I’ll start off saying I enjoyed the first installment by J.J. Abrams when I saw it in the theater back in 2009, though I had some issues major issues with the film; Nero’s whole motivation and plan for a start, but I was still engaged enough by the actors and action that I found myself having a rather good time. Over the years after seeing it several more times on Blu-ray I’ve downgraded its likability greatly as the comedy shtick gets more grating with each successive viewing and the lens flares even more absurd. Still its script is genius when compared to that of Star Trek: Into Darkness.
If I was to break down this movie into three acts I’d call Act One an atrocious crime against screenwriting and the characters of Star Trek, Act Two was fairly good with some excellent action, and then Act Three was J.J. Abrams pissing down the backs of Trek fans and calling it rain.
Chris Pine is not at fault here as I don’t think any actor could pull off this version of Kirk who is an ass-hat for at least 80% of his screen time. In the first Abrams film Kirk saves Earth and though he has had only three years at Starfleet Academy training he is given command of the starship Enterprise. Now this is like giving command of an Aircraft Carrier to an air cadet who performed a massively heroic act. No one would do this. Sure Kirk in the original canon was the youngest captain in Starfleet but that was after fourteen years of service. Could you ever picture Starfleet giving command of a starship to Ensign Wesley Crusher no matter what awesome feet he performed? That’s what medals are for.
In Abrams second outing we begin with the Enterprise on a survey mission of primitive planet that is about to be destroyed by a volcanic eruptions and Kirk (Chris Pine) breaks the Prime Directive (something classic Kirk is well known for) to save the native inhabitants and Spock’s life.
Unfortunately Spock (Zachary Quinto) tattles on Kirk and thus Kirk is relieved of his command and sent back to Starfleet Academy. Starfleet gives the Enterprise back to Admiral Pike ( Bruce Greenwood) who pulls some strings to get Kirk to stay on as first officer because that’s how this Starfleet works.
Questions: What kind of organization sends you back to school for breach of rules? In the real world it would have resulted in either “Dishonorable Discharge” or simply “You’re fired!” Also how awful would it be for Kirk to be assigned as first officer on board the ship he was just previously captain of? Talk about awkward. Lucky for Kirk his mentor is shortly killed allowing him to be captain again.
Then Starfleet is attacked by the terrorist Sherlock Holmes…no I mean Starfleet traitor John Harrington (Benedict Cumberbatch), oh wait he’s actually Khan. *sigh* Kirk quickly deduces that the attack on the Starfleet Archives is only the beginning and that the villain knows Starfleet’s top brass will all meet in this boardroom (which is apparently on one of the top floors of Starfleet headquarters with massive picture windows. Pish-posh on security I say) and they are probably the real target. Kirk is immediately proven right as Khan appears outside the window in a small fighter and opens fire on everybody. Kirk manages to destroy the craft but Admiral Pike dies and Kirk is sad. Kirk asks Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) if he can have command of the Enterprise again as Pike is dead and so not using it. Admiral Weller agrees because that’s how Starfleet works…oh and because Admiral Marcus is evil.
Kirk is sent on a mission to kill Khan by sneaking into Klingon territory and shooting a super photon torpedo at Khan’s hideout in an abandoned province on the Klingon home world. Turns out the whole thing is an evil plan by Admiral Marcus as the warp drive has been sabotaged and after firing on the Klingon home world the Klingons will be rightly pissed and will blow the crap out of the crippled Enterprise. But Spock has brow beaten some morality lessons into Kirk so instead of blowing up Khan they capture him alive, and by capture I mean Khan saves them from an army of Klingons and then surrenders.
On board the Enterprise John Harrington explains that he is Khan Noonien Singh a three hundred year old genetically superior being, who along with seventy-two others, were banished into space for trying to take over the world. Admiral Marcus found their ship drifting in space and awoke Khan to use his savage intellect in the war he is sure is about to happen with the Klingons. Khan has basically been blackmailed to help evil Admiral Marcus to design awesome weapons of war with the life of his still frozen crew in the balance.
Question: How helpful could a guy be, even a super genius, in the development of awesome fabulous weapons when he has been out of touch with the advances in technology for the past 300 bloody years?
“A Starfleet Officer once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
Somehow Khan managed to sneak his frozen family into 72 of these selfsame super photon torpedoes that Weller gave Kirk to use against Khan. If anyone can explain how that makes a lick of sense please enlighten me. How would Khan have access to his frozen crew when they are the only bargaining chip Weller has to keep Khan in line? Why would Admiral Marcus give Kirk 72 of these awesome torpedoes when the mission called for him to blow up ONE person. I think even James T. Kirk would find 72 torpedoes to be a bit of an overkill. Yet he never questions it, but Scotty (Simon Pegg) questions the fact that these super-secret weapons are of an unknown quality and could be a danger to his ship and thus he won’t sign off on them unless he can examine them first. For no logical reason at all Kirk basically fires Scotty, rubber stamps the torpedoes and makes Chekov (Anton Yelchin) chief engineer. So not only is Kirk an idiot he’s also a huge dick.
