Wrath of Star Trek Into Darkness

May 16, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Star Trek Into Darkness Review


I recently had a debate with my friend John about J.J Abrams’ Star Trek and how it compares to the original series.  The basic setup was simple:  I never saw the original series and therefore, my first exposure to the characters (other than pop culture references) came when the reboot was released in 2009.  John grew up watching The Original Series and was extremely disappointed when they rebooted the universe he adored.

What followed was a 3 part series where we went back and forth discussing the pros and ‘I have the’ cons of Star Trek.

ROUND ONE: One Trek…  One No Trek

ROUND TWO: One Trek…  One No Trek

ROUND THREE: One Trek…  One No Trek

Obviously, I was beyond excited to see Star Trek Into Darkness.  I couldn’t wait to see J.J would take these characters next.  John has repeatedly sworn not to see the sequel until someone loans it to him or it appears On Demand free of charge.

I bought my ticket a week in advance and caught a matinee on opening day.  So how was Star Trek Into Darkness?

I liked Star Trek Into Darkness a lot but I found myself thinking about our friendly debate often as the story progressed.


A few months back, in an effort to better understand TOS, I took it upon myself to finally sit through The Wrath of Kahn.  A movie many would agree is the best Star Trek movie of all time.  I can’t make that claim as I haven’t seen them all but I did enjoy it.  When it was revealed that Benedict Cumberbatch was actually Kahn, I couldn’t help but think about our friendly debate.

John didn’t like the idea of rebooting Captain Kirk and his crew.  He can watch his Star Trek whenever he wants on DVD.  As soon as it was revealed that Kahn was indeed a part of this rebooted universe I smiled and thought:

“John is absolutely going to hate this movie.”

I won’t know for sure until he sees it but even I had to admit it would be strange.  To love a group of characters only to have them reinterpreted would be frustrating to some.  Personally, I’m thankful that I watched Wrath of Kahn first because it was my first chance to truly compare the two universes.  I’m obviously not as attached to the original series so I actually appreciated what J.J Abrams did with Star Trek Into Darkness.

Wrath of Star Trek Into Darkness | Review

Separating the two Kahns was difficult at first.  I kept picturing Ricardo Montalban but Benedict Cumberbatch has created a truly memorable villain here.  He’s ruthless yet sympathetic to a certain degree.  A man driven to do whatever it takes to save his family.  He’s a relentless foe with a booming voice and a worthy adversary for the crew of the Enterprise.

Speaking of which, the rest of the crew evolves accordingly in this film.  Obviously, we are once again thrust into the captain’s seat with Kirk still learning humility as a commanding officer.  By his side, the ever logical Spock who still questions virtually every decision Kirk makes.

It’s a relationship that mirrors the original series but Star Trek Into Darkness also takes liberties that may or may not upset the hardcore fans.  For the most part, I don’t know the difference but I do know I liked it.

I read a little online after I saw the film and many people were upset with the very idea of a new Kahn.  Weren’t people hoping Kahn would be the villain?  It’s strange because I found myself wondering why they didn’t change Kahn more…

There are so many nods to The Wrath of Kahn here including major plot points.  In our debate, I defended J.J Abrams’ rebooted universe because it threw out the rule book.  They used time travel to create a reality where both universes would co-exist.  As evidenced by old Spock’s return to warn new Spock about Kahn.

Why go to such great lengths to create a new Star Trek universe where anything could happen yet still go back to a tale we’ve already seen.  Star Trek Into Darkness is basically bizarro Wrath of Kahn.  There are obviously BIG differences but this movie functions more as a homage.

Still, I liked that they brought back Kahn.  I really liked that they included an impending conflict with the Klingons…  I liked Star Trek Into Darkness.

It was great to see these characters on the big screen again.  Even though I had an idea where the story was going once Kahn revealed himself, there were still plenty of surprises in store.  Not too mention some pretty amazing action sequences.

Star Trek Into Darkness

All in all, this summer is off to a great start with Iron Man 3 leading off and Superman on deck.

