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Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness 514

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-boldly-flare-where-no-lens-has-flared-before dept.
J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of Star Trek was wildly successful. It raked in hundreds of millions at the box office, and revitalized the Star Trek franchise, which had languished for 7 years without a new film and 4 years without a TV presence (after 18 consecutive years of new shows). It also did something no Trek movie had done before; it made Star Trek ‘cool’ in the public consciousness. Combined, those factors ensured Abrams would get another turn at the helm of a Trek movie, and sooner rather than later. With today's release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, that trend is very likely to continue. It's a movie with all the same strengths and weaknesses of its predecessor, and if it worked before, it'll work again. Read on for our review.

Spoiler level: minor. This review contains character and actor names and a couple references to scenes without going into their content.

Let’s get this out of the way up front: Star Trek: Into Darkness is a very entertaining film, and you will probably enjoy it.

Into Darkness hits the ground running, quickly reintroducing the rebooted crew and the Enterprise in all its glory. The opening act reminds us of everything we like about the 2009 Star Trek; snappy dialog, direct references to important parts of the original TV show, and cinematography that shows off the power, grace, and majesty of a Federation starship. It also highlights many of the differences between classic Trek and Abrams Trek.

*

In Abrams Trek, everything is fast. Kirk runs fast, Spock talks fast, crewmembers are always scrambling about the bridge and engineering at top speed, and as soon as a decision is made, action is taken. Tension and conflict arises with immediacy, and is resolved at the same pace. In Abrams Trek, no screentime is wasted. If a section of dialog is a bit technobabbley or it’s just providing background, something shiny will appear to keep your eyes and your attention engaged. In Abrams Trek, the lens flare deserves its own billing. Oh my, the lens flare.

But the big question about the Abrams films, both in 2009 and 2013, is: are they Star Trek? It’s a complicated issue, but one that's worth answering to fans of the various Trek TV series. Let's start by answering a somewhat simpler question: are they sci-fi? Not really. They fit the Hollywood definition of sci-fi — after all, they're flying spaceships and talking to aliens — but of course sci-fi is more than that. It's about ideas; it's about taking some part of life and changing it, then seeing what happens as a result. That's why Leguin, Dick, and Vonnegut are celebrated as sci-fi writers alongside Bradbury, Asimov, and Niven.

Into Darkness and the 2009 Star Trek before it aren't about ideas. They're unrepentantly character-driven. They're space operas. Perhaps more importantly, they're action films. I say this not to be exclusionary, but so we can evaluate in the proper context: as a Trek-themed action movie, Into Darkness is fantastic.

But Trek isn't about action (space opera, sometimes — action, no). It has certainly incorporated action; Kirk didn't get the reputation for always having a torn shirt for nothing. But in the TV shows, the action was punctuation; it was the set-up to the plot, or a way to resolve it once a moral issue had been defeated. In Day of the Dove, we were constantly shown fight scenes, but their purpose was to show the exaggerated hatreds of the characters, and to set up the we-must-work-together ending. And let's be clear: Abrams Trek isn't the first time the movie franchise departed toward action, either. Star Trek 2, widely regarded as the best of the films, was certainly a space opera, and you could make the case that it's an action film. The last three Next Generation films tried to be action films and failed. Abrams Trek tries and succeeds.

So, is it Trek? Well, it doesn't pass the sci-fi test, but let's look at the characters. Christopher Pine's Kirk is an exaggeration of Shatner's Kirk. All the characteristics of Shatner's Kirk are present in Pine's Kirk, but magnified tremendously. On the TV show, Kirk had a reputation as a womanizer. In Abrams Trek, Kirk is shown waking up in bed with space-babes and hitting on almost every female he comes in contact with. A lot of times it's for comedic effect, and succeeds at being funny, but it also feels like a caricature. Zachary Quinto's Spock felt much more natural to me this time around, in some ways. He pulls off Vulcan stoicism well. The only downside is that his emotional control feels like a simple prop; he maintains his facade until the writers need to show how important some event is, then it breaks.

