As a dude who’s been into Star Trek for a very long time, I can’t believe I still haven’t seen Into Darkness. I believe that makes this only the second Trek film I haven’t seen in theaters. If I’m not mistaken, I even saw The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan in second-run theaters as a kid.

The other is I never saw was… uh, whatever came between First Contact and Nemesis. Insurrection, I think? I could tell at a glance that it was dreadful. I watched it once on DVD and it wasn’t so much wretched as simply boring. So, so boring.

I think I’m just tired of spectacle. As soon as I found out what Into Darkness was iterating on, I lost interest, because no one can get away with making an “action” movie as low-key as the source material. Well, I guess Ridley Scott did with Prometheus, but I feel like he wasted an opportunity and ruined it for everyone else. But the quiet tension of that classic film is what made it great, and meaningful. Now science fiction movies are required to be just noise, washing over me. Even the well-written ones, like The Avengers, eventually degenerate into spectacle and stupidity.

I would kill for a Trek TV series as methodically paced and densely written as Breaking Bad or Mad Men or something along those lines. I don’t know exactly when television supplanted Hollywood as the source for substantial, intelligent, artistic film, but I’ll take an AMC original series over whatever Hollywood chooses to barf up next. And the AMC show I can watch for free at home as a bonus of buying cable Internet!

I dread the day that those goddamn stupid obligatory “heroes’ army fights the evil army” CG battle scenes that pop up by law in any Hollywood production involving even a hint of conflict become inexpensive enough to produce that they start to infest quality television, too. If Breaking Bad were a movie, that minigun in Walter White’s trunk would come into play at the climax of the final season as Walt’s weapon when he leads his army of of drug dealers in Lord of the Rings-style combat against a thousand warriors of the DEA. They’d all run at each other head-on across an open field as a camera zoomed in with a fake, sweeping crane shot. Walt would stand at the lead, leaping into the air as he fired his SAW in slow-motion, while obviously fake CGI government agents fall bloodlessly beneath his rain of bullets. The fight would rage for 10 interminable minutes while Walt squares off face-to-face for his final, conclusive act of mortal combat with Hank amidst a curious bubble of calm, miraculously unruffled by the brutal chaos throbbing all around them.

In summary: Go to hell, Hollywood. You’ve lost your way, and you’re a waste of everyone’s time.

33 thoughts on “Untrekked

  1. As a long time Star Trek viewer, I haven’t seen the new movie either. The first Abrams film trailer had throwback to classic feel and look, whereas the trailer for the newest movie is just explosions and collapsing cities- no thanks. I got enough with Man of Steel.

  2. I also didn’t see STID on accounta it looking brainless. Also I’m still mad that he blew up Vulcan for no reason.

    You know what the dumbest part of Abrams Trek is? They rebooted Star Trek without getting rid of any of the dumb stuff in it. The whole point of a reboot should be to chop off the stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time, like SuperDog or Arnold’s Mr. Freeze. Each time they rebooted Spider-Man, no one has to worry about the Clone Saga in those new universe. Star Trek on the other hand still exists in a universe where in the 19990s eugenic supermen took over the earth because it’s just a time travel screw up version of the original ST universe (and unlike every other ST time travel story, this one didn’t end with a revert to status quo). Dumb, dumb, dumb.

  3. My grammar was hella bad in that comment. It’s because my laptop battery is dying, so it’s running really slow as I type this.

  4. Well, that “epic” CG Breaking Bad finale doesn´t sound that bad… But bloodless? I´m sure it would have gallons of shiny blood floating in the air and frame freezing like in 300! Joking aside, I´m not expecting too much subtlety for the actual BB finale… That minigun coupled with Walt´s hopeless attitude and looks are pointing to a “gone in a blaze of glory” cliché ending. The silly way they made Hank discover Walt´s secret identity makes me believe the writers think the way to be surprising at this point is to take the easy way out…

  5. As you predict, far too much bombast – but I found Into Darkness to be both vastly less dumb and vastly more in the spirit of Star Trek than the 2009 movie. I’d suggest that you check it out.

  6. Also, in the spirit of your forth paragraph – I’d love to see what Aaron Sorkin would do with Star Trek. The West Wing demonstrated that he’s adept with obscure jargon, witty banter, implausible optimism, and morality plays – and that’s pretty much all you need, right?

