Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Posted: May 31, 2013 in Joe Giambrone
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Well I was pleasantly surprised by this one, certainly a great popcorn movie, more comedy than drama.  But, I was wrong on which direction they were heading from the initial teasers.  Seems JJ and crew managed to pull it off, and even left some simmering issues to ponder over.  Thumbs are up (thanks Roger Ebert, maybe I’ll use this distinction in the future).

So, let’s get spoiling!

But wait – a lot of my gripes are just sort of dumb scenes, perhaps hastily written in order to milk the character developments that occur later on.  I get that.  It’s more Fi than Sci.  As a space comedy it’s up there with Spaceballs and Galaxy Quest, and so the added perspective on war and vengeance is delivered with even more resonance.



So, jeesh, must we drop Spock into a volcano just to drop an ice bomb… into a volcano?  For a caricature of a logical man, that comes off as highly illogical.  So yeah, there’s an unhealthy does of that sort of thing.

But Khan captivates with his machinations and motivations.  So the film is redeemed by a great villain, a cunning antagonist who has good reasons for his actions.  Here is where they did it right.  Without Khan, I shudder to think what may have been.  But they knew they had a good thing in the bag, and chose to retell the best Star Trek film of the original iteration.

They didn’t go for the easy choices, and things get a bit hairy as the plot progresses.  The interplay between civilization and savagery that formed the backbone of so much of the original Star Trek concept is brought forth again.  This reinventing of the Star Trek world, its directives and missions pits militarists against those who would civilize the galaxy.  Sometimes reduced to rote and inflexible rules that cry out to be broken, the difference between duty and ethics comes quickly into the plot.  This recurring examination of rules and the meanings behind them helps to define what a civilization is at its core, its true moral values vs. the mere codification and interpretation of those values.

The obvious drive for vengeance and for first strikes against rivals is at the heart of the story.  Also the secretive abuse of power by unaccountable men and their hired mercenaries, these themes play out today on the world stage with life and death consequences for multitudes.  Even a false flag attack of sorts seeks to get a war with the Klingons started, as actual wars are launched back here on earth.  One element missing was the propaganda, the mass brainwashing of society.  Normal civilian life is pretty much absent from the world of Star Trek.  The role of propaganda in this semi-military “Federation” state would be an interesting can of worms to open, but that topic is not usually known in this universe.  Even deception by Starfleet is a rarity, and this instance is the work of one man, the bad apple scenario.  In this regard, the corruption we know in reality today trumps the evil ambitions of a single Starfleet Admiral.

But Kirk and Spock shine, in the face of betrayals, imminent destruction and even the need to trust one who is guaranteed to be untrustworthy.  Quite a complex scenario to remain true to civilization and not devolve to barbarism.  In the end this is the theme of the film, the fight for civilization in the face of all challenges.  Heroism isn’t punching and kicking.  Heroism is understanding, remaining true and sacrificing when there is no other choice.


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