The other familiar crew members each get a brief moment in the spotlight, but the limitations of a two-hour movie prevent any significant depth. Bones exists to crack jokes and repeat his catchphrases. Chekov exists to run around looking overwhelmed. Scotty exists to solve whatever problem is keeping the plot from moving forward. Simon Pegg's Scotty is still jarring, to me. His role as comic relief doesn’t mesh well with my perception of Scotty. (People unfamiliar with the original series probably wouldn't notice, or care; he is funny.) Doohan's Scotty was funny sometimes, but not in such an intentional way. It seems odd to have that character cracking wise. Sulu's screentime is brief, but it's good.

The one character I truly lament is Uhura, though not because of any complaint with Saldana. She serves to highlight one huge difference between Abrams Trek and classic Trek: Abrams Trek is a guy-movie. The majority of Uhura's role in Into Darkness is to be Spock's love-interest. She has one brief moment of being her own person, showing her own strengths — and (very minor spoiler) she fails and has to be rescued by men. Aside from Uhura, there's only one other significant woman character in the film, and her main purpose is to be both eye-candy and a bargaining chip for the men. In fact, thinking back, I'm pretty sure Into Darkness fails the Bechdel test. It bothers me that this happens in a Star Trek film. One of Trek's driving principles is a future of equality; a future free of the sexism and racism and classism we deal with today. It's not always an easy thing to write into a story, especially one limited to two hours — but we should at least try.

*

But let's step back to the more mundane aspects of the film, for a moment. The visuals are absolutely stunning. The alien planets, outer space, and a futuristic Earth are all fascinating to see. More importantly, Abrams shows us the Enterprise as we've always wanted to see her. Whether it's tearing off into high warp, diving through the atmosphere of a planet, or having the hull torn open by phaser fire, the ship looks amazing. The inside looks amazing, too — engineering looks much more like the belly of an enormously complex spacecraft than ever before. The special effects budget was well spent. ...Mostly. Abrams is known for his use of lens flare, but rather than toning it back, it seems like he's doubling down on that reputation. There are also a few action sequences where camera shaking and flashes of light get a bit excessive. I get that moving the camera really fast around a completely CGI environment helps to mask the imperfections, but there are times where you'll know a whole lot is going on without being exactly sure what. I'd happily take a slightly-less-crazy chase scene if I can get a clear look at it.

The scoring is solid. Into Darkness takes its main theme from the 2009 movie, with a few improvements. It doesn't get in the way. The acting is generally fine, as well. The regulars are more comfortable in the roles; this time around, they're playing themselves as much as they’re playing the original crew. Benedict Cumberbatch brings his talent to a leading role, and he does well with what he was given, but he could have been utilized better. His character exists in two modes — complete stillness and furious action. There’s very little in between, and I think that middle-ground is where Cumberbatch thrives, as on BBC's Sherlock. Still, his character made a far more compelling opponent for Kirk than 2009's Nero.

*

There were a few points where the acting did strike a discordant note for me. To explain why, I'm going to step back for a moment and discuss one of the major themes of the Star Trek reboot. J.J. Abrams and the others running the show constantly use aspects of the original show — props, plots, attitudes, and characters — to inform the reboot. However, they’re very, very consistent about re-interpreting all of those aspects. Everything is close enough to be familiar, but different enough seem new. In most cases, it works; new phasers just look better than old phasers. New Spock is different from Old Spock, but not in a bad way. In Into Darkness, we meet a familiar alien race, and the re-interpretation makes them feel a bit alien again. But it doesn't always work, and this leads me back to the acting. Without spoiling the content, there are a few scenes that are much more direct adaptations of old Star Trek scenes than we saw in the 2009 movie. It is a really interesting and cool concept, but the execution felt very odd, for me. I'll try to describe it: knowing how the scene was "supposed" to go, it felt as though the actors were trying to recreate it, but failing. Obviously, this is not the case; it was clearly planned, scripted, and shot with painstaking care, until they got exactly what they wanted. Still, the similarity hit an uncanny valley between original and re-interpretation. Fortunately for most viewers, anyone who isn’t much of a Trek fan isn't likely to notice or care.