As for our debate?  I still believe they have done enough to please new fans like me while respecting fans of the original series.  No matter what you do, you can’t please everyone.  There will always be people who dislike movies like this.  It doesn’t matter what Star Trek universe you call home.  Some movies aren’t for everyone.

This movie was for me.  Perhaps my friend John will see it someday and enjoy seeing a new vision of Kahn on the big screen.  (He probably won’t.)

Overall, I thought Star Trek Into Darkness was a fantastic sequel that doesn’t quite live up to ‘the original’.  Multiply that by about a million and that’s probably how John felt about the 2009 reboot.

I get it now.

Click here for more reviews.

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ROUND THREE: One Trek, One No Trek

May 12, 2013 at 5:06 am

One Trek... One No Trek | Original Star Trek vs New Star Trek J.J Abrams Star Trek Into Darkness






The Setup:

JAY: A fan of J.J Abrams’ Star Trek Universe with little knowledge of the original series.

JOHN: Not a fan of J.J Abrams’ Star Trek Universe but a huge fan of the original series.


Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3

(JAY) The sequel is not far away and you say it’ll get your money but as a sci fi fan and not a Star Trek fan. It makes me wonder what it would take for Star Trek Into Darkness to convince you that it is a tale worthy of it’s name.

I think it’s going to be spectacular because of the approach they’ve taken with the villain. After years of ‘Kahn’ speculation, it appears as though Benedict Cumberbatch is playing an original character. I’m hoping he is an original character. I’m sure you are as well. Why recycle legends like Kahn?  Let’s see something new.

Having said that, I think ‘John Harrison’ will have a lot in common with Kahn. He’s a powerful being who appears to have serious business with the federation and Earth. It’s almost a given that things will get personal with Kirk but I think it will be a classic battle of strategic minds.  They’ve even cast Alice Eve as Dr. Carol Marcus…

Much has been written about John Harrison’s back story. (note: need to find link for this) He’s fighting for a very real and very relatable cause. We’ll have to wait to find out what that cause is but I couldn’t be more encouraged.

Beyond the villain, I’m also excited to spend time with the crew of the Enterprise without the need to establish them. A part of me believes you didn’t respond to the first because they spent a lot of time setting up relationships you already knew inside and out. For me it was new but I can see how it can be frustrating for a long time fan. Especially when you factor in the time travel element they used to ‘reset’ the universe.

Now, the Enterprise has it’s captain and the adventure can begin right away. I hope they deliver more space battles. More strategy. More science fiction concepts. Essentially… More Star Trek. (And more lens flares.)

If Star Trek Into Darkness features more of the crew doing what they do best and a formidable foe, would that be enough?

What did you think of the trailers?  Encouraged?  Discouraged?

COUNTDOWN | Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Trailer #1

COUNTDOWN | Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer

Personally, I think the sequel will surpass the original. They worked so hard to create a new universe of sorts where they have the freedom to do whatever they want with the franchise. They’ve got a blank check. I think it’s fascinating to consider the options they had available to them.

Opening credits. Star Trek.

However, I have to admit I’m not fully versed in what that entails. I know it’s going to be more Star Trek as I know it but will they be able to include enough to please fans of old?  As we reach the end of this debate I’m more convinced that I really don’t know the subtleties that makes Star Trek work.  But I know I’m a fan of this new crew.

Maybe I’m looking forward to the same movie you are. I’m just a lot more excited to see it because I love the new versions of the characters.

As this is technically the final round, I propose we revisit this debate after we both see the sequel. A fourth round.  We can find out if they succeeded in winning you back.

Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3

(JOHN) With the new movie closely approaching, I’m rather impressed how the identity of the villain is still a mystery. If they do decide to go the original route, I’d definitely find that a welcome decision, as recreating a previous villain will naturally force me to draw comparisons and stay loyal to the original. That’s just how I roll.

