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The Best & Worst Of 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

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by The Playlist Staff
May 20, 2013 3:37 PM
97 Comments
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This past Friday saw the release of one of the more hotly-anticipated blockbusters of a packed summer; J.J Abrams' "Star Trek Into Darkness." The film was already on the radars of many, thanks to its well-liked 2009 predecessor, but sci-fi geeks everywhere became doubly keen to see when it was announced earlier in the year that Abrams would be helming "Star Wars Episode VII."

However, the response so far seems to have been flavoured by a slightly underwhelmed note. Reviews have generally been positive, but few are doing backflips over the film with many, including ourselves, finding it to be inferior to the original, and some being far harsher than that. It hasn't quite lived up to box-office expectations either; it's done ok (much better overseas than at home, for one), but it certainly hasn't hit the expectations that Paramount had for such a major project.

The release of the film this past Friday means the U.S. has finally caught up to the rest of the world, so we wanted to go a little more in depth on the movie(as we already have this summer with "Iron Man 3" and "The Great Gatsby.") The fact that Abrams kept so much of the film in his 'mystery box,' meant that there was a certain amount that couldn't be talked about in reviews if you wanted to keep them spoiler-free. As it turns out some of those secret elements are amongst the worst aspects of the film, so *Spoiler Warning*, we've laid out below the Best & Worst of "Star Trek Into Darkness" -- let us know your own thoughts in the comments section below.

Best

The opening is a lot of fun
It's been four years since we last saw the crew of the starship Enterprise, but that doesn't mean that J.J. Abrams and his crew are going to slow down to let us catch up. The opening moments of "Star Trek Into Darkness" are easily its most breathless and streamlined, both thematically and in terms of its core narrative. Yes, it’s ripping off Indiana Jones, among other things, but it’s also a perfect way to be reintroduced to 21st century Star Trek, dropping us into the middle of the action – Bones (Karl Urban) and Kirk (Chris Pine) and bolting away from a Mayan-looking temple, on a planet covered in red foliage. The primitive natives, with inky black eyes and caked-on ceremonial body-paint, are hurling spears at the Starfleet officers. Things then start to pile up – a cold fusion bomb needs to be planted inside a volcano; the zippy shuttle has to bail, leaving Spock (Zachary Quinto) inside the volcano; oh and the Enterprise is underwater, which like much of the movie, doesn’t make much sense, but is pretty nifty all the same. It all goes to help set up the sense that we’re stumbling into the end of a “Star Trek” episode; it’s just unfortunate that it seems to be more fun than the movie that follows.

The action scenes in general are strong.
The opening isn’t alone; the action set pieces are in general beautifully constructed and almost always flawlessly executed. There's the aforementioned opening sequence, which kicks things off with a bang and (from there) a series of wonderful sequences. There's the escape from the Klingon patrol ship, with Kirk piloting a small, disc-shaped ship away from a Bird of Prey by going through a tiny canyon. It’s followed later by the impressive ‘cannonball’ sequence where Kirk and Khan are catapulted out through a space junkyard to get to the Vengeance (easily the film’s best use of 3D, which in general is not very impressive.) A little while later there's an impressively loopy sequence with the Enterprise in freefall. This scenario, seemingly pulled off with "Inception"-like practical effects, has crew members running up and down walls and across hallways that have turned into chasms as the gravity shifts. It’s the most thrilling thing in the movie except for maybe one other bit; the "warp chase" where the hulking warship Vengeance chases the Enterprise as they are both travelling at warp speed, an action beat that’s never before appeared in the franchise. As usual, Abrams knocks most of these sequences (bar the dull final footchase) out of the park, which leads us to our next point.)

Abrams remains a technically adept director
The first Abrams-piloted "Star Trek" was ridiculed by some (at least after the fact) for what they perceived as excessive stylistic flourishes particularly for Abrams' use of lens flares, which were used by the director to make literal the kind of bright, starry-eyed optimism of the original series. By the end of that movie though, they had become so over-powering that the image began to strobe, creating an experience as wildly weird and psychedelically hallucinogenic as anything in "Spring Breakers" or "Enter the Void." While Abrams doesn't push things quite as far this time around (you get the sensation that he was hampered by both the 3D and IMAX technical limitations), he does direct things beautifully. The lens flares are back, but they carry with them ominous overtones – they are somewhat dimmer and blurrier; the previous movie's hopefulness is fading. The shots aren't as long and swirly, again reinforcing that this isn't a scenario that you want to luxuriate in. Additional Abrams-y flourishes including the kind of twinkly stardust trail the Enterprise leaves after it jumps into warp (something wholly absent from 2009's reboot) and a number of Abrams editorial tics, most notably the immortal "Khaaaaaan" call getting cut off by a zooming Vengeance nearly hitting the Enterprise, and  Kirk realigning whatever-the-fuck it was in a series of successive, time-shortening quick cuts. Abrams' heart might not have been in this one as much, but that doesn't mean that he didn't direct the hell out of it, and it gives confidence in his technical abilities to take over “Star Wars” (if not in his storytelling abilities -- see below).


Chris Pine & Zachary Quinto are great.
If there was one major triumph of Abrams' 2009 "Star Trek" it was the casting; the likability, and the fresh spins on the characters of the Enterprise crew managed to carry through the film, in spite of script flaws and other issues it might have had. The same is mostly true of the follow-up, at least when it comes to Chris Pine's Kirk and Zachary Quinto's Spock. The former is Shatner by way of James Dean, and he remains hugely charismatic, sometimes a bit silly, and sometimes sincere. It's his film, really, and he owns it. While Quinto has less to do this time around, he's still as strong as ever; in theory the emotionless Vulcan, in practice deceptively funny, and having a deep vein of feeling running under the surface. It's the latter that helps the film work better than perhaps it should; Pine and Quinto continue to have terrific chemistry together, and with the sequel staying away from the rivalry and one-upmanship of the original, they're given more time to build their friendship. The result, when Kirk is seemingly biting the dust, is that it's genuinely moving, and it's testament to the work that the two actors do across the two movies.


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97 Comments

  • polarbear | May 24, 2014 12:55 PMReply

    Would rather see a whole new crew, not a prequel, but a continuing saga, like the successful TNG and DS9. (Enterprise started to show promise in its last season, but then reverted to the "dark side" shows and a weird paean to the less than wonderful Trip.) Like others, I say if you need an old character, either have a flashback or story telling or make them a child or niece of the original.

    This one seemed to glorify violence, without really exploring any of the moral issues we face today. The uniforms in the beginning (not the space suits) reminded me of Nazis, and the exploitation of 9/11, like the reviewer said, was not only awkward, but made no real stance as to where the crew stood.

    Would rather it be a TV series, too. Then you can always add movies as extra fare for people to enjoy between seasons.

  • Fjord Prefect | April 27, 2014 9:37 PMReply

    I'm surprised you forgot about Khan's new "transwarp personal transporter" that has eliminated the need for starships…in a Star Trek movie.

  • nick | April 5, 2014 6:45 PMReply

    Your retarded and so are your reviews. Who cares, it looks way better than anything else that has been out for star trek (budget). Star trek can go and do whatever it wants to, hello alternative universes!!!! (it doesn't have to stick with what you want thankfully). And 9/11, really are you one of those ppl, should have figured. Go get a life and quit wasting ours!

  • Troy | March 1, 2014 5:27 PMReply

    Disagree moslty with the villains. Throughout the entire movie I felt like Khan was going to do something really treturous. This movie had two bad guys. The admiral was a prick!!! The dreadnaught was a beautiful terror!!!! Hell Khan even broke the vulcan grip. The only thing I did not like about the movie was that they didnt not use the holo deck or phazers; also they did not give the Klingons enough screen time.

  • salimush | November 21, 2013 8:19 AMReply

    This time, we got the following crossword puzzle clue : He works in bed that also known as He works in bed 8 letters . First, we gonna look for more hints to the He works in bed crossword puzzle . Then we will collect all the require information and for solving He works in bed crossword . In the final, we get all the possible answers for the this crossword puzzle definition.
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    Here are other similar crossword definitions:
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  • Tchalla | October 13, 2013 1:27 AMReply

    I really like some of these comments. Im not a Trekkie but I have often wondered about the military nature of the Starfleet and how all this exploring could just be a euphemism for spying. I like how the film hints at this. I for one have no use for science fiction that does not use lies to tell the truth and as far as I can see all of it does. The Starfleet a universal(global) force for good!

