Amy H. Sturgis (eldritchhobbit) wrote,
Amy H. Sturgis

Star Trek into Darkness and Back Again

I'm back, and I have updates, but everything will wait for now. What I want to do - indeed, what I must do - is share a few thoughts from my first viewing of Star Trek into Darkness. (These are my first, preliminary impressions; I'll see it again tomorrow, and my thoughts no doubt will develop further.)

General and Relatively Spoiler-Free Notes

* This film is an extended and deeply heartfelt love letter not only to the original Star Trek, but specifically to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. STII is by far the best Star Trek film to date, and one of the best science fiction films of all time, and so I find this to be completely right and proper. I was deeply moved by the generous (and - dare I say it? - beautiful) nods to the previous film. I suspect some of the deeper resonances will be lost on viewers who aren't familiar with Star Trek II, but, let's be honest: I couldn't care less. [See Footnote 1. Yes, this post has footnotes.]

* What absolutely makes this film, immediately, right out of the gate, and then throughout, is the remarkable and textured chemistry between Bruce Greenwood as Christopher Pike and Chris Pine as James T. Kirk. Greenwood steals every scene in which he appears, but he also draws a terrific performance from Pine, one that sells the very heart and premise of the rest of the film.

* Benedict Cumberbatch is, unsurprisingly, brilliant. His performance is exceptionally physical, from the details of each action sequence to the very manner in which he enunciates his words; in this sense, it reminds me most of his performance as the Creature in Frankenstein.

* Simon Pegg, bless you.

Notes With Spoilers

* This is the film where both Kirk and Spock must "grow up," each in his own way, to become the heroes they are meant to be. Mission accomplished. I knew Christopher Pike had to die to make this happen, and this was done beautifully with tremendous emotional impact, but oh, the tears. I now have a full-fledged emotional hangover. [2]

* I really appreciated how they showed (rather than told of) Pike's continued physical recovery from his torture on board the Narada through the use of his cane (and his obvious comfort factor with it, as shown at the bar and the final meeting).

* How much do I love that Kirk's first instinct is to fight the attacker, while Spock's first instinct is to protect/meld with Pike? Very much. Kirk's touch to Spock's shoulder after Kirk's own breakdown proves that he realizes Pike meant nearly as much to Spock as he did to Kirk, although Spock cannot articulate this. A lovely nod to Original Series canon there. (Can I have a moment of silence for Jeffrey Hunter?)

* I'd watch the spin-off series of Captain Sulu, Intergalactic Badass.

* I love how the role of Doctor Who's Noel Clarke sets up early the "anything for your family" motif that runs throughout the rest of the film with Pike-Kirk/The Enterprise, Khan/his crew, and even Carol Marcus and her choices.

* The use of Section 31 is inspired. Oh Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Enterprise canon: I see you!

* That's how you do a Leonard Nimoy cameo. Two thumbs up.

* The inversion of Kirk's early "What would Spock do?" line later in the film with the "What you would've done" exchange between Spock and Kirk was perfection.

* A few nitpicks:
1. McCoy needed to be there at Kirk's death scene, even if he'd only been standing in the background, wringing his hands. He was owed this. It's my biggest quibble with the movie. Then again, the film desperately needed more of Karl Urban's performance, period.

2. Am I the only one who tires of the special effects? Less explosions, please. These actors and these characters deserve the face time.

3. My kingdom for the missing scene in which Benedict Cumberbatch gets to say, "To the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee." Less fitting here, perhaps, given that Kirk isn't Khan's personal nemesis, but he would've rocked those lines.

4. Peter Weller saved all of his emoting for his last few lines. Where was he the rest of the film? I have a hard time believing his Admiral Marcus was capable of talking Pike into Starfleet. That said, Marcus's flippant use of "son" against Kirk falls just as flat as it should have, compared to Pike's single, wrenching, and effective use of the word.

Over all, this is a better film than the original "reboot." I can't wait to see it again.


[1] As if this wasn't "meta" enough, there's an extra echo of the way in which the final two episodes of the second series of Sherlock paid its own homage to Star Trek II, with John calling Sherlock "Spock"; the mutual hand-raising between Sherlock and John from the roof and pavement, respectively, once it was clear this was a "death scene"; and John's choked comment at Sherlock's grave, mimicking Kirk's at Spock's funeral, that Sherlock was the "most human" soul he'd known.

[2] Spock's admission that his mind meld showed that Pike died experiencing "anger, confusion, loneliness, and fear" reminded me all too viscerally of a premonition about the end of another great mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn, dying "violently in battle, in shock and despair." (Star Wars Jedi Apprentice #9: The Fight for Truth by Jude Watson. Good grief, I am a geek, aren't I?)

Tags: film, sf, sherlock, star trek, star wars

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