Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) +4.5 x2


(SPOILER ALERT: this review contains many, many spoilers as I felt it was impossible to review it otherwise. You have been warned. Oops – too late. Oh, well …)

The seasoned crew of the Enterprise (commanded by a guy who had not only failed to graduate from the Academy in 2009’s Star Trek movie but had never actually served on a starship or risen through the ranks to get to the captain’s chair) return to Earth after violating Starfleet’s Prime Directive to save a primitive civilization from certain doom in the film’s action-packed opening. Shortly after Kirk (Christopher Pine, sounding more and more like Shatner but less and less like a starship Captain) is reprimanded and demoted for his decision to interfere, our heroes witness a terrorist attack on Starfleet’s HQ which leaves Kirk’s mentor (Captain Pike, perfectly portrayed by Canada’s Bruce Greenwood) dead and the Enterprise on a mission to capture the person responsible, Starfleet’s own John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch, BBC TV’s Sherlock). Harrison holds a grudge against Fleet Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller, who makes everyone else look like they’re acting in a regional cable show, he’s so good) because of the Admiral’s rather bloodthirsty approach to what the Admiral believes is an inevitable war with the Klingons. Kirk and crew must come face to face with enemies both within and without in order to save the day (after destroying most of San Francisco along the way. What is it with this summer’s movies and the wholesale destruction of densely populated cities?)

Wow, what an original story! I’ve not seen anything like this since, oh I dunno, 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That’s right, Harrison is actually Khan Noonian Singh, a character previously portrayed in the 1960’s Original Series episode Space Seed and STII:TWoK by Ricardo Montalban, who effortlessly conveyed a cunningly intelligent but highly dangerous man.


Soooo, this movie is really a remake of the first series’ most critically acclaimed and beloved theatrical outing (coincidentally also movie #2) but with DIFFERENCES!

On to the overall ratings before I let loose my inner snark:

The Story gets one point (+1) as it really is a rehash of STII. It’s not totally without merit, what with the DIFFERENCES and all, hence not a zero. The Look deserves three points (+3) – the special effects are fantastic and the cinematography is terrific (I didn’t even notice J.J. Abram’s patented lens flares this time around). Overall Casting yields two points (+2) thanks largely to Weller, Greenwood and to a lesser extent, Cumberbatch. Commitment to Genre: one point only (+1) since Star Trek is meant to be science fiction, not fantasy, and this movie clearly falls into the latter with its big lapses of logic and common sense (why the hell would you park a starship in an ocean? Why couldn’t the ship have stayed in orbit and if necessary send a shuttlecraft down? Even if hiding in an ocean makes sense, why would you do it near the coast where the indigenous species lives if you are not supposed to be noticed?)

Subtotal: +7

Not bad, right? Fairly close to the 7.6/10 average rating from 237 reviews as posted on But I can only assume these critics thought they were watching a Star Wars movie and felt, hell, it’s way better than Lucas’ prequel crap. But this isn’t a Star Wars movie or any other fantasy-oriented franchise – this is Star Trek, dammit, and it should be based somewhat on logic and science if you want to call it that. J.J. Abrams (the director whose production company started this reboot) may know all there is to know about lens flares and character moments, but he knows diddily-squat about things making sense. I deduct a massive three points (-3) for dumb things like the aforementioned underwater bit; insisting that Spock beam down into an active volcano with a cold fusion bomb to stop it from erupting (couldn’t they have beamed down the bomb with a whadayacallit, timer?); how can one volcano completely eradicate an entire civilization (and if so, why would the indigenous people live near it?); conveniently being able to beam Khan from Earth to the Klingon home world (Kronos) which, at a minimum, would be 4 light-years given that that’s our nearest star; how, exactly, does ONE GUY in Starfleet hide the construction of the biggest ship in history from the Federation Council, not to mention the accountants? Why does Bones need Khan’s blood to regenerate the radiation damage to Kirk when they’ve got 72 other similarly genetically-enhanced human popsicles on hand? Check out a real astronomer’s science perspective review at the link below.