As a long-time Trek fan, Star Trek: Into Darkness occupies a conflicted spot in my mind. At the most basic level, I went to a movie and really enjoyed it. I don't regret the $10 I spent on it, and I suspect most people would feel the same. At the same time, I'm a bit troubled by the direction the franchise is taking. There are a whole generation of kids who are now growing up with a very different perception of Star Trek than I did. To them, it's going to be just another Transformers-style action flick with no lasting importance. There's none of the idealism, optimism, or broadmindedness that was inherent to classic Trek. It's not hard to see why that is; stories like that are much harder to tell on the silver screen, and even when done well, they don't make as much money. They're much better suited to episodic TV. Unfortunately, if we see a new Trek TV series (more likely: when we see a new Trek TV series), you can bet it will be done in the style of the Abrams reboot, and I worry that the true sci-fi stories and the thought-provoking allegories will be subsumed by over-the-top action and relentless special effects. At the same time, I think some Trek is better than no Trek, and the two Abrams films make a better legacy for the franchise than Insurrection and Nemesis. I almost envy non-Trek-fans for not having to resolve the conflict of What Trek Is versus What Trek Isn't.

Bottom line: go see it.

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Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness

Comments Filter:
  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beelsebob (529313) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:31PM (#43756125)

    You're trying to claim that the original StarTrek wasn't a chauvinistic, womanising series in which Uhura was portrayed as an independant woman?

    Seriously... What?

    You can many points about how this differs from the original StarTrek, but that sure as hell isn't one of them.

    Personally, I think this StarTrek is probably the most StarTrek that StarTrek has been in a long time.

  • by Punko (784684) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:35PM (#43756177)
    Science Fiction is always rooted in what it means to be human. Usually by exposing something that is not human, and trying to make sense of it. Its about making you think.

    Star Wars does not do that. It is fantasy happening in space. Abrams will do a great job with that franchise. To be honest, I hope the next Star Trek series is a long time coming (if its too soon, we'll get the Abrams treatment - which would suck), so we can go back to the best of Trek : true science fiction with multiple plots going on in a single episode.
  • Re:not a fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:37PM (#43756195) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, I know how you feel. Star Trek was a rare bastion of (semi)intellectualism on television, technobabble aside. To see all that removed in favor of violence, pretty colors, and snappy writing, makes me feel sort of depressed.

    Of course, the reality is that everyone who likes the non-Abrams Trek's tone has options. The current incarnation of Doctor Who on BBC has exactly the same mix of high-concept, technobabble, silliness, and mystery uncovering plots that Star Trek used to have.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:41PM (#43756237)

    Now all they need to do is bring Tennant back. Matt Smith is decent, but not that great.

  • by camperdave (969942) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:42PM (#43756255) Journal
    The Star Trek movie, although it may have been a financial success, was a failure in several key areas, like believable physics (Red matter?), faithfulness to Trek canon (Spock and Uhura? Spock is mated to T'Pring), cinematography (lens flare overkill), and most especially, franchise continuity (it's been four years, where's the new TV series? We should be waiting on the third movie by now)

    JJ may have made a popular movie, but it wasn't Trek, and it wasn't a successful reboot.
  • Re:meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:43PM (#43756265)

    Watch TOS again. Most of the episodes were truly terrible. TNG was not too bad after season two, and DS9 was fine until the last season. The TOS movies however were much better.

  • ITT: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:44PM (#43756275)

    -- science fiction is defined so narrowly that pretty much the only thing that qualifies is technical documentation;
    -- old guys whine about the "perversion" of Star Trek into some sort of "jocky action film"
    -- People miss the fucking point by 3 country miles.

    News flash: Star Trek was never as good as you remember. It was never about "ideas," it was never "sci fi" in the narrow definition presented above, it was never NOT a caricature, and the reason it was never "cool" is because it was a plodding, meandering mess with shitty dialogue and poor production values.

    If you don't like the new movies, that's fine, but stop pretending like the old Star Trek was some sort of masterpiece. It wasn't. The fact that geeks like it is more a testament to its imaginative world building than to its rigorous scientific accuracy, devotion to ideas, or fair & balanced treatment of characters. Maybe the reason you liked the boring old series so much and can derive no joy from a departure from the original formula is because you're boring, too.

