Tag Archives: Spock

Rant Alert: My Star Trek Into Darkness Spoiler Counter-F.A.Q.

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Star Trek Into Darkness has been a very polarizing film, more so than probably any other movie in the franchise. While critics and general audiences tend to enjoy it, fans are split down the middle. I have a close friend that is one such fan, who had a whole list of plot holes and things that kept her from enjoying the movie. I was surprised by this, because while I thought the film certainly had issues, a lot of the things she mentioned were things that didn’t bother me in the slightest and I found to be easily explainable. Then io9 did a spoiler F.A.Q. on Monday where, in a snarky attempt to be funny, he addressed many of the same issues. Well, I thought it would be fun to do a counter-F.A.Q. and give my perspective on them. I’m not saying I’m right and they’re wrong, because honestly a lot of the “issues” being talked about are things that are never fully explained in the movie. I assume for pacing reasons. However, they are things that I found to be fairly easy to explain in a reasonable way. It won’t change the mind of the people who already hate the movie, but I’m not trying to. So, needless to say, spoilers ahead! So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, avoid thine eyes!

Okay, explain to me why we’re doing this in this format again?

Because this is how the guy at io9 did it, and I thought it’d be fun.

You spelled “schizophrenic” wrong.

Just get on with it!

Okay, so at the beginning Kirk and Bones steal a scroll to lead the aliens away from the volcano. Why? Wouldn’t the volcano wipe everyone out if it erupts anyway?

They weren’t leading them away for their safety. They were leading them away so they wouldn’t see the shuttle carrying Spock to the volcano.

That makes sense, but why were they using a shuttle again? Why not just beam the bomb down?

It’s explained in the movie that the volcano was screwing up sensors and the only way they could use a transporter is if they had direct line of sight. The shuttles don’t have transporters so they were lowering Spock into the volcano to set the bomb manually.

Why not just use the ship…and why the hell was it underwater?

Starfleet has certain rules that officers are required to follow. the most important is the Prime Directive. Basically they’re forbidden from interfering with  pre-warp civilizations. Technically, the Enterprise crew was breaking the PD by saving the aliens, but they felt that they were exploiting a loophole in the directive- as long as they weren’t seen and the aliens thought the volcano just naturally stopped erupting (or their gods did it, or whatever) then it’d be fine. If they had used the Enterprise for line of sight transporter use, they’d be seen.
The Enterprise was underwater, as opposed to in orbit, because at night its possible that the ship would be seen. Just because the aliens were a “primitive” culture by our standards doesn’t mean they didn’t study/worship the heavens. The ancient Mayans and Egyptians did, and had a very detailed idea of exactly what was in the sky. A new bright satellite suddenly appearing in the sky, then disappearing hours or days later, would definitely be noticed. That’s assuming they don’t have some form of telescope. First Contact demonstrated that the Enterprise could be pretty clearly seen in orbit with one. Plus, lets be honest, it’s a popcorn movie, and if they’d just been able to stay in orbit and beam the bomb down it’d be pretty boring.

Can the Enterprise even work under water?

I’m not one of those fans with intimate knowledge of ship design, etc. but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief. As far as I’m concerned, if the ship can survive the vacuum of space and the pressures of flying at warp speed it could probably handle being under water to the depth that they were. Yes, there are physics issues with how it would work, blah, blah, but it’s a sci-fi movie, not a documentary. If you can handle Borg Queens, telepathic rape scenes, red matter, and any number of other Trek plot devices and holes, then you can handle the Enterprise being underwater just deep enough where the crew can freaking swim there.

Okay, so lets get to the big stuff- Admiral Marcus, his daughter, and Khan.

Yeehaw.

So in this version of history Khan and his crew is found by someone else, not the Enterprise crew, right? Are they still from the 90’s?

Yes, they were discovered by someone else in this version of history. The movie doesn’t ever say (smartly), but I would assume no, they aren’t from the 90’s- that is probably something different in this timeline and the Eugenics Wars happened at a different point in our future.

