Saturday, June 1, 2013

It Came From The Cineplex: Star Trek Into Darkness

The perfect visual metaphor for the state of the Star Trek franchise.
I've been a Star Trek fan since I was fourteen years old, and I have the books, DVDs, toys and prop replicas to prove it. So when J.J. Abrams decided to reboot the franchise back in 2009, I was skeptical to say the least. 

I was very pleasantly surprised though by the 2009 Star Trek. Somehow Abrams managed to re-energize a franchise that was crumbling under the weight of nearly fifty years of continuity. The casing was perfect, the special effects amazing and I liked the fresh new feel. It wasn't perfect of course (I could have done without all the time-travel and altered timeline bushwah), but overall I felt it did more right than wrong. I eagerly anticipated more adventures set in this new universe.

Even though I had a generally positive view of the Star Trek film, I did have a few reservations about the inevitable sequel. Way back in 2009 I said this in my review: 
Bring on the sequels! I just have one request to J.J. Abrams-- you've created a new timeline and as a result you have an entirely new universe to explore. Please give us some new stories, and don't recycle any old plots. We don't need Nestor Carbonell or Wilmer Valderrama as Khan, thanks.
Wow. How frighteningly prescient. I totally called the fact that Abrams and Co. would be so creatively bankrupt that they wouldn't be able to think of anything better to do than dredge up Khan in the next movie. Silly me though, for suggesting a couple of more ethnic actors instead of using the whitest thespian possible.

When the first full trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness debuted back in December 2012, Abrams was tight lipped as to the identity of the film's villain, which set off a frenzy of speculation on the internet (a move I'm convinced was carefully planned). Was it Khan? Gary Mitchell? Charlie X? Or someone brand new?

J.J. Abrams being coy. "Khan? Who's Khan? I've never heard of any Khan. Tee hee hee!"
When asked outright if actor Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan, Abrams played coy and refused to answer. Later when the evidence overwhelmingly pointed to Khan, he flat out lied. He denied the villain was Khan and assured the public it was someone new named "John Harrison." 

Abrams' little coy routine did nothing but infuriate me and squash any anticipation I had for the new film. Why couldn't he just answer the goddamned question? It's either Khan or it ain't. Why all this teasing and hinting and denial?

Now that I think about it, Abrams being coy would probably look more like THIS.
Of course in the end it turns out the villain was Khan all along. Abrams and Co. deliberately misled the fans to hide the fact that they were out of ideas.

Abrams himself said back in 2009 that the entire point of rebooting the franchise was to distance themselves from the old Star Trek and allow them to tell brand new tales. So what's the very next thing they do? They recycle the plot from the best of the Trek movies. And they do so quite poorly.

Actually Star Trek Into Darkness is a combination of several of the previous films. It contains elements of The Wrath of Khan, The Search For Spock and even a smattering of The Undiscovered Country. This isn't new Star Trek. This is Star Trek's Greatest Hits. It's the Reader's Digest version of Trek. It's StarTrekMania-- not Star Trek but an incredible simulation.

Worst of all the film cribs elements from these better films and does absolutely nothing with them. It cherry-picks the best parts and assembles them into some kind of Franken-film (that unfortunately doesn't turn on its creator).

Alice Eve (as Dr. Carol Marcus) gets a good look at the script.
Nothing in this film makes any sense. There are mile-wide plot holes, vague motivations and Ed Woodsian science. Star Trek has traditionally been a bit more thought provoking than the rest of its sci-fi brethren. Here though everything's been dumbed down so much it can scarcely be called Trek anymore. I fear we may be witnessing the end of Star Trek as we know it.

SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY! 

The Plot:
Captain Kirk violates the Prime Directive in the stupidest way possible and is called back to Earth and relieved of command. Meanwhile, a terrorist named "John Harrison" who absolutely isn't Khan blows up a building and attacks Starfleet headquarters in an effort to kill Starfleet Admiral Marcus, who absolutely isn't evil. He then beams himself across the galaxy to Kronos. Kirk and his crew follow Harrison to Kronos and capture him.

Then they discover that Harrison is really Khan. Yeah, that Khan. He tells Kirk that despite being a terrorist he's really not a bad guy and is just rebelling against Admiral Marcus, who's gone a little nutty in the head and wants to start a war with the Klingons.

There's lots of explosions, Kirk teams up with Khan, Khan kills Marcus, the Enterprise almost crashes into Earth and Kirk dies saving the ship but gets better after being injected with Khan's magic blood. 