  • cnemo | October 12, 2013 12:58 PMReply

    if you are a real "trekkie" you will instantly know as soon as Pike dies that Abrams has no idea what he is doing. Pike can not die because he is in later episodes. i lost interest as soon as pike died.

  • Sean | October 12, 2013 12:10 PMReply

    I don't get it. Is this a different story line. I thought it was just a prequel, so if that is the case did Kirk and his staff just forget that Kahn existed? This makes no sense.

  • Tom | September 22, 2013 1:42 AMReply

    Terrible movie. I love Star Trek but this movie totally dishonored the Star Trek story line. So many areas. Christopher Pike can't die in this reboot as he later needs to be in a wheel chair and taken to some crazy planet with big headed aliens. Tribbles can't appear when Kirk hasn't even met Harry Mudd yet. How is Kahn going to be re-frozen and floating in his space ship so Kirk can find him at a later time. Its all just so wrong.

    Its all about money and little research was done into how this reboot would fit into the entire story. Pretty sad for me.

    And at one point, Spock talks to himself as an old man on Vulcan? Help me out on how that could be. Maybe I'm just confused. I thought the movie just sucked and JJ Abrams should never attempt another one.

  • Tom H | January 27, 2014 7:23 AM

    I am guessing that Kirk had met mud as the ship used to land on Qoa'nos is from the Mudd incident which I presume is another Easter egg reference to the series for te fans.

    I agree though khan came across more as a good guy who suddenly was the equivalent of terrorist hitler for apparently no reason beyond Spock prime said so.

    Why in gods name did they use the personal trainswarp transporter thing?! That kinda destroys all need for starfleet to even exist!

  • Maryanne | September 22, 2013 9:55 PM

    Couldnt agree more. I loved the first rebot, and was so excited to see this new one. But as a fan of the orginal series I didnt understand bringing in the characters they did, and killing off others (like Toms summary states). Why couldnt they find a new villian - why drag out Khan? Riccardo Montablan was Khan.

    My favourite episode was the Trouble with Tribbles but thy show up in this movie - please.

    Wrong wrong wrong.

    And Carol Marcus with an English accent, please, she was clearly American in The Wrath of Khan.

    I didnt hate it - but as a Star Trek fan it was a dissappointment.

    Note to J J Abrhams - sit down and finally watch the orginal series - please

  • joyce coley | September 18, 2013 12:06 PMReply

    not very good,boring. actors were't believable in their parts. ohura& spock as sweethearts? gimme a break. should have rounded up the original TV series actors and let them do the casting. the only actor that fit their part is Christopher Pine. the worst choices ( and that's saying a lot) are Ohura(especially Ohura) and Spock. TV series far,far better than the movie. if Stark Trek movies are going to be made then watch the TV series to get an idea of how and who the characters are.

  • JJAbSW2015 | September 15, 2013 8:45 AMReply

    Well I thought both movies were pretty good watches overall (action movie wise) but both of them had be staring into my IPhone at the Internet browsing through random nonsense at some points of the film. Now Im no "Trekker" (StarWars guy) but the fact that Into Darkness was ab to come out on DVD, the idea of checking out the 1st movie Mon. Night then the sequel Tues night had me amped & excited to check out a new (to me) franchise that's stories, characters, & its universe ranges so vastly. But last Wednseday until now, after watching both I haven't really thought ab it since and Im not really that into Abrams adaptation of this legendary franchise. My point being, as you stated Abrams was not a follower of the series so when he was brought on to make these films he 1. Wasn't that interested in researching the franchise and getting all the best pieces of the original story so instead he probably just researched the basics- main character prime traits, vital story info, and gathered a little more than the basics but less than the deeper messages, morals, etc. But as a story writer myself if I were asked to come in and make a reboot movie of a franchise that has a cult following and have 0.4% actual knowledge of it then how deep and close to home can a non-fan writer actually go? 2. He got paid millions (not that he needs it with his awesome rap-sheet) and decided if he's going to do it, then he's going to use the light amount of info out a franchise thats overall elements would way tons, & fill in the blanks with his own spin on it (ex. the twists) and do it his way. Simply saying he probably could care less ab the core cult fanatics since he can market it as just an IMAX, eye candy, filled action, sci-fi movie and target a major audience without ever even needing the cult-fans. That's what happened here, and he hates to say he's not sorry. Star Wars will be very different and will get in touch with core audiences since HE was a life-long fan. He appreciates your criticism though and will take note of this next go round. Thanks, JJA

  • JJASW2015 | September 15, 2013 8:48 AM

    Thanks, *J.J.A. Fan*.

  • Pelagato | August 29, 2013 6:48 PMReply

    my main complain is that Khan simply feels artificial, plastic, fake... Something in the uncanny valley... The whole movie I was like "What the heck is wrong with his face"!!??? Those mannerisms look so made up and disjointed! Instead of looking like a badass villain, he looks like someone with a fail plastic surgery in its face...

  • Titus Pullo | August 29, 2013 2:23 PMReply

    Factual Errors in this Review:

    1. Spock did only know of Kirk needing Khans Blood at the End of the Hunt.

    2. Dr. Carol Marcus comes aboard as a *Science Officer*, she replaces Spock not Scotty.
    They even say that in the Movie.

    But yeah,this Movie has a Ton of Plot Holes,even for a Movie in the silly Star Trek Universe.

  • Yanks | August 16, 2013 8:31 PMReply

    Good review. What most frustrating is the lack of originality. They made themselves a clean slate in a wonderful universe and chose to retread old stuff.

  • ABR | June 26, 2013 7:29 AMReply

    WAY too negative.

  • Lesley | June 21, 2013 3:41 PMReply

    Couldn't agree more.
    Long term fan of Star Trek since the Original Series but found 'Into Darkness' just an excuse for a punch-up. I don't like 007 Bond movies as the story lines are formulaic and just vehicles for set pieces of hand to hand fighting and so was disappointed when this movie was just the same. Have just re-watched the 2009 movie - now that was Sci Fi!

  • Scott VanAller | June 16, 2013 3:06 AMReply

    A great star trek parody. :(

  • Juan R. E. | June 15, 2013 4:44 PMReply

    Having seen the movie, I agree with the review. While it was nice to watch, after going over it in my mind, I realized the movie had several plot holes large enough to drive a fleet of unauthorized black dreadnoughts thru. As well, Khan suddenly had this 'magic blood'. What else is silly is that they needed his blood when there were 70-odd others to to choose from.

    Being a rehash of TWOK with original series references thrown in via the liberal use of bad timing was also disappointing. However, with the movie being so busy in parts, that wasn't noticeable until the credits began to roll.

    Even as I watched, I heard Kronos instead of Q'onoS. I remember when it was a big debate for several years that was resolved by having humans pronouncing it one way and the Klingons another. Hearing the utterance of that word reminded me also that around the time of the original series, the Klingon homeworld was called Klinzhai.

    All in all, not a good movie, but not bad enough not to watch again during a rainy day.

  • Juan R. E. | June 15, 2013 4:43 PMReply

    Having seen the movie, I agree with the review. While it was nice to watch, after going over it in my mind, I realized the movie had several plot holes large enough to drive a fleet of unauthorized black dreadnoughts thru. As well, Khan suddenly had this 'magic blood'. What else is silly is that they needed his blood when there were 70-odd others to to choose from.

    Being a rehash of TWOK with original series references thrown in via the liberal use of bad timing was also disappointing. However, with the movie being so busy in parts, that wasn't noticeable until the credits began to roll.

    Even as I watched, I heard Kronos instead of Q'onoS. I remember when it was a big debate for several years that was resolved by having humans pronouncing it one way and the Klingons another. Hearing the utterance of that word reminded me also that around the time of the original series, the Klingon homeworld was called Klinzhai.

    All in all, not a good movie, but not bad enough not to watch again during a rainy day.

