Star Trek: Into Darkness–It Should Have Been a Whole Lot Better

I love Star Trek. Please do not take this the wrong way, but this movie could have been made a lot better. The story line is good– although there are times I was left scratching my head and saying “WTH?” to myself.
There are two villains in here. First you have Benedict Cumberbatch who does an EXCELLENT job of portraying Khan. It is hard to imagine him as Khan if you grew up watching the original series and saw “The Wrath of Khan“…However, he does make that part his own in a sense. One thing the viewer may come away with is a strange sense of empathy for his reasoning because it does have some logic.

This character is not just simply a “madman” hell-bent on getting even with Kirk, as portrayed in earlier versions. Cumberbatch actually gives Khan a high degree of intelligence, cunning and an ice-cold demeanor, whereas in earlier versions Khan was much more emotional. A viewer really cannot predict Khan in this one either. Other characters are used for that purpose and that is also a good thing!  However what led to the feud with Kirk from the original story line is totally absent. They wrote in a new reason for it. If you go to this, you’ll see what I mean. It could have something to do with the timeline being messed with in the 2009 version.

Then you have Peter Weller. I have seen a lot of Peter Weller’s work and he is usually top-notch, but I felt that as Marcus, he was over the top in some of those scenes. This is the character that should have been the “greater villain”/”God Character” but this is role where he came off as “not believable” for lack of a better description. That character was also written to be too predictable. I like being surprised and I was not surprised with that character’s actions. I think the fault for this lies with J.J. Abrams. Anytime that happens, it’s usually direction that is the cause of it.

As usual, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and the actors portraying those we all grew up watching did a great  job in this film. They are the main reasons I’ll get the DVD. I was really impressed with how Scotty (Simon Pegg) actually ends up being what I call the “God Character” here. His character knows what is best and finds out what is really going on at times–so some of this story line is revealed through him. Writing-wise it is a good strategy to use him for that since the writing with the Marcus character left much to be desired.

The other issue I had with the film is that there is some mirroring of Wrath of Khan with a bit of role reversal. One will know what I mean when they see the film so this is not a spoiler. I felt that the writers should have had a little more restraint with that tactic and more originality. Something needed to be fresh and different from what we know of as viewers in that sense, but I feel that this was a set up for a later film.

I do not understand why in the world there is a scene in this movie where Alice strips down to her underwear while Kirk is in the room.  She makes him turn around, but the funny thing is, she really didn’t change clothing.  The dress she put on may have been a different color.  It’s not like she put on any special gear.

The acting was great! Don’t get me wrong there, but it is obvious that the writers borrowed way too much from “The Wrath of Khan“. I do like how they made Khan more cunning and cold–less emotional. For that reason, Benedict Cumberbatch deserves some kudos. For those who have not seen the “Wrath of Khan” you’ll probably love the whole thing! For those who have and grew up watching Star Trek, you’ll find that there is too much borrowing from the 1980 movie script with no sign as to what originally led to the feud between Kirk and Khan. For a movie that takes place in the early days of the Enterprise crew, that was disappointing. And then there are those who love action–period…They will love it too.
While there is non-stop action and a good story going on here, I feel it could have been told without all the references to the other film. I do like how the Klingons were portrayed. They rocked! Get ready for the next sequel. Let us hope that it follows the 2009 version in terms of originality. This film does not ruin the franchise by any stretch because it is good, it is just that it could have been so much better. Maybe next time…

The Changing World of Movie Viewing Part II

In the first post on this I discussed how actors/actresses are judged by an audience and how a film critic’s views no longer represent the public as much as they do the marketing execs.  They don’t represent the academy, that’s for sure. I will not rehash that here.  I want to discuss another aspect that Hollywood seems to trip  itself over.

Many marketing execs claim that they make films to appeal to teens and ‘tweens because they think that the older audience tends to “stay home”.  The logic is nothing more than a smokescreen to justify how they tend to make a lot of crappy films now.  Why? Because they are marketing the same type of crap to home viewers.  With the exception of a few shows, like “Hardcore Pawn” people are getting really sick of “reality TV“.  The fact of the matter is that many of these shows highlight what is wrong with society rather than what is enjoyable about it.  Some even tend to glamorize behavior that society should never tolerate from anyone for that matter–especially the authorities…For example, take the latest case:  Honey Boo Boo…What parent in their right mind would jeopardize the health of their own child by pumping him/her full of energy drinks and let them gain so much weight just so they can act the way this kid does?  The fact of the matter there is that they feel sorry for the kid and want to kick the parents’ asses, and I think many watch just to see if CPS will knock on their door…

Now back to the point of this post.  IF these execs knew what they were doing, they would market real movies with logical plots and believable story lines AT LEAST to the home viewers since they tell the public that the older audience tends to “stay home”…The bottom line is: They want the kids because they think most have only a two second attention span. Not only is that an insult the entire audience as a whole, but they insulted the entire Academy of Motion pictures with that line of thinking.  Do they really think when deciding for the Oscars that that is the logic of the members of the academy?  Seriously? If so, they should all be fired and replaced.

It seems to me that it is the performers and a handful of  directors and producers who have the real audience and fans in mind.  Both the Academy and the audience want original ideas, innovation, characters that COULD exist, believable story lines and even a little old-fashioned romance from time to time–and even HUMOR–REAL HUMOR–not this crap that always goes back to sexual innuendo either.  The innuendo and such has its place but it should not be on Prime-Time TV. THAT should be reserved for when the kids are in bed.  There is nothing illogical or “archaic” about that.  It is those execs who promote the bull shit that have limited their own potential by buying into their own crappy perception of the world they live in.  IF that were not the case, they wouldn’t be advising stock holders and producers to put money into pictures and TV shows that are not worth a damn.

When shows like “Harry’s Law” and “Memphis Beat” get cancelled, something is definitely wrong.  A network with a wiser CEO should work to get those shows on it.  I’ve got $10 that says with the RIGHT marketing and the RIGHT time slot, those two shows would be runaway hits for investors.

It is also time to stop with the sequels, prequels and remakes (or as some now call them “reboots”) that tend to deviate from original classic shows. NOT one of these has succeeded on TV this year or at the box office.  The only movie doing well in that category this year is “The Expendables 2” because it is a continuation of an ORIGINAL IDEA!   Thank God for Sly Stallone and Dolph Lundgren.  At least those guys have some idea of what an audience really wants…The only other fairly recent film which did well was “Star Trek” (2009).  J. J. Abrams did that one right–regardless of what some think.  He captured the essence of the original characters using new actors and did not deviate from their traits in the least.  That is more than I can say for the  “Dark Shadows” movie that was released this year.  Every reason that movie flopped is in a book written by Tom Laughlin  which you can find here:

http://www.billyjack.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=BK9S&Category_Code=BOOKS&Store_Code=BERSERK

And I still say that had the Dark Shadows Revival series went beyond 12 episodes, it would have lasted.  That was one remake that did stick to Dan Curtis’s vision of what he thought his own creation should be.  He always knew what his fans wanted, that’s for sure.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday, everyone! Until next time…