Tagged: Star Trek Into Darkness

REVIEW: Star Trek Into Darkness

STID_ComboFor years, I have railed against how often Paramount Pictures demonstrates their lack of understanding their Star Trek fans. One misguided decision after another dating back to the 1970s builds a fairly convincing case. The latest misfire is the release pattern to Star Trek Into Darkness, out on disc this week. In case you missed it, the combo pack includes the Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy we have all come to expect. You do get Bonus Materail on the Blu-ray disc, but it’s a mere 42 minutes of fairly perfunctory material, discussed a little later. On the other hand, there’s roughly another 60 minutes of features plus an audio commentary that exists but you have to be willing to buy retailer exclusive editions to get them or download the film from iTunes. Hopefully the outcry from consumers and failure to ignite massive sales to fans who must have everything will make this a one-time doomed experiment.

In a summer filled with disappointment, the release of the film is a reminder of what a squandered opportunity J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot had to sustain their reboot of the storied franchise. After making us wait four years, we get a fairly inept story with logic gaps the size of Qo’noS, raising themes but refusing to explore them in the Gene Roddenberry style, favoring action sequences that are prolonged and largely pointless. There are some very strong ideas presented here and given a surface presentation, not allowing the characters to chew over what it means to violate the laws and their oath or to interfere with a civilization’s destiny.

I09 has a brilliant deconstruction of the film’s major plot holes and I commend your attention over there.Khan escorted

Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof appear to have taken the most obvious traits the mass audience knows about James T. Kirk and ignored the rest. This means Chris Pine gets to play a hotheaded jerk who is all instinct and no intellect. Let’s compare: the TOS Kirk knew his ship inside and out, and kept current with the tech, otherwise he never would have known what to do to the deflector dish in Star Trek Generations. Pine’s Kirk kicked the hardware into place. Gary Mitchell chided Kirk for studying too hard, striving too hard to be perfect and still, Kirk had enough outside-the-box thinking to outthink the Kobyashi Maru test. Pine’s Kirk is smug and seems to skate through without effort. The television Kirk loved books and was pensive, quoting the Constitution of the United Sates and John Masefield. Pine’s Kirk gives us no clue he has such depth and dimension.

StarshipsThe biggest issue is how the Kirk approached the Prime Directive. On television, every time Kirk skirted or violated the law, it was for the good of the people (see Vaal, Landru) or to undo the contamination from other Starfleet personnel (see John Gill, Ron Tracy). In this film, the story starts with Kirk breaking the laws to save Spock’s life, a selfish, thoughtless act that led to his omitting vital information from Starfleet.

It’s as if the production crew at Bad Robot loved Star Trek without understanding it. The sloppiness in the plotting, what I termed a Swiss cheese script, is a deep shame given they took four years to write this disappointment and then tell us they waited for the right story to present itself.

By remaking Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, they demonstrated a complete misreading of why that film worked. We had invested sixteen years with these actors and characters so the themes of age and renewal, sacrifice and friendship worked. Here, we had to wait four years for a second installment and we’re still coming to terms with new actors in familiar roles so killing Kirk and making a big deal out of it fell flat.

Star Trek Into DarknessI’m also really tried of military-minded rogue Starfleet officers, too easy a plot device. (I didn’t quite get how the detonation of Vulcan meant it was time to start a war with the Klingons.) Peter Weller is wasted as the bad guy and the movie’s closing scenes totally ignore the questions his crimes raised. Let’s see: how did the conspiracy work? Were there others involved and have they been arrested? Where’s the dreadnought’s construction crew? With Starfleet command compromised, who is vetting the new command structure? Are we that much closer to war with the Klingons after Weller’s unsanctioned visit to Qo’noS (the proper spelling damn it).

Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant and mesmerizing to watch. But his Khan is cold and apparently an enigma to the historians since no one troubled to look him up in the databanks. Instead, Spock-2 calls Spock-1 for the most pointless cameo yet. While the film is chockfull of winks and nods to the TV series it is distancing itself from, it doesn’t mention the Eugenics Wars or properly explain Khan’s amazing intellect and physique (he appears as invulnerable as Superman and has genesis blood so no one will ever die again).

star-trek-into-darkness-image-300x175After he craftily lures Starfleet’s brain trust into one room, he casually flies to HQ and opens fire. Here’s where I lost it. It’s a heightened security situation so they sit in a room full of windows and the airspace around Starfleet Command apparently isn’t patrolled. Similarly, two Federation ships cross the Klingon border and are undetected, then orbit the homeworld and remain undetected for a while. Really? The warrior race just lets anyone come visit?

The script had some terrific ideas buried under pacing that called for a loud, messy, lens-flare filled action sequence to interrupt every few minutes. It began to feel like a script written with an egg timer. The new characters are introduced and left to be underdeveloped so Admiral Marcus and his daughter, the curvaceous Carol, are pretty much cyphers while the supporting cast gets a few token moments of screen time. (Chekov being a transporter genius sort of makes sense since it’s an extension of navigation but being an engineering whiz stretches the point.)

08-05_star_trek_3_jpg_300x300_upscale_q90Michael Giacchino’s wonderful score and Cumberbatch salvage the film from being a complete misfire. We should be thankful that director J.J. Abrams will be a galaxy far, far away when the third film is prepped for the series’ golden anniversary in 2016. Maybe they can actually hire a script editor to smooth over the rough spots.

That said, the film transfer is stunning in its beauty. The 1080p, 2.40:1-framed image is rich with color and detail. Similarly, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack means business is just about flawless.

As for the paltry features, they’re all short and focus on elements of the production with cast and crew discussing how things were created or determined. While interesting, it all leaves you wanting more detail and information, especially Abrams’ conclusion that Khan was the most compelling opponent from the original 79 epsidoes, echoing Harve Bennett’s conclusion thirty years ago. He never addresses why they didn’t just create someone new.

Anyway, you get: Creating the Red Planet (8:28), Attack on Starfleet (5:25); The Klingon Home World (7:30); The Enemy of My Enemy (7:03); Ship to Ship (6:03); Brawl by the Bay (5:44); Continuing the Mission (1:57): A look at Star Trek‘s work with returning veterans and public service projects; and, The Mission Continues (1:29).

Robert Greenberger is the author of Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History.

Tomorrowland, Starring George Clooney, Begins Filming

Disney Logo

Burbank, Calif. (Aug. 26, 2013) —Principal photography has begun on Disney’s mystery adventure Tomorrowland, starring two-time Academy AwardÒ winner George Clooney (Michael Clayton, Syriana), Hugh Laurie (

Monsters vs. Aliens, House), Britt Robertson (Under the Dome), Raffey Cassidy (Dark Shadows, Snow White and the Huntsman) and Thomas Robinson (The Switch). The film is directed, produced and co-written by two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Incredibles). Damon Lindelof (Star Trek Into Darkness, Prometheus) and Jeffrey Chernov (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) are also producers. The screenplay is written by Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof from a story by Lindelof & Jeff Jensen and Brad Bird.

Jeff Jensen and John Walker (The Incredibles) will executive produce with Bernard Bellew (Les Misérables, 28 Weeks Later) and Tom Peitzman, VFX producer (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Alice in Wonderland) serving as co-producers.

Bound by a shared destiny, a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor jaded by disillusionment embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory as Tomorrowland.

Bird has gathered a great team behind the lens with Oscar® winning director of photography Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), production designer Scott Chambliss (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Cowboys & Aliens), Oscar® nominated costume designer Jeffrey Kurland (Inception, Ocean’s Eleven) and Academy Award®-winning editor Walter Murch (The English Patient, Cold Mountain).

Tomorrowland will be released through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on December 12, 2014.

Star Trek Into Darkness Unveils Extras Clips

Star Trek Into Darkness Unveils Extras Clips

Star Trek Into Darkness‘ digital release came out yesterday.  The disc edition will be out in a few weeks but here’s something to whet your appetite, a clip from the iTunes Extras.