  7. I just want to be clear: are you speaking to Hollywood specifically or films in general? Because there are still plenty of great films being made, probably moreso than ever before, as indies within the Hollywood system or independent films outside that system that are equally as artistic and intellectual as Breaking Bad or Mad Men.

    I agree about Hollywood’s big summer blockbusters though.

  8. Into Darkness was actually pretty good. Was the action a bit over the top? Yep. But I think it was probably better than the first one, and you can certainly do worse this summer. Much, much worse.

    • “It could be worse” is not a compelling enough sales pitch to convince me to buy a pair of $12 tickets!

      • That’s just me hedging my bets. I liked it, and should say as such in the future.

  9. Insurrection is the movie that finally killed the “every even Star Trek movie is good” rule.

    I’m a casual Trek fan. I liked the first Abrams movie okay. Into Darkness disappointed me. It could have been a lot worse, but it could have been a lot better, too, and makes the damn-fool mistake of CONSTANTLY REMINDING YOU how it could have been better by referencing another, better Star Trek movie every five minutes.

      • I dunno why I’m the only person in the world who liked Nemesis. It makes sense, the Romulan Empire is in shambles after the Dominion War, they plot to infiltrate Starfleet with a clone made sense, and the idea of what Nemesis was in mythology was tangible between Picard/Shinzon. I think people hate on it mostly because Data died, but that too made sense as he was constantly seeking what it meant to be human, and self sacrifice is the ultimate human trait.

      • Actually, people hate on it because of poor plotting, bad dialogue, contrived plot events, and the fact that it spent its entire running time saying, “You loved Wrath of Khan, yeah? Love me, too! I’m just like Wrath of Khan!” I thought it was OK, certainly not the worst Trek movie by a long shot, but still very flawed.

  10. As someone who didn’t know a Vulcan from a Romulan not so long ago, Star Trek 2009 was a pretty poor introduction to the entire concept of “Star Trek” to me. A very competent and very meaningless, bland sci-fi tale. At least it convinced me to avoid all movies with Chris Pine in the future. And that Spock is a pretty OK guy. Is that how Trekkies feel? I suppose that’s like someone watching Star Wars for the first time and proclaiming Han Solo to be pretty cool.

    Don’t give up on film, Parish! You’re just looking in the wrong places. IMO, at least, there’s still plenty of enjoyable stuff out there – it’s just not usually advertised on television, and I usually have to drive an hour to see it at the indie theater…

    As for TV, I’d recommend The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Deadwood. Mad Men in particular touched on a lot of the same story beats from The Sopranos, and has a similarly slow build and payoff down the road (Matthew Weiner was one of the writers), and similarly nuanced characters. I hear The Wire is similarly great, but haven’t gotten around to it.

  11. An HBO/AMC-caliber Trek show has a lot of potential.

    Remember how The Wire covered a mayor’s entire election campaign? Imagine if a Trek show could have the first android running for political office, or a Supreme Court ruling on androids’ rights. Maybe it could get into elaborate technical issues, like how exactly eugenics would change a person’s life over its entire course.

    I’d like to see them do away with artificial gravity and make an entire show or movie in zero G, but that might be impractical.

  12. For those who haven’t seen ST:ID . . .don’t. No need to detail the plethora of crap in it, just one single thing makes it completely stupid: a STARSHIP HIDING IN THE FUCKING OCEAN. That alone reserves a special place for Abrams in the 8th circle of hell. He might have thought: “Hmm, Ron Moore pulled something amazing with the “Adama Maneuver” in BSG, I’ll one up the whole thing!” Idiot.

  13. I’m OK with TV being the better source of good drama. The only thing Hollywood can do consistently better than TV at this point is high-budget spectacle, so no-one should be surprised they try and upsell everyone on 3D-glasses and IMAX versions of these big-budget glossy high-spectacle movies.

    • Actually, Hollywood’s other strength is that it can tell an interesting, self-contained story without the need to stretch it across an entire season… and with the budget to afford talented writers, editors, and cinematographers. Pity most parties involved keep forgetting that.

  14. I completely lost interest in the new one as soon as I heard they were bringing Khan back. How do you even do a Khan story now without the history being there? Space Seed was a good TOS episode, but its real value was setting up the history between Khan and Kirk? Besides which, as much as I liked the first Abrams Trek for bringing a bit of freshness back to stale old Trek, it was pretty brainless; Wrath of Khan was all about the motivations – the man who has never accepted defeat and the man who is willing to give up everything to get revenge on the other, and the struggle of wits between these two expert scene-chewers. Not specifically a “smart film”, but definitely had a lot more to it thematically than Abrams Trek (the first one ripping off Wrath pretty hard, too. also Nemesis. and to some extent, First Contact. HEY GUYS REVENGE ISN’T THE ONLY INTERESTING MOTIVATION YOU KNOW.)

