Monday, May 20, 2013

Into Whatness?

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a very busy weekend. On the tail end of everything that had been going on, Sunday night we went to see Star Trek Into Darkness. That was a drama in-and-of-itself. Initially, we'd planned to go see it on Friday night, but something came up on Friday night that I "needed" to do (there will be a post on that later), so we were going to do it Saturday. Of course, that was the plan before we pushed my daughter's sleepover party to this past weekend rather than the prior weekend, so Saturday got knocked off. That left Sunday, and my wife didn't want to do Sunday after the weekend we were having. She just didn't want to add that to the end of everything.

The suggestion, then, was that I take my oldest son to go see it and that would be that. My younger son has an ingrained opposition to Trek because of his love of Star Wars, so he had stated that he didn't want to go. My daughter wanted to go only because it was "going;" she had no real desire to see the movie. "Going" is always better than "staying" in her book. So the idea was that I would take the oldest to the afternoon matinee.

BUT there were complications. To start, he had gone off to spend the night with someone to avoid my daughter's sleepover, and he neglected to arrange for a ride home. There are two things to that: 1. We told him due to all of the stuff on during the weekend, we would not be available to transport him, so he had to arrange his own transportation. 2. My wife let him know very explicitly that she didn't want him gone all day because of his lack of planning. She wanted him home at a reasonably early hour on Sunday. Well, he failed to take care of that stuff. He called around 2:00 p.m. to let us know that he still had no ride home, a call I had been anticipating. At that point, I told him that we (he and I) were going to Star Trek... unless he didn't make it home, in which case, he would miss out. I figured that would put a fire under his butt. [It did. he dragged himself in the door somewhere around 3:30 (although, technically, he's missed the showtime I'd planned on).] The other complication was that I was just dead tired after all of the girls left and had needed a nap (which I barely got), so I hadn't been ready, yet, for the 3ish showtime, anyway.

Here's where it gets interesting:
So my oldest son walked in the door just as I was getting ready to leave to pick up my younger son from the work party he was at for the musical he's in at school (see why we weren't available to drive the oldest anywhere? Besides, if he wanted to, he could take some steps in getting his driver's license, but he's balking at that). My wife said to me as I was walking out that door, "You should see if he wants to go with y'all."
My response: "But he said he does not want to go."
"Just ask him anyway."
So I did. His response (once I picked him up (covered in paint (including a hand print on the leg of his pants from a girl (which would embarrass him to no end if he knew I was printing this))): "Sure, I have nothing better to do."

Okay, so, now, it was just us guys going to the movie. When it was just the older boy and me, my daughter had decided to stay home because she was have a water balloon fight in the park (this after all the water activities at the end-of-season league party); however, when she found out, upon coming in to refill the water pump, that both boys were going, she immediately changed her mind about the movie. Now, this was a problem. Not that she wanted to go but because now everyone was going but my wife who is the only one in our household that really identifies as a Trek fan. So I had to talk her into it, which wasn't as hard as all that after all; I just said, "Look, everyone else is going, but you're the one that really wants to see this, so you should just come, too." So she did. And she was glad of it.

As for the movie... well, let's start at the title.

What's the deal with meaningless titles? They annoy me. The title has no more to do with the movie than it could have to many movies. Like The Empire Strikes Back could have been called Into Darkness, and it would have held more meaning to the actual movie than this one. I get that it sounds cool, but, seriously, the title (of anything) ought to relate to the thing that's being titled in more than some vague way.

Past that, though, the movie was pretty awesome. Abrams  knows how to bring the action and keep you tense and on the edge of your seat. And, hey, there was no red matter, this time, so double plus good. Without giving anything away, I loved best the role reversal of Spock and Kirk. That was pretty awesome.

I have only two negatives (other than the title) at this point:
1. I do not want to see "old Spock" pop up in every movie as their tiny "god in a box." I get that the fans love seeing Nimoy (I do; I get it), but, from a story perspective, it's gonna get old if they always contact him when they're in trouble.
2. As much as I love Simon Pegg and love Simon Pegg as Scotty, he is the one character that doesn't quite feel right. he has moments where he feels like Scotty but, most of the time, the character seems off target. I don't blame this on Pegg, as he has no control over the writers having him do things that are not "Scottyish."

Speaking of the characters, I still love Karl Urban the most. Man, he could be DeForest Kelley. I swear, I can't tell the difference; he's just like watching the original Bones at work. And they gave him the line! Well, not the line but a the line: "I'm a doctor not a..." It was awesome.

Zachary Quinto comes in a close second to Urban on pulling off the channeling of the original character. Of course, he has had the privilege of actually working with Nimoy, so he wouldn't have an excuse to not be able to pull it off.

And, well, then there's Benedict Cumberbatch who was a perfect match to the rest of the cast. Mostly, it's the voice. But he seems to be able to play any kind of role he wants to play (see War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to understand what I mean by that).