Additionally, Paramount Pictures launched their Defeat Khan website today, three months after Kirk did it on screen. The site uses some of the most advanced 3D technology to allow you to instantly create your  own personalized Star Trek avatar with just an upload of your photo.  You are then tasked to join the Starfleet Academy to train with a variety of simulations testing your IQ, Vision, Focus, Memory, and Speed as you move up the ranks to help defeat Khan.  By connecting to Facebook, you can also compete with your friends to see who has the more superior genetics.

There are multiple exclusive concept art images debuting today from Xbox SmartGlass.  The images have a code that users can enter on the Defeat Khan website for a chance to win a trip to see Star Trek Into Darkness live orchestrated in London by Michael Giacchino. Users can find out where these images are from the website.

Star Trek Into Darkness hits Digital August 20, Disc September 10

Star Trek Into Darkness: Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Chris PineLove it or hate it, there’s no denying that Star Trek Into Darkness was a box office smash, ensuring a third installment in time for the franchise’s 50th anniversary in 2016. As it winds down its theatrical run, Paramount Home Video has announced that the movie will be available digitally on August 20, three weeks prior to the home video release. This is an increasing trend among movie releases and slightly alters the release windows for a film’s natural life.

Here are the details:

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.  –  Lauded by critics as “a sleek, thrilling epic” (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly), “a clever, exhilarating action adventure” (Claudia Puig, USA Today) and “stratospherically entertaining” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone), director J.J. Abrams’ phenomenal global sensation STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS makes its highly-anticipated debut on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and On Demand on September 10, 2013 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  Fans can be the first to own the film on Digital when it arrives three weeks early on August 20th.  Boasting “spectacular visual effects” (Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer) and “one of the best villains in recent memory” (Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News) STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS delighted audiences around the world, earning a coveted A CinemaScore.

“I’m excited for viewers at home to check out Star Trek Into Darkness on Blu-ray and DVD,” said J.J. Abrams.  “They did a great job and I’m thrilled with how everything looks and sounds.  We also have some really fun behind-the-scenes special features that we shot on the Red and created entirely in-house at Bad Robot.  They really look amazing and unlike anything I’ve seen on DVD or Blu-ray before.”  Abrams added “I hope fans enjoy seeing the process that went into making the movie and the truly amazing work of our most spectacular cast and crew.”

Star Trek Into Darkness poster-xlargeThe STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Blu-ray/DVD and Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD combo packs with UltraViolet™ are bursting with behind-the-scenes material detailing how the filmmakers delivered a rousing epic filled with both spectacle and soul.  For the first time, the special features included in the combo packs were produced entirely by Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and captured in spectacular high quality on Red Epic cameras for a uniquely intimate perspective of the filmmakers’ process.

Written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof, the film follows the crew of the Enterprise as a shocking act of terror on Earth sends them on a manhunt to capture an unstoppable force of destruction and bring those responsible to justice.  STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS features an outstanding ensemble cast including John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller and Anton Yelchin.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

The STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The DVD in the combo pack is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The combo pack includes access to a digital copy of the film as well as the following:

Blu-ray

  • Feature film in high definition
  • Creating the Red Planet – Experience the creation of a never-before-seen alien world, as featured in the action-packed opening sequence of the film.
  • Attack on Starfleet – Go behind the scenes with the cast and filmmakers and witness the creation of the shocking attack on Starfleet Headquarters.
  • The Klingon Home World – Discover the stunning world of Kronos, and see how the filmmakers reinvented the Klingons for a new generation.
  • The Enemy of My Enemy – Find out how, and why, the identity of the film’s true villain was kept a mystery to the very end.
  • Ship to Ship – An in-depth and thrilling look at the filming of the iconic space jump sequence, which both defied the laws of physics and pushed the limits of visual effects.
  • Brawl by the Bay – Sit in with Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch as they revisit their intense preparation for the film’s breathtaking climax.
  • Continuing the Mission – An inspiring look at the partnership between the film’s crew and the organization that assists returning veterans to find meaningful ways to contribute on the home front.

DVD

  • Feature film in standard definition

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack

The STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Blu-ray 3D combo pack includes all of the above, as well as the film in high definition and 3D on a disc presented in 1080p high definition with English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Single-Disc DVD

The single-disc DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.  The disc includes the feature film in standard definition.