So what, exactly, is the Admiral’s deal, anyway? Why thaw out Khan and go all militant?

You have to remember that not more than a year or so has gone by since Nero wiped out most of the fleet, killed Vulcan, and almost killed Earth. With one ship. Tensions with the Klingons are getting dangerous and it’s believed that war is only one incident away from breaking out. Marcus  feels that Starfleet needs to have a more militaristic focus if they’re to survive; and while the movie doesn’t specifically state how many others in Starfleet are working for him, I find it hard to believe that there isn’t at least a core group in the leadership that feels as he does. Khan was known as being a tactical genius, had an unparalleled military mind, etc. So Marcus de-thawed him to get him to help design new weapons tech for Starfleet, using the lives of his 72 crew members as incentive to cooperate.

How Could Marcus pull this off without anyone noticing? 

He already has a secret development department, Section 31. He’s also the head of Starfleet, a Starfleet that’s working hard to rebuild their fleet. I don’t think it would be too hard for him to get the “hidden shipyard by Jupiter” stocked with his people and develop the Vengence.   Materials for it could be diverted there when it’s believed that it’s for, say, two ships being built elsewhere. Sensors only work if you’re actively scanning for something, assuming he doesn’t have some sort of tech in the shipyard or something to do with where the shipyard is to block or scramble sensors. Once war is started secrecy wouldn’t be needed. He’d be hailed as a hero with the forethought to save them all with the new tech, at least that’s what he believes.

So what’s Khan’s deal?

Khan wants to escape with his people so they can pick up where they left off before being made into jerkcicles. The cryotubes are kind of hard to hide, so he hid his crew in the proton torpedo prototypes with the intention of smuggling them out, but he was caught. Khan escaped but he believed his crew was killed by Marcus, so in retaliation he attempts to take out all of the remaining high ranking officers in Starfleet. Then he uses Scotties magical transporter formula from the first movie and beams himself to the Klingon homeworld where Starfleet can’t get him.

What’s the deal with Kirk, Marcus, his daughter, and the mission? Aren’t they explorers, not assassins?

That’s the core of the movie and is intended to be a metaphor for the U.S. mindset after 9/11. Kirk is a hot head and wants vengeance for the death of Pike. Marcus sees an opportunity to use Kirk to get what he wants- take out Khan and his crew to get rid of the evidence they were connected to him, and kick off the war with the Klingons so he wouldn’t have to hide his military-focused build up anymore and they could get things cranked out in earnest. Carol Marcus knows about section 31 and knows something is up with the new torpedoes, so she gets herself assigned to the Enterprise to check it out. Scotty resigns in protest to the whole thing because he didn’t sign on to be a soldier, he’s an explorer. Spock is being Spock, disagrees with the mission and killing a man without trial, but ultimately follows orders. Kirk screws up Marcus’ plan by being swayed by Scotty and Spock’s argument and decides to take Khan alive.

Why does Khan save Kirk and Co. from the Klingons?

Sulu already sent the message to Khan that he was to surrender or he’d be bombed from space. Khan suspects that said torpedoes may be the ones that have his crew in them, because that’d be something Marcus would do. His suspicions are confirmed by Kirk when he’s told that there are 72, and he surrenders.

How is Scotty able to get on the Vengeance without being seen? Wouldn’t a secret military deal have better security?

A valid point, but there are a few things to consider: Taking the Vengeance out after the Enterprise was not a planned operation. The Enterprise was supposed to bomb Kronos, have a warp drive failure and be stuck in Klingon space, and then get decimated by the Klingons. When Kirk sent a message to Marcus that he’d captured Khan, Marcus had to quickly get out there and wipe them all out before they could fix their warp core. Scotty joins the flotilla of shuttles going to prep the ship. It’s a massive ship and they’re working with a skeleton crew made up of hired security/merc types, not Starfleet personnel. It’s Scotty. It wouldn’t be hard for him to hack his way in and stay hidden while everyone ran around like chickens with their heads cut off. Does it take some suspension of disbelief? Absolutely. But so did Kirk just happening to find the same cave old-Spock was haunting in the first one.

