There are some spoilers in this ramble-review, therefore, don’t spoil the movie for yourself.
I loved the first Star Trek (2009) and that love has grown even stronger after those close to 20 times I’ve watched J. J. Abrams bring that final frontier onto my screen. So one could only imagine my excitement when I was sitting in the cinema and waiting for Star Trek Into Darkness to blow my mind! But nobody, including me, could have predicted the fact that my mind was so intact that I wanted to blow it off myself.
Now, to be fair, I was super exhausted that day and most likely sleep deprived, which might have influenced me a bit but when a movie can’t pick you up when you’re down (and tired), then I don’t know what can. Another factor that could have altered my perception towards a more negative side, was the 3D aspect – I don’t like it and I usually dislike the movies in 3D but I can hardly say it’s a pattern. The reason I’m explaining my situation is because I myself want to justify my surprising dislike towards Star Trek Into Darkness due to my infinite love towards the movie that came before it. So much waiting and all I can think of is that it disappointed me while everybody else seems to love it. Therefore, for couple of days now, I’ve been trying to find reasons outside the movie to understand why I didn’t adore Star Trek Into Darkness; those two (I was tired + 3D) were the only ones I could think of…
Before I start discussing why I didn’t enjoy Star Trek Into Darkness, I should create a brighter mood by stating the things I did like. I loved the visual feel of it all – it had a big budget and it showed! The color scheme was quite delightful with starting off red and then gradually going darker as the movie progressed (into darkness indeed) and there’s not much bad one can say about the outlook. Seeing the familiar faces like Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Anton Yelchin was emotionally rewarding. An extra prize was Benedict Cumberbatch in all his mighty – sadly his shower scene was cut out. Naked or not, Cumberbatch’s Khan is still probably one of the most thought out villains currently on screen with clear motivations and brains to support his evil plans. Basically, visuals and the villain worked, it was the overall story line that didn’t win me over.
Bottom line of the argument I’m making against Star Trek Into Darkness and my average rating (3/5 which honestly is partly this high because of my love for the first movie) is that it tried too much. The ambition to show so much in those two hours, visually as well as plot wise, was eventually overflowing in every scene and dialog. While sometimes ambition is worth some praise (The Place Beyond the Pines for instance), other times it just smothers the greatness to unnecessary mush that seems to drown everything around it. There’s a lot of mush in Star Trek Into Darkness and most of it is caused by the need to create problems between the characters and some of it is created by the action scenes where the deadly situations don’t even get properly finished. In one particular scene, Kirk and Scotty are barely hanging on to this thing and Chekov appears to take Kirk’s hand in the very last minute – in the next scene their already running somewhere. If there’s no time to finish a heroic rescuing scene, then there’s just too many things happening!
While I understand that some of it might be the result of editing, with the fast cut-offs and the choppiness of individual story lines, it still comes down to the screenplay. Though the world seems to be against me (IMDb rates the second movie higher than the first), I think Star Trek was better than its sequel because it was clean and simple. Into Darkness already started off messy: why were Kirk and Bones stealing that scroll when they left it behind while Spock had a pretty intense situation going on inside the volcano? Wasn’t the volcano and near-death experience enough excitement and didn’t it justify the troubles that followed on its own? Then followed the back-and-worth-situation: Kirk was demoted, went to have a drink what seemed to be the same day just to have another conversation with Pike where he promoted him – it could have been written in as a single conversation but that would have been too simple.
Then there’s another question: what was the point of old Spock? Obviously young Spock called him to find out more about Khan but I can’t recall we as viewers ever getting a proper answer to that question. I understood that Spock gave Spock the answer how he beat Khan but since he knows everything wouldn’t he have known about the blood? Or is it just me trying to answer every tiny problem that the plot has while I’ve never really done it with other movies. Well, it’s more to do with the fact that I want to prove that the screenplay is too messy. Why add old Spock when he really didn’t do anything – nor did he have any answers worth actually telling the viewers cause his scene was cut off pretty fast. The answer is simple, I’ve already mentioned it, Star Trek Into Darkness wanted to show too much with too little time.
