willow_red: (Stars)
[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.
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May 2013

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