  • Phil K | June 9, 2013 3:42 PMReply

    I don't think Ive ever read such a comprehensively bad review as this.
    Laughably bad, even to the point of inventing "facts" to back up his ludicrous opinion.

  • Gizzy G | June 8, 2013 3:32 PMReply

    I feel this is a pretty accurate review. It's a bit too obvious Abrams is stuck under contractual obligation and making a movie he's not going to get franchise control over. It's also obvious he is more suited to Star Wars than ST. SW is sci-fantasy where you can star CGI with a weak story line. It doesn't work in ST because it is based on science fiction and the story/plot must dominate special effects. In this movie you're stuck watching characters diminish while they are trying to keep up with the bells and whistles.

    I can't get use to Uhura being reduced to a whiny Vulcan groupie or a human Vulcan for that matter. I don't care if this is an alternate universe, it just wouldn't happen with these two characters. And while they try to cure alternate universe Kirk of his bipolar issues, this film makes it feel like they tried to re-write alternate Kirk's behavior, after the fact. If the third movie starts with Scotty waking up hungover and then tells Kirk about a weird dream he had about Romulans and two Spocks, I'm not sure what I will be capable of but I can see temporary insanity as part of it.

    I'm disappointed in a lot of things about this film. It lost ST's major formula. ST is about us. Our future, albeit a fictional account of what that may be. You would watch a ST show or movie and see these characters who had strong bonds with each other going through whatever peril or tribulation was thrown at them. But the underlying focus was always about us. When the movie or episode was over, you found yourself thinking about having a communicator or a computer and how cool would that be? We have these things now and many more things that ST made us want. People became doctors, engineers and scientists because of this show. Certainly not every episode focused on a new technology but as the series and movies continued, this and strong bonds always continued with it. Its the purpose of the show, for us: 'To seek out new life, new civilizations. To boldly go..' Abrams has made two movies now and doesn't seem to be able to get away from earth. Yes his Enterprise is more advanced looking but it's advanced to the point it distracts from the characters. (Back to the difference of science fantasy vs. science fiction). Abrams doesn't seem to know there is a difference. And that's why we get this collective mess of a science fiction show that's being forced to become science fantasy with science fiction tossed in here and there to try and convince us its something that its not.

    I was happy to hear Abrams was going on to SW because that's really where he belongs. And I think he will do much better with that since he understands fantasy much more than science, engineering or medicine.

  • Dan | July 12, 2014 1:34 AM

    " It's also obvious he is more suited to Star Wars than ST. SW is sci-fantasy where you can star CGI with a weak story line. It doesn't work in ST because it is based on science fiction and the story/plot must dominate special effects."

    LOL. Thanks for that laugh.

  • Daniel J | May 27, 2013 12:32 AMReply

    Today's Star Trek Science fiction is just a joy ride. Yesterday's Star Trek writers (minus Hollywood Execs involvement) really tried to channel thorny current events of that time,and was credited for having technological vision.. Now its fun to watch, but I no longer walk away from Star Trek film saying to myself, Humm.

  • Daniel J | May 27, 2013 12:08 AMReply

    I have read both sides of the criticism of this movie (STID) and I must say that both sides have valid points. Notably however, both sides didn't illustrate how art is a reflection of society and how society's social norms have changed.
    Star Trek was first introduced in very different time than today. It was first introduces as a vision for our future from our present day; so the writers really made and effort to make the technology and scenarios"believable". Times were still hectic back then, but people were able to sit still long enough to really adsorb the deeper meaning of things.2nd No one at the time foresaw how big Star Trek series and the politics involving the franchise would become; leaving the writers to write very thoughtful and visionary scripts. Science fiction back in the 60's was considered a niche market the Hollywood Executives didn't really take all that seriously.... that is until STAR WARS. The involvement of the big Hollywood Execs in the Star Trek Franchise will forever distort the "Trekkie's" view of how the franchise is presented today in relation to yesterday. WHY? MONEY, MONEY and MAXIMUM profits.
    The technology on top of human frailty was the obstacle to over come in the old Star Trek , now (in the JJ ABRAMs world) it just an after thought.
    As a Trekkie myself (who doesn't like the ADHD direction the franchise is going) i can see how JJ Abrams is put between a rock and a hard place.
    Did I like the STID? Yes, it was good entertainment. Did I like how JJ ABRAMS direct and produce the movie? Yes, his skill as a film maker of his generation is unmatched.
    Do I understand that Star Trek has become a "Pet" money maker to for the Hollywood Execs? Yes.
    Is JJ ABRAMS put under enormous pressure to produce windfall profits from the franchise? Yes of course! Will he have to recycle and dumb down the story line somewhat to bring in NEW viewers to maximize profits? Yes.
    Do I think the Special Effects had to overcompensate for the lack of thoughtfulness in this Science fiction movie script? Yes. Was it a good movie anyway? Sure.
    What I believe the Trekkie's are really complaining about is how "mediocrity" is taking over society in general, and how we all sacrifice quality for quantity. I think Science fiction is an excellent medium for "artists to use lies to tell the truth" with, something the OLD Star Trek writers really attempted to tackle.
    Lets admit it,NO devout Trekkie would have been as successful as JJ Abrams in producing a "High Grossing" Star Trek film in today's restrictive Hollywood environment.
    Give the man the due credit he deserves, he walked that fine line between the Hollywood Execs and the loyal fans....

  • Melanie | May 26, 2013 11:00 PMReply

    Like many others who have written, I am a Trekker since The Original Series; my grown children have never really watched much of it at all and we all agreed it was a fantastic film, and that you, Dear Reviewer, must have slept through it. Point by point, I stab at Thee:
    1)From both generations' points of view, Kahn came off as a believable and well-rounded character. He was given more of a sympathetic back story in his explanation of what he would do for his family -- is this not, both with his crew and with Pike, Kirk's main motivation as well? And as much as I loved Ricardo Montalban in the role, Benedict Cumberbatch's performance is much more subtle and nuanced than RM's.
    2)I am very glad you lauded Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, because I agree that they were superb. Their verbal sparring was crisp and fast-paced and they displayed the maturing of a friendship that is hauntingly familiar and yet unique to their time-line. But I did not feel the lack of any of the other cast members at all -- Zoe was as kick-ass as Uhura as before, and her scene with the Klingons gave us her brillance and her courage; Simon's Scotty had even more to do, it seemed to me,and with more depth; Sulu's stint as acting Captain was great and Chekov was brave and brilliant in a role as chief for which he was yet green.
    3) Until you made the suggestion of a 9/11 connection, no one I have talked to about the film has appeared to see a connection. So Kahn aims the Vengeance at Star Fleet Command -- the rounding out of his character in the course of the film shows him used and betrayed by Marcus, and thinking that his crew has been destroyed in the explosion of the torpedoes. Isn't a theme of the whole film about how our rational minds are subverted by our fears for our family? Kirk does it saving Spock & violating the Prime Directive, Spock does it going after Kahn and almost beating him to death in red vengeance for killing Kirk -- Kahn does it bigger and meaner taking out Star Fleet Command along with most of San Francisco's metropolitan area because - hello?- megalomaniac much? I think you added the 9/11 lenses.
    4) I totally disagree with the idea that Kirk's death was cheap or terrible. Knowing what I knew, I was transfixed by the sudden realization that Kirk, the rebooter of the Kobyashi Maru scenario in both universes, chose Spock Prime's original solution -- that the needs of the many -- his family -- outweighed the needs of the one. Kirk gains the humility and the self sacrifice that Pike earlier bemoaned he lacked. I felt it was profoundly touching and well conceived. I do agree that the solution to Kirk's death was a bit of a deus ex-machina, but mainly in the timing of Bones' experimentation with the Tribble. But also, if the writers had waited for the sequel for Kirk's resurrection, they would've been tied to a "Search for Kirk". This way, the sky's the limit. And as far as the cure for death being in the blood of Kahn and his people -- who would want to risk thawing seventy-two superbeings when just one decimated Klingon's, two starships and San bloody Fransisco?
    5) The sexual politics weren't totally enlightened, but to any of us women born in the fifties, it's head and shoulders above what it has been.
    6) And the same thing goes for your next point -- NO SENSE OF AWE? Were we watching the same film? You obviously must have been born well after Star Wars, to be so bored by what to someone of my generation views as plain damn miraculous. WE were grateful for Ray Harryhausen! ("And we liked it!") When the Enterprise reaches Kahn's hideout planetoid and we see it framed against the profound sweep of the freakin' Pillars of Creation -- WERE YOU OUT FOR POPCORN?! My child, your sense of wonder has been drained by the cynicism of a cynical generation or the ossification of the imaginary faculties. JJ even bettered the punch to warp which in 3D was frakkin' awesome. Open your spoiled Stewie eyes!
    6) And finally, the unkindest cut of all -- the FAN service ...! My blood is boiling like a Vulcan's! Who do you think you have to thank for everything wonderful that has come from this franchise? Paramount would have killed it after two seasons if not for FANS. It would have been a footnote in TV history after the series if not for FANS and FAN conventions. As a fifty nine year old FAN of nearly fifty years of Star Trek, I'm gratified that the production team is aware of who butters their bread. My twenty-something children didn't have any problem with following the plot of either film and probably got a fourth of the references. The wonder and power of Star Trek that has kept it going for fifty freakin' years is the faith of ...well hopefully you get it by now.
    Having lived through the joy and the sorrow of Star Trek - The Motion Picture and some later incarnations (coughing into hand."Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier!"), I can say with conviction that JJ Abrams and his team have acted according to the finest traditions and intentions of Star Trek. Any nits to pick are minor and in the eye of someone who wants his review to get a bunch of comments.
    Live Long and Prosper, young one -- in other words, Grow Up and be Grateful -- for the amazing Star Trek universe before you.