While it really seems I’m one of the few who has something bad to say about Star Trek Into Darkness, I’m sticking to my opinion. Maybe it’s something to due with my nationality because an Estonian film critic also disliked it: maybe the personality of Estonians is too dark to go further into darkness. I could speculate for days, but it won’t change the fact that I left the cinema with mixed feelings. On one hand, I love Star Trek and I like/love most of the actors, on the other hand, I can’t see myself loving a movie that was so all over the place it made me shake my head in disbelief. If it hadn’t been in 3D, maybe I would be less angry (I have glasses and the double glasses thing is uncomfortable) but I can’t go back now. Into Darkness follows Star Trek with more EVERYTHING and because of it, for me personally, the second movie took itself far away from that simplicity and heart the first movie had created.
PS: If I’ve sounded overly dramatic in this review its because of my love towards Star Trek (2009). When you love something, you expect more, so therefore I was greatly influenced by the first Star Trek while watching this one. Since it didn’t live up to my own personal hype, it was a disappointment – it doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie… it just means I expected it to be something else.0
Very nice review! It’s funny how different movies speak to different people in different ways. I actually like the second movie more than the first. But both are fine bits of sci-fi entertainment. I’m still not sure if they’re what I call Star Trek but they’re still fun.
Again, great write-up!
I’m also a bit shocked I didn’t like it.. but I guess I think less is more is a better way to go sometimes. I didn’t grow up with Star Trek, so I haven’t seen it. Basically I am like the Abrams version of the Star Trek fan since he hadn’t seen them as a kid either and wanted to make a film to those who hadn’t seen it.. as well as for those who had.
Thanks for the comment!
I think you’ve hit on something. Abrams was clearly intending to open up Star Trek to a new audience. In my review I called it “Star Trek for the Masses” but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Right.. he was looking to appeal to those who had no idea what Star Trek was/is. Like me. And it worked. Second would have worked as well if it wasn’t trying to be so massive.. I get that the “regular” cinema visitors like the big show and so on, I guess even the movie bloggers tend to go for the bigger the better.. but this time, I wanted the heart that the first movie had. This one didn’t have those character connections I was looking for.. because the plot kept messing with the dynamics.
I loved the first one and Into Darkness even more. I agree they were doing a lot more in this one but I think they handled it pretty well. In the beginning when Kirk and Bone was running with the scroll, the whole reason why Kirk took the scroll was to get those indigenous people away from the volcano danger. Kirk knew that worshipped that scroll so much that they would chase them don for it. But it did take me a couple of minutes to figure it out. Either way good review.
Well.. alright, he got them out there.. but even if Spock didn’t succeed (for that he got those people out, right? Just in case?) – they would have died anyway.. cause the volcano would have taken them out no matter where they would have been. Even if it was for a purpose, it didn’t come off as that.. Oh well, we can discuss this endlessly, we should just ring up the writer and ask him! 😀
You have a lot of valid points here Mettel. I liked it pretty well overall, but there were tons of questions and plenty of things they could have done better. The screenplay was “messy” indeed!
And messy seems to be the most valid argument I can make it against it. That and the fact that they wanted to do too much.
I was disappointed too. I can’t believe it’s higher than the original on imdb. I saw it over a week ago and there isn’t much I remember about it. Good review. I want to be a dark Estonia!
Indeed, higher than the first, ridiculous!
