It’s okay. You’re allowed to enjoy ‘Star Trek into Darkness’. It’s well-paced, well-acted and, for the most part, well-directed. But let’s be clear, it’s not true ‘Star Trek’. At least not the ‘Star Trek’ most of us grew up loving. Yes, I realize that the 2009 film established a whole new universe where anything could happen going forward. However, that new universe still needs to play by the rules established up until the point that Spock and Nero time travelled into it. Sadly, ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ plays fast and loose with far too many of those rules. I’m talking to you, Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof! The following is just a short list of some of my problems with the new movie. (Major, major, MAJOR spoilers follow. You’ve been warned.)
The Hovitos Are Near
‘Into Darkness’ opens with Indiana Kirk being chased by the Hovitos. Okay, they’re not really the Hovitos, but the scene is a blatant rip-off of the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Believe it or not, that’s not my problem with the scene. My problem is that we learn that the Enterprise has been hidden underwater for a couple of days so that Spock can plant a device into an active volcano, rendering it inactive and saving the planet’s inhabitants. There’s this whole huge discussion about not making the Enterprise visible because it would violate the Prime Directive (non-interference with the development of alien civilizations, and particularly, not revealing oneself to primitive civilizations).
However, the movie never addresses how the Enterprise got underwater in the first place without being noticed, nor how Spock’s rendering the volcano inactive doesn’t already violate the Prime Directive. Why didn’t the Enterprise just stay in orbit, activate the device and beam it into the volcano from space? (We’ll get into the hilarious beaming issues from this movie further down on this page.) Because that would negate this fun opening sequence, that’s why.
New Timeline = New Nationality?
I know, I know… You saw this one coming. I don’t know if there’s a person alive who didn’t guess Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan in this movie, but given that, the filmmakers never address why Khan has suddenly changed from a Sikh Indian into an uptight Brit.
There’s been some fan speculation online that when the Section 31 operatives found Khan (and the movie does explain why Khan was found earlier in this timeline – deep space probes were sent out when Vulcan was destroyed to find a new suitable planet), they altered his appearance. Even if the movie doesn’t say it, that’s a pretty good idea, but it certainly wouldn’t explain why Khan’s accent is British as well.
More bothersome is the character of Carol Marcus, who also seems to have gained a British accent with the timeline update. There seems to be no logical reason for it here, other than the fact that actress Eve Alice is also a Brit. But seriously, can’t Eve do an American accent? Does Carol have a different mother in this timeline? Again, the movie’s screenplay is too stupid to address these questions.
Warp Factor Five… Thousand!
The time it takes to go from Point A to Point B in ‘Into Darkness’ has nothing to do with established ‘Star Trek’ “science,” and everything to do with how fast or slow the script needs the characters to get there.
In the pilot of the television series ‘Enterprise‘, it took several days to make it to the Klingon homeworld of Qo’noS (phonetically spelled out as “Kronos” in this movie, lest audience members couldn’t figure out how to pronounce it). Granted, the starships in ‘Into Darkness’ should be a little faster than that by now, but even when there was a Klingon rendezvous in ‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country‘, it took over a day to get to Klingon space, and they weren’t even traveling all the way to the homeworld.
Here, it seems to take less than an hour to make it to Qo’noS (we’ll discuss Khan’s method of getting there in the next segment), and when the script calls for the characters to warp from Klingon space back to Earth, it’s a matter of mere minutes.
Beam Me Out of Here
One of my biggest gripes with ‘Into Darkness’ is the way that beaming is used in all kinds of inconsistent ways that only serve to advance the plot.
First and foremost is the ridiculous concept of “transwarp beaming,” which was first used in the 2009 film as a way of getting Kirk and Scotty back to the Enterprise even though the ship was in warp and light years away. ‘Into Darkness’ uses the technology again so that Khan can beam from Earth directly to Qo’noS. Why on Earth would Starfleet spend all the time and manpower building the Vengeance dreadnaught ship (or any starship for that matter) when they could just work on mass-producing the transwarp transporter and beam to the planets of their choice? It seems like a Klingon invasion would be a lot easier if you can just beam bombs into their homes instead of attacking from space, doesn’t it?
But even the regular transporters work by different rules in ‘Into Darkness’. When the Enterprise first encounters the Vengeance, Kirk raises the shields as a precaution. Yet Admiral Marcus has no problems transporting Carol over to his ship, even with the Enterprise’s shields raised. However, later in the movie when Khan is in command of the Vengeance, he has to get Spock to lower the shields to transport all the torpedoes over to his ship.
Your Friend Here Is Only Mostly Dead
I’ve got two words for you: “Magic blood.” Yes, that’s how ‘Into Darkness’ responds to a heartbreaking (and totally ripped-off) conclusion where Kirk dies saving the ship from crashing down to Earth. Although there was no precedent established for it in the Original Series, nor in ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan‘, it appears that Khan’s blood has regenerative powers. Not just for the sick, but even for those already dead. Of course, the movie goes out of its way to let us know it wouldn’t have worked had Kirk’s brain function stopped, making sure that no one else that died up until this point in the film (primarily Captain Pike) could be saved.
By the way, why doesn’t McCoy just take the blood from one of Khan’s 70-plus frozen compatriots already aboard the Enterprise? Oh yes, that would mean we couldn’t have a big chase and fight scene between Spock and Khan to climax the movie.
The above are just some of the problems I had with ‘Into Darkness’. Feel free to comment on these or add your own issues for debate below. For purposes of fairness, I want to say that I didn’t hate the movie. It’s a fun popcorn film and a solid piece of summer entertainment. But wouldn’t it be nice to return to the style of the original films, which were entertaining and smart at the same time?