Thoughts:
Did you notice that the building the Thomas Harewood character blows up is called the Kelvin Memorial Archive? The USS Kelvin was the ship on which Kirk's father served, which was destroyed in the previous movie. I guess it was important enough to warrant a memorial.

• Young Spock utters Old Spock's famous line "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

• In the film Admiral Marcus believes the Klingons are a threat and stages an elaborate plan to provoke them into a war so that he can obliterate them with his deadly new starship. If the idea of corrupt government officials manipulating events in order to justify a war sounds suspiciously familiar, there's a reason for that.

Screenwriter Roberto Orci is a known 9/11 conspiracy theorist-- you know, one of those crackpots who thinks the attacks were an inside job to justify the Iraq War. This ham-fisted plot is his attempt at being "relevant."

Kirk and Pike are summoned to a high level meeting at the Daystrom Building, which is a set up for a massacre of the heads of Starfleet. In the Original Series Dr. Richard Daystrom was a computer science genius who invented a self-aware computer (that ultimately ran amok). 

• Section 31, Starfleet's secret black ops department, first popped up on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Kirk promotes Chekov to Scotty's position and tells him to "go put on a red shirt." This is no doubt supposed to be a humorous reference to the infamous "redshirt syndrome" of the Original Series, except that it doesn't make any sense in this context. In the old series the redshirts were always security men who met untimely deaths. Here Chekov is Chief of Engineering, which doesn't place him in any kind of off-ship danger. 

And surely to hell there were one or more Assistant Engineers who could have taken over for Scotty, rather than placing the fresh-faced 18 year old Chekov in charge? 

There's a bridge crewman (credited as Science Officer 0718) who has a completely bald head, strange looking eyes, a mechanical voice and what appears to be a glowing power source on the back of his skull. An ancestor of Lt. Commander Data perhaps? 

 When Kirk and company fly down to Kronos, they use a small, non-Starfleet ship that they confiscated during the "Mudd Incident." In the Original Series, Harry Mudd was a rogue and con man who popped up periodically to plague the crew. I wonder how many people in the audience thought Kirk was talking about actual mud?

• What's with all the costume changes in this film? In practically every scene one or more of the main characters is wearing a different outfit. If I were a little more cynical I'd suspect they were following George Lucas' lead and ordered the rampant clothing changes in order to sell more versions of the action figures, but there are no toys this time around. 

• In The Wrath Of Khan, Carol Marcus was the leader of the Genesis Project and also the mother of Kirk's illegitimate son. In this film the two have never even met until she sneaks onboard the Enterprise. Blame it on the new timeline.

• The Enterprise finally gets seat belts for the bridge crew! No more crewmen flying across the room whenever the ship takes a hit. Too bad though that they appear to be realized through the use of 1960s era stop-motion technology.

There's quite a bit of humor in this film; much of which comes of course from the always excellent Simon Pegg as Scotty. But a surprising amount of the humor came from Spock, of all people. The audience around me roared with laughter virtually every time he opened his mouth. "Oh, that Spock! Because he's a Vulcan he took the phrase 'searching for a needle in a haystack' literally! He's so clueless!" 

Playing Spock for laughs is a slippery and ill-advised slope indeed. It's OK now and then, but you do it too often, as I feel they did here, and you run the very real risk of turning him into a laughing stock.

Pros:
The only bright spot in the whole sorry film are the characters. I enjoyed seeing them all again and their interactions with one another. The cast continues to be top notch and they all do a great job. It's just too bad they didn't have better material to work with.

Cons:
As the film opens the crew of the Enterprise is trying to save a primitive world threatened by an active volcano. To prevent the natives from seeing the ship (and violating the Prime Directive), the Enterprise is hiding under water in a nearby ocean.

Sigh... I can barely summon the strength to type out how monumentally stupid an idea this is. They even say that the natives have barely discovered the wheel, so why not just keep the ship in orbit around the planet, like they did in every other goddamned episode of the TV series and in all the movies? There would have been no danger of them ever seeing the ship if it had been safely parked several thousand miles above their heads. 

The only reason they did this is so they could have the allegedly kewl scene of the Enterprise rising up out of the water, and so Kirk could risk exposing the ship to the natives. 

And I'm no scientist, but could the Enterprise even survive under water? Yes, it can withstand the extremes of outer space, but there's no pressure in a vacuum. Under water there are enormous pressures that could seemingly crush the hull of a ship. 