  • Derek | July 29, 2013 5:45 PM

    Extremely well said! I'm really sick of all the nitpicking heat this film is taking.

  • Mackenzie | June 6, 2013 2:47 PM

    You just said everything I was thinking, but with an eloquence and humor I have yet to learn. THANK YOU.

  • Kevin | May 26, 2013 4:10 AMReply

    Khan's motivation is simple. He and his 'family' were designed /created to be advanced, and of superior intellect. Their superiority scared enough of the 'elite' to have them put into cryogenic freeze. He is tired of being used and exploited. Wouldn't you be pissed if you and your family were treated like disposable lab rats, and were being controlled and put in danger by the system? Plus, no one said having superior intellect makes you more balanced. Remember the original Khan said it best.. to hurt your enemy, don't kill him.. hurt and kill the ones / things your enemy loves and holds most dear. This Khan went after what was held dear the most by Marcus: Star Fleet and the Federation. It's almost akin to terrorists striking the heart of what symbolized capitalism, America's twin towers. Lest we forget.. how many years and how much money and resources were concentrated on hunting down Bin Laden.. the one man that represented the War on Terror. Thus, Kirk uses Federation resources to hunt down Khan. You might even reference Craig's Bond in Quantum of Solace... 2 hours dedicated to personal revenge.
    A lot of Trek fans also need to be re-reminded that Abrams' reboot is on a different timeline, so guess what? Things are going to be different. We also need to be reminded that Trek was not about taking the characters forward as much as it was about re-learning lessons. Spock's eternal juggling act of emotions and logic is one example. This doesn't resolve in one episode, or in one film.. it is ongoing.
    You can't have each of the main characters have equal amount of screen and sub plot time.. so the argument that Uhura doesn't do anything here, or that Scotty is still on the sidelines is moot. There will obviously be more movies, which means more character development for each one, I'm pretty sure. I don't recall Uhura, Scotty or Sulu getting much character development in any of the Trek movies previously... it has ALWAYS been more focused on Kirk and Spock (HELLO: Search For Spock, as just one example).
    I also disagree with the earth setting as 'shrinking the scale'.. the movie is about terror at home.. so it only makes sense we would see a lot of that 'home' in the movie. On that note, I think you people who are upset about 9/11 references are more whacked out than the conspiracy buffs. The references were VAGUE at most... Khan 'tried' to use the falling ship to target Star Fleet headquarters, but failed. Seems to me you are over analyzing. Besides, you could twist any terrorist storyline to be similar to that ill-fated day in our history.

    I like how the audience is shown both sides of the Khan story... as they say, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. There can be no condoning of terrorism, but the fact remains, Khan has been wronged, and as Khan himself says to Kirk: What wouldn't you do to protect your family? And maybe I missed something, but I assumed the moniker Khan used was in order to hide himself as one of Star Fleet's own... no?

    I would agree slightly that Kirk's death scene was a bit too easy. However, I thought it worked fine. Also, they only had minutes to infuse Kirk with Khan's blood. Thawing out one of the 72 would have taken too long.

    What does it matter that Khan has an English accent now? Have we forgotten how many children of immigrants grow up and go to school in England? Have we forgotten Trek is FAR into the future and that Khan is basically a Monsanto GMO special... he's been designed.
    A good movie is escapism. This is sci-fi and bloody entertaining sci-fi at that...

  • Awesome Sauce | May 24, 2013 9:41 PMReply

    i loved the movie i liked Khan a lot and its not like they were just throwing things in their to make the fans happy khan didn't keep quoting moby dick it was an actors and directors own take, also people expect this film to be more like twok it is an alternate universe parrallel but almost completely alternate and i like that i dont think that these films would be as good as they are if they were based on the same reality thats already been established

  • Watching the young space cheerleaders | May 31, 2013 11:50 PM

    Sorry, but I have to play the Trekko Geek Police here.
    "..Parallel but almost completely alternate..."? No.
    It's ONE universe, with the timeline altered (in previous film) to now create a domino-effect for any number of (or all) future events to be quite possibly NOT as 'ol grampa Spock Prime recollects, 'tween his wrinkly ear-points. (And Hollywood owes that Eric Bana character BIG-time! Hmm, did he get revenue points?)

  • Shorty Longstrokin | May 24, 2013 10:56 AMReply

    Sounds to me more like you had lofty expectations and felt cheated. Meanwhile, the rest of us that aren't so hung up on nitpicking insignificant details of the film went in and had an enjoyable time. I thought it was a fun, entertaining movie that was true to the Trek franchise, and I even liked the role reversal at the end more than how it played out in "ST2:TWOK."

  • demolay | May 24, 2013 6:37 AMReply

    No love, no depth and no soul . . . very bitter :-(

  • Jason | May 24, 2013 12:51 AMReply

    Here's the reason why casting an English actor as Khan Noonien Singh was just stupid.
    Gene Roddenberry was committed to racial/ethnic diversity on the show, no one can argue. Much has been said on this topic. I always felt that the coolest thing about Khan was that he was non-white. Think about it. A genetically enhanced superman with superior intellect, and he ISN'T white. A bold move in 1966.
    Making Khan Noonien Sinhg an Englishman is just another example of how Abrams doesn't understand the source material or care, but has no problem cashing in on rehashed storylines.

  • Andrew C | June 28, 2013 4:19 PM

    This is a point I've never truly understood (that STID was Whitewashed because of Khan). The original TWOK movie showed Khan as a genius superhuman, who found himself head and shoulders above the rest of mankind. Casting RM was amazing because, as you said, it shows the willingness to have the "super-race" be something other than white.

    That said, STID's Khan had significantly less emphasis on his origins as a GM world leader, and instead was written to be more of a manipulative terrorist. I'd argue that casting Khan as anything other than white would actually be playing into the stereotype of "them foreigners bein' the terrists" that Hollywood seems to love so much. If Khan was Hispanic in this movie, it wouldn't be "some amazingly genius Hispanic man vs. a white captain Kirk," instead it'd probably come off as "some vengeful Hispanic terrorist, willing to kill endless civilians and innocents, vs. the white moral elite of Starfleet." Sure, Admiral Marcus was corrupt and exploiting Khan (which, if Khan was non-white would just be another huge stereotype), but Khan clearly goes too far in his quest for blood, and in the end, Starfleet manages to purge it's one small grain of corruption from its ranks. The movie would end with a Hispanic man in a freezer, who was only left alive thanks to the enlightened sense of morality and duty of the white man.

