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[personal profile] willow_red

Wow, where do I even begin?

Even while attempting to avoid spoilers, I was pretty sure that this movie was going to be about Khan. So in preparation, I watched the TOS episode "Space Seed" which I had never seen before. (I started watching TOS from the beginning a few years ago when it showed up on YouTube, but didn't get very far before they pulled it, and Netflix is full of shiny things, so I hadn't yet resumed my rewatch.) Then I watched Wrath of Khan, which I hadn't seen since college. I figured I was really setting myself up for disappointment, same as how you read a book right before going to see the movie, and none of it looks how you imagined. Well, in hindsight, I'm so very glad I did, because it's pretty obvious that JJ Abrams did that (likely several times) while putting this movie together. There are so many details I would have missed if I hadn't seen both within the same week.

There are so many things I want to say about this movie. I really wish I could sit down with another hardcore Trekkie for about four hours to dissect it all. (Hey, [livejournal.com profile] cgbspender, what are you up to these days? ;)

The biggest thing for me is that this was Star Trek. I know that sounds stupid to say, but what I mean is that it was true to the purpose of Star Trek: take a modern, controversial social issue, stretch a thin veneer of sci-fi over the surface, and use this to set the stage for what my father used to call a morality play. And this is exactly what it did. There is much to be said about this, but I don't want to get political, and there's plenty more to say without doing so.

The second biggest thing was the callbacks to Wrath of Khan. And holy cow, were there a ton of them! From the blatant audience troll in the opening ("the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one") where they came very close to killing off Spock (but if you kill him in a volcano, he's much more likely to stay dead), to the appearance of Carol Marcus (I knew who it was even when they were calling her Carol Wallace), to the interesting reversal of Kirk's and Spock's roles from one movie to the other. I mean, you can't have a Khan movie without someone shouting the obligatory, "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!" By exchanging the roles of Kirk (walking testosterone molecule) and Spock (rule-quoting logic incarnate, or at least tries to be), it reveals the character traits they bring out in each other as their friendship evolves. Through this exchange, Spock gives in to his emotional side (perhaps more than he should), and Kirk begins to internalize that his first duty is to the ship.

Along those same lines, a B storyline of Wrath of Khan is about Kirk aging. The movie starts on his birthday, and Kirk is gearing up for a full-blown mid-life crisis. Over the course of the movie, this comes up several times, until at the end, after Spock's funeral, when Kirk realizes that he isn't all that old, and that there are still so many things to live for. Into Darkness can't do that, because Kirk and the rest of the crew are way too young for such thoughts. Instead, this theme is turned on its head and becomes the opposite, but similar: Kirk's immaturity and need to grow up. The young Captain Kirk confuses good luck with good command, and considers rules and regulations to be speed bumps at most. His morality is somewhere between cowboy and street urchin, and WTH did Pike say to keep his ass from getting court-martialed for breaking the Prime Directive? Demotion? Please, Kirk got off with a slap on the wrist, and Spock's the only one who recognizes that. Early in the movie, Kirk is cocky about getting the five-year mission, even though he doesn't deserve it. I think the Kirk who finally receives this mission at the end of the movie has realized this fact, but is hoping to earn it over the months and years to come.

Another B storyline in Wrath of Khan is the Kobayashi-Maru. We saw in the first reboot movie how Kirk hacked the test in order to pass. Wrath of Khan, however, points out that the purpose of the test is not to find a solution through intelligence, creativity, or any other quality that makes up a good command officer, but rather to confront the fact that there isn't always a right answer, and someday you might die because of it. Admiral Kirk is finally forced to confront a real-life Kobayashi-Maru test in Wrath of Khan. Captain Kirk does the same thing in Into Darkness. While no one ever mentions the test explicitly, Kirk is confronted with one great, big, complicated no-win scenario that requires the ultimate sacrifice. The only choice that remains is between dying with the entire crew of his ship, or giving his own life in the hope of saving most of theirs. Either way, Kirk knows that he will die. I submit that this shows his growth as a character and is the way to justify his assignment of the five-year mission.

