Sherlock Holmes, explosions and aliens

Featuring

Chris Pine as Cpt. James T. Kirk
Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy as Cmdr. Spock
Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy
Simon Pegg as Lt. Montgomery Scott
John Cho as Lt. Hikaru Sulu
Zoe Saldana as Lt. Nyota Uhura
Anton Yelchin as Lt. Pavel Chekov
and Benedict Cumberbatch’s name IS KHAAAAN!
Oh, Alice Eve and Peter Weller are Dr. Carol and Adm. Alex Marcus

I start this review with the confession that the original Star Trek series and films weren’t my cup of tea . The premise of a utopian society where everyone pursues their dreams and whims without having to worry about making a living to feed themselves and their families is quite alluring, but, it is also impossible with human nature being what it is. It didn’t help that most of the episodes of Trek on TV focused mainly on quite small, personal issues that tended to moralise, lecturing me and the uncivilized aliens about how the ideal galactic citizen should behave.

The original premise of Trek finally ran out of steam with the demise of Enterprise, a prelude to the original series which attempted to weave a proper story arc into its narrative. Then, a proper reboot of the franchise began with a lens flare endowed, J. J. Abrams directed film titled simply Star Trek. It was fantastic, there was no moralising, no lecturing (well, apart from the lecture given by Nero) and a good, well paced story that mostly made sense. Expectations were high for the newest Trek film with the new Kirk and Spock.

The film opens as Kirk and co. try to save a village of primitive humanoids from an imminent volcanic eruption that could destroy the planet on a cool looking planet with red vegetation called Nibiru. The plan is simple, hide the Enterprise underwater (why? isn’t it easier to just stay in orbit?), drop Spock in to the volcano’s crater (er…yeah…but countdown timers were invented ages ago) with a giant ice bomb (ironically called a cold fusion device), detonate it and then high tail it out of there. Except it doesn’t work that way and, though everyone gets out safely, the Enterprise is revealed to the primitive aliens in all its splendor. This violates the Prime Directive which basically says you can’t reveal yourselves to the natives of any planet if they don’t know how to build starships. It’s impressive that most of the bad science happens during the film’s set up and not consistently peppered throughout it. Well done guys!

Meanwhile, on Earth, Sherlock Holmes has gained a really menacing voice (which is awesome. Bet he can’t wait to try that out on Watson!), become The Doctor and traveled to the future where he makes a devil’s bargain with a man who’s daughter is dying from an unspecified disease. The cost is that he has to blow up a really big building in downtown London. Because of the terrorist attack, the senior staff of Starfleet meet to discuss arresting Holmes but most are killed by him when he gatecrashes the party with an armed gunship. So begins an adventure in which the Enterprise visits the Klingons and we find out the Sherlock Holmes is actually Indian.

It’s a good thing to see how well Trek translates into a more modern setting, where there’s no allusion to a new utopian society and there’s hardly any technical jargon that was so relied upon in the original to solve all the world’s problems. The fact that good movies and interesting stories can be made without all of that high minded moralising is a testament to the rich universe that Gene Roddenberry came up with all those years ago. Hopefully, whatever is next for Trek forgoes the bad science. I can suspend my belief for some of the stuff, but not all. Overall, the movie was good, fun and enjoyable. Even The Boss enjoyed her first Trek experience!

Bad science off the starboard bow

The first movie was guilty of creating a natural disaster bigger than possible in reality with a supernova (exploding star) that threatened the galaxy. Here, it’s a volcanic eruption that threatens an entire planet. Apart from the fact that is impossible, there’s the natives living next to the volcano. Surely, a giant hole on top of a mountain starting to smoke and spew hot molten rock is probably a sure sign to get the hell out of there. If they’re too stupid to move away, perhaps saving them isn’t worth it?

Then, there’s the cold fusion bomb which miraculously freezes all the lava…er sorry guys, cold fusion sounds cool but would definitely not freeze lava. It would, however, release more heat energy…which you probably don’t want inside an imminently exploding volcano. Also, Spock’s anti-volcano suit is fricking awesome. He’s protected against the lava he’s mere metres from it in the heart of the volcanic crater, not breaking a sweat whilst the shuttle Uhura and Sulu are in lose a whole engine from the heat? Seriously…where can I get one of those reflective suits with a mini air conditioner inside for summer?

There’s also quite a lot of good science in this movie. The part where Enterprise loses power (and consequently artificial gravity control) and spins out of control towards Earth is well done in that the gravity exerted inside the ship is that of Earth’s and is completely disorienting in how the crew deals with it. Hopefully, future science fiction movies can make things more realistic like this, because it really does make the universe more believable.

Rating

Despite being derivative of The Wrath of Khan, it’s still a good adventure movie.

Should I watch this?

If you’ve watched The Wrath of Khan, perhaps not, but if you haven’t, by all means give it a shot.

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2 thoughts on “Star Trek Into Darkness

  1. Here is the thing this is not a Star Trek movie, it’s a popcorn sci-fi with terrible acting disguised as a Star Trek movie. Personally I miss the techno babble, this techno babble is what got me interested in Quantum theory and technology in general. It piqued my curiosity as a young lad and made me learn about the factual theories discussed in the shows and TV. That techno babble is also responsible for a lot of technologies that we take for granted today, cellphones, doors that open by themselves, tablets, etc. It inspired people that watched the shows and movies to devise technologies such as these. Most sci-fi makes you question our societies moral compass, either that or it has a deeper message, that is the root of sci-fi. Look at the black and white Twilligh Zone episodes, most sci-fi carries messages with it about society and culture, and this is the allure of it. Star Trek into darkness is a cheesy action flick, and J.J. Abrams is a terrible director without the ability to develop a proper character. This franchise needs to be taken away from him. My $0.02.

    • Hey man, thanks for the comment! I really appreciate it.

      I don’t necessarily miss the technobabble. I think that you can have good science fiction without it turning into a convention of longest, most confusing words ever. You and I might understand all of them, but for everyone else, it’s a hard slog and when you can’t engage your audience in the story or in most Trek cases, the solution, it’s very hard to get them to come back.

      As a point, I’ve been trying to watch DS9 for the first time and I just can’t seem to enjoy season one because its stories are very small and involves quite a lot of done and dusted plot elements in other series.

      I will admit I’m no true Trekkie, so perhaps there’s an element of that in there!

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