  15. “I would kill for a Trek TV series as methodically paced and densely written as Breaking Bad or Mad Men or something along those lines.”

    Ooh, ooh! I know the answer to this one! Deep Space Nine, Deep Space Nine!

    (frantically waves his hand)

      • Hmph. Well, it’s got pretty well developed characters and story arcs for Star Trek, at least.

      • Sure, but it’s all relative. DS9 is great for Trek, but it’s a far cry from the best-written dramatic shows that have appeared over the past decade.

  16. For some reason, I did see Into Darkness. I thought it was a reasonably entertaining action movie, at least compared to most Hollywood style blockbusters. But it was also dumb as fuck, and the story didn’t make the slightest bit of sense. This is to be expected when you hire the writers from the Transformers movies and Prometheus. Also, the whole Khan thing was pretty damned embarrassing.

    And, according to Mr Plinkett, almost every major set piece was lifted from one of the earlier Star Trek movies/TV series.

  17. I see your gripes about mindless battles and raise you one additional plea for Hollywood to ease up on the Latin choruses accompanying those mindless battles (and especially movie trailers).

    Latin choruses were cool enough to catch my attention around the turn of the century; now they’re grossly overused and just make all soundtracks that use them sound the same to me.

  18. I didn’t really want to comment because who am I to go against someone’s Hollywood rant. I am by no means a “Trekkie” but I have seen all the movies and most of the first two TV series. (Totally lost interest with Deep Space Nine.) but if you like Star Trek, into darkness is not a bad film. The dynamic with Kirk and Kahn is totally different because history played put different. In fact they almost are allies until Kahns ideology rears its head. They well explain in the movie why Kahn comes about now instead of much later in the story line which I won’t spoil. Basically this movie can be taken as an alternate history of Star Trek 2 based on how events were changed in the first film. And for the most part it works. The actor, I forget his name, does a great Kahn. Enough so that I want constantly thinking how great Ricardo Montalbon was in the original role. But there are some other things in the film that are thrown in seemingly to give the appropriate “twist” that I didn’t really agree with. But overall if you want an alternate history Star Trek 2 where Kirk and Kahns telationship is totally different based on the alternate universe, where they actually can briefly be allies and you can sympathize with the Khan character, then this movie is for you. I like this movie better than the 2009 reboot.I just hope we don’t see future movies with an alternate history of the V’ger probe or whale speaking aliens attacking Earth. At least check it out on video. Can we expect another post when Pacific Rim comes out talking about how it rips off NGE and totally destroys all the things that were cool about that show with over the top action sequences. (Because that’s kind of the impression I get reading about that movie.) one other note, while I agree with you Hollywood sentiment, isn’t that how Hollywood has always been for the most part, providing spectacle on the big screen? I mean that’s why I go to movies at the theater nowadays is to see the big spectacle that you can’t get at home. Good movies Ill just rent or Netflix stream as they gain little from watching them on the big screen.

  19. Bring back the humpback whales!

    The Voyage Home was the bravest, most refreshing Star Trek they ever did and it’s about time someone tries something equally creative.

  20. I have always felt this way about the Batman big screen stuff. They all forgot that tagline, the worlds greatest detective. I don’t want to see a Batman movie that ends with a ticking bomb fiasco. I want it to end with Batman handing a criminal over to the police where the evil plan never even got off the ground then explaining the plot to the police almost Scooby Doo style.

    In short I almost would like CSI + Burn Notice + Batman. Even that would likely work better on the small screen.

    How about this. The series is actually called Batman and Robin. Instead of retelling Batman’s origin for the umpteenth time start in a Gotham where he has been operating for years. The series starts with him finding Grayson and beginning to train him. All the Burn Notice style exposition on methods could be directed at Dick, he’s teaching him the ways. Also while Bruce could be serious he could be over dwelling on his parents and be more focused on making sure Dick does not become as single minded as he has. Case a week format, again sort of like Burn Notice or CSI, and just a little bit of action sprinkled into some real detective drama. Current cable production values could hold up fine for this kind of Batman series. It will never happen.

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