    And full disclosure: I watched the original & tng, and have seen most of the movies. I'm quite familiar with Star Trek, and I always enjoyed it - but I never reached the level of zealous worship apparently required to be a "fan." Christ, people. Get a grip. It was fine entertainment, but it was far from perfect, and wasn't as good as you like to remember it - that's nostalgia at work.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nemyst (1383049) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:44PM (#43756281) Homepage
    Can you tell me what's wrong with pretty colors and snappy writing? Those are the kinds of claims that infuriate me. Would I want to have more science-fiction in Abrams Trek? Yes, of course. Why would it need to come at the expense of good visuals and snappy writing, though? All it does is reinforce the idea that modern "cool" movies or TV shows can't possibly have depth, or that deep movies and TV shows need to look shitty and have wooden, sluggish dialogue.
  • I haven't seen Into Darkness but a lot of this review covered what was painfully realized in the first movie: no longer is Trek about philosophy, ethics, tolerance, gray areas and real world problems. It's mostly absolute good versus absolute evil. I think the driving force behind the bad guy in the first movie was largely a misunderstanding ... which is incredibly boring. His motivation was confusingly laughable.

    Unsurprisingly I'm pretty sure I heard JJ Abrams tell Jon Stewart that "he never liked Star Trek" [thedailyshow.com] on The Daily Show. Well, now he's had a chance to kill it by turning it 100% into a modern day blockbuster action flick and shirking any attempt to tackle an interesting philosophical or ethical dilemma as the main plot. As the modern reemergence of comic book and super hero movies have shown, those films are a dime a dozen that anyone can do. Tackling something deeper while still holding our attention is the hard part. The Watchmen was a good candidate for it but fell short. I'm sure JJ Abrams would rather cover up the complicated parts that question good versus evil with another lens flare.
  • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:52PM (#43756385)

    I *am* watching the original series again (on hulu) and to the contrary, I'm surprised on how well they hold up.

    Yes, they are a bit cheesy, but for example 'the enemy within' made a pretty good point about good and evil - that the distinction is false - that we need the animal half of our nature in order to be effective.

    Or the menagerie, with its central take-away that truly immersive VR is a drug, and that with it we may face destruction of our civilization from ppl wanting to retreat back into it and letting the world go to hell. We are probably going to be facing *that* particular dilemma in the next five years, if we aren't facing it already, here in america.

    so lay off on the original series - for its time, it put up on the small screen a great deal of philosophy that otherwise would not have permeated popular culture.

  • Re:meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:53PM (#43756399)

    That is called nostalgia. Watch this, enjoy it and you will complain when it gets rebooted again just the same.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DogDude (805747) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:57PM (#43756463) Homepage
    Star Trek was a rare bastion of (semi)intellectualism on television, technobabble aside.

    Wow. Really?
  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArsonSmith (13997) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:58PM (#43756481) Journal

    You're other points are also invalid, but this one:

    But our heroes are still stepping out of space shuttles onto planetoids and alien planets that for some strange reason always have a breathable atmosphere

    Stood out as the worst for me. Why would they step out of a space shuttle if the planted didn't have a breathable atmosphere?

  • by Antipater (2053064) on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:14PM (#43756707)
    I have to ask. Is this really such a huge deal for everyone? I don't even notice lens flares. I'll go back and look and think "oh yeah, I guess there was one in that shot." But other than, I mean, there's an entire movie to be watched. Judging its overall quality based on the presence or absence of one minor, irrelevant special effect just baffles me.
  • Re:not a fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:16PM (#43756747) Homepage Journal

    It's not that it can't be. It's that it isn't. Name one intellectually interesting occurrence in Star Trek(2009), that raises questions of any sort.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by emag (4640) <slashdot AT gurski DOT org> on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:21PM (#43756817) Homepage

    Probably make me dislike Star Trek as much as I'm beginning to dislike Doctor Who. Which is ironic, considering my favorite Tennant episodes were written by Moffat, but now that he's in control, it feels like every episode has to be more over-the-top than the one before it, especially in series 7.5.

  • Re:meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coastwalker (307620) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [reklawtsaoca]> on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:23PM (#43756843) Homepage

    There is a good reason that the middle ages spoke Latin and that we still teach Greek plays. Once something has been done well it is difficult to beat it. 60's idealism driven Star Trek is very unlikely soil for our miserable in-looking times to beat.

  • Re:ITT: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by coastwalker (307620) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [reklawtsaoca]> on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:30PM (#43756937) Homepage

    My you do enjoy broadcasting your superior view of the world and how we should just be getting on with being entertained. The original trek does have the reputation for taking an idea about humanity and throwing it into a fantasy scenario where we could see the idea evaluated. So enjoy your empty action movies by all means but some people would like to see a bit more than that.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ToadProphet (1148333) on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:33PM (#43756987)

    Can you tell me what's wrong with pretty colors and snappy writing?

