Herbie J. Pilato is one of our favorite writers on the subject most dear to our heart: Television. He’s been part of the TVWriter™ family since the site first sprang onto the interwebs in the ’90s. So it’s with great joy that we present:
I didn’t hate Star Trek Into Darkness.
I just didn’t love it.
I always want to love anything that has to do with Star Trek, and/or classic television in general.
That’s just my thing.
But I’m a tough customer and I’m very protective of my genre.
And that’s just the way it is.
That said, from the second I first heard the title, Star Trek Into Darkness, I sensed there might be some issues, beginning with the last word “darkness.”
I’m so very exhausted by the recent obsession in film and television with the apparently required “dark” and “edgy” tone, cinematography and content of everything. Yes, it was clever for those in power (director J.J. Abrams and company) to be the first in the Trek film franchise to actually make the title the closest thing to a sentence (without a colon, as inStar Trek: Into Darkness). But still – enough with the dark stuff.
Remember when Star Trek used to be filtered with bright colors, imagination, stunning visuals, amazing stories, eye-opening elegance of exploring “strange new worlds”… going boldly “where no man… no one… has gone before?” Remember all that? It was all part of the unique genius of Gene Roddenberry’s original Trek TV series, and to a lesser extent, that first show’s small screen sequels and the earlier Trek feature films.
Unfortunately, it’s not part of Star Trek Into Darkness, or for that matter, Abrams’s initial 2009 reboot of the Trek features.
Ok, fine… they got the costumes right in the new Trek movies… the somewhat correct shades of mustard, red and blue are all there. And it’s very cool that these new Trek films take place in an alternate time period from the original shows and movies, which allow for parallel changes (i.e. like Kirk now being taller than Spock (as opposed to the other way around). And I guess we could assimilate that to Trek’s original episode Mirror, Mirror on steroids.
But where are the NEW stories? Where are the NEW aliens? Where are the NEW concepts? The NEW civilizations? The NEW mysteries? The NEW sophisticated inventions and gadgets? Where?
Not in Star Trek Into Darkness, that’s for sure.
Ultimately, this new Trek film is a pseudo remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (thus far and most likely forever the best in the movie series), but without the heart and soul. The grit is there. The action/adventure is there (maybe too much so). The attempt to please original Trek fans is there but not much else.
The Trek cast is top notch in Into Darkness. Chris Pine is fine as Kirk. Zachary Quinto is precise as Spock. Benedict Cumberbatch is great as yes, Kahn. And so on. And there are cool cameos by key classic Trek figures. And that’s all fine and dandy, but still, there’s much to be desired.
Although there may be certain “behind-the-scenes” reasons why things happened the way they did.
Shortly before Into’s world premiere, it was announced that Abrams would be jumping (space) ship and now also be responsible for rebooting, of all things, the Star Wars franchise – Trek’s main competition. At first Abrams declined, but then, apparently, his wife convinced him otherwise. It soon was made known in the press that certain ownership issues with Trek merchandising was one of the reasons why Abrams would leave Trek for Wars.
Upon seeing the half-hearted attempt of Star Trek Into Darkness, Abrams must have made the decision to leave Kirk and crew behind half-way through his work on the film.
All of that said, Star Trek Into Darkness is a very nice action-adventure science fiction movie – but overall – it’s not Star Trek.
And I’m not sure any potential new Trek producer will ever be able to please my portended vision of Trek. I’d love them to. But I just don’t know if that will ever come to be.
In looking back over the near fifty years of the franchise, all any true original Trek fan ever wanted was the original actors (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelly, etc.) back on TV in a new Star Trek TV series. No one asked for a feature film (the first being 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture), or any other TV Trek like a Next Generation, a Deep Space Nine, a Voyager, or (yikes!) anEnterprise. Those were all very nice sci-fi shows.
But they weren’t Star Trek.