Let’s address the mirror to Wrath of Khan ending and the magic blood.

Here, for me, is the biggest problem with the movie. Not that the blood could heal Kirk. They established from the very beginning that Khan’s blood could do that kind of stuff. It’s a huge convenient plot device, but it was needed for the movie because there’s no way they could get away with killing Kirk and leaving him dead until the next one like they did Spock in WoK. Which is exactly why they shouldn’t have done this storyline in the second movie. The biggest problem with Into Darkness wasn’t the plot, though the plot could have used tightening, obviously, it was the lack of emotional connection and impact that the story had. The ending, with Spock going all pissed off Batman on Khan, just came off as silly because they’ve been friends for what? Two years? Barely? Had they saved this kind of story for the third movie and used this movie to further establish the bond between the crew it would have been much more effective. Wrath of Khan had three seasons of a TV show and another movie to establish those relationships. This had one movie where Kirk and Spock spent 90% of the time at each other’s throats. I understand the appeal of using Khan, and Cumberbatch was freaking awesome in the role, regardless of what else you may have thought about the movie, but it just wasn’t the right time for this story.

Why are fans upset that they lied about Harrison being Khan?

Because in this modern internet world where spoilers leak immediately and movies are completely ruined months before they’re released, fans have developed a false sense of entitlement that they are owed answers about movies in development. The crew lied about Khan, even though everyone knew it was probably Khan, because they didn’t want to completely spoil the movie they’d been working two years on before it was even finished being developed. If fans are pissed about that I think they need a reality check.

So there you go. That’s my take on things with the movie. Again, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind here, I’m just explaining things in the way that I saw them as I watched the movie. STID isn’t a perfect movie, it has issues. Some fans are just not going to be happy with it regardless of what they did. Others do have legit complaints and just can’t turn off their brain or suspend disbelief enough to enjoy it for what it is. The fact of the matter is this isn’t the old Star Trek and it will never be. Yes, it has less of a scientific, intellectual focus, and is more focused on action and being fun. You can either just accept it for what it is and enjoy it, or not. Either way, it doesn’t change or take away the ten other movies and 5 TV series that came before it. You can always go back and revisit them whenever you want.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.  Check back each Sunday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!

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Rant Alert: Iron Man 3 & Star Trek Into Darkness

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I have the best girlfriend on the planet, and last night we went and saw Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness back to back in a mini geek movie marathon. Now you get to hear me rant about both of them! I’m going to do a short spoiler-free review of each for those who haven’t seen them, followed by a spoiler-filled rant on both for those who have and would maybe like to discuss. So, reviews ahoy!

Spoiler Free

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Iron Man 3 has been doing freaking awesome at the box office but has been taking some heat from the fan community, which has affected some reviews. Personally, I liked the story and how everything played out. It was probably the most “comic-booky” of the three movies, story-wise. However, it also felt slower paced and more of a character drama than the previous two, which I think has a lot to do with the disappointment that many have felt. This is very much a Tony Stark story, not Iron Man; just as it is very much a Shane Black movie, not Jon Favreau. I saw one commenter compare this to Skyfall, and I think that is a pretty apt comparison. Iron Man 3 is for Tony Stark what Skyfall was for Bond. It was better than the last one, but the original Iron Man is still my favorite.

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Star Trek Into Darkness was just fun. From beginning to end, it was a blast to watch. I felt it was a much stronger story this time around, and it was fun to see the cast play off of each other now that they have a foundation. It’s not as cerebral as Old-Trek, but it’s not meant to be, and it certainly isn’t as brainless as a lot of other summer blockbusters either.  I think they’ve found a good middle ground between appealing to the fan base of the previous incarnation and casual audiences that might not have cared for Trek before (like my girlfriend). Basically, if you liked the first one, you’ll enjoy this.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movies, turn away now!