Then there's a dilemma caused when Spock's inside the volcano but they can't rescue him because the natives will see the gigantic ship rising out of the ocean. Well how the hell did they get it IN the water in the first place then? Did they quietly slip a massive starship into the ocean while the natives were all asleep or out of town? Did anyone at any time ever read through this script before they started filming?

How about this for a somewhat less ridiculous sequence: Dialog indicates that the planet has a powerful magnetic field that disrupts the transporter. The ship needs to be close enough for the transporter to "see" Spock in order to beam him aboard. So why not just have the ship, orbiting above the planet like it always has, dramatically drop down into the atmosphere in order to scoop him up? That way the natives could still catch a glimpse of the ship and begin worshiping it, Spock could still be saved, Kirk could still get into trouble for violating the Prime Directive and the audience wouldn't injure themselves after forcefully facepalming themselves.

Sulu and Uhura are in a shuttle, lowering Spock into the active volcano so that he can use a cold fusion device to render it inert. Several things here. At one point the terrific heat above the volcano causes the shuttle to malfunction and Sulu aborts the mission and flies off. So a shuttle can withstand the heat of atmospheric reentry, but not the heat several hundred feet above a volcano? Got it. 

Additionally Spock wears a suit that protects him from the unimaginably intense heat inside the volcano. So they can build a suit that can withstand thousands of degrees of heat, but can't coat the shuttles with the same protective material. Got that too.

Then Spock detonates the cold fusion device, which actually freezes the volcanic eruptions. Dear god, do you suppose Abrams and Co. actually think cold fusion is something that freezes things? I need to go lie down. I'm getting one of my sick headaches.

• After this incident, Spock files a damning report stating Kirk violated the Prime Directive by saving the volcano planet and the natives from destruction. If Spock felt so strongly about this then why did he allow himself to be lowered into the belly of an active volcano in the first place? The Prime Directive states they should have just let nature take its course and watched the natives die. Shouldn't Spock have filed a complaint then and refused to participate, or resigned his commission in protest, or at the very least ran away and sulked in his room?

In the first film we watched Kirk transform from a cocky slacker in the beginning to a full-fledged starship captain by the end. Well, surprise! We get to watch the exact same story arc again! Captain Pike demotes Kirk for violating the Prime Directive, telling him his recklessness is going to get himself and his crew killed some day. We then get to watch Kirk learn and grow all over again. I can't wait to see the same storyline play out in Part III.

• After attacking Starfleet Headquarters on Earth, terrorist John Harrison eludes capture by beaming himself from Earth to Kronos, the Klingon Homeworld (!). How in the name of Landru that could even begin to be possible, I have no idea.


In the Original Series the transporter had a limited range, which is as it should be. After all, you don't want to be beaming your molecules too awfully far or who knows what'll happen when you're reassembled. Then in the previous film Scotty tells Kirk he's come up with a way to beam onto a starship traveling at warp speed. Ill-advised, but I suppose not completely out of the question. Now in this film Scotty says Starfleet has taken his formula and improved it, so that it's now possible to beam to other planets.

Congratulations, Abrams and Co.! You just eliminated the need for the Enterprise. If you can now easily beam someone across the goddamned galaxy in seconds then there's no reason to spend billions constructing starships. Plus if you want to go to war with the Kiingons, as Admiral Marcus does here, there's no need for an invasion force anymore. Just beam a cluster of armed nuclear bombs to Kronos and watch the fireworks safely from Earth.

Kirk, Spock and Uhura fly a small ship to the surface of Kronos to capture Harrison. Several things to note here. We see a panoramic view of Kronos with what appears to be its shattered moon Praxis nearby. Praxis exploded way back in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, but here it appears it's been destroyed several decades early. For a film that wants to distance itself from the original version, it's doing everything it can to remind us of it.

We're told that Harrisons's supposed to be hiding in an "uninhabited province." For a place that's uninhabited, it looks pretty darned industrialized to me. The whole place is nothing but hundreds of square miles of multi-story buildings, artificial chasms and refineries. Was there some kind of industrial accident that made the area uninhabitable?

Then we get a good look at the Klingons. Why do they look nothing like they did in the previous films? Yes, this is a new timeline now, but why would the appearance of Nero's ship and the death of George Kirk in the previous film cause an entire race to change their appearance? One more reason why the new timeline deal was a bad idea and they should have just gone with a clean reboot.

Several times in the first half of the film McCoy seems worried about Kirk's health and wants him to report for a physical. I thought this was some subplot that was going somewhere, but halfway through the film it's suddenly and permanently dropped. So what the heck was that all about?

