Friday, 24 May 2013

Star Trek: My Shadow of Darkness


Ok, this is gonna sound really bad but I'm fed up with Into Darkness.

There you go; I said it and I don't regret a word of it. I'm sorry I'm going to brass a lot of people off in the course of this but hey, it's my opinion and I've just been kidding myself that it doesn't matter. It does. This is my last article for some time on the subject I hope. I need a break from the overload and yes, I have written quite a lot on it leading up to the premiere but enough is enough. For the sake of Scotty, let's call time; final round.

startrek.com
So why do I feel like this on the 24th May 2013 when the movie has only been out in the UK since 9th May 2013? The simple answer is because I do but in the bigger picture there are a whole battalion of reasons why I've actually got bored of the latest Star Trek installment. I don't think it's awful or that JJ has destroyed Star Trek forever. I do have opinions on that and briefly I don't think he has - in a lot of respects he's updated it and made it more accessible for Generation Y and the Millennials because of how they view and digest media. For example the media campaign, the viral site and the app are prime examples of a job well done. They caught us and held us right through the build-up, enticing us with little extras, pictures, clips, sounds and prizes...should we have realised at that point that the whole was not going to be as good as the sum of the parts? Were our own expectations as a community so high that whatever JJ and his crew managed to pull out of the bag, Khan or not, would never have satisfied the carnal sci-fi hunger of every Star Trek fan alive?!

What bugs me to tears is the constant battering and microscopic breaking down of every single facet of the movie beyond anything I've seen before and I've seen Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In fact because the internet was awash with them, I purposely avoided writing movie review here on Some Kind of Star Trek because I felt I was drowning in them 24/7. Instead we looked at the novelisation and the differences it highlighted in contrast to the movie itself as well as a more numerical take on the film at the box office. We wanted to avoid being samey and do something different; that's what we do -  that's what we encourage from bloggers who want to write here.  
startrek.com

Every Talosian and his ceti eel is kicking off about That Carol Marcus Scene and it's even been admitted by Damon Lindelof that it was gratuitous - purely to get the viewers and because they just wanted it there.  In fact I commented that it looked like a fan-boy pleaser way back when it first cropped up in the trailers (and subsequently every Into Darkness internet search).  Oh and now to counter all the criticism there's the Benedict Cumberbatch shower scene. Perhaps they doth protest too much? Is this actually a sign that Lindelof has made a bit of a mistake and now there's some furious backpedaling taking place? Seems to be the case from my perspective. In reference to the "original"  scene here - good grief; we get it and it's illuminated the internet like a nuclear explosion that will surely help increase the "meagre" takings Into Darkness has seen at the worldwide box office as might the new "deleted scene" that JJ is flaunting around the press in some vain attempt to show equality and that it wasn't meant to be as gratuitous as his writer has made perfectly clear. Two words: damage limitation. However...

That's also good and clever marketing whether you like it or not. There's no such thing as bad publicity and creating the furore over the Marcus scene has certainly brought the movie to the fore and it's portrayal of characters in the Star Trek universe right to the peak.. The portrayal of said female characters is particularly poor - Uhura and Carol are badly used, Kirk sleeps with two and Harewood's wife says not a word. The female navigator who replaces Chekhov gets a better part. Ultimately, the more we rant about it, the more people will want to see what we're all talking about and those box office coiffures will steadily expand. 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the trailers and the hype all along the way. It was a really well orchestrated ride and the film is, well, average to say the most. There are a lot of massively negative and polar opposite scarily over the top reactions out there which just defy me as to how we can rant and rave at such diametric opposites with so much fury. Ladies, gents; it's a movie and one person's interpretation of someone else's idea. That's the be all and end all of it. I get the point of reviews but it just seems that we're going beyond the pail now even as hard-core fans. I enjoyed it but I've managed to remain in control of my emotions and my bladder when asked for an opinion and refrained from multiple exclamation marks at the end of sentences!!!