Hey Mettel, great write-up. Just want to let you know that you are not alone. I loved Star Trek just as much as you did and I was not familiar with the original series growing up. Everything you wrote I was nodding along with. I def agree with the fast cutoffs and the too much in too little time. (Felt the same way about The Dark Knight Rises actually.) And including the original Spock made me feel like I should have been familiar with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan before I watched Into Darkness which I wasn’t. It’s a shame because ‘Star Trek’ had a superb balance of making Star Trek fans happy while making new viewers feel as if they were watching a complete and new story with only knowing just very little of the original. (All they had to know was that there was an original Star Trek and that Leonard Nimoy was Spock.) Also, agree that the dialogue between both Spocks didn’t really add anything to the story. They really should have saved a Leonard Nimoy cameo for the third movie for some epic moment. This movie should have finally let the new cast have their own movie. Also, I felt that Dr. Carol Marcus was an unnecessary character. Yea she was in the Wrath of Khan (I had to look that up) but what did she really add? There are so many characters in Star Trek already that screen time for each of them is shortened when you add someone else to the crew. So if they are going to add her then there needs to be real purpose. Or maybe I really need to watch Wrath of Khan. Honestly, it seemed like the only purpose was to have that single shot of her in her underwear which really seemed forced. In Star Trek it worked really well when Uhura dressed down to her undies. It made for a fun scene. Into Darkness really felt forced and that’s coming from a dude.
Kinda makes me wonder if adding Damon Lindeloff to the writing staff was a bad thing. I mean he did do Prometheus. And Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman did a superb job without Lindeloff’s help with Star Trek. I guess that’s something we’ll never find out but it does beg the question.
Anyway, I’m glad you wrote this up because as much of a fan as I am of Star Trek it is hard for me to admit that I don’t like Into Darkness as much as I wanted to.
What a comment.. you should get an award!
But what I know found out that I didn’t even bother searching was the new addition to the writer staff.. I didn’t like Prometheus so I think it’s his fault! No not really but maybe a little bit.
Yes, indeed, the additional characters were just adding to the mess and the amount of noise the movie was showing. It really didn’t work for me.
Thanks again for this massive comment! 🙂
No prob! Keep writing and I’ll keep reading 😉
Yea, I was totally dissappointed with Prometheus so I blame Lindeloff also. Lol.
I loved it, and had a great time watching it (in 2D, thank God) but you are so right. There are SO many plot holes. Looking back on it is kind of baffling. It’s like I didn’t register any of them until afterwards. I guess I was making too many “Kirk and Spock should be lovers” jokes.
Well they didn’t have any good moments together I felt like. Only the bro-mance crying Kirk will die thing but by then I was like – Kahn’s blood for crying out loud and just.. not even moved by the tears. 😀
I loved you trying to argue yourself out of not liking it 🙂 Very nice, actually helped in seeing your point of view of it. Great write up, Mettel!
I really wanted to like it! Still want to..maybe after the second viewing it will be better.. who knows.
Thanks for the comment!
The more and more I read about Into Darkness to more i’m sure it’s actually quite mediocre. I just wish we’d seen more of the world, or universe, we had a lot of ship based warfare/espionage last time. Nice write up, though.
It is.. I think the hype is just.. weird.
I think there’s a certain stigma attached to Hollywood sequels, and when one isn’t immediately terrible people clamor to it, seemingly. Benedict Cumberbatch made it almost worth watching though.
Shame you didn’t like it, I loved it! The real star of the show is Benedict Cumberbatch, making a perfect villain. He made for a much more fleshed-out and memorable villain than Eric Bana’s Nero. He is intimidating in individual ways and managed to surprise me throughout. I also loved the way he executed his plan, it showed more cutting edge creativity than most modern blockbusters
You do make some valid points though.
Well the villain point is indeed alright for this movie but I kind of think the emphasis was put on him rather than the team that I began to love in the first movie. I felt like the dynamics didn’t really pay off and Cumberbatch wasn’t able to carry it on his own.
The film does seem to be dividing audiences. I wasn’t a fan of the first reboot so perhaps I’ll appreciate this one a bit more. Interesting read…thanks for sharing.
It seems to be having mixed feelings from the first movie to the second.