Imagination Connoisseur, Darren Seeley, doesn’t strike us as a fan of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (ST:ID) or Bad Robot’s Kelven-verse. Or JJ Abrams, for that matter. But don’t just take our word for it …
For the Kelvin-verse overall, I have a mixed reaction.
I liked the 2009 STAR TREK (ST:09) just enough, but it was mostly due to the actors and the humor. I thought Karl Urban especially kicked it out of the park as McCoy. But there were small things that bothered me, such as the weak motivations of the villain, Nero, emo Spock and the whole Kobayashi Maru bit.; the easter egg callouts from both Trek and Abrams lore; and, of course, the atrocious joke with Chekov’s accent.
It ticked me off a bit when people on film forums and fan circles informed me “I had to read the comic” or I had to read the “viral” information to understand the plot holes and backstories.
Thank god I didn’t have to play a video game.
I avoid most viral marketing. I don’t want to know what’s going on through other media. I want to know what’s going on in the movie. I don’t want major plot points spoiled in viral media either, and I don’t care about Easter egg shout outs to fans, because then inside jokes somehow become canon. No. Canon is the films themselves, and what we see on screen.
I’m not a huge JJ Abrams fan, I don’t care for his mystery box. I never got into LOST or ALIAS. I did enjoy PERSON OF INTEREST a few years ago, although I think that was more Jonathan Nolan than J.J. Abrams. But for the most part, despite the flaws, I liked his first Star Trek film overall.
I didn’t love it, I liked it. Just enough to get me over the hump. At least it was entertaining. To that, I’ll give some credit. I’m a forgiving person, really. Should I forget? Not always.
I remember when Benedict Cumberbatch was first cast in ST:ID, and there was this big marketing deal around the mystery of his character. Almost everyone guessed the character. It wasn’t much of a challenge.
I thought the casting for Khan was odd, not because Cumberbatch wasn’t a talented actor- he’s a terrific actor – but rather, if the filmmakers had gone to great lengths to cast actors that resemble classic Trek actors like Shatner, Nimoy and Kelly, why doesn’t Cumberbatch look like Ricardo Montalbán? But, again, he’s a good, talented actor.
In any case, the Abrams camp denied the Khan connection, even if they fooled nobody. They said he was a ‘new’ character, John Harrison. Then, I forget who, maybe Entertainment Weekly, let it slip that, yes, he was Khan. Again. To nobody’s surprise.
Then I saw ST:ID.
I wound up hating every minute of it. Every minute, every second. I narrowed it down to four areas:
The near remake of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (ST:TWOK) -especially that Kirk-Spock switch at the end. But there was also a young Carol Marcus – which Alice Eve played okay – but it was an unnecessary character. She was simply added because of the callout to ST:TWOK. (And to show off her assets.)
I also thought maybe Lt. Marla McGivers should have been in the film at least. They should be referencing Space Seed if anything; trying to mirror ST:TWOK made no sense.
If the Easter eggs and shout outs were tolerable in the previous film, they outwore their welcome here. The film literally stopped to point out any past Trek references over and over. (I also found this to be a problem in the recent Star Wars films as well).
I don’t mind Easter eggs, but when they become a distraction, that’s something else. (Side note: when Simon Pegg co-wrote STAR TREK: BEYOND (ST:B) and said it would be ‘less Star Trek-y’ I knew what he meant. Yet all my favorite pundits thought it was cause for alarm. ST:B is the best of all the Kelvin-verse films to date in terms of quality. Sure enough, the Easter egg shout outs were more subdued.)
I didn’t buy the story, the involvement of Section 31.
Finally, I didn’t buy Cumberbatch as Khan. I don’t know what it was at the time, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I did know there was no reason for the John Harrison alias, but they used it it in the first half anyway. At first, I thought it was because I (and most other fans) already knew the twist ahead of time, but the whole backstory didn’t make sense. Sure enough, later on I found out that “it was all explained in a comic book.”
OH MY GOD. YOU HAVE GOT BE KIDDING ORCI.
No, he wasn’t.
A week or so after the film’s release I saw an online review of ST:ID, it was mixed and I forget the name of the site. But that’s not what got my attention.
What did is that they had a still from ST:ID (featuring Cumberbatch as Khan). Perhaps as a desire to be different, or that they didn’t catch it, the still image was flipped. And my reaction was OH MY GOD YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.
A few minutes ago,I said that Cumberbatch didn’t look like Montalbán, not even from Space Seed. That’s because, at least in the flipped image, he had a more passing resemblance to ST:TWOK’s Judson Scott. Then I calmed down,laughed it off. Just co-incidence, a happy accident.
Until I started wondering – and you need to follow me here.
Joachim was Khan’s “number one.” Before being stranded on Ceti Alpha V, Khan and his followers had dark hair. I applied a little theory to ST:ID. I checked some boxes.
If Joachim was awakened instead, nothing much would have changed in the beginning, as Khan’s followers were also genetically enhanced. Also, Joachim could have extra motive for freeing his brothers and sisters -as well as Khan himself. That’s a small but significant tweak.
Having Joachim also provides a character that could be explored a bit more, and it would provide an old, but new antagonist for the Enterprise crew. Joachim could mention Khan, in which Spock could consult with Spock Prime on the potential threat anyway. (I never liked how that went down in the film).
Yes, the more I thought it through, if they had Joachim instead of Khan not much of the plot would alter. Just a bigger problem if “Khan” is freed. You’d still get your Trek trivia fan service and callouts to ST:TWOK (well okay, I would have ditched the Kirk-Spock death switch, but I’m just doing the theory as if it is unchanged).
Could you imagine, my fellow Connoisseurs, if this small yet significant change would have been? I don’t know if ST:ID would be any better, but I do know the whole misfire of attempting to deny Cumberbatch was Khan would have been avoided. We all think he’s Khan…and…surprise! He’s Joachim!
It wouldn’t shock me if this was in an early draft, but I have no evidence to support this. What do you all think?
Live Long and Prosper,
– Darren S.