Having still not seen the original series minus The Wrath of Khan, I still find it hard how one can make comparisons to the new characters if they didn’t even really get to know the original ones. In essence, there isn’t really much there to base a comparison due to lack of reference. How do you know you “love” these new characters better than the original ones if you haven’t really seen them?


Pretty much any recreation of anything that already appeared in The Original Series is going to discourage me. You touched on more space battles, and I will admit that is the ONE thing I am curious about and interested in seeing. It may just be the ship, an inanimate object, but the Enterprise is definitely part of the “cast” of the series and is a character in itself. Even though they made some of their own modifications to the design of the ship, that is the one thing in the new films that I can mildly accept the aesthetic changes to as it still closely resembles the original, more than anything else they have tried to re-create. That quick shot of the Enterprise diving into what looks like water sparked my attention. The ship is something that is timeless, and whether you’re seeing it in The Motion Picture from 1979, or in the upcoming Darkness, it still holds true for me. I can imagine MY crew on the newer ship, and deal with it.

As I stated before, I’ll probably go see the movie when it comes out. But I’ll be there to basically check out the effects and watch someone else mess with “my” universe.

One Trek... One No Trek...

Larger Than Life Movie Villains Revealed!

May 9, 2013 at 8:19 am

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!


If I may quote Mission Impossible 2:

“Every search for a hero must begin with something which every hero requires…  A villain.”

We all love great villains.  They are the reason our heroes are called to action in the first place.  Throughout history we have been blessed with iconic and unforgettable villains.  The Wicked Witch of the West, Hannibal Lector, Darth Vader, Auric Goldfinger, Nurse Ratched, The Joker, Norman Bates, Freddy Krueger, Verbal Kint, Biff Tannen, Bill the Butcher, Doc Ock, Tommy DeVito, Alex DeLarge…

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

Dramas, horror, thrillers, comedies…  Every genre has it’s classics but no group faces more scrutiny that the Summer Blockbusters.  Big franchises, sequels and the unstoppable force known as the comic book movie.

It’s the first question we all ask when a giant blockbuster is announced.  Whether it’s a new franchise or a sequel we all want to know who our favorite heroes will fight next.  How will these villains look?  Sound?  Move?

Fans crave every detail leading up to the movies they cannot wait to see.  I remember staring at this image wondering what Christopher Nolan’s Joker would be like.

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

The Joker was brilliantly realized by Nolan and wonderfully portrayed by the late Heath Ledger.  However, by the time the movie arrived, we had several trailers, clips and more that took away at least a little of the mystery. Is that a bad thing?  I don’t think so.  We live in a different time.  I suppose the question is…

Can you keep a big villain secret?  Should you?

I wonder how much scrutiny Darth Vader would face if Star Wars was released today.  A world where studios preemptively release images from sets in order to beat the spies to the punch.  Every time a movie shoots an exterior scene, images shot on cell phones pop up online.  We live in an age of social media.  An era where promotion is 24/7 and fans are closer than ever to the development process.

Now, I don’t want to sound like a spoiled brat.  Here I am, discussing my relentless craving for new villain reveals while complaining that we know too much before they are unleashed.  I just appreciate the evolution of the villain reveal.

We may have 4 or 5 trailers for each big blockbuster these days but I could choose to avoid them.  I just don’t.  I simply cannot resist pressing play and envisioning the adventures that await on the silver screen.

There are filmmakers out there who work tirelessly to keep their big projects a secret.  J.J Abrams immediately comes to mind.  When he and his team produced Cloverfield, it nearly broke the internet when they unveiled the mysterious trailer.  What the hell did the Cloverfield monster look like?

Cloverfield awesome monster movie

Personally, it drove me nuts for months.  The director repeated this tactic when he created Super 8. It’s a proven way to generate interest in a film.   Super 8 was actually my favorite movie of 2011.

He’s doing it again with Star Trek Into Darkness.  Who is John Harrison?  Is it really Kahn?  The answers are coming.

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

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Honestly, I can’t decide which side I’m on.