I want to say a ton of other things about how each character got their chance to grow as well, the use of emotion with Spock, the Leonard Nimoy cameo (!), the mention of Christine Chapel going to become a nurse (who? ;), precisely what injury Carol Marcus got when Khan stomped on her (my guess is that she's infertile now, but it's just an idea), the appearance of the Klingons (still prefer the TNG makeup), Kirk and the Redshirts (aside: I'm currently listening to the Redshirts audiobook, written by John Scalzi and read by Wil Wheaton), the meaning of Section 31 and its involvement with Khan, and about twenty other freaking things, but I really need to go get dinner now, and I know I probably won't get back to this. Still, if anyone wants to discuss, I'd really love to have someone to talk to about this stuff.


Also, I'd like to do another Star Trek: Abridged if I have time and can get the scene order remotely clear in my head. I don't want to have to wait until it's out on video.

Date: 2013-05-29 06:00 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Heya~ I've been up to the same old, same old... but, I'm here to talk Trek!

I admit that this was a really, really good film. It definitely surpassed my expectations for which I gave it an A-; a whole letter grade above the first one and it's b/c you were spot on with your description of the movie. It is Trek. Trek has always been about using sci-fi as the medium to explore social and political issues and the 'human condition' under the guise of spaceships and aliens.

Those special torpedoes and Spock's point about executing a Federation citizen w/o trial has a direct tie to what we're doing with drones and American citizens engaged in terrorist activities abroad. And, of course, it also looks at the themes you mentioned, too, about Kirk and the examination of mortality through a different lens than the original and how this Kirk views the world around him.

I'm not entirely sure I have more to add to this discussion other than what you've already mentioned >.<

On a personal note, I did not see Khan coming and it was a thrill, though, looking back, as you said, there were *tons* of hints. I did a Star Trek Into Hindsightedness after I came out of the theater and took inventory of the hints I did see (though I didn't tie it to Khan until a minute before the reveal) and ones I recognized in hindsight and they were:

The scene in which Harrison/Khan uses his genetic material/blood that cures the Starfleet/Federation worker's daughter (this one was a hindsight thing for me and I don't recall if we actually see if it comes from Harrison/Khan, but an indicator that HarriKhan is extraordinary edit: turns out I was stuffing my face with pizza for this brief scene).

HarriKhan's vast superiority over the mass of Klingons hinted at him being extraordinary whether it was b/c he was artificial like (a friend I went with) said it could have been, was alien, or genetically enhanced; he was extraordinary in some way. edit: seeing as it was blood you see above, I guess that made it unlikely he was artificial like my friend had suggested.

The sabotage of the Enterprise that caused it to drop out of warp hinted at a larger secret unless we were actually supposed to believe that the timing and the event were just totally random and superfluous to the plot.

The revelation of Carol Marcus made me immediately think Genesis Device (I mislead myself on this one, but it does link it to STII)

The mysterious torpedoes themselves. Their very secretive nature hinted at something possibly illicit. Biogenic weapons or something equally questionable (which turned out to be the augments, of course) edit: to present the moral/ethical dilemma.

Another hindsight one that I went back and looked up was the number of the mysterious torpedoes, 72. That was the actual number of the augments that survived in TOS; 30 female, 42 male. This one would have been a dead giveaway if I could have remembered the original number).


There were tons of obvious examples of how HarriKhan was extraordinary, mostly, in the form of his physical prowess and, combined with the above, there were tons of hints as to his identity. The "Needs of the many..." comment was a blatant one, too, though it worked b/c it was a very Spock thing regardless of when it was said though that worked as a sort of a cover for the statement even as it was a blatant troll/hint.

With all of these, I still can't say enough about how well Abrams did in cleverly and creatively paralleling his second Trek effort with the second movie in the franchise. It really was well done with its tie to modern issues (though this was a little predictable for me and I even mentioned it in my lj entry b/c I felt that, while relevant, currently, it was a bit of a low hanging fruit as a topic b/c there are tons of shows that cover it), the examination of its two main characters and their development through this storyline, and all the nice trappings of visual effects and action.

There's tons of others stuff to chat about, but I must be going for now...


-J

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May 2013

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