has reinvented him as what he wishes Obama could be. Kirk is an Obama trying to lead a recovery from a time of darkness and defeats."

And if you think critics are over-stating the case, even star Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the evil Khan, said the film explicitly takes on recent American politics. The British actor told the BBC, “It’s no spoiler I think to say that there’s a huge backbone in this film that’s a comment on recent U.S. interventionist overseas policy from the Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld era.”


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8 Comments

  • darth | May 20, 2013 12:28 PMReply

    Anthony sir, you're an idiot probably because you have a brain of a 5 year old kid... Thank you for ruining my moment... asshole

  • Honorableschoolboy | May 17, 2013 12:02 PMReply

    Once again we see how the reviewer helps sell albums for his crush and love he'll never have or even speak with" Oops I did again Spears." Oops lame writer does it again.
    So now we see how references can often be mistakenly absurd.

  • Perry | May 15, 2013 11:29 AMReply

    luckily i saw this film last night. you need to take this down and re-edit it. you are spoiling a part of the movie in a way that makes me question your intelligence as a film critic and one would assume a fan of film. Why can't you just say John Harrison and preserve some of the mystery of the film? Would you start off an article about "the Usual Suspects" calling out Kevin Spacey as Keyser Soze? Your hack writing and lack of forethought or tact leaves me little desire to even consider any opinion you would ever have. Do the proper thing and take this down before you ruin anyone else's summer. You, sir, are the worst.

  • anthony | May 16, 2013 2:27 PM

    Don't blame me; blame the BBC! They're the spoilers.

  • No | May 15, 2013 12:38 AMReply

    This section of Indiewire become stupider and stupider at each reading and represents the most shallow and inane combination of political analysis and cinema.

  • Joe | May 14, 2013 11:00 PMReply

    Please add the word "Spoiler" somewhere. Your article has one. :(

  • Soft power | May 14, 2013 9:44 PMReply

    It's called soft power. This is used for mainstream mass marketed films. Think about 80's films at the time of the cold war. America good everybody else evil. Most films are 150-200 million these days so the stakes are pretty high. Also how else are you gonna get 600 million to make a comic book trilogy if it doesn't comment positively on conservative politics and the military. Don't bite the hand that feeds you. That's what's great about independent film as without the big budget it allows for free speech and fresh ideas to bring to the conversation. I have nothing against big budget films, but it's good to see people calling them out. I was a kid in the eighties so I'm a little sick of these films pushing these simplistic agendas about politics as it was so over the top back then but then god bless the 90's.

  • Luke S | May 14, 2013 8:58 PMReply

    If Kirk is supposed to represent Obama, why wasn't Kirk photo-shopped out?

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