    I feel that by casting the villain as a white actor, they actually challenge the preconception of who a "terrorist" is, far more than attack the idea that a non-white person could be all-that.

  • Alan B | May 24, 2013 3:48 AM

    Well, Abrams' first choice for the film was Benicio Del Toro, who turned the film down due to a pay dispute. Then again, I just don't understand the HUGE DIFFERENCE between a Mexican or an Englishman playing an Indian anyway. And Abrams cast the Muslim actor Faran Tahir as the first captain in the series, who had played a GLOWERING TERRORIST the previous summer in 'Iron Man'.

  • zinjo | May 23, 2013 8:21 PMReply

    The singularly missed opportunity with Khan was "WHY" he believed his crew were dead. If at some point before he and Kirk went to the Vengeance, Kirk asks why Khan believed his crew were dead and Khan could have responded, that it was what he would have done, would have amped up the tension regarding this villain. It would have established how ruthless Khan was and how Kirk was now in bed with the devil to defeat a lesser demon in Marcus.

    I just felt that Khan was somehow incomplete, that Abrams was playing it safe so as not to offend some people. As well as Cumberbatch played Khan, his full motivations for the initial attacks still remained less than fully realized. He was written to be understood and they went too far and make him sympathetic. Not something your villain necessarily Khan needs.

    Kirk's "condition" was clearly meant to be a flip of the Wrath of Khan moment as well as Spock's reaction. It seemed more like a device to get Spock angry over someone other than his mother.

    The fan service bits were also fun, particularly getting the Kronos ship by confiscating it from the Mudd trade mission a month before.

    The very real consequences of Kirk's lying on his official log, which was the final straw for Starfleet to relieve him of command. The well developed paternal relationship between Pike and Kirk.

    I agree with much of the critique, however I believe some criticism as valid as it may be is expecting too much from a tent pole film with many Executive accountant's fingerprints on it.

    They managed to get more right than wrong, IMHO. It falls just short of my admiration of the first Abrams Trek, but not by very much

  • Oscar | May 23, 2013 6:30 PMReply

    About the Cumberbatch casting if you do some research he wasn´t the first choice... it was Benicio del Toro and later Jordi Molla or Edgar Ramirez... anyway Khan is not really defined by his etnhicity, sure, it´s a plus, and in the sixties that should have been a fresh take, but I think Cumberbatch made a good work with the part. I actually prefer that he should had just been John Harrison, with no reveal/throwback.

    I really liked the movie but there are a couple of things that are pointed here that I feel the same about: Kirk´s death/insta-resurrection... I would liked too to have Kirk death or in a coma at the end of the movie, the cure is magical and too convenient and perfect and it came without a cost or catch, really. Also I was surprised at Kahn playing as a momentary ally... I was expecting a change of heart at the end of the movie, some gray area when he made an alliance with the Enterprise crew/federation, or even more becoming a leader/friend filling the void while Kirk is gone. Anyway I can´t wait to see the next chapter hoping that we really could go to explore new territory.

  • incrucesalus@aol.com | May 23, 2013 4:40 PMReply

    My son and I saw it. Nice to re-introduce Carol Marcus & Khan. I am a trekkie & my son isn't, but we both enjoyed it very much and would see it again. It was just fun-remember fun? for fun's sake? Cumberbatch was a neat Khan- his voice evokes so much superiority, and dread & in your face, from his face, of things that Ricardo would actually say out loud.
    Nice to see Peter Weller again,
    Watch out Botany Bay-very happy with STID.

  • shawno85 | May 22, 2013 7:37 PMReply

    I have to disagree with the assessments that the movie "isn't about anything" and "Kirk's death is cheap". The character arcs of Kirk and Spock in this movie make sense. The end of the film is Kirk finally realizing that you can't have everything, there must be sacrifice. While Spock, on the other hand, someone who prides himself on logic, finally understands why Kirk is such a loose cannon. And when you have a tight-knit group of friends and family, the message is that resurrection is possible. Kirk redeemed himself, Spock redeemed himself and the entire crew redeemed themselves when they worked together to save Kirk.

    Also, while I agree the "magic blood" seemed a little lazy, you can't instantly un-freeze any one of those people quick enough to the point where the blood is at the temperature you need. That made sense right away for me, that they need to get Khan's blood since he is already thawed out.

    Overall, it was a really fun ride with interesting characters that share a great dynamic with one-another. The same thing we really enjoy and expect out of anything labeled as "Star Trek".

  • ska-triumph | May 22, 2013 3:01 PMReply

    As I haven't read through all of my fellow commenters - and not being a Trekkie but a franchise admirer - I'll just drop two other parts that may work as subparagraphs to the Worst section. The ACTION beats, and the SCIENCE cheats.

    ACTION - while deft in their technicals, why was almost every narrative action sequence unnecessarily played for the last-minute 11th hour? It was like doing the loop-de-loop on a rollercoaster without surprises. There are several after saving SPOCK from the volcano: the torpedo detonation, the space dive, the Chekov save, the Enterprise fall. Some chuckles surely but none actually earned, IMO. Just repetitive emo-strings to pull, showing more clearly how much the Star Trek premise was grafted onto an action film.

    SCIENCE - sure the transwarping is cool; a stable of the franchise. So why does STID have the characters be so stupid with this tech? Hiding the Enterprise underwater when SPOCK was gonna be transported anyhow to save him: what happened to just hovering in space? How can KHAN Harrison trans-warp-jump from San Francisco to ANOTHER PLANET but Star Fleet sends out their newest ship to catch/kill him? Yeah yeah for those torpedos: another stupid plan to hide your fellow cryogenzied superhumans in... And the running up and down hallways & elevated stairways just to make it action-packed (I've asked without yet receiving a clear answer as to why this tech isn't used from within a ship...).

    Okay I'm done. Or else I'll keep going.

  • Niao | May 22, 2013 1:55 PMReply

    I'm a hard-core Trek fan as well as a fan of the 2009 reboot- I agreed with some of your analysis, but not all of it.

    I don't understand all the belly-aching about Cumberbatch cast as Khan. Yes, he's white. But that's the only semi-viable complaint I can find. He had the PRESENCE to pull off Khan. And Khan had brute strength AS WELL as intellect; he was younger in the reboot, obviously, so it make sense that he would use the former more than he did in the original. Reboot Khan displayed an impressive intellect as well- his engineering of the torpedoes, his smuggling of his crew into the torpedoes, his playing of Kirk, his momentarily interaction with Spock, etc. As for those of the audience who don't know "who or what a Khan is" (which made me laugh out loud), he played an excellent villain. They got enough of the backstory along the way- and there can be no doubt that he played an excellent villain, additional background aside.

    Now, as for the rest of the cast- they had more of a part in this one then the last! Uhura and Chekov, especially- Sulu has his captain's scene (a nice tip-of-the-hat to TOS) and Scotty is crucial to the plot! I will partially agree with you on Bones, seeing as I noticed on my own that he wasn't all that useful this time around.

    ... As for the 9/11 thing, I didn't really bother to read through your analysis. What movie doesn't have a reference to that these days? I mean, there was a blatant acknowledgment at the end of the movie to the victims and heroes of 9/11. I see no "politics."

    The fanservice- the Reboot would not be a Reboot without the references. Your argument is invalid.

    Carol Marcus- I was annoyed as hell by her the first time I saw it. The second time, however, my mom (bless her heart) caught the fact that she was an actual canon character (how did I miss that? *hands over Trekkie badge in shame*). Her annoyance level dropped by... like 75%. She's still annoying as hell, but at least she has a purpose and connection. An important one, too.

    I thought they pulled off Kirk's death incredibly well, references to Wrath included. They managed to do it nearly word-for-word, yet it was still just as intense (if not as euphoric) for reboot-exclusive fans. However, I will agree with you on the whole issue of Khan's blood. I don't particularly object to the fact that they brought Kirk back so quickly, but the fact that they had 72 other suitable "human Popsicles" at their fingertips is quite true. And while that might be attributed to Bones panicking.... there's still the matter of "curing death," as you pointed out. Which is a bit disastrous. :/

    However, that is my only major gripe with the movie. Overall, I'd give it a 7.5/10. For Trekkies and new fans alike.

