Wouldn’t it have been cooler if instead of a stereotypical English-accented villain, Kirk and co had to contend with a super-powered brown guy which, without wanting to give too much away, technically they should have, in the new movie, Star Trek – Into Darkness?
As good as Benedict Cumberbatch is (and yes I’ve seen UK TV series Sherlock, and he is perfectly adept at portraying the slightly deranged, utterly aloof and manically brilliant contemporary interpretation of the classic detective) he was completely miscast in the latest movie in a series that continues to boldly go, even after 47 years. Ironic though, given Trek’s fabled past as a beacon of anti-racism.
They could even have signed up someone from Bollywood – just look at how much mileage The Great Gatsby is milking out of casting India’s Big B in a minor role. Imagine how Amir Khan might have relished whopping Starfleet right at its heart, and the whole new audience of bazillions of cinema goers that Paramount would have courted.
Anyhow, aside from the ethnically-confused nemesis, plus the iconic death scene role-reversal and the fact Pike will now not live out the rest of his days on Talos IV, oh, and I thought Constitution class Starships where built and maintained in space, because that’s where they stayed, in space. It seems my sadly anoraky comprehension of Roddenberry’s idyllic future-verse was mistaken, cause the Enterprise can go fish if it wants to.
But anyhow, aside from all of that, along with the continually awkward Spock/Uhura romance (which didn’t even make sense in the first movie) that leads to some comic situations, as well as emotional tension, and results in a bizarre love triangle actually physically illustrated during the raid into Qo’noS on a ship that curiously resembles the Millennium Falcon – is JJ Abrams getting Star Wars and Star Trek mixed up already?
Anyway, aside from all of the above, plus the fact that the back-from-the-dead scenario was far too convenient, yet wasn’t employed for the multitude of sacrificial red shirts, and that Bones didn’t remember the alternative sources of the elixir of life that he needed, 72 of which sat right under his nose in Sick Bay’s store room… [deep breath…] like I said, aside from all of that – I totally enjoyed 2013’s edition of the continuing voyages (even if it was only to the Neutral Zone and back) of the USS Enterprise.
Ah that ship. The NCC1701 is as much a star of the movie as is Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu and Chekov, perhaps moreso, because without the galaxy’s most famous fictional ship, they ain’t boldly going anywhere. I always choke up with pride (dunno why, I didn’t create the saucer and tubes pretend spaceship, Matt Jefferies did, for the original series in fact, but I did sort of grow up with it) whenever the Enterprise survives certain annihilation, and rises up through a fog of doubt – there’s always one available in space – accompanied by a glorious crescendo from the invisible orchestra (in space no one can hear you scream, but everyone will hear Michael Giacchino’s stirring score) to stage an amazing comeback and face-down the odds.
It was great also to see the ship’s Scottish engineer so far out of his comfort zone but still delivering just-in-time service – as is his way. Wonderful also to behold Uhura trading P’Toks and DenIb Qatlhs with the warrior types and the mother of Kirk’s would-be son shedding her uniform in an admittedly delightfully gratuitous scene. It was also wonderful to witness Sulu’s first taste of the hot-seat with added relish and cameos by elder Spock (a sort of cheat-option plot device) and a not-so-dead Tribble.
We must also give a nod to McCoy’s well-constructed analogous insults which are almost as good as the abuse that used to be hurled at each other by the kind-of-crew of Red Dwarf. He missed one out though – ‘I’m a doctor, not a comedian with a great script-writer’. Oh but he is.
Look if any of this discourse thus far makes you think I hated the new movie, that would be wrong. I liked it! But I HAVE to. It’s Star Trek.
It does have wall-to-wall action, clever plot twists, deviously logical game-play to outwit the villain, good old-fashioned fisticuffs as well as lots of laser beams flying back and forth vapourising bad guys and red shirts, plus explosions, people running and jumping off insanely high places, and plenty of edge-of-the-seat close calls. Plus it’s packed with sci-fi and action thriller clichés – not always a bad thing either in a proper pop-corn muncher.
It’s not classic Star Trek, and it almost seems forced and redundant having old Spock anywhere near this truly new generation of the sci-fi classic rebooted, but it is a hell of a ride at trans-warp speed with phasers locked to stun and surprise. Indeed there’s plenty of quaint nods and hat-tips to the brilliant TV series that created an enduring future reality despite cheap costumes, bad make-up and flimsy sets, but this is all-new Star Trek, and it’s good, very good.
Don’t get hung up on blasphemous violations of original Trekkie lore, or indeed the Prime Directive, just go watch it and have a blast!