The Blu-ray releases available for purchase will be enabled with UltraViolet, a new way to collect, access and enjoy movies.  With UltraViolet, consumers can add movies to their digital collection in the cloud, and then stream or download them – reliably and securely – to a variety of devices.

Mindy Newell: Trojan Horse

Newell Art 130701I didn’t know that writer blockitis was catching, but it must be, because just like my buddy and fellow columnist John Ostrander, I seem to be suffering from the same ailment today.

Signs and symptoms include sluggishness, an inability to form ideas, a lack of imagination, a desire to smash the computer, great interest in infomercials, and reading the Sunday New York Times.

Oh. Wait. Here’s something.

It’s an article by Brooke Barnes in the Arts & Leisure section, and it’s called “Save My Blockbuster!” Considering all the words and thoughts that have gone into discussing Man Of Steel by the columnists (including me) here at ComicMix since its opening on June 14, as well as the other comics, science fiction, and pop culture cinematic adventures that have already hit the screen (Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, World War Z) or are still to come (The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, R.I.P.D., The Wolverine, Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, Elysium, and The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones) this summer of 2013 – all involved studios praying that their production will be The Blockbuster of the season – Mr. (or is it Ms?) Barnes’s article is not only interesting, but also relevant.

But just when did the summer become the season of the adventure/science fiction/fantasy/comics/pop culture Blockbuster?

The summer of 1975. Jaws.

In 1973, Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown were producers at Universal. David Brown’s wife was Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan. He found a pre-publication copy Peter Benchley’s Jaws in the fiction department of the magazine. Cosmo’s book editor had written a detailed synopsis of the plot, which concluded with the comment “might make a good movie.” Zanuck and Brown both read the book overnight, decided that it was “the most exciting thing they had ever read,” and purchased the movie rights They hired the still chancy Steven Spielberg, although the 26 year-old director was starting to make a name for himself for directing Joan Crawford in the pilot of Night Gallery (“Eyes”), defining “road rage” in his adaptation of Richard Matheson’s Duel for an ABC Movie Of The Week – I clearly remember watching Duel perched on the arm of a sofa in my dorm’s packed-to-the-walls common room, every single one of us with eyes glued to the small 19” television set – and The Sugarland Express, his first theatrical film.

Jaws hit the movie screens of America in 1975. It became the archetype of the summer movie for Hollywood. It had a wide national release (“saturation booking”) and massive media buys, i.e., lots and lots and lots of television, radio, and magazine advertising. It made money, and now every studio wanted a Jaws. According to Lester D. Friedman’s book on Spielberg, Jaws “defined the Hollywood hit as a marketable commodity and cultural phenomenon.” Before Jaws, summer was the seasonal dumping ground for Hollywood studios, the home of films they were sorry they made. After Jaws, summer became “the prime season for the release of the…biggest box-office contenders, [studios’s] intended blockbusters.”

1975 was, let’s see, how many years ago?

38.

This summer Hollywood will have released, as the New York Times relates, “13 movies costing $100 million and up (sometimes way up), 44 percent more than in the same period last year. And because these pictures need to attract the global audience possible” to see any kind of profit, “they are increasingly manufactured by committees who tug this way and pull that way: marketing needs this, international distribution need that” and “the all-too-common result is a Frankenfilm” – I love that description! – “a lumbering behemoth composed of misfit parts.”

To test this assertion, Brooks Barnes conceived a movie titled “Red, White, & Blood” with the tagline “The only thing faster than her car was his heart.” The opening of the pitch reads “Think Fast & Furious meets Nicholas Sparks meets Die Hard.” He (she?) then presented it to a producer, a marketer, a studio executive, a researcher, a global marketer, and a writer.

This is what they said:

The Producer: “We need hotter weapons. Huge, big battle weapons – maybe an end-of-the-world device.

The Marketer: “There needs to be a wisecracking set of man candy here, and those actors are shirtless at least once in a TV campaign.”

The Studio Executive: “I’m a huge believer in a good tragic ending – it worked for Titanic.”