http://www.scottchambliss.com
OK, maybe just the once I haven't but there's more to Star Trek than two reboot movies from JJ Abrams. I'm at a loss as to why you would even want to go and see it multiple times (there's  guy on Twitter I saw who was thinking about going for a sixth time - DVD/blu-ray???) unless you just want to help make the movie get a few more bucks and not be the "disappointment" some have labelled it. Surely we should be happy that Abrams created two new slices of Star Trek even if they aren't necessarily everyone's cup of tea because it's got everyone jabbering on about it. Saying the acting is amazing or waxing lyrical that it's just the best cinematic experience ever seems like the recipe for a stomach empty of astronomic proportions that we don't need to hear. Sorry - just an opinion however in comparison to previous outings this has gone to another level. Maybe the overwhelming influence of social media (including this blog) and including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, websites, Pinterest, publishers, writers, etc etc have more than aided in the frenzy to get a word in edge-ways on the subject. I know for one that  I've mentioned about the borrowed dialogue from The Wrath of Khan as well as other bits that didn't satisfy me, bits that I liked, things that niggled but perhaps the Star Trek community should just come together and decide that as of June 1st 2013 we'll stop bitching about the damn film and move on. Let's go back to complaining about viral videos of Riker sitting down, if DS9 or Voyager was better or whether THAT Picard meme is really, really, really annoying. Right. Let's make it official, who's with me in making June 1st 2013 International Star Trek Out of Darkness Day. No bitching, grumping, hair-pulling, over-enthusiasm, glorifying or in fact any emotional reaction to the movie at all. Let's keep it decidedly Vulcan...Or not....

Some of the magazine and news slots have been pretty awful and inconsistent with terrible editorial errors (Heat magazine referencing John Anderson is one of my favourites (right)) that show a total lack of understanding and a desire to jump on the boat whether right or wrong - check your stuff first if you're in the limelight might be a word of wisdom! While you might want to pass a verdict, seeing the movie helps if you're going to write something about it in the first place.

Over-analysing Star Trek Into Darkness is just killing anything that was good/bearable about the whole experience. I can get the themes, the characters are fine, the effects are good but we're dissecting it way more than it needs to be as a global community. Let me say it again; it's a film. I would try and avoid all these posts, tweets and the like, but everyone has a fierce opinion which you can't get away from but let's just start taking deep breaths and calm the **** down. We have effectively become part of that very marketing campaign through our maelstrom of views and comments right across the world. JJ Abrams, Bad Robot and Paramount couldn't have wanted a better, free medium to give opinion because they can sit back, relax and take it all in without spending a penny/dime/centime. Cha-ching, that's the sound of success right there. What we're missing is the notion that the "rebooting" of the Star Trek universe is confined to two blockbuster movies in 2009 and 2013 but encompasses the whole franchise history at the same time. It has reignited interest in Star Trek both virulently within its existing fanbase and also within new fans who are discovering it through these more action-orientated JJ installments. Whether good or bad, people are interested, news abounds and I would suspect that searches for the topic on Google have gone absolutely mental. 


http://www.scottchambliss.com
It's not a failure the more we discuss it and keep the fires burning. It's incited a fanbase into meltdown but perhaps we need to appreciate it's an action movie for the modern age and not Prime Star Trek. It is what it is and there's nothing we can do about it - although if it manages to raise a new TV series to our screens a la The Avengers with Agents of SHIELD then I doubt we'll be complaining. Ok, we probably will won't we? It'll be all Abrams-ified and that'll cause another storm in a nebula.

Now I applaud people for their opinions whatever they may be, it's what makes the world turn, sells newspapers, governments fall and Star Trek forums the bloody battlegrounds they are, but for the love of Kirk and Picard, how many times can you read a review of the film saying the same thing? Or reviews that just talk about how it's not "like it used to be". Sorry people, it's called Change. Yes, Star Trek Into Darkness has it's faults, yes it has some great moments and lines that will go down in Star Trek lore I'm sure but it'll never be a classic nor is it one of the worst things ever. It's average at best and average at worst. I doubt the Oscars will be heralding it as the next multiple award-winning movie to rival Ben Hur or Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Effects and hair-styling more likely but don't hold your breath.