    Because it's Star Trek, and we expect some depth. The franchise that provided thought provoking (though occasionally asinine) entertainment. That's the core of the franchise, not snappy-but-shallow dialogue and big action. The only thing retained are the characters, or at least a one-dimensional simulation of them.

    Change the characters and the name and it's a fine popcorn movie.

  • by CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:41PM (#43757071)

    When was Trek EVER "about philosophy, ethics, tolerance, gray areas and real world problems?"

    Seriously, what fucking alternate universe did you watch Star Trek in?

    I guess you never watched TOS or NG. Episodes brought to light issues that paralleled the prevailing topics of the time such as racism, transgender, homosexuality, bi-racial relationships, the cold war, what defines humanity, etc, etc, etc.

  • JJ Abrams tell Jon Stewart that "he never liked Star Trek" on The Daily Show. Well, now he's had a chance to kill it by turning it 100% into a modern day blockbuster action flick and shirking any attempt to tackle an interesting philosophical or ethical dilemma as the main plot. As the modern reemergence of comic book and super hero movies have shown, those films are a dime a dozen that anyone can do. Tackling something deeper while still holding our attention is the hard part. The Watchmen was a good candidate for it but fell short. I'm sure JJ Abrams would rather cover up the complicated parts that question good versus evil with another lens flare.

    Where are the mod points when you need them? You hit the problem squarely on the head with the JJ Abrams reboots. Star Trek has been reduced to an action flick. Something that will be forgotten in a month. A lot of action, pretty visuals, with a big fat void in the middle. I've seen both now and they are utterly forgettable.

  • Re:ITT: (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:57PM (#43757299)

    Really? What ideas were tested in this magical cauldron of Trek-ness? I keep hearing this claim that Trek was some sort of idea factory, in much the same way that I keep hearing about "hurr durr lens flare." I'd wager that, just like most of the people whining about lens flare only noticed it after they read somebody else's opinion about the lens flare in the film, most of the people carping endlessly about the "big ideas" of the original Trek series are simply doing so because somebody else said that there were big ideas in it.

    So come on, friend - knock us out. What deep, penetrating ideas challenged and enlightened you while watching the original series? Don't be shy.

    So enjoy your empty action movies by all means, but some people would like to see a bit more than that.

    Yet I'm the one who stands accused of "broadcasting my superior view of the world"? Must be cold up there on that artisanal high horse, hipster-bud.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Friday May 17, 2013 @05:11PM (#43757503) Homepage Journal

    Except that the franchise used to have depth and technobabble. Serious social issues were explored in an entertaining way. The current reboot is basically devoid of that depth.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Friday May 17, 2013 @05:55PM (#43757935) Homepage

    The current incarnation of Doctor Who on BBC has exactly the same mix of high-concept, technobabble, silliness, and mystery uncovering plots that Star Trek used to have.

    Couldn't disagree more. Stephen Moffat seems to have decided that the best way to write Doctor Who is as a series of fairy stories for young girls. Thus, you have a very young actor playing the Doctor as Harry Potter, the Sonic Screwdriver is his magic wand (just what does it do, anyway? everything?) and nearly every episode ends with a deus ex machina, where the Doctor claps his hands together and everything going back to normal, the whole thing explained away with some timey-wimey gibberish. It's almost nothing like Star Trek and it's barely anything to do with Doctor Who. As a fan of the original series, the current one has gotten so bad that it's nigh unwatchable.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:29PM (#43758215) Journal

    I have to agree, the ship looked like a hipster coffee bar and the movie could have been subtitled "lens flare" thanks to how damned much he used that stupid ass effect.

    Abrams and Bay are frankly the two worst directors I think we have today, both are cynical as fuck and care about the marketing more than the films they make but have learned how to appeal to that lowest common denominator to make the big bucks. God I dread seeing what he is gonna do to Star Wars, I want to say he can't be worse than prequel Lucas but then I look at that bridge and how every 5 minutes there is a lens flare...ugh.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:42PM (#43758313) Journal

    That is because both Abrams and Bay can't seem to write any character but differing levels of douchebag and for the love of God will somebody PLEASE make him stop with the damned lens flares? I don't know which is worse, Abrams making everything bright and throwing lens flares in all over the place or bay's ultra fast cuts but they are both annoying as hell to set through.