  • ninjamedic210 | May 23, 2013 4:23 PM

    Khan in new movie was a fail. Did not measure up to the original. Could almost have been a Gorn for all the intelligence he displayed( not talked about). Kirk's "death" was cheap. Everyone who saw the movie with me saw his revival coming a mile out. The characters were ok, but Spock doesn't make much sense. He is too emotional compared to the original, who fought his human side for decades before finally coming to terms with it. The torpedo storage makes little sense( this new division must have had no oversight if they didn't notice him smuggling 72 bodies into their weapons factory). Khan's blood is now a cure all and it and the trans-warp-teleporter become diasexmachina of the series.

  • Chris Smith | May 22, 2013 8:38 AMReply

    I love Star Trek, and certainly don't expect it to be smart- or supercool. But I DO expect it not to be stupid, and ultralame.
    It played like it was written by a playdoh fuzzy pumper super silly scifi barbershop playset.
    Watching it fail and fail, I could almost smell the stale empty beer cans left on the floor after a raucous back-slap happy 'writing meeting' where every 'new idea' is rewarded with a shot of liquor or a half of a xanax... Who was there to say "NO!"? Clearly nobody.
    What a stellar disappointment. Disney will likely force Abrams to jetison the writing team, before their meddling causes billions of dollars of Stupid.

  • Mark | May 22, 2013 7:00 AMReply

    Not a Trek fan, but saw the movie last night and enjoyed it! Disagree with most of the negatives in this article, Cumberbatch steals almost every scene, and have totally no idea about this whole 9/11 conspiracy hullabaloo.

  • rodie | May 22, 2013 1:14 AMReply

    Actually, I thought there was a perfectly good reason for Khan to have the John Harrison name. Was that not his secret agent code name given to him by Admiral Marcus after he was thawed and brought in to develop weapons and strategies against the Klingons. Marcus didn't want anyone to know who his new secret advisor was or what he was doing, so why the hell would Marcus call him Khan instead of a fake identity?

  • ska-triumph | May 22, 2013 3:19 PM

    I believe the point was that calling him KHAN - as this supposed war criminal - should've ushered a response from the Enterprise crew. As in, oh shit you're THAT WAR CRIMINAL FROM 300 YEARS AGO. Instead, it was thrown in just for the fans of TWOK - and of course, to legitimize having SPOCK Prime answering SPOCK 09's call just to tell him how bad "his" Khan was. To give him a way to beat Khan Harrison instead of thinking for himself...

    The story made no real point in making Harrison a Khan. There was no emotional impact the crew (or the Admiral actually) to have that made his secret name a big deal. KIRK conveniently says before the reveal that he's looked up Harrison's ID and he didn't exist more than a year prior. (Would've been nice to know that earlier, that Kirk is doing detective work en route to Chronos.) so JOHN HARRISON could've been his own villain without the legacious crutch of Khan.

  • Joe Tyrrell | May 21, 2013 6:54 PMReply

    What an excellent, even-handed summation this is, spot-on about the strengths and weaknesses of STID.

  • r emmet lee | June 12, 2013 9:25 PM

    Nonsense. This is whiney criticism at its absurdly worst. Kirk dies because this is Star Trek... Watch TOS. The characters were always facing imminent death. How many times did Spock or Kirk almost die or come back from death's door. This film was in the finest tradition of homage, and more importantly, it helps to keep the dream of a better tomorrow alive. Gene might not have loved every second of it, but thanks to JJ & company, there will still someday be tall ships, and stars to steer them by.

  • Paul | May 21, 2013 6:02 PMReply

    Did you watch the same movie I did? Or even remember the last movie? Chekov, Uhura, Scottie, and Bones all had more to do in this film than the last one. (Especially Chekov) All your other points seem shallow and weak too. Maybe you should see it again?

  • Kenny | May 21, 2013 4:31 PMReply

    I thought the movie was great. There seems to be so many critics who want to write bad reviews about good movies just so they can get readers to their column. The movie had great visuals and was exciting from start to finish. So many people are nit-picking the little things about the movie so they can say how disapointing it was. I have always enjoyed Star Trek and thought this was an enjoyable movie that was a lot of fun to watch.

  • Vicki | May 21, 2013 4:29 PMReply

    It was good. Cumberbatch was amazing. Void and goodbye.

  • Jorie | May 21, 2013 4:52 AMReply

    PS: Spock was not chasing down Khan to get him back alive to save Kirk, initially it was to kill him to avenge Kirk's death. Spock only left Khan alive after Uhura beamed down and TOLD Spock that they needed Khan alive....and as far as the argument that any of the other 72 could have provided that blood...well, I think the blood had to be thawed, not frozen!

  • KSmith | May 22, 2013 1:34 AM

    Very valid point... plus Khan is a terrorist on the run... if Spock hadnt gone after him he would have remained at large. He IS a terrorist who would stop at nothing... he wouldve planned something new to get his crew back meaning he must be stopped asap!

  • Jorie | May 21, 2013 4:26 AMReply

    ...as was my cel replacing the surname "Spiner" with "Spinner".....

  • Jorie | May 21, 2013 4:23 AMReply

    "Beatle" should read "Beagle", that was my smartphone's autocorrect kicking in...

  • Jorie | May 21, 2013 4:20 AMReply

    I watched the 2D version as I get severe migraines from watching 3D, so I cannot say anything about the usage of that side of it. That being said, I know there are a few points you missed out on in terms of the continuity which even some of the Trek-faithful have missed out on in their comments.

    This series of movies takes place after the events in the short-lived Trek series "Enterprise". However, the astute Trek fans likely noticed the reference to the charact Jonathan Archer, who was the captain of the original "Enterprise", who always had his trusty Beatle Porthos on board with him (and who apparently Kirk knew and remembered "that dog", who was lost in a transporter accident, as mentioned by Scotty). In this series, there was a storyline arc that featured Brent Spinner playing the role of Arik Soong, who had adopted a group of "augments", or genetically enhanced human beings, whom he raised as his children but when he saw how terribly and insanely violent they'd matured into, he tried to make them less violent through genetic manipulation. There were references made in that 3 episode story arc about the Botany Bay with a "group of cowards led by Khan", so the knowledge of Khan's existence was already put into the Star Trek canon on TV, and the extremely physically violent nature of he and the augments of his time were as well.

    There are other points in your review I could argue (such as the fact Uhura does a lot moreththan play Spock's love interest, but also as the first HUMAN BEING to visibly make contact wig the new Klingons as well as play a major role in the final capture of Khan, but I'll expand on that later), so all I will say for now, to the writer of this rather flimsy film review, is at least know the FULL canon of a sci-fi series before you start belittling the creative team who PAID ATTENTION to the ENTIRE CANON, because in the end, you're only going to end up having someone who actually watched all of the series and knows the canon inside out correcting you on the misrepresentation of non-facts that you're giving.

  • Jorie | May 27, 2013 7:46 PM

    Ian, I appreciate the fact you want to ignore that part of the Star Trek canon but please remember it is part of the canon that is set ahead of TOS. And as far as calling it "little known", it lasted roughly the same length of time on TV as TOS, which by many during the time it had its original run, was considered to be "little known".

  • Ian | May 22, 2013 3:33 PM

    If you have to remember an episode of a little-watched TV show for the plot to make sense, then you have failed as a writer. Fortunately, the Augment story arc isn't necessary, there are several reasons why one would have wanted to conceal Khan's identity.

    First, he was known in the 1990s as a despot, a tyrant. That part of his history is the same in both continuities. All sorts of folks in Star Fleet would have been able to look up the name Khan Noonien Singh in 23rd-century Wikipedia and wondered WTF Admiral Marcus was thinking.

    Second, you need the whole canon. You only even need to look as far back as the last recent Star Trek movie; Spock Prime is still alive, and he remembers the Space Seed and Wrath of Khan events from the other continuity. If he heard someone mention "Admiral Marcus has a technical adviser named Khan," the game would be up.

    I disagree entirely with the notion that the only reason to hide Khan's identity was to be a reveal to the audience. For the most part, most people in the Abrams continuity don't know about events from the main continuity, but it doesn't mean they're ignorant of all history either. Secrecy is important when dealing with guy famous for being "a Prince" during the Eugenics Wars.