And that's really about all I can say about the movie without giving stuff away, and I don't want to do that. As someone who is not really a Star Trek fan, I loved the movie. I do know that there are Trek fans out there that don't like what Abrams is doing, but, really, I'm not quite sure I get that, because he's really captured the heart of the original series with how closely they've managed to get the characters to their originals. It's actually enough that it makes me want to go back and watch those old episodes, and how much more successful can you be than that?



  1. wow...would it be safe to say you didn't like it? :)

  2. I loved Star Trek Into Darkness!! I wasn't a Trekkie before the reboot, so Abrams really knows what he's doing. :)

  3. First, I'm thankful that getting to the theater at the correct time was much easier for me!
    Second, it was an awesome movie. The alternate universe has come into its own. There may be purists somewhere that don't like it, but this die-hard fan since the first series thinks it's great.

  4. I've gotta see it. Don't even know if its on round here. Will check.

    You did have a heck of a weekend didn't you?


  5. I'm stressed out just reading. Glad it's over for you. We had a kid adventure this past weekend. But my tale will have to wait for another day.

  6. Haven't seen ITD yet, but I'm looking to go this Friday and see how all of the reviews I've read hold up!

  7. My daughter saw it on Saturday night. Her only complaint was that Khan shouldn't be played by someone so very, very white. She really likes Cumberbatch so it wasn't that.

    They won't be able to have Nimoy in every movie as he's getting on in years and won't be with us much longer.

  8. I expect we're going to see a lot of Cumberbatch over the coming years. While he seems particularly well-suited to roles such as Khan, as you say, he could well become the can't miss casting choice for just about anything. Between the voice and that piercing gaze, he barely has to move to steal a scene.

  9. First of all, your house sounds like my house, so I can totally relate.
    I skipped the review. Desperately trying to avoid any talk of it until I see it. Die hard fan, and love what JJ Abrams is doing.
    Tina @ Life is Good

  10. I already read a review with plenty of spoilers. Like the first one it sounds like the kind of popcorn movie that's good as long as you don't stop to think about anything. Like a STARship going underwater on a planet? WTF! That reviewer pointed out that these things just happen because the writers think they'd look cool, not that they make sense and people seem to eat it up because they don't bother to stop and think about it.

  11. As usual I'll have to be the contrary one and say that as an action movie, it was good. As a science fiction movie and a Star Trek movie it was terrible. I don't think Abrams really understands sci fi as a genre. It hit me last night (while driving home after watching Into Darkness) that his versions of Star Trek are really action movies with a thin veneer of sci fi. But mostly they are about action. Which is fine, in so far as it goes, but that's not what I want from sci fi.

    I could go on about what I didn't like about the movie. (I really dislike Chris Pine as Kirk, for one.) But I'll just point out what Anna did above...

    What the hell were they thinking casting a pasty white British man as an Indian Sikh? Just... WTF? Cumberbatch is a fine actor, but he's not Khan. He could never be Khan.

  12. Star Trek has always been the type of space fantasy (as distinguished from hard sci-fi) that requires viewers to suspend a lot of disbelief about all sorts of things; slingshot around the sun in order to travel to the past, anyone? The introduction of TNG fixed a lot of issues they'd had of believability with the original series and movies (no longer did the captain always go off with the away team). And yet there is a serious charm to the flamboyant devil-may-care attitude of the first series and those particular characters. That's what Abrams is recreating. It's tempting to want them to be something more, but at the least I think we can all agree they're a heck of a lot better than most of the original movies! (Except that I still love the whale one.)

  13. Tammy: Um... no?

    Dee: I still wouldn't call myself a Star Trek fan. Not specifically. There's nothing about that universe that I love. But I do like Abrams vision of it.

    Alex: With as good a job as he's done with the characters, I have a hard time understanding why people don't like it.

    Jo: I'm sure it's somewhere at a theater near you! It did open on the international market before it opened in the states.

    Rusty: I want to know your tale!

    randi: I hope you enjoy it!

    Anne: Khan's origin has changed, so I don't have a problem with it. And it's probably better for the villain not to be someone of color, at this point.

    TAS: No kidding. He could do that walking out on stage and just standing there for an hour not doing a thing and people would pay to see it.

    Tina: I skipped over any spoilers. As much as possible, anyway.

    PT: Well, this wouldn't be the first time someone has put a starship in an ocean. I think, maybe, even Star Trek has done it before, so there is precedence. Even so, as my wife and I were actually discussing before we saw the movie, there are occasions when the "cool factor" outweighs the "dumb factor," and we agreed that watching the Enterprise come up out of the water was one of those moments.

    Sarah Mc: See, and here's one of those areas where I'll dislike something like Dark Knight Rises or the portrayal of the Mandarin but not care about what they've done with Khan. I don't care about the source material. I found this so much better than the source material. And, as I said, it's probably better to use a white guy as the villain at this point. Besides, Khan is no longer even from Earth, so the Indian stuff has no relevance.