    At the end of the day though lets face it, its all about marketing. you'll never see a film "Wrath of Khan" quality from either director because its not about telling a good story, or making a great movie, its about turning out a product that can be slapped on everything from t-shirts to mouse pads and selling the hell out of that. While this can work the movie has to come first but if the second one is anything like the first the whole thing felt like an excuse to get scenes that would work in the trailers.

    And maybe its just me but do these movies have this undercurrent of cynicism to anybody else? I watch films by Abrams and Bay and get this "Meh, it'll be good enough for the sheeple" feeling when I watch them, it just feels to me that its done with the absolute minimum of effort required to make a marketable product, like filming by focus group.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:52PM (#43758359) Journal

    You are kidding right? he had a fricking TIME MACHINE and he doesn't go to warn everybody, maybe give them plenty of time to move, nope he goes to blow up the federation? That is as stupid as the time ship that attacked Voyager saying "there is no time to explain" or Picard going back to 3 minutes before he got his ass handed to him in ST:Generations instead of just grabbing Sauron on the bridge and saying his family from the fire../facepalm/

    There should be a law that if you are gonna do a time travel story you have to show you understand the concept and realize that you have just given a character a giant reset button. I mean how sad is it when the last movie i saw that realized this was Back To The Future, where Marty goes "Duh, I'm in a time machine!" and goes back before he left to save Doc. If you have a functional time machine? Its pretty damned hard to lose. And don't give me that alternate dimension crap but if that is the case then it should be the case for every other time they have used it, but its not. I have to agree with Chuck at SFDebris in that "I'll buy your bullshit, time travel, clones, alien invaders, just be consistent with your bullshit".

  • by Rob_Bryerton (606093) on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:58PM (#43758403) Homepage
    Warning: some foul language ahead, and no, I do not advocate violence towards women. All right, then.

    TOS was pretty good and the remasters are pretty cool to watch if for nothing other than how tacky they are. That being said, about half of the episodes are really, really cheesy. Some of the costumes are downright hilarious, like they raided the Hollywood studio equivalent of a Goodwill store. But hey, it's the original, and still quite watchable. We all know the characters, no need to go into that.

    TNG was really very good in it's time, but I DARE you to watch it now. Wow, just horrific stuff. Bad acting, all the "men" have vaginas, way way overly PC, and the episodes flog you non-stop with the fucking morality angle. Ugh. Almost every actor way overacts, including Patrick Stewart, who is the star of the whole ordeal. He's excellent, if a little preachy and theatrical. But again, I just dare you to watch it.

    DS9 is probably my favorite these days, as it's not too ancient, doesn't get too high & mighty, and the Ferengi presence makes for some good comedy. Still, the Bajor angle wears you down, and you just want to smack Kira around with her Bajor this Bajor that, Bajor...SHUT UP!!!!. You almost start rooting for the Cardassians. Sisko, and especially Quark and Garak steal the show. Keiko, Julian, and Odo are mostly annoying. The Cardassians are delightfully evil; I love me some Gul Dukat.

    Voyager: Holy shit, this is a frickin' train-wreck in space. Like a train-wreck, it's a terrifyingly horrible thing to witness, but hard to look away. Being Trek, I have to watch it. It's really an unintentional comedy, and even watching it alone, I end up howling with laughter. Usually my dog will start biting me because I'm scaring the hell out of her as I'm doubled over in fits of laughter. You've got a helium addict for a captain (as I type this I'm laughing my ass off), the spastic half Klingon woman as the engineer, the 1st officer Tonto, the Hologram Doctor you just want to kick in the nuts he's so annoying, the Neelix cook dude (what the fuck is that?), and his Carol-Brady-hairdo sporting girlfriend playing the ???, fuck, I don't know what. This series is the very height of technobabble, and the plots and scripts are just downright ludicrous. I'm going to watch one after I post this, because they're funny as all hell.