Do I prefer the shroud of secrecy and the anticipation it ignites?  Or do I want a constant stream of updates and risk burning out before the lights dim?


In the last few weeks, we were treated to new trailers that revealed Superman’s enemy Zod and Thor’s next challenge Malekith.  Both look incredible.

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We were also given a glimpse of Jamie Foxx as Electro in next summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2:

Movie Hype: Larger Than Life Villains Revealed!

Would you rather wait to see the villain?

I’m not sure if you can argue one way or another which approach is better.  Secrecy is frustrating but could ramp up the hype to impossible heights.  On the other hand, transparency invites discussion online and the promotion never stops.  There are pros and cons to both.  Sometimes too much secrecy can be seen as a weakness or a lack of faith in the studio.  Sometimes, a villain is revealed and hardcore fans tear it apart in vicious blog posts, tweets and parodies.

Yet sometimes, magic can be captured in the imagination of a film fan’s curiosity.  The same blogs and tweets can also be overwhelmingly positive.  Take Electro for example.  I think he’s going to look awesome on the big screen.  I can’t wait to see what he looks like with added effects.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how or when a villain is revealed.  Whether it’s a year out or opening night, the only thing that really matters is…  The story.

The next generation of heroes and villains are coming.  Which ones will claim their place amongst the greatest of all time?  That’s a search that will never end.

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Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer

April 18, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3


So close…  The movie is so close…  To make the wait that much more excruciating, we’ve been treated to another epic Star Trek Into Darkness trailer that doesn’t disappoint.  I can’t wait to see this movie.


The opening of the first film was a fantastic and emotional space battle albeit one sided.  Star Trek Into Darkness has raised the bar and seems poised to deliver some of the best we’ve ever seen.

Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3


If you’ve read this blog consistently, you know I’m a big fan of graphic design and illustration.  (Even though I can’t draw at all.)  Still, can you imagine J.J Abrams asking you to create a futuristic landscape from scratch?  There’s no way that job isn’t fun.

As far as this moment goes, it looks like Star Trek Into Darkness brings the fight to Earth in a big way.

Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3


The first Star Trek gave us Nero and his planet destroying mining vessel.  This shot is more along the lines of Wrath of Kahn.  It’s a one sided stand off that undoubtedly leads to this countdown’s #1 moment.

Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3


Benedict Cumberbatch has an awesome villain voice.  His character, John Harrison, is apparently driven by a very relatable cause so it’ll be interesting to see his plan come to light.

Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3


Captain Kirk realizes he’s made a huge mistake and put the lives of his entire crew at risk.  All three of the trailers have centered on Kirk’s recklessness and this is our first glimpse at the regret he feels.  A great moment.

Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3

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Top 5 Moments: Star Trek Into Darkness Final Trailer #3

ROUND TWO: One Trek, One No Trek

April 18, 2013 at 11:25 pm

One Trek... One No Trek | Original Star Trek vs New Star Trek J.J Abrams Star Trek Into Darkness






The Setup:

JAY: A fan of J.J Abrams’ Star Trek Universe with little knowledge of the original series.

JOHN: Not a fan of J.J Abrams’ Star Trek Universe but a huge fan of the original series.


(JAY) The simple answer to your question is no.  I haven’t seen an episode of the original series.  However, in the spirit of One Trek, One No Trek, I did watch Wrath of Kahn.  I’m happy I did because I recognized a bunch of references from J.J Abrams’ adaptation.  Take the Kobayashi Maru for example.  Kirk cheats and beats the unbeatable test because he doesn’t believe in no win scenarios.

It brings up an interesting point and further confirms that they at least tried to please fans of the original cast.  While I agree that Chris Pine is no Shatner, the spirit of Kirk was alive in him on the screen.  The new Kirk doesn’t believe in no win scenarios either.  In this way, while different, they were still true to the character.  The Kobayashi Maru test was just one of many references they included in the reboot.