The Researcher: “If you try to appeal to everyone, you will end up appealing to no one.”

The Global Marketer: “Just be smarter then making a nationality or a culture the bad guys.”

The Writer: “Consider adding time-traveling aliens, or if that’s unrealistic, a regular alien and a time-traveling human.”

Jaws is a great movie. I have seen it at least a hundred times.

But it was a Trojan horse.

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Partly Cloudy, with a Chance of Davis

 

Dennis O’Neil: Villains

O'Neil Art 130530Social commentary is pretty old news in science fiction, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that it figures prominently in what will probably turn out to be the summer’s sci-fi biggie, Star Trek Into Darkness.

Of course, if we wanted to be picky, or display our erudition, or be just a bit passive aggressive, we could point out that superheroes are science fiction, and there’s already one of those, a mighty successful one, on our local screens and another, cape furled, is waiting in the wings. But we’re not picky, show-offy or, heaven forfend, passive aggressive, so we’ll just elide past everything in the previous sentence and soldier on to the Trek flick.

I’m not a trekker, not by a stretch, but I have seen all the theatrical movies and a (pretty paltry) sampling of the video iterations. And one element has always bothered me – not a big bother, certainly not a pleasure slayer, just a nag somewhere in the far regions of whatever it is that passes for my social conscience.To wit: the implicit militarism in the Star Trek mythos.

I saw my first television Star Trek in the mid-sixties, when I was hanging with peaceniks and was recently freed from two absolutely humiliating years aboard a warship – pity me, but also pity the poor bastards whose hopeless task it was to cram me into regulations – and I was pretty sensitive to military stuff. And here came Star Trek, which, being science fiction, I was predisposed to like, but they were all wearing uniforms, the crew of the Enterprise, and they often carried sidearms and the ship itself was equipped with a futuristic version of heavy artillery and they had ranks and those ranks had a familiar sound to them: lieutenant, commander, captain, admiral…yeah, I’d met guys who carried those designations. They generally hadn’t been my pals.

Maybe back when Star Trek was but a blip on the zeitgeist, whoever was running the show did have the military in mind. But the current movie makes a point of letting us know that Star Fleet is not a military command. The ranks? Civilian vessels are run by captains and are manned by guys in uniforms.Rank does not necessarily equal warrior: duh.

(Squeaky little spoiler alert.)

What most pleases me is that the villains are not, in the final reckoning, demonized – that is they’re not portrayed as aliens.No, the chief evil-doer is your ol’ buddy the authority figure. And this is where the movie accepts the burden of social commentary: I am not the first to observe that the plot of the story is a reflection of the past decade of our history. And allow me the amusement of imagining that one character’s name on the first draft of the script might have been Cheney.

Because I’m writing these words on Memorial Day, and I have no wish to disrespect either the holiday or those it commemorates, let’s be clear: we should support our troops by giving them the equipment they need and by properly tending to their wounds and by granting them the benefits they’ve earned,and mostly by not sending them to be slaughtered in useless wars.

Now go see Star Trek Into Darkness.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

 

Mindy Newell: Filling The Captain’s Chair

Newell Art 130529I loved Star Trek: Into Darkness.

I was riveted from the moment I planted my butt in the seat. All the major actors have made their iconic characters their own – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin all turn in stand-out performances – and the script is full of the quips, banter, arguments, and heart-to-hearts that have made the interactions and relationships between the Enterprise crew a cultural treasure.

But Star Trek: Into Darkness also disappointed me.

Huh?

I suppose that from Paramount’s view – after all, Paramount had to green-light the storyline – it was smart to pick a villain out of the Star Trek archives who would be familiar to both the “Trekker” and a wider audience; but all in all, I think that this particular villain was just too easy to choose.

Yep, that’s right. The rumors were true. The villain of Star Trek: Into Darkness is…

RED ALERT!!!! SHIELDS UP!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Khan Noonian Singh.

*sigh* I so wanted it to be Gary Mitchell.

But it’s Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

Or… is it?

