Sunday, May 26, 2013

Star Trek: The Wrath of Spock

One of the great Star Trek rules was always, "Don't piss off a Vulcan." And, of course, there was an extension to this rule: "Don't fight a Vulcan." Captain James T. Kirk found this out the hard way in an episode called Amok Time.

This is one of many details that is "right" with the new movie Star Trek: Into Darkness. That, and many one liners, name-checks of characters from the original series, remind us that yes, this is still Star Trek, and it's the cast of characters we all loved so well. With better hair and kinkier inter-species romances.

Still... still... still...

When the new series was conceived, I think the one thing most fans could agree on, was, don't simply re-do the old episodes. In an interview after the first reboot alternate timeline Star Trek movie, director J.J. Abrams said, "I don’t want to approach the second film as a remake of episodes we’ve seen in the past."

And yet, here we are.

I tried to spare myself any spoilers and reviews for this latest installment of Star Trek. When a co-worker mentioned that it revived another old villain, I said two things: 1) "Stop!", and 2) Please, please, please, don't let it be Khan.

It's Khan.

By now, I can forgive Abrams et. al. for blowing up the timeline in the first movie. What's done is done. I can easily smile at the introduction in to the film of the lovable tribble, which really shouldn't be known to the crew yet (the tribble wasn't introduced until after this movie's stardate, in the original timeline). I'll tolerate confusing "re-entry" with "below the clouds" (hey, guys, if you're below the clouds, you have already re-entered!). I'll even overlook the detail that this Star Trek retains Khan's 20th century origins, which were imaginable enough in 1967 or 1982, but of course aren't quite possible in 2013. But I was hoping for more creativity than a more or less rehash, and was hoping against hope that Star Trek wouldn't become just another super-hero action movie loaded up on special effects.

This movie couldn't be any more of a rehash if they'd brought back Kirstie Alley to play the half-Vulcan half-Romulan Lieutenant Saavik (I expect the Romulans to show up in the third movie). Yes, Spock gets Kirk's famous scream, and this time Kirk gets to be on the other side of the glass to die repairing the warp core. I'm sure that will make some people cheer. It made me groan.

The film is also larded up over its final half hour with, first, the outright destruction of a major city, and then a chase scene so ridiculous it basically played for laughs. That, and the opportunity to see a character beamed in to a fight (hey, it's Star Trek, use what you got!), and, of course, the opportunity to see Spock get  really, really mad.

None of this gives away much of the plot, such as it is. At least we won't have an entire movie called The Search for Kirk, and we do get a new, and more literal, twist on the (miraculously unused) line "he's dead Jim." And if the new crew is so lame that it needs Spock Prime to tell it the next thing to do, I'm good with that, too.
Were there things to like? Sure. The dialogue was snappy, and I sure liked that some of the better lines were saved for characters like Montgomery Scott. I liked seeing sex-kittens with tails. A scene of Uhura and Spock bickering was nearly worth half the price of admission all on its own. And the vision of 23rd century London, with both the new and the old, was visually pleasing. Chris Pine and Zach Quinto are more than passable as Kirk and Spock.

But, please!!! Come up with a new story for the next one.