The engine room of the Enterprise still looks like a goddamned brewery. Which of course is exactly what it is. 

What exactly is Uhura's function in this new timeline? She pops up in practically every scene. Is she the co-captain or something? 

OK, going on the mission to Kronos made sense. She speaks Klingon, so I get why they brought her along there. But why was she on the volcano mission at the beginning of the film? Sulu's there because he's the best pilot they have and they needed him to fly the shuttle on this dangerous mission. Spock's there because he's the Science Office, and knows something about volcanoes. Uhura's there because... I have no idea. She's the Communications Officer, so of course it makes perfect sense to bring her along on a mission to plug up a cranky volcano.

Then near the end of the film, Spock and Khan are punching each other on some kind of flying platform. Chekov says they can't beam them up to the ship because they're moving too fast. Never mind that in the previous film Chekov was able to transport Kirk and Sulu as they were plummeting to their deaths from 10,000 feet, suddenly it can't be done. But for some reason they can beam someone onto the moving platform (once again, did anyone proofread this script before filming?). Uhura volunteers and they beam her down to incapacitate Khan. Uhura. The ship's switchboard operator.

It's great that they're trying to give all the characters some screen time, but it would be nice if they could actually make it make a bit of sense.

• Harrison surrenders and is thrown in the Enteprise's brig. McCoy takes a blood sample from him for reasons that will only become obvious later in the film. Is that standard procedure, to take blood samples from all prisoners?

Then we get the big reveal. While in the brig, Harrison tells Kirk that his real name is... Khan. He even pauses dramatically for a second before saying it. You can tell Abrams wants us all to gasp in amazement at this startling revelation. There's a problem with this though.

In The Wrath Of Khan, Khan's identity was a big deal. He'd appeared on the Original Series where he darned near beat Kirk. The two had a history together, so when Khan returned in the movie, it meant something. He was an old enemy back for more. The reveal had weight and substance.

Here it means absolutely nothing. This new timeline is all of about three hours old at this point. The audience shouldn't have any knowledge about the previous timeline. In this new universe Kirk and Khan have never met. We have no idea who Khan is, but the script acts like we should. It's banking on that prior knowledge of the old timeline, which in my opinion is a cheat. When Khan reveals his true name, instead of gasping in shock we should all be saying, "Who the hell's Khan? Is that a person? Am I supposed to know who that is?"

Khan then proceeds to infodump his backstory in the most offhand way possible. In the space of about thirty seconds he says that he's a genetically enhanced human who was a tyrant during Earth's Eugenics Wars in the 1990s. He and his followers were captured and shot into space in a cryo-ship. Admiral Marcus found the ship 300 years later, thawed out Khan and decided to use his "savagery" to help him design weapons and ships for the coming war with the Klingons.

Jesus wept.

So Khan's entire history-- that we saw in the Original Series episode Space Seed and in The Wrath Of Khan, is condensed and distilled to the point where it's practically not worth mentioning. Who cares what he did or where he came from, he's Khan! He's the bad guy! That's all the screenwriters think we need to know.

By treating his backstory in such a cavalier manner Abrams absolutely wastes one of the best villains in the entire Trek universe! They could have used literally anyone as the villain and it wouldn't have affected the plot one bit.

To add insult to injury, Khan's not even the real villain here. The true bad guy is Admiral Marcus. He's the one who built the gigantic new warship and wants to start a war with the Klingons. He's the one in the shadows pulling all the strings. Khan's been demoted to henchman or puppet. 

In fact if they'd have dropped all the Khan stuff and just gone with the plot about a rogue Starfleet admiral who goes berserk, they'd have had a fairly decent film.

• This film takes place in 2259. If we take Khan at his word that means he was exiled and sent frozen into space in the far off year of 1959. Cause you know, that's back when we were creating all those genetically modified supermen, remember? NASA had barely been founded by then! Even if you don't take Khan's 300 year comment literally, it still places him and his exile in the late 20th Century at the most. I don't recall us having cryogenic technology or sleeper ships in the 1990s.

This is the same problem the Original Series ran into in Space Seed-- there Khan and his followers were exiled in 1996. Abrams didn't even bother to fix this continuity error. Would it have killed them to have said he was from 200 years ago?

• When Marcus realized who he'd thawed out, he decided to use Khan's knowledge and savagery to design weapons and the top secret warship the USS Vengeance. Because who better to design advanced futuristic weaponry than someone from the late 1900s? What in the name of Zeus' Mighty Nose Hair would a man 300 years behind the times know about ANY kind of 23rd Century technology? And how in the bloody hell would he know anything about starship design and how they function? It would be like us asking someone from the 1700s for help to design the space shuttle. 