If you’ve already seen the movie and walked out thinking “we wuz robbed!” because there was no need to retell what was one of the most brilliant Trek stories ever, no need to reboot the movie that was really responsible for reenergizing Star Trek, you’ve missed the real villain of Into Darkness, for Abrams pulled a magnificent MacGuffin on all of us by twisting The Wrath Of Khan into something else, a trek into an “undiscovered country” – the ego of James Tiberius Kirk.

The opening scenario is not just a teaser; it’s the hinge on which the whole plot rests. You’ve seen it in ads and websites – Jim and Bones running for their lives through a red-leafed forest and jumping off a cliff into the ocean, and Spock somewhere where there’s lots of molten lava.

Returning to Earth, instead of being ballyhooed and decorated, we discover that Jim has botched a benign observation mission of an alien primitive society, totally disregarding Starfleet’s Prime Directive (“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Star Fleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation”) by (1) allowing Spock to stop a mega-volcano from erupting; and (2) revealing the Enterprise, in the course of saving Spock’s life, to the natives, who then start to worship Enterprise as some kind of “Chariot of the Gods.”

Admiral Christopher Pike tells Jim “You don’t respect the chair because you’re not ready for it, and that Starfleet had decided that Jim is to be removed from the captain’s seat and sent back to the academy.

Jim is drowning his sorrow and shame in a bar (where else?) when Pike shows up. Pike has been returned command of the Enterprise and talked Starfleet into allowing him to have Jim as his First Officer because Pike still believes in him. Jim accepts.

After a Section 31 installation is blown to bits in London (Section 31 is the Star Trek equivalent of the CIA – and it’s a cool callout to Deep Space Nine, in which Section 31 was established), Pike and Jim, along with other available starship captains and first officers, are called to a meeting at Starfleet Command, where it is revealed that the perpetrator is a former Starfleet operative named John Harrison. A gunship (which looks like a 23rd century version of a Black Hawk helicopter), strafes the meeting, killing most of the Starfleet officers, including Christopher Pike (I didn’t want him to die).  Jim not only survives the attack, but also brings down the gunship – flown by Harrison, who escapes.

Jim wants to avenge Pike’s death, and challenges Admiral Alexander Marcus (yeah, he’s Carol’s father, no duh) to reinstate him as the captain of the Enterprise, with the rest of his senior officers joining him. Marcus agrees, and orders the Enterprise to hunt down and kill Harrison, who has fled to Kronos, home to the Klingon civilization. To do this Marcus supplies the Enterprise with 72 (pay attention to that number, boys and girls) prototype photon torpedoes, which can pinpoint Harrison’s exact location on the Klingon home world, though firing on Kronos could, and probably will, start a war between the Federation and Starfleet.

Jim, hungry for payback for the death of his quasi-father (Pike) could give a shit about starting a war. All he wants is Harrison’s proverbial head on the proverbial platter. His bridge officers object to the mission; in fact, Scotty is so strongly against it he resigns from Starfleet, saying, “This is clearly a military operation. Is that what we are now? ‘Cause I thought we were explorers.” Jim promotes Chekhov to replace Scotty; though the young Ensign is not ready for the position, Jim in his bloodlust cannot see this.

And that’s the magnificent twist that Abrams pulls in rebooting TWOK. The journey Star Trek: Into Darkness isn’t really about Khan, or terrorism, or the militarization of Starfleet. It’s really the journey of James Tiberius Kirk into manhood and the right to sit in the captain’s chair.

Because, you see, Jim Kirk really is still the cocky young kid who stole and drove his uncle’s antique C2 Corvette over a cliff, even if he did defeat Nero and save Earth from that red stuff. Jim Kirk has gotten where he is, as Pike told him after he’s “crashed” the observation mission (just as he crashed his father’s car) by his “audacity, by his being in the right place at the right time, by just “plain old dumb luck and having me behind you.”

Jim’s mission, you see, is to see beyond himself, to grow up. We’ve all been on that particular mission, and let’s face it, there are times when it isn’t a very pleasant trip; it can be a journey Into Darkness, when you have to come to terms not being the king of your universe; that you are, in fact, quite expendable.

When Jim tells Spock “you are way, way better at commanding a starship,” you know he has made a giant leap forward into maturity. He has gone through the darkness, and he has accepted that, of all his command staff, he is the one who has gotten there because, well, he’s just been the guy who has been in the right place at the right time.

I won’t spoil the climax for you. Let me just say that when Jim sits in the captain’s chair in the final moments, and orders the ship to embark on Starfleet’s first five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before, Jim Kirk has become, truly, Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, NCC-1701.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

 

Martha Thomases Boldly Goes…

Thomases Art 120524Some random thoughts about Star Trek: Into Darkness.

I loved the original series when it started on NBC in 1966. It was around the time I started to read science fiction, so it felt incredibly reinforcing to see my newly beloved genre on a screen in my home. I thrilled to the smart plots, and didn’t care about the cheesy special effects. There weren’t any other kind on television at the time. I loved the banter among the leads, especially from my favorite character, “Bones” McCoy. I complained as loudly as a teenage girl can complain when it was cancelled. That said, I only watched it in syndication sporadically, and I never got into any of the sequels.

Not even the one with Scott Bakula, whom I adore.

So when J. J. Abrams was tasked with reinventing the franchise, I wasn’t too upset. If he took liberties, he took liberties. Either the movies would be good, or they wouldn’t. As someone who read all the Ian Fleming Bond books and has seen every James Bond movie, even the terrible later Roger Moore ones, I have a pretty strong stomach for filmmakers who take liberties with their source material.

Kirk is really a macho asshole, isn’t he? I mean, you could tell from the original series, but it was the 1960s, and macho assholes were all the rage. It was really obvious in this movie. Yeah, he learned a lesson, and grew as a human being, but I suspect he would still be really annoying to sit next to on an airplane.

Bones may still be my favorite. In this particular movie, he was stuck regurgitating all the catch phrases, and yet Karl Urban still manages to maintain his poise. Not easy. Just ask Joe Biden.

A few female characters were actually allowed to have story lines, or at least the inference that, if we looked at the story from another viewpoint, they would be the heroic characters. Zoe Saldana as Uhura is especially brave. It’s as if her life is about more than just being in a relationship with Spock.

I would hope this is an indication of the film makers’ perspectives. Fringe had a female protagonist, as do many other 21st century entertainments.

Certainly, the women on Game of Thrones are the most compelling characters, and that’s one of the top-ten highest rated programs on television. There is money to be made with giving women in the audience someone to admire. Yay, capitalism!

A lot of the reason I went to see this movie in the theater, instead of waiting for it to show up on cable, was Benedict Cumberbatch. He is a wonderful villain, just as he is a fantastic protagonist. And he’s a commanding presence on screen, except sometimes I get distracted because he reminds me of Neil Gaiman .

I am not the only person distracted, although not everyone thinks he looks like Neil. Some are reminded of others.

As the summer goes on, and more blockbuster movies open, you could do worse than spend a couple of hours on the Enterprise. Live long and prosper, my friends.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

Monday Mix-Up: Spock meets Spock and Carol Burnett

Monday Mix-Up: Spock meets Spock and Carol Burnett

In preparation for Star Trek Into Darkness, we present you with these dark moments…

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?

The image supposedly is from a first season episode of The Carol Burnett Show. Surprisingly, little seems to be known about the details of why Leonard Nimoy is there in full Spock regalia. Some sources indicate that the skit uses Spock as a punchline for Burnett wanting baby advice from “Dr. Spock,” though is both supported and refuted, depending on what source you want to go with. Other sites say that the sketch is titled “Mrs. Invisible Man,” though no details about the it or why Nimoy is there are offered.

Pretty funny, though.

via Your moment of TrekZen*. | The Fog of Ward.

And we would be remiss if we didn’t point you to this meeting of the Spocks…

Clips from Upcoming Summer Films

Clips from Upcoming Summer Films

As the clock counts down to the May explosion of genre releases, additional clips are rolling out. For example, with a week to go, we get one more glimpse from Iron Man 3:

Meantime, two weeks later is Star Trek Into Darkness and here’s an extended moment already teased in the trailers:

And here’s the final Monsters University trailer ahead of its June release.