When JJ Abrams Star Trek came out in 2009 I, like many others, really liked it. I actually saw it three times in theaters with one showing being on IMAX. Purists had a lot of problems with the movie, but it worked as a fun reboot and the cast nailed the characters perfectly. So there were high hopes for the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, but unfortunately the movie falls flat on its face at warp speed thanks to one of the dumbest scripts ever written. If you thought Stat Trek V: The Final Frontier or Star Trek: Nemesis were bad, wait until you experience this cosmic train wreck.
It is absolutely impossible to discuss how bad Star Trek Into Darkness is without going into spoilers. If you try to review it without discussing the spoilers, the movie doesn’t sound that bad. It actually sounds pretty good. Maybe that’s why Abrams was so adamant about hiding the truth about the movie? Maybe he knew the real meat of the story makes it fall apart and the script is the worst big budget summer tentpole written since Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (also done by the same writers as this movie). So that being said, I cannot discuss the movie’s problems without spoilers, so tread carefully if you actually want a crushing disappointment after spending $15 on your ticket…
The opening of the movie has the Enterprise crew secretly trying to save a Class M planet they were only supposed to be mapping. A volcano is going to blow up, destroying the primitive population; so Kirk and crew decided to alter the planet’s course of destiny and save them. Even though that alone is a violation of the Prime Directive, Kirk reveals the existence of the Enterprise to the natives when he rises it out of the ocean to save Spock who is inside the volcano. The fact that the Enterprise has transporters and could have done all of this from orbit is obviously ignored by the writers as an excuse for a Raiders of the Lost Ark ripoff and an effects shot of the Enterprise under water.
When they return to Kirk, Spock “throws him under the bus” (do they still have busses in the 23rd Century?) by filing a true report on what they did on the planet; causing Kirk to lose his command and Pike is given the Enterprise back. While this is happening we’re introduced to “John Harrison” who blackmails a Starfleet officer into blowing up an archive in London, which we learn is a secret Section 31 weapons facility. We also learn that the movie takes place in 2259…remember this for later. The attack is just an excuse to trigger a meeting of all of the Starfleet Captains and First Officers so Harrison can come by and kill everyone including Pike. Of course that means Kirk and Spock are left alive and Kirk is given an excuse to get the Enterprise back.
After the attack, Harrison uses a transporter to teleport himself sixteen light years to the Klingon homeworld of Qo’noS (which the movie misspells onscreen as “Kronos”). Who needs a starship in this rebooted universe when you can carry a transworp transporter and just zap yourself to any planet in the universe? No problem, Kirk and Spock jump on the Enterprise and warp to Qo’noS in about five minutes. Like the 2009 movie before it, the distances in this movie are way off and make no sense. With this warp drive, Voyager could’ve been home by the end of the first episode!
Kirk and crew head off to Qo’noS armed with 72 (big hint there) experimental torpedoes that have something mysterious inside, and they’re ordered to kill Harrison with those 72 torpedoes. Naturally, the ship breaks down so Kirk, Spock, and Uhura use a ship they recovered from the “Mudd incident” to go down to the planet and capture Harrison. This sequence is the only time where Uhura is anything more than “Spock’s girlfriend” as she speaks Klingon before another big action fest breaks out.
Harrison saves them and, because he doesn’t want those 72 torpedoes destroyed, he surrenders. It’s at this point, when Harrison gets on the ship, that we learn that he’s Khan. When pressed by Kirk, he says “My name is Khan!”, and the whole theater groans.
Remember when the movie established that it was set in 2259? McCoy mentions these frozen bodies have been frozen for 300 years. Do the math. That would mean that we had genetically engineered supermen and the ability to send them frozen in space…in 1959. Just one example of the stupidity of this script.
The movie’s stupidity really starts to ramp up from this point on, and if you’ve ever cared about the “science” of Star Trek; it will likely make your head explode if magical transporters and Warp 10,000 ships don’t already. It turns out the Admiral Marcus is behind everything and awoke Khan and his people as a weapon to fight off a Klingon war he sees as inevitable. So he’s build a ship twice as big as the Enterprise that can be operated by one person if needed, and proceeds to break every Star Trek science rule in the book.