    Now there's Enterprise, which is pretty good actually. It takes a while to get rolling, and the last several episodes are for shit, but overall, it's pretty good as long as the T&A doesn't offend you: it's really blatant. The stars of this series are definitely the Vulcan science officer T'Pol's breasts and her ass, as this is what the camera is usually focused on. Could be worse. The doctor, Phlox, is excellent: actually, he's my favorite character. It's not without its share of annoying characters, however. Here we go: The WORST has got to be Hoshi, the Korean actress cast as a Japanese (of course) communication officer. At first you think: "Hey, at least she's kind of cute." But then the whining starts. And the pouting. Oh the pouting. Please just STOP IT, HOSHI. Ugh, she is such a bummer. Malcom, the security officer is OK sometimes, but definitely neurotic. Then the hotheaded engineer, who again, grows on you, but is mostly annoying. I liked Scott Bakula (for the most part) as the captain, but the fatal flaw is that NOBODY LISTENS TO HIM, and he rarely kicks their asses, electing to let it slide. Some really cool alien species show up here and there.

    So, there's my take on the Star Trek series. Which should really be called Time Trek, because it seems half of the episodes are about time travel. I liked the 1st reboot for what it was (mindless action in space), but really people, ALL of the Trek iterations are pretty bad, so take off those rose tinted glasses and lighten up.
  • Re:Guy movie? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hkmwbz (531650) on Friday May 17, 2013 @08:02PM (#43758891) Journal

    This is one of only a handful of sci-fi movies that many of my female friends and acquaintances have actually enjoyed recently.

    Then again, most females seem to enjoy the blatantly misogynistic stalker-rapist fantasy that is the Twilight Saga...

  • by denzacar (181829) on Friday May 17, 2013 @10:30PM (#43759675) Journal

    What? You haven't seen Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey?

    Their final showdown with De Nomolos is one of the few times I've seen someone use time travel properly.
     

  • Re:not a fan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shadowmist (57488) on Friday May 17, 2013 @11:03PM (#43759801)

    Except that the franchise used to have depth and technobabble. Serious social issues were explored in an entertaining way. The current reboot is basically devoid of that depth.

    Actually to be truly fair, all of the Star Trek series varied tremendously in depth and quality. Quite a few of those episodes in all of the Trek series were quite frankly, awful. Awful in the terms of science, of story, and of characterization. Trek's popularity had nothing to do with it's science, it's actors, nor it's authors, because there were other shows that did better in all three. The secret of Trek's success was twofold, 1. It was created in an era of unequaled optimism and promise and 2. It was a show that allowed many to project what they were looking for in vision.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flayzernax (1060680) on Friday May 17, 2013 @11:06PM (#43759815)

    This is infuriating to me. Because you old farts are conflating nostalgia with story. With meaning and message.

    The movie is targeted at younger audiences. But it had plenty to say about loyalty, friendship, duty, honor, integrity. Humanity. In a modern and satirical way.

    It was plenty god damned Star Trek. Gene would have been proud. But maybe annoyed as much as you at the format.

    Get past your hang up that they were duking it out on floating space barges. That was there to entertain you and the people funding the real movie behind the movie. You obviously zoned out and lost interest because the format wasn't what you were use to, wanted, or were expecting.

    This is a classical dilemma with cinema as it develops over the ages. Look at good movies Charlton Heston movies from the 1950s. They wouldn't sell shit today if re-shot and re-done in the same style and format. It does not support fantasy very well. Masume Shirow had this same problem with Ghost in the Shell and decided to take a break, or get out of cinema because of that same problem. He griped a lot about Innocence this way.

  • Re:not a fan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martinux (1742570) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @11:52AM (#43762425)

    Bravo. I wish I had mod-points.

    I saw a movie that explored:
    The potential effects of interfering with an early-stage civilization. (Prime Directive 101)
    The needs of the many and the one.
    Xenophobia and the militaristic response to it.
    The relative nature of ethical decisions.
    The fragility of the utopian Federation image.
    Humanity's ongoing battle with it's base drives.

    It may have been heavy-handed in places but all of this is pure Trek. I've much more sympathy with those who compained that it revisits old territory a bit too often. This is Trek with a new coat of paint and an adrenaline shot to the heart. Silly, brilliant, thought-provoking and exciting. It leaves the door open for new fans and has enough intellectual fodder for those who want to wonder about the aforementioned issues.

Life. Don't talk to me about life. - Marvin the Paranoid Anroid

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