Scientific Explanation of Science Fiction.

Subtotal: +4

You know, after only one movie with this new cast you don’t get to do STII. You just don’t, especially in such a ham-handed manner where EVERYONE knows Kirk ain’t really dead, robbing the film of any emotional impact (and why does Spock yell, “Khhhaaaaannnnn!” when the person at fault is Admiral Marcus? Because someone had to!). The reason that Spock’s death in STII movie had such an emotional impact was due to the 16 years (off-and-on) that the original series’ cast had worked together and the deep camaraderie between the main actors. When Spock made the ultimate sacrifice to save the Enterprise and her crew, including his friend Jim Kirk, it was because he believed the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. We, the audience, understood that but still wanted it to somehow work out OK. It didn’t, at least not in STII. For having the utter gall to remake THE best Star Trek movie, I subtract three points (-3). However, the DIFFERENCES in this story do have merit: the writers use Admiral Marcus’ obsession to destroy all those who oppose him, no matter the cost, as a real-world allusion to what’s happening now in the U.S., with killer drone strikes and the suspension of civil rights to root out terrorists before they can strike. As Kirk points out at the end of the movie before the Enterprise is sent on its 5-year mission of exploration, we’re better than that. I add back two points (+2) for making the story relevant to the issues of today, something Star Trek has always been good at.

Subtotal: +3

I award two points for the superb special effects (+2) and another two points (+2) for getting Peter Weller back into acting again – it’s been too long. Add another point (+1) for Karl Urban’s even-better-than-the-last-movie portrayal of Dr Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy – he somehow evokes DeForest Kelley but not in a slavish-imitation-kind-of-way. Also, a point (+1) is given for the gratuitous scene of the Admiral’s daughter, Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), in her undies, and another point (+1) for Zoe Saldana (Lt. Uhura) – just because.


Sadly, those points are deducted before they count thanks to an annoying Chekov (Anton Yelchin, who was actually quite good in 2011’s ‘Fright Night’ remake) and Scotty (Simon Pegg, who plays up the comedy too much which kinda makes sense given that he’s only really ever done comedy).

Subtotal: +8

As a lifelong fan of Star Trek, I can say with much gravitas that the U.S.S. Enterprise as she appeared in the ‘60s TV show is the most beautiful starship ever designed. Up until its debut in 1965’s ‘The Cage’ pilot, space ships where almost uniformly depicted as flying saucers or rockets. Somehow, Matt Jeffries came up with something that was unlike anything that had ever been done in a movie or TV show before. The Grey Lady (as she’s known to fans) is the heart and soul of Star Trek – she is so beloved by fans that when Gene Roddenberry began work on 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture he told the designers to not stray too far from Matt Jeffries’s original, and they didn’t – with much success. For each new incarnation of the Enterprise (GR felt it so important to Star Trek’s return to television with 1987’s ‘The Next Generation’ that he made THAT ship the Enterprise, too) the basic structure has stayed the same and all have followed the dictum that everything had to make sense and be there for a reason. You can bet your ass that GR wouldn’t have had a brewery for an engine room or a shuttle bay that’s too big for the ship, or any number of inconsistencies and design stupidities evinced by the 2009 movie Enterprise. Christ, the damn thing has uncircumcised penises for engines! It’s the least graceful or attractive of ANY space ship I’ve ever seen. What J.J. fails to understand is that the Enterprise is just as much a character as any of the crew, and for being too ignorant and/or arrogant to get that I deduct a whopping three points (-3).

Ok, I’m done. That last paragraph just made me realize (again) how much I miss seeing the Grey Lady. Luckily for me, there’s DVDs of the Original Series and their movies.