• In the original timeline Khan is of Indian descent (played by a Mexican actor). But in this new timeline Khan is suddenly the whitest Englishman possible. I guess this is another change to the timeline brought about by Nero's meddling. This one's a doozy though-- somehow Nero's actions retroactively changed a man's race 300 years in the past!

This movie's making me lose the will to live.

• Great confusion surrounds everyone's motivations in this film. Marcus finds and thaws Khan in order to help him. He doesn't thaw out the rest of Khan's crew though. Instead he hides the crew inside some new experimental photon torpedoes. I think. Why does he do this? Because... I don't know.

Meanwhile Khan helps Marcus for a while, but then apparently believes he's killed his crew, so he rebels. He blows up a building and then tries to kill Marcus but is thwarted by Kirk. Khan then beams himself to Kronos for reasons known only to the screenwriter.

I think, but I'm not sure, that Khan goes to Kronos because he believes Starfleet won't follow him there? Then Marcus sends Kirk after Khan and tells him to take the special photon torpedoes that secretly contain Khan's crew and fire them at him, because that would be ironic or poetic justice or some crap. 

Is that it? Did I get it right? I honestly have no idea.

• The mysterious new stealth photon torpedoes that everyone talks about all through the movie not only contain a warhead and a propulsion unit (that may or may not include some kind of warp drive), but each also contains one of Khan's crew inside. Now that's efficient packing!

• Khan gives Kirk a set of coordinates and he sends Scotty out to investigate. The coordinates lead him to a large orbital construction facility near the planet Jupiter. Scotty flies inside the facility and finds that Admiral Marcus is secretly constructing the enormous warship USS Vengeance there.

Apparently Marcus thought no one would ever discover his little operation, because there's absolutely no security on display. Scotty flies right into the facility, in full view of several other shuttles and no one bothers to challenge him or ask what the hell he's doing there.

Later we find out that Scotty somehow even sneaks aboard the ship!

Also, how the hell did Admiral Marcus keep the construction of this massive ship a secret from the rest of Starfleet? The Vengeance is supposed to be twice as big as the Enterprise (even though it looks much bigger on screen). Such a ship wouldn't be cheap. Where'd he get the billions, possibly trillions of dollars or credits or whatever they use in the future to build such a thing? Do they still have taxes in the future? And what about the construction crew? How'd he get them to all keep quiet about it? Did he kill them all after it was completed, like a pharaoh building a pyramid?

During the crisis Spock calls up his pal Old Spock and asks him if he knows anything about Khan. So Is Young Spock gonna call Old Spock every goddamned time there's a problem on the ship to find out how he handled it? If I was Old Spock I'd be blocking his phone number.

Also, rather than go to his quarters and discreetly call him, Young Spock calls Old Spock right there on the main view screen, in full view of the entire puzzled bridge crew. So much for keeping Old Spock's existence a secret, as he promised to do in the previous film!

I was hoping they were going to drop the whole ill-advised altered timeline idea, but it doesn't look like it. We get it, JJ. You're pals with Leonard Nimoy. We're all quite impressed. I still say they'd have been better off just making a clean start and forgetting about everything that happened before. I bet there were people in the audience who didn't see the previous film who were wondering what the hell was going on in this scene.

The Enterprise is severely disabled, Kirk is teaming up with a 300 year old tyrant and there's a rogue Starfleet admiral trying to kill the crew. So naturally this is the perfect time for McCoy to start experimenting on a tribble, injecting it with some of Khan's magic blood. Kirk even points out the absurdity of this ham-fisted foreshadowing plot device.

The Enterprise loses all power and begins plunging toward Earth in a replay of the ship destruction scenes from The Search For Spock. Except there it had meaning as we'd been through many adventures with the old girl. Once again here there's no history or meaning to this ship's destruction.

Kirk manages to save the ship by realigning some kind of anti-matter doodad in a radiation filled room, which dooms him to certain death. We then get a virtual word for word replay of the end of The Wrath Of Khan. But in an oh-so-clever twist by Abrams and Co., the Kirk and Spock roles are reversed.

At the end of the scene, Kirk dies and this time it's Spock who shouts the famous line, "Khaaaaaaan!" Which isn't even in the same place as it was uttered in The Wrath Of Khan.

I rolled my eyes so hard during this sequence that I think I may have permanently damaged them.