Regarding Spider-Man, I couldn’t agree more.  It was a quick reboot but I actually liked Marc Webb’s take Spider-Man’s origin better than Raimi’s.  I’m not saying The Amazing Spider-Man is THE Spider-Man movie (Spider-Man 2 is still my favorite) but I liked it.  Mostly because I love Spider-Man and it was great to see the character on the big screen again.  I suppose the comparison is difficult as so little time passed between the films.  Andrew Garfield had it a lot easier than Chris Pine.  But I’m curious, did they ever do a Kirk & Spock origin story in the series?

I think we both agree that while the new Star Trek was rebooting legendary characters, it was created to bring new fans to the franchise.  Honestly, if they had created all new characters or reused existing cast members, I wouldn’t have been interested.  I wasn’t interested in them before but there was something about that first trailer that hooked me.  Maybe the new Star Trek will be different?  I think that’s why I liked it so much.  It was an opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  At the beginning.  A chance to get to know Captain Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew from scratch.  I just wasn’t interested before.  (Which I admit is tragic as I’m a big science fiction fan.  I’m still baffled that I never watched Star Trek growing up.)

I actually interpreted the ‘new universe’ approach differently than you.  I saw it as their way of preserving the original series while still giving them a clean slate to work from.  When you deal with prequels there is a fundamental lack of suspense.  Take the Star Wars prequels for example.  We all knew Anakin would survive any situation throughout the new trilogy because Darth Vader doesn’t die when he’s a kid.  In Star Trek, they went back to the beginning but there are rules when you are setting a film in an established universe.  Creating an alternate reality means all bets are off.  Every episode of the original series and all the previous movies still happened AND suspense can exist in the universe again.  It could have been a disaster but I actually think Star Trek was one of the better reboots/prequel we’ve seen because it solved that problem.

Beyond that, they were successful in making me want to see the original cast in action.  I thought Wrath of Kahn was a solid movie.  I actually wish there was more ship vs ship action in the new Star Trek as a result.  Kahn vs Kirk was a fascinating battle.  However, I still like the new movie better.  You love the original because they were all you knew.  I feel the same way about the new series.  The alternate universe created in the reboot was my first exposure to the franchise.  J.J Abrams’ Star Trek is my Star Trek.

But I totally get why you’re attached to the original.  Star Trek is a treasured part of your past and brings back fond memories of your youth.  I can’t think of a similar series that I grew up with.  But I would argue that, while it’s frustrating to see new people assume the iconic roles, they did so with you in mind.  But they presented it in a way that would get people like me interested.

I think the filmmaker’s knew they had a 50/50 shot at winning over fans like you.  People who grew up watching the original series.  I think that’s why they sold the movie with the tag line: ‘Not Your Father’s Star Trek.’  It’s a line that speaks to you and I simultaneously.

That was their way of saying ‘Keep an open mind.’  What did your father think of the new Star Trek?

I already discussed how I loved watched Kahn vs Kirk attempt to outwit one another.  The new movie lacked the strategic element.  I think they left that out in favor of a faster paced narrative with frantic action.  That’s more in line with Star Wars than Star Trek.  This is a Star Trek built from the ground up with shorter attention spans in mind.  But that’s the balance I’m sure they struggled with.  I hope they bring that element back in the sequel.

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“Are you a fan of ONE movie that came out, or are you a fan of science fiction? The exploration of ideas, concepts, time and space? Things that make you think? Equality, the human condition, political issues? These are the things Gene Roddenberry was thinking about when he created the series back in 1966. THAT is what the franchise was built upon.”

I think this is a great point.  At the end of the day, the Enterprise is tasked with exploring strange new worlds and there wasn’t a lot of that in the reboot.  But let’s look at it another way.  They’ve rebooted the series now.  The characters are established and the alternate universe is in place.  I think they have to reboot the series with the original characters.  It’s just not as interesting without Kirk & Spock and it gives them an opportunity to introduce the icons to new fans.   The movie was doomed if they focused too much on pleