Star Trek, Star Trek, Star Trek…
I was pretty sure when I found the plot synopsis online that I knew this was going to be the way that it was. Safe. You heard it when Paramount kept saying “It’s meant for international appeal.” That’s movie code for “no challenging material here”.
It did not deviate.
Again the cast was great, although I think that Chekhov is being played too much the bumbling gaffe- he’s a Star Fleet Officer for goodness sake. But I digress. The relationship between Kirk and Spock continued to evolve, which was expected, and was well done. The relationship between Pike and Kirk was also grown, sadly for the wrong reasons. Did Simon look like they aged him on purpose for this?
The movie was entertaining, I did enjoy watching it, but too many little things that maybe I forgave in the first film cropped back up here when I had hoped they should not have. But first…
Kahn was not Kahn
Benedict was a tremendous villian, believable and menacing all at once. A good advisary, a good actor. But he was not Kahn. Kahn was so confident in his superiority, he relished in it, he celebrated it. He was never angry about it- he was smart enough to know why he had been banished, because he’s mother-f’in Kahn, and he was confident to know “Eh, it’s cool, because I’ll be back anyway, and kill all you lessers. Let us dance.” Suave comes to mind. Even after Ceti-Alpha Six exploded, his rage was presented as a determination as smooth as a fine liquor. You had no doubt that Benedict was evil, and would turn on Kirk, which was fine because you relished the moment Scotty puts him down (which I am going to say Kahn faked to get the upper hand).
Most telling however is that in the strange way that J.J. Abrams loves to spin mystery and subterfuge, this was completely unbecoming of his style. Safety has it’s price I suppose. The “Dial a Friend” call from Spock to Spock was dumb- use the computers the way the original Spock would have, dummy. The fact that Kahn Noonian Singh was such a notorious character in the past for these people didn’t change, but hey- who’s this guy again? Eugenics Wars?
I learned that apparently, Tribbles can “hang on” to an examination table while everything around them spins and spins like clothes in a dryer. That’s pretty cool… oh wait.
I also learned that the Klingon homeworld is the comparative closeness to Earth that as the nearest QT from my house. 5 minutes there, 5 minutes back. Heck, you can even beam there and skip the spaceship altogether. And throw some mentions of the Neutral Zone in there- the Trek fans will eat it up.
In short, science wise, the film was horrendously broken, and it took too many liberties for things to conveniently be broken, or only work one way, or some other such nonsense to be remotely believable. The Warp Core became version of Cerebro’s chamber stuffed with padded tubes and a miniature Death Star II core? I can beam from a moving shuttle craft to a planet across the vastness of space- but darn it, after the same ship already plucked a person from the bridge of the Enterprise with it’s shields up, I can’t beam my cryogenic frozen running pals back to my ship without the Enterprise taking their depleted shields down? And 72- think about this, how long do you think it would take to modify those 72 torpedoes- 72 of them- and swap out the cryogenics for explosives?
Implied, but I’m not sure stated, was that the Klingons had no warp tech. ummmmm. no. Also, presenting the Klingons as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome castoffs is just not going to cut it. It has always been sad to see how the Klingons have been slowly degraded from their origins.
We’ll put the white girl in scivvies, we won’t let ANY woman be effective without risking the lives of the guys. But hey, we’ll let her try, cause we’re cool like that. Heck, the BAD GUY had to save Uhura- REALLY?
We’ll put a steampunk clock in the back of one guy’s head, call that species diversity, and put the Scottish guy in the bar.
Now, personally, I am tired of the “Federation gone bad” storyline. By this time, it’s hard to imagine that we would have evolved at all to where backstabbing admirals would be such a shock- I mean, isn’t it part of the Academy? “Lesson 23, when you reach Admiral, you are obligated to forgo everything in your life you believed in and plot against your own peeps.” I would love to see a mortally wounded Federation rally to save the Enterprise from certain destruction.
And finally, you killed Pike. Really? How far down the chain of characters did you have to go before Paramount said, “OK, you can kill him”. Oh boy.
I was sad that they took the Kahn story as the central theme for this second movie. I had hoped that J.J. would have been given genuine freedom to take these characters somewhere new, somewhere where no one has gone before. “To boldly go where no one has gone before.” isn’t just a script line, it’s the defining element of the series, to show us exploring the universe and it’s risks and rewards Instead, they wanted a “Star Wars with the Federation”, and that is what they got.