This scene is no doubt meant to be moving and tragic, but generates about as much emotion as does burning the toast at breakfast. When Spock died at the end of The Wrath Of Khan, it was tragic. We'd watched Kirk and Spock in various adventures for over fifteen years at that point. They were friends as well as comrades. His death was poignant and meaningful. It had weight.

Here, we've known this version of Kirk and Spock for under four hours. They're not lifelong friends here, they're casual acquaintances at best. This Kirk's death doesn't have nearly the gravitas.

Also, why does Spock look to the heavens and shout out Khan's name? Wouldn't it be more accurate if he yelled "Marcuuuuuuuus!" After all, Admiral Marcus is the real mastermind behind the whole sorry affair.

Spock beams the torpedoes (minus their super-human cargo) onto the Vengeance and remotely detonates them. You'd think 72 powerful torpedoes exploding inside your ship would be enough to obliterate it, but I guess not.

The Vengeance-- containing Khan-- then plunges through the atmosphere and crash lands into San Francisco Bay, sending up a huge wall of water. Again with the spaceships in the water! What is this strange fetish Abrams has with submerging spaceships?

The massive ship then skips like a rock on a lake, heading for downtown San Francisco where it obliterates dozens of skyscrapers and no doubt kills hundreds, maybe even thousands of innocent civilians. But hey, that doesn't matter! Those people weren't important anyhow. All that matters is that Captain Kirk's OK at the end! The untold damage wreaked by the Vengeance is swept under the rug and never mentioned again.

McCoy discovers that Khan's blood brought his dead tribble back to to life and reasons (rather unscientifically) that it could cure Kirk's deadness as well. He tells Spock, who's chasing down Khan in a most illogical fit of revenge, to not kill him because he needs some of his magic blood to bring Kirk back to life.

This has been pointed out by virtually everyone who's seen the film, but... McCoy is sitting on 72 other genetically engineered supermen at this point. He could try using the blood from any one of them. So why does he specifically need Khan's? Other than because the script says so?

McCoy tells his assistant to open one of the cryotubes and remove Khan's follower from it so they can put Kirk inside it to preserve his brain functions. McCoy then tells the assistant to keep Khan's follower in stasis so he doesn't wake up.

Wait... if they can keep someone in suspended animation-- which I assume is what "in stasis" means-- then why do they need to dump the guy out of the cyropod? Why not put Kirk in stasis and keep Khan's dangerous follower in the cryopod and not risk thawing him out?

Again, did anyone look over this script before filming?

• Why does Khan even have magic healing blood in the first place? The Khan from the Original Series didn't. The only reason for the change is so Abrams could kill Kirk for the sheer shock value and then immediately bring him back to life. 

Two things wrong here. First, as I mentioned before Spock's death in The Wrath Of Khan had resonance because at the time there was no guarantee that Leonard Nimoy was going to reprise the role. We had no idea if Spock would ever return or not. Here Kirk's body doesn't even have time to grow cold before he's up and disobeying orders again.

Second, Abrams has opened yet another family-sized can of worms here. McCoy synthesizes a serum from Khan's magic blood. A serum which can bring the recently dead back to life. It can even cure disease, as we saw at the beginning of the film. So no human in the future need ever get sick or die again. If they do, just give 'em a shot of magic blood and they'll be right as rain. The future's gonna be one awesome, if crowded, place!

At the end of the film, Kirk is still in command of the Enterprise and is beginning the historic Five Year Mission. Does that sound right? At the beginning of the film, Starfleet Command took the ship away from him for violating orders. Then Admiral Marcus gave it back to him so he could go after Khan. You know, crazy Admiral Marcus, who was trying to provoke a war with the Klingons. Marcus was nuts and only put Kirk back in command to use him. 

So I guess after all the dust had settled, Starfleet Command decided to go along with the insane Admiral Marcus' recommendation? Doubtful. 

So since Abrams apparently has absolutely no original ideas for this franchise and is just recycling old plots, I think I know what's gonna happen in the next film. Spock's half brother is going to come on board the Enterprise and use it to go back in time and bring two whales to the future, because they're the only beings in the galaxy who can stop an all out war with the Klingons. There, I just wrote Star Trek 3.

A lackluster, muddled and dumbed-down pastiche of several much better Star Trek films. You have no idea how much this pains me, but I give it a C-.

I'd rate it even lower if it wasn't for the excellent cast who did the best they could with what they were handed.

One more thought to keep you up at night: Just remember that J.J. Abrams is the person Disney hand-picked to direct the new Star Wars movies. To quote Han Solo: I've got a bad feeling about this.

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