Dammit, it's even made me write this piece on how I'm fed up with it. What gets me though isn't that I'm annoyed or grumpy with everything surrounding the film. I love the merchandising that's come out, I love the magazines, the books, t-shirts, little starship models, faux Lego Kre-O kits, behind the scenes videos that have been playing, uniforms, the whole shebang and a kitchen sink - it's just how we're dealing with the film and those involved with it that makes me uncomfortable. We don't seem to respect other fans views on the movie for one thing and there just seems no end to the bitterness. Trekkers/Trekkies always get a name for being obsessive, over the top, nerdy etc and we're always trying to prove that we're the opposite - we're cool, we're down with the kids (ok - bit extreme) and definitely not total mummy's boy, living in the box room at age 50 geeks who trawl the internet to pass opinion and comment on the length of Riker's beard. Sadly while the film attempted to be cool and hip and everything we wanted (almost) so that Trek fandom would be respected a bit more, what did we all do....? Yeah...box room, internet, you can fill in the rest. We reverted to type without even a slight prod of a Klingon pain stick.


trekmovie.com
Anyway, back to the point; it's all got too much really. Whether it's psychoanalysis, Carol's underwear (two mentions here alone), deep-meaningful's over the plot themes, Chekhov's accent, Uhura and Spock's relationship or disgust at the size of the Vengeance nacelles, we've got to rein it in. There's more to Star Trek than one 133 minute movie and maybe, just maybe some "interpretation" of Gene Roddenberry's 1960's vision will do just that. Love it or hate it, the rebooted universe is here and we can't erase them from history (we can of course personally recognise or deny them entrance to canon) and would we deny someone the right to be a fan of Star Trek if this is what gets them involved to being with? I suspect not. In all that's good in Threshold there's worse stuff that's considered canon and even more dire material that's in the non-canon universe of novelisations. We're reading too much into these two segments. Seriously. We are.

I also would like to add an apology. I'm sorry if this has seemed like a blog rant but I needed to expunge these feelings from my mind before I got jaded by the whole experience. it's been a little unnerving at times and there's still something about the whole Into Darkness bubble that just makes me uneasy - perhaps it is the sense that it's action movie of the season rather than a proper Star Trek experience. Maybe it's just because we seemed to be promised so much more - the options are numerous, the whole less than the parts perhaps but still an acceptable movie. I only saw it once, in 3D and that was enough. Is that telling me something about how I saw the movie? Am I wrong to not want to go back and experience it again and again in such a short period of time? For now I'm happy to have seen it, read the novel, got the great Michael Giachinno soundtrack (lot of snippets on there from the 2009 movie as well as new pieces) and can wait for the blu-ray. It won't change my life and nor will I be willing Abrams pain and death for his take on Star Trek. But does this mean I'm not a true fan? That I don't care enough? Can I expect to be lynched from my bed in the early hours and forced to watch Into Darkness over and over again until I submit? 


The answer is no. The reason is, and you'll get there before I do, it's just a movie. I do love Star Trek and I would miss it if I didn't have a regular fix, read a book, write about it and get my other half reminding me that "I'm too obsessed" (she has a point and that's one reason why I love her - she grounds me back in reality) but if I really settle down and act like a normal person, it doesn't matter. I find it hilarious sometimes when people find out I'm a fan - they don't think I look like a Trekker. Appearances huh, don't be fooled!

Now to prove a point and take some of my own medicine to calm the **** down I'm off to watch Spock's Brain, Shades of Grey and Star Trek: Nemesis back to back....now stop sniggering at the back - go and wait for Star Wars Episode VII, then we'll see....

Additional images screenshot by SKoST unless stated