    Sarah: I have nothing to add to what you just said.

  14. Wow. Just wow. What a weekend. And I thought I could pack a lot of living into three days.

    First, because I just read it, PT's "starship in the ocean." There's really no reason that COULDN'T happen, if you think about it: it can go in space, so it is airtight. I suppose the pressures below water might be difficult to sustain, if you want to get technical about it. Probably the biggest problem would be if water gets into the engines, but again, they have to have some way of not letting vacuum in through them, so I don't think it's an impossibility.

    (In David Brin's "Startide Rising," the Earthlings' ship lands on an ocean planet, but that's more believable still because the ship is one manned primarily by a dolphin crew and is amphibious.)

    Anyway: you are a harsh taskmaster. I would like to think I'd make my kid catch a ride home, but I'm a softie at heart. I'd have probably picked him up and then lectured him. I like, though, that the whole family was going to go except your wife, the Trekkie.

    (What did SHE think, by the way? You didn't give her input.)

    As for Trek, I'm not really a fan of the movies or the show, so I don't get into much of what they do. Your criticisms about Old Spock were echoed by some other people I heard.

    As for the "Into Darkness," I actually took that to mean (not having seen the movie but read a lot about it) that it referred to the Federation's decision to essentially ignite a war with the Klingons to get Khan via the drones or invasion force. So maybe that's the point?

    (On my Saturday post, I mocked the idea that Star Trek was a thinly veiled allegory of the new drone-inspired militarism. Shows what I know: JJ Abrams says that's EXACTLY what it was. See why I say I never get symbolism? When it's intended, I think it's unintentional. And when it's unintentional, I think it's dumb.)

  15. There are actors I would watch read the phone book aloud. Tony Shalhoub comes to mind. Patrick Stewart. James Earl Jones. Benedict Cumberbatch could be added to that list for me.

  16. Michael: Um... me, too.

    Briane: As my wife pointed out, even if the ship wasn't air tight, it has shields, which could keep out any water. But it has airlocks and stuff, so, from a physics standpoint, there's no reason for it not to work.

    My wife loved the movie.

    Well, the going to war thing wasn't the decision of the Federation, just one man within the Federation. However, even if that was the meaning behind it, it's a rather vague way of saying it and is something that could be applied to any of a hundred things. "Into Darkness" doesn't really say anything -about- the movie. I mean, that could just mean going into space, which is a completely different connotation.

    TAS: Oh,man, I bet Shalhoub reading the phone book would be hilarious!

  17. Phone book club: Shatner. He's not the actor equivalent of the others but boy, he'd give it his all!

  18. TAS: That's true. That would be pretty awesome. Or Shatner and Nimoy doing it together.
    Seth Rogen would pretty awesome, too.

  19. Emeritus: Jimmy Stewart and Katharine Hepburn.

  20. No longer from earth? The movie said that?

  21. Wow! That was an adventure! Family, right?? *grins* You absolutely nailed it and I couldn't agree with you more about Urban and Quinto. I'm still torn. I really liked the film and would have been disappointed had the villain not been who he was (speaking in code). On the other hand, that villain/story line is still my favorite in the series. I guess he did a great juggling job of pleasing everyone with it.
    Get some rest, ok? :)


  22. TAS: I'm all out.

    Sarah Mc: Okay, I just looked it up, and he is still from Earth, but I'm pretty sure the movie didn't say that (unless my daughter was talking to me (which she does a lot)), so, when he said he found them floating in space, I assumed they were from somewhere else. However, the Indian part has been taken out. And, well, I will stand by the part where I said it's probably best to have the white guy the villain.

    James: I think Cumberbatch was a great choice. But you can't make everyone happy.

  23. No, the Indian part has not been taken out because his name is still Khan Noonien Singh. That is not a white guy's name. The truth is that the new movies are depending strongly on people's knowledge of the originals so they don't have to do any world building. They may not have stated in the movie Khan's background but it is still essentially the same as it was in the originals or there wouldn't be much point in using him. Whitewashing the character has already been criticized by various groups because Khan wasn't just a villain, he was a complex and sympathetic villain. He was a fantastic character. Cumberbatch is a good actor, but his Khan isn't Khan. The character was seriously diminished in this movie.

  24. Sarah Mc: I don't know. There is no mention of India in the new lore, just that his origin is parallel. That doesn't mean he's intended to have the exact same origin. It seems to me they've left it ambiguous on purpose.

  25. I liked the movie, especially as Abrams Star Wars tryout...

    Phone book reader: Kenneth Brannagh

  26. MOCK!: See, I'm kind of scared of what he'll do with Star Wars. His storytelling skills are... erratic at best. I know they have someone else writing the script, but that doesn't mean he might not stick "red matter" in somewhere.