  • Jorie | May 21, 2013 4:59 AM

    The three episodes of "Enterprise" I am referencing are "Borderland", "Cold Station 12", and "The Augments", all from season 4. Perhaps the writers of this poorly written review should watch these episodes, and rewatch STID to get their storyline understanding straight.

  • Benji | May 21, 2013 12:32 AMReply

    This Movie Is amazing most Of YoU Are Stupid! ThIs Is By Far The Best Movie That Has Come OuT This Year! Makes Iron Man 3 Look Like The Bucket List

  • Jorie | May 21, 2013 4:31 AM

    In full agreement with you, Benji! Had my cel's autospell not been kicking in so badly in the lengthy comment I made above, my response would not have so many word replacements in it lol. Maybe the dude who wrote the article wrote it from his cel too with all the stuff he left out!

  • kaystiel | May 20, 2013 11:16 PMReply

    Kudos for a good balanced review! I am an old Trek fan, willing to give new Trek a try. I liked the 2009 film, because I thought we were going new places, but the constant references to Old Trek (tribbles, Spock Prime, etc.) throw you out of the story, so you keep comparing old and new, and alas, the new one lacks the heart of the old. Kirk and Spock haven't been friends long enough for the impact of the scene in the reactor core to have the same resonance, and there were audible groans from the audience. This film rides too much on the fondness of a large part of the audience for this universe and it's characters. Please let someone who loves Trek take over the franchise.

  • Josh | May 20, 2013 11:10 PMReply

    I just don't get why they don't know who Khan is since he took over the world during the Euginics wars. Its like not knowing who Hitler is.

  • Megan | June 15, 2013 10:48 PM

    I don't think it is...Hitler was less than 80 years ago. There are still people alive who suffered under his reign. Khan, for Kirk et al, was about 260 years in the past. I don't know about you, but I'd be hard-pressed to name a heck of a lot of mad men from the 1700's. And even they were familiar with his exploits, assuming ST doesn't deviate from reality in this, Khan is a very common name - and it's usually a surname. Cryotubes, as was stated in the film, hadn't been in common use since the advent of warp technology. Humans had a warp drive capable ship by 2150, so cryotubes had stopped being commonplace 100 years prior (give or take a few years to build a decent number of ships). Definitely before this crew was born. They'd have no more reason to think Khan was Khan Noonien Singh than I would have reason to think the next person named Khan I meet is Genghis.

    That said, I agree with Ian above that it would have been stupid to have Khan not use a fake name. All it would have taken was one person with enough knowledge to put 2 and 2 together - however unlikely that was to happen - and Marcus would have been screwed.

  • ska-triumph | May 22, 2013 3:10 PM

    Different timeline established from the 2009 movie. So KHAN is supposed to have a different history. Or one that his "war criminal" status from 300 years ago isn't the same Eugenics war...? The filmmakers were purposely, lazily vague with details there.

  • Alan B | May 20, 2013 10:43 PMReply

    The politics are "muddled", eh? Well, thanks for the most generalized, anti-intellectual non-criticism ever. You don't define what "politics" are, what they maybe could be or how a film successfully merges the "politics" and the persona. You mentioned 'War of the Worlds' ... yes, and? You don't explain WHY that film was more successful, just that it was, and then you posit that Orci's politics have something, anything to do with the film. Yeah OK ... The politics seemed basic, simple really: Kirk values aggression over pacifism, and the lesson he learns is the value of social harmony (embodied by the good father figure Pike) over retribution (represented by the dark father Marcus), which was made apparent in his monologue to Starfleet. But, apparently, these very clearly defined values in the film are MUDDLED and, like, shit, with MUDDLED MUDDLEDNESSS MUDDYING THE MUDDLETON.

  • Alan B | May 20, 2013 11:07 PM

    "a terrorist attack is seen as a gee-whiz moment early in the film (when a Starfleet member is coerced into blowing up a building)"

    Oh, do you mean the shot of the attack that dollies out, then in to reveal the picture of the Starfleet member's daughter? The shot that suggests that some people are willing to throw aside their values and compassion in order to protect what is most important to them? Yeah, the filmmakers really are saying some POLITICALLY MUDDLED SHIT there: you know, I don't think anyone has resorted to violence - ever - in order to protect their core values, especially in the last 100 years. Yeah, and they really upped the "gee-whiz" factor in using a CGI affect that looks like a Panadol dissolving. I genuinely want to know what genius wrote the 9/11 section. Was it an individual? Or were the entire group pitching ideas without anyone having the foresight to say, "hey, that's kinda stupid."

  • Lexis | May 20, 2013 10:25 PMReply

    I agree with all of these.

  • Looney | May 20, 2013 9:01 PMReply

    Love it! Great movie!! Can't wait for ST3...

  • Ted | May 20, 2013 6:26 PMReply

    This was one of the worst written and thinly conceived pieces I've read on this site.

  • Travis | May 20, 2013 6:05 PMReply

    Pretty much. Although I thought Benedict was fantastic, that was the only plus

  • cindy | May 20, 2013 6:00 PMReply

    This is a really good set of reviews. I have been a fan since the original series debuted. Never missed an episode. I've watched all the films and seen all the subsequent TV series. And like a lot of people, I have found the story lines lacking at times. When I saw JJ Abrams' first installment, I thought it was awesome except for the villain. Eric Bana looked the part but had horrible lines. "hello Christopher, I'm Nero." What? A job interview? A doctor visit? No really good villain talks that way, let alone a psycho Romulan. His NJ sounding accent was awful. Saw the newest installment this past Sunday. Too complicated, too packed with story lines, too much action, if that's possible. It made the whole film thin instead of how pithy and deep I expected it to be. Like they gave us a two-hour TV special with superb special effects but lots of loose ends and quick brushstrokes. A sketch instead of a painting. Benedict Cumberbatch does evil genius really well. He's was the antithesis of his Sherlock Holmes character. And in the scene where he takes out the Klingons, it was Terminator all over again minus the red eyes. Dune with the hooded leather coat. Very disappointing really. I laughed when Kirk died. Flip "Wrath of Khan?" I couldn't believe it. A cheap, cheeky tactic. After the first film I was skeptical of Spock's relationship with Uhuru. Just useless backstory. This time out, a poke at the stereotypes of the way couples behave in conflict. So out of character. And finally Carol Marcus wears lingerie from Victoria's Secret? Kirk just has to dog her while his ship is in jeopardy. Gratuitous and disgusting. I am disappointed. Get a different set of writers please and talk to the cutting room crew. And get rid of Alice Eve early. It's going to be a one-night hook-up. Talk about cheap!

  • Khan Prime | June 1, 2013 3:02 PM

    ^^ Best comments yet re: the movie (except the part about Alice Eve.)

  • Mr. Wu | May 20, 2013 5:45 PMReply

    "To boldly go where no one has gone before." Simply put, this sense of purpose is what is missing from these films.

  • Rob | May 20, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    I completely agree with everything, minus the lack of awe. There were parts of the movie I was on the edge of my seat, namely when the ship was plummeting or when it got attacked at warp speed. Maybe I'm confusing shock with awe, but I figure they are pretty much the same.

    The thing I agree with the most is the Fan Service. Since it is a reboot of the franchise, why do we have to go over the same material again? Why bring back Khan? Because it's the second Star Trek movie and Khan was the villain of the second film in the original series?

    For us who were fans of the original, it's less of a service than a disservice. It means that Khan gets watered down for the new film, and newcomers to the series have no reason to see Wrath of Khan, a better movie than this in terms of substance, but maybe not flash.

  • Barry Seymour | May 20, 2013 5:01 PMReply

    Although I may have been wrong about this, I thought Admiral Marcus' original plan was to send the torpedoes to the Klingon Homeworld with Khan's 'family' -- who would then thaw, be revivied automatically and proceed to take over the entire planet! I've seen other entries that say Khan pulled that off in an attempt to get them back, but if that was Marcus' plan that makes him all the more odious. 'Human' weapons, indeed!

