I don’t hate a lot of movies. The majority of films that I dislike never reach whatever intangible boiling point is necessary for me to spew genuine vitriol in their direction. I can admit when something is awful and go along my merry way, never allowing a rotten piece of cinema to make me physically upset.
That is not the case with Star Trek Into Darkness.
I have yet to revisit J.J. Abrams’ sequel (read my initial review here, but beware of spelling and punctuation errors), but the day I do will require other people in the room to keep me from shouting obscenities, tearing my hair out, and eventually weeping from an emotional breakdown. Seeing Star Trek Into Darkness was one of the most offensive movie-going experiences I’ve ever subjected myself to, and I’ve willingly watched Waterworld, Last Action Hero, Howard the Duck, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, and Jaws: The Revenge.
I won’t get into all the reasons Star Trek Into Darkness is one of the worst franchise films of all time (that’s what the comments are for), but I will say that my rage feels somewhat justified of late thanks to some interviews with director Abrams and co-writer Damon Lindelof (though I place a lot of the script’s blame on Roberto Orci). While Abrams told MTV back in 2013 that trying to keep the identity of Benedict Cumberbatch’s character (he’s Khan. …uh, spoiler?) was a misstep, Lindelof just recently told Variety the same thing, but I really appreciated something he had to say about the modern nature of spoilers and the intelligence of the audience:
“We’re in a media culture where the audience is so sophisticated and they can crowdsource and Reddit this information — if they get a twist, you know, like the Edward James Olmos [twist] on “Dexter” or what happened recently on “The Walking Dead,” the audience basically crowdsourced exactly how [that twist could have happened] within hours of it airing. By the time it airs a month later, the audience just goes “Duh!” That’s not the storytellers’ fault. It’s just the sophistication [of the audience’s ability] to figure things out. It’s like, we’re up against this incredible creative algorithm.”
Yes, it was very easy to figure out Cumberbatch was Khan simply thanks to context clues in the marketing and the story that was being presented. If storytellers want to keep their audience in the dark about certain things, they need to craft stories that don’t lend themselves to obvious reveals, especially in today’s age of omnipresent marketing. That’s why no one was surprised that a James Bond movie called Spectre featured the character of Blofeld, and thanks to the marketing it was pretty easy to figure out who Blofeld was (it ain’t Dave Bautista, that’s for sure).
I’ll be very interested to see what the legacy of Abrams’ rebooted Trek films will be, especially since Star Trek Into Darkness somewhat retroactively soured me on the fun (but just as stupid) 2009 film. I wonder if it had the same effect on others.
I’m sure some of you want to defend Star Trek Into Darkness and some of you want join me in deriding it. The comments await us. Here’s a question I’d like to pose: could Star Trek Beyond actually rectify this version of the characters and world, or will it be the best in this iteration simply thanks to its lackluster peers?