Total: +5


Author: Gaius Baltar

5 thoughts on “Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) +4.5 x2

  1. …these are the stupidities of the Starship Enterprise…

    As a moderate fan of the Star Trek franchise, I expected this to be so much better than the OK first reboot. It isn’t. The opening was campy (in a bad way) and stupid (in a stupid way). I found the music shitty and didn’t fit with the film. It sounded like a 1960’s Italian movie and came across sounding old fashioned. It sounded as though the film and the soundtrack were working independent of each until about mid-way when it began to mesh. I liked the free-falling Enterprise scene and quite enjoyed the chase scene at the end because of it’s superhero-ish quality. The rest (excluding the gratuitous scene of the blonde in her underwear – that was art) was boring and crappy.

    I’ll agree with Ross about the basics except I’ll only award +1 for the Overall Casting with a subtotal result of +6.

    I’ll then deduct two points (-2) for the whole opening scene which is stupid and the Enterprise hiding in the water looked great emerging but was more style over substance. A great plan unless the people look over there. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    I’ll also deduct two points (-2) for the silly impersonations of the cast. Unlike Ross, I think the Kirk-guy was impersonating Kirk too much, the Spock-guy was impersonating a whiny teenage Spock…Wah, I don’t want to feel! Wah, I need to talk on my super-phone to my older alternate reality self for advice, the Bones-guy was ridiculous doing his McCoy impersonation, the Chekov-guy was just plain irritating and Zoe Saldana wasn’t in the least bit hot as the doting girlfriend…”oh, I love that pointy-eared Vulcan I only wish he would feeeeel!!!! Simon Peg didn’t impersonate Scotty, he just took a big dump on the character by being a ridiculous sucky-baby and lastly, the Kahn-guy was a white Englishman with the name Kahn. Really? Maybe his English mother took his step-father’s Sikh name? Maybe that’s it…yeah, that must be it.

    I will give a point (+1) back for John Cho’s Sulu who brought a demeanour to the character that deserves to be captain in the next movie. That’ll really shake things up. That’s right, I think the Asian guy should be doing all the driving!

    I’ll give this train-wreck, or ship-wreck as it were, back one more point (+1) for simply inserting a hot blonde in her underwear for absolutely no reason but to insert a hot blonde in her black bra and panties with no shame at all.

    As for the ship, it’s all right. It’s no Galactica, no Millennium Falcon but it’s OK. It really is just a flying saucer with a handle and two hot-dogs though (+1/-1).

    As much as I might be tempted to go on, I think anything else I might
    add or subtract has already been covered in Ross’ 5-year voyage to seek out and explain this little picture.

    I’ll wrap it up with a total of: +4.

  2. John Cho is indeed the best of the 2nd tier characters in this movie, but sadly he doesn’t have too much to do this time; no wrestling with Romulans on a platform in the sky as in the last movie.

    I wrote way too much but one thing I forgot to mention: why the hell would the communications officer beam down to help Spock in his fist fight with Khan? Why not send the burliest guy from security with, I dunno, a phaser rifle or something? Maybe a horse tranquilizer gun – that woulda done the trick.

  3. Maybe J.J. thought the scene needed a little more pretty. A phaser in her hands should be the same as someone from the security team but I agree that if they send down the telephone operator, they could have sent her down with some back-up. THey could have sent…like, maybe…the ship’s swimsuit-wearing librarian and the thong and nipple-ring-clad and ornamented lunch-lady.

    Also, why did it take so many blasts to…how do you Trekkians say…Phases, to knock Kahn-Smith down? Like, super-strong or not, he’s not a man of steel (from Hamilton, Ontario). It doesn’t matter if you’re a big and fat chain-smoking bingo player, a big and strong gay-porn (it’s Pride Week remember) push-upper, or even a short and red-headed nipple-pincher with coloured contact lenses…where was I? Oh right. if you get shot you get shot! Unless phasers are more like stun guns which means they are lame. Blasters don’t have a compassionate setting.

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