    I also have to disagree about Khan being stupid. Sure, he's unnaturally strong and durable -- that was in the original story line as well. But this time, instead of Kirk taking advantage of gaps in Khan's knowledge, it's the other way around. I thought that was clever.

  • kaystiel | May 20, 2013 11:21 PM

    The torpedos were live, so when they reached their destination they would explode, which would rid the Universe of the superhumans and start off a war with the Klingons, and incidentally, hide all evidence that the Admiral was using Khan to design superweapons. However, Khan deciding to smuggle out his crew in live torpedos was simply nonsensical, who would do that??? Also, the torpedos were supposed to be hellishly difficult to open, yet McCoy and crew managed to get all 72 out in only a few minutes so the live torpedos could be beamed over to the Dreadnought.

  • Barry Seymour | May 20, 2013 5:01 PMReply

    Although I may have been wrong about this, I thought Admiral Marcus' original plan was to send the torpedoes to the Klingon Homeworld with Khan's 'family' -- who would then thaw, be revivied automatically and proceed to take over the entire planet! I've seen other entries that say Khan pulled that off in an attempt to get them back, but if that was Marcus' plan that makes him all the more odious. 'Human' weapons, indeed!

    I also have to disagree about Khan being stupid. Sure, he's unnaturally strong and durable -- that was in the original story line as well. But this time, instead of Kirk taking advantage of gaps in Khan's knowledge, it's the other way around. I thought that was clever.

  • j | May 20, 2013 4:49 PMReply

    'this is all the more uncomfortable when you consider co-writer Bob Orci’s Twitter persona as a 9/11 truther and conspiracy fanatic'

    lol

  • Shane | May 20, 2013 4:23 PMReply

    If the story telling, characters, plot, subtext etc are all lousy then the director is as much at fault than anyone else, unless he's just a studio hack. I guarantee the great set pieces were all second unit work that was "okayed" by Abrams and the visuals the work of the DP. Begs the question then, why is Abrams considered a great director?

  • kaystiel | May 20, 2013 11:24 PM

    I concur, a director might be good at action sequences, but that hardly makes a good film, or even a great film. My scale of a good film, (and a great one) is how many times i'd be willing to view it again, and STID is a one-timer.

  • Chris | May 20, 2013 6:12 PM

    To answer your questions: I like Abrams well enough, but I do not consider him a great filmmaker, nor do I think he ever will be. I think at this point he's reached his proverbial ceiling. But the suggestion that he somehow does not understand the form and craft of cinema, or that his films are not thoughtfully composed, is provably false. There are much better artists directing movies these days, but he's nothing if not competent. Even his detractors - those annoyed by the persistent lens flares, those who thinks his movies are too intellectually thin, those frustrated by the fact that he's mostly just aping Spielberg - admit that he knows what he's doing as a filmmaker. The major arguments, artistically speaking at least, are that he's rather disposable. Competence has never been in question. Pointing you toward definitive examples is no trouble at all. The iconic (and spectacularly well-executed) opening sequence of the series premiere of "LOST," for one. The image of the "eyeball" in the middle of space in "Star Trek." The train-wreck sequence in "Super 8." And most of the action sequences in both "Star Trek" moves are quite well crafted. He'll never be a guy who creates the kind of indelible, profound images we might have seen from (just limiting my examples to big-budget filmmakers) Spielberg, Cameron, etc., but there's little question as to his basic abilities as a director.

  • Shane | May 20, 2013 5:17 PM

    Thanks Chris, you're building me up a bit there though. There's no way I can live up to anyone's expectations now. As a matter of course though, do you consider Abrams a great film-maker, and if so, can you point me in the direction of some thoughtfully composed and edited scenes from any of his films, some iconic images, or some glimpse of a film-maker who understand the form and craft of cinema?

  • Chris | May 20, 2013 4:53 PM

    OK everyone, OK. We've got it settled. Shane here - if that's his REAL name - has "guaranteed" us that all of the setpieces (of which there are many) were all just second-unit work, and that the visuals were entirely created by the DP. Because that's really how it works. The director of a movie that's 40% action just leaves all that action to someone else. And all the visuals? Yeah, the DP just goes off by himself and figures it all out; Abrams isn't even involved probably. Because that's what Shane here says. And certainly the fact that the visual aesthetics of "Into Darkness" and Abrams' last film, "Super 8," are entirely consistent - despite having different directors of photography - is just a coincidence. And the fact that the action scenes between "Into Darkness" and Abrams' 2009 "Star Trek" are also entirely consistent from an aesthetic and skill standpoint, despite those two films having different second-unit directors, is also a coincidence. So there we have it. Shane explains it all. And don't worry, folks, you can trust him - he GUARANTEES it! You have any question about how J.J. Abrams makes his movies, how much control he has, and how he delegates his duties, you know where right where to come. Shane will be here with all your answers.

  • bohmer | May 20, 2013 4:32 PM

    you just want to shit on abrams here. i think the screenwriters are to blame.

  • bohmer | May 20, 2013 4:20 PMReply

    no, nothing to add, you guys nailed it. it was a fun movie but could have been so much better. i'm really hoping that the 3rd film, which should be in space; in the five year mission, will be directed by someone else, and get to the business of being a real star trek thing for a change. it's been a while now. enough with the action sequences please...leave it to marvel.

  • cirkusfolk | May 20, 2013 4:09 PMReply

    Well for one thing, Khan didn't assume the moniker John Harrison. That's the fake name the federation gave him, along with the cooked up story about him being a former agent. And second, I think Khan did have brains to go with his brawn. Much like Loki and the Joker, Khan planned on getting caught so he could then have access to the missiles he knew the federation would give whatever ship came after him. It appeared to be a plan he set in motion the minute e chose to hide his crews bodies in the missiles. Also, by playing cat and mouse with Kirk, you could never tell which side he was on. At least, I couldn't. U should really repost the Good Bad and Ugly article u all wrote for the first Star Trek. I remember it having a lot more silly things in it. I think this film is much stronger than that one.

  • ninjamedic210 | May 23, 2013 5:08 PM

    I always knew what side Khan was on His own. His plan would not have worked so well if Kirk had followed orders( yeah . Right) and just fired the torpedoes. The Khan and all 72 of his followers would be vapor in the Kronos atmosphere.

  • ska-triumph | May 22, 2013 3:04 PM

    Actually no.

    Aside from the stupid hiding plan, KHAN Harrison didn't know his crew was still alive until the Enterprised hailed and warned him at Chronos. He asked how many missiles. When he got 72, he then surrendered. Later while imprisoned, he answered why he attacked Starfleet: he thought his crew was dead.

  • Charles | May 20, 2013 7:59 PM

    Yes, hiding his crewmembers' bodies inside of missiles. That's a really smart plan.

  • Chris | May 20, 2013 4:05 PMReply

    Spock's "KHAN!" line may be kind of silly, but I don't think it's nearly as silly as Shatner's original, inexplicably iconic "KHAN!" scene - a moment that not only doesn't make much sense (Kirk's sudden eruption of rage is completely out of place; the moment that precedes it isn't all that dramatic), but is delivered with typically awful overacting by Shatner.

  • karadin | May 20, 2013 11:29 PM

    In the Wrath of Khan, a film that not only Trek fans loved, but was the crossover hit of that year, there was a great rivalry between the two leads, Khan and Kirk, Khan was a well-fleshed (no pun intended to Richardo Montalban's chest) out character with a backstory that the audience could sympathize with, and Kirk was struggling not only to save the lives of his crew, but to save his best friend, the mother of his child, and his son. At the point Kirk shouted KHAN!!! he was being marooned on a dead planet, and the shout echoed across space. The use of KHAN! as shouted by new Spock was not only out of character, it stomped all over the original film that is iconic and when I saw it, the audience just groaned aloud, in derision, and at that point, STID lost me completely.

  • Charles | May 20, 2013 8:02 PM

    But in the context of that movie, Kirk is actually "acting" when he yells, "KHAN!" Shatner is, as always, over the top, but in that moment you can justify it because he was just playacting to deceive Khan and get the upper hand.

  • Mark | May 20, 2013 3:54 PMReply

    Bob Orci is a 9/11 truther? Jesus christ.

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