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Okay, so a lot of the fan-bitching has been aimed at the Mandarin and the “plot twist” regarding his character. I understand fans wanting to see the hardcore villain from the comics on screen, but lets be realistic- that was never ever going to happen. One, because he’s a racist stereotype that just wouldn’t play. Two, because as cool as the ten magic alien rings are, it just doesn’t fit in the cinematic Marvel world…yet. That said, I didn’t have a problem at all with the “twist”. I felt like Sir Ben Kingsley was freaking amazing both as Mandarin and Trevor (which was hilarious). I thought it was a smart plot, well executed. I loved the comic easter eggs, like AIM and Roxxon. I caught the Fin Fang Foom deal with the “real Mandarin,” though I thought the breathing fire thing was a little goofy. I think the problem is people are going in expecting one thing and they’re getting another. This wasn’t as fast paced and fun as the first, and to a lesser extent, the second. Like I said in the spoiler free section, this was very much a character drama focused on Tony Stark, where Iron Man was more a background aspect. It had a totally different feel than the previous two and Avengers. Hell, they didn’t even play ACDC, unless I missed it. But it was still a good movie. I still enjoyed it. To be honest, my biggest gripe with the movie was the ending, as I wanted to know more about what was going on with Pepper after he “fixed” her, and I was really disappointed that they didn’t show signs of extremis in Tony after his surgery (because you KNOW he had to play with it, like in the comics). I even would have been happy with a little blue glow in his eye at the end when he says “I am Iron Man.” But they didn’t go there, which disappointed me. I also thought the stinger at the end, showing that he’d been telling the whole story to Banner the entire time, was fun. Overall, it was a good movie, just different.

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Star Trek was fun, plain and simple. If you approach this as the “ultimate” version of the Trek we all know and love, you’ll enjoy it a hell of a lot more, because that’s exactly what this was. This was their “Ultimate” version of Wrath of Khan. (For those who have no idea what I mean by “Ultimate”- Marvel has a line of comics, the Ultimate Line, which is basically an alternate version of the mainstream Marvel universe, where characters can be portrayed in different, more modern, takes; popular or classic storylines are re-imagined and told differently, etc.) We all knew John Harrison was Khan. It was a given. I mean, how could they not use Khan? A lot of comments sections on fan sites have enraged fans frothing at the mouth because “they lied to us!” People, get a fuggin grip. Why the hell would they ruin their own movie by telling you everything about it? If you had stayed away from fan speculation and had no idea that Harrison might be Khan, the revelation would have been great. Plus, the cameo by Old-Spock was great. The plot and how they incorporated Khan was well done. Is it as good as the original? Of course not. Does it feel like a more dumbed down, action-focused version of Trek? Yep! But it’s still fun as hell! At the end of the day, I had a lot of fun watching it, and that’s what’s really important. I am a huge Trek fan. Always have been. I was raised on it. My dad used to record the original run of the original series on cassette tapes as a kid so he could listen to them again later like a radio show. I still have those tapes, and used to listen to them myself as a kid. I grew up on TNG and DS9. I own all the movies and have seen them each countless times. But it’s time to face it kiddos, old-Trek had to evolve or die. It just wasn’t putting butts in the seats, or in the case of the TV shows, getting the ratings it needed. I think this new alternate universe was a smart, fun way to reboot without throwing away everything that came before. The 2009 movie had it’s issues, but I think they vastly improved on those issues with this one.

Okay, lets address it: Lens flare. yes, it was a problem on the first one. They obviously dialed it down a ton on this one, except for one scene. That one scene with Carol talking to her father had a lens flare covering the entire shot, blinding everyone where you could hardly see a thing. It was ridiculous and I have to believe it was done on purpose as a “screw you!” to all the folks that ragged on the lens flare in the first one. It was just so gratuitous it had to have been purposeful.

However, the movie was really entertaining and I can’t wait until I can see it again. Like I said before, if you had fun with the first, you’ll enjoy this one.

Agree? Disagree? Just want to geek out about these movies? Feel free in the comments section.
J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Digital copies on sale for a limited time for $0.99. Check back each Sunday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!

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