The USS Vengeance is able to intercept the Enterprise while it’s at warp, and fire on it at warp. Then the Enterprise has big holes blown in it at warp, causing bodies to fly out into the warp “tunnel”. This scene probably sounded really awesome when the writers were dreaming up their action scenes before writing the script, but it’s not Star Trek. A ship in Star Trek that loses structural integrity at warp would fly to pieces. Not in the Abramsverse!
Earlier in the movie, Scotty resigns when he sees those torpedoes as suspicious and Kirk sends him to coordinates that Khan gave him. Scotty found the Vengeance there and manages to sabotage it so both it and the Enterprise end up drifting in space near Earth’s moon. Kirk and Khan space jump over to the Vengeance, where Khan is revealed to be as evil as we know. He pops Admiral Marcus’ head like a fresh grape, and the final showdown between him and the Enterprise is set up.
I should mention that while Kirk and Khan are on the Vengeance, New Spock calls Old Spock for help. Old Spock says he promised never to tell them anything about their destiny, but then decides to let the audience know the Khan is the most dangerous foe they ever faced. His cameo was awesome to see, but in terms of how it served the story; it only illustrates how badly written the movie is.
What continues is the most insulting thing about the movie. Instead of doing something original, they completely cut & paste the ending of The Wrath of Khan, only swapping the Kirk and Spock roles.
The Enterprise has lost all power and is plummeting to Earth. Someone has to fix it, but to do so they’d have to climb inside the heavy radiated warp core. With Spock on the bridge, Kirk climbs inside. In the original Wrath of Khan, Spock did some repair work with radiation blasting him in the face. In this movie, Kirk climbs up a big CG contraption and kicks an object back into place. Oh, and it gets dumber and more offensive to Trek fans…
They reuse the dialog from The Wrath of Khan. Almost word for word, beat for beat.
When the Enterprise is saved, a sad Scotty tells Spock on the Bridge, “You’d better get down here.”
When Spock gets down to Engineering and tries to open the quarantine glass Scotty says, “No, you’ll flood the whole compartment!”
We were then expecting “Ship? Out of danger?” from the dying Kirk. Instead Kirk asks about the ship and Spock says, “Out of danger.”
Then we get the hands on the glass scene as Kirk dies. Spock cries and yells “KHAAAAAAAAN!”
At that point, this was my reaction:
Of course since the writers of this abortion didn’t have the balls to keep Kirk dead, they found a way to bring him right back to life. Earlier in the movie McCoy injects some of Khan’s blood into a dead Tribble. When Kirk dies he sees that the Tribble is alive and realizes he needs Khan’s blood to save him. The problem is Khan just crash landed the Vengeance in San Francisco, so a pissed off and emotional Spock chases him down.
Here’s a big flaw in the movie. McCoy needs the magic blood from Khan, but they have 72 frozen supermen in sickbay! He could have drawn the blood from one of them, even the one he took out of the cryo tube (he put Kirk in cryo freeze to save his brain). But he never thinks of that, instead they do another stupid action scene that results in Spock punching Khan in the face over and over. And I should mention that Spock in this movie punches like a litte girl?
Star Trek Into Darkness is at least entertaining. The cast has good chemistry, and there’s some humor. But the script is the dumbest piece of shit since the second Transformers movie. It’s unbelievably how stupid it is. Star Trek has always been very intelligent, but as my friend and I commented after the movie; it’s like this was written by a chimpanzee, orangoutang, and baboon at keyboards. Like Transformers 2, it’s like all the action sequences were thought up first and then they clumsily strung together something resembling a story to connect them.
If you go see Star Trek Into Darkness expecting a mindless action movie with great effects and a stupid script, you’ll like it. If you expect anything resembling Star Trek; you’ll hate it.