When Kirk informs Starfleet that they captured and not killed Khan this gets evil Admiral Marcus’s panties in a bunch and he shows up with the USS Vengeance a super dreadnaught that Khan helped design. Weller opens fire, pausing only to retrieve his daughter Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), who finagled her way onto the Enterprise because we needed more references to the movie they are ripping off/remaking.
Kirk is forced to work with Khan because “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” and the two of them sneak aboard the Vengeance with the help of Scotty who somehow managed to sneak aboard earlier because a super-secret Starfleet base that is housing a super-secret weapon of war would have no security whatsoever. They managed to take out Admiral Marcus and his crew, all ten of them, and even shoot Khan in the back because they know he’s evil. (New Spock phoned Leonard Nimoy to get advice on how to deal with Khan. Seriously I’m not kidding)
Of course phasers on stun won’t keep Khan down and he immediately gets the upper hand. He demands the return of his crew, still frozen in the photon torpedoes, or he will kill Kirk, Scotty, and Carol Marcus and then blow up the Enterprise. Spock agrees and they beam over the torpedoes and Khan sends Kirk and company back to the Enterprise because, “A captain should go down with his ship” and he then evilly opens fire on the Enterprise. But what’s this, Spock had McCoy activated all those torpedoes so that shortly after beaming over to the Vengeance they explode. As McCoy (Kark Urban) is not a monster he removed all the cryo-tubes with Khan’s people.
Now is when things get painful. The Enterprise is plummeting to Earth and its warp core is misaligned so they can’t get any power to the engines, to save the ship Kirk goes into the warp core chamber which is flooded with radiation that is at lethal levels. He manages to get the core aligned just in the nick of time and saves the day, but he is going to die from radiation poisoning. Spock races to engineering to say goodbye to his friend. Separated by a pain of glass they have a tearful farewell as Kirk dies. Wait…Spock cries? WTF?
When Spock’s mother died and his home world was destroyed he got kind of upset when provoked by Kirk, but he never even shed a fucking tear. This movie did not earn that moment. This is not two men who have been friends for decades these are two dudes who have kind of worked together for a while and not all that amicably. In the first movie Spock maroons Kirk on an ice planet and in this one he narcs on Kirk causing him to lose his command. How are these two considered friends?
But it gets worse, it seems that Khan’s blood can resurrect the dead (McCoy tested it on a tribble) and so Spock and Uhura capture Khan alive and give Kirk a blood transfusion and he comes back from the dead. Khan is put back into the freezers with his crew and Kirk and company go off on their five year mission. Fuck you J.J. Abrams!
Question: If Khan’s blood is a cure all and Khan’s people are all supposedly the same type of supermen, why couldn’t McCoy have used blood from any of the 72 others he has on ice?
Now for people who are not fans of Star Trek, who have not seen the episode “Space Seed” from the original series or seen Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, they may get much more enjoyment out of the fun action sequences, some of the genuinely funny character beats (there aren’t many but I did laugh a couple of times), and the cool whizz bang of the special effects, but any actual fan of the original Trek series cannot walk away from this without feeling insulted. Star Trek Nemesis was always been considered by most fans to be a hack rip-off of Wrath of Khan but now we have something worse a reboot/remake of it but with its balls cut away.
Simply put this film started out terrible, got my hopes up briefly during the middle act, and then angered me beyond belief as it reached its idiotic conclusion.
- Why is the Enterprise underwater? No reason is given as to why it is not in orbit while the team works from their shuttle crafts.
- If Khan had broken with Evil Admiral Marcus why did he still go to Klingon space? This was part of the Admiral’s plot, something that no longer interests Khan.
- Hiding your crew inside functional torpedoes is a dangerous gamble, especially if said torpedoes are part of the “Start a War” plan.
- Why do these torpedoes have enough empty space to contain a cryo-chamber?
- Khan’s desire to destroy the Enterprise, even after supposedly getting his crew back, only makes sense if he really hated Kirk, but this is not the Kirk from “Space Seed” so there is no history backing up Khan’s actions.
- With Khan’s blood in the hands Star Fleet thy now have a cure for death. This will certainly lesson the drama in further adventures.
- When Roddenberry wrote the episode “Space Seed” saying Khan and his people were in frozen slumber for 300 years placed the Eugenics War in the future as of the airing of that episode, now in this movie saying they were asleep for 300 years puts the Eugenics War sometime in the Nineties. Alternate timeline bullshit doesn’t even cover this gaff.
- And finally, they couldn’t get an actor better than Benedict Cumberbatch to play Khan, a supposed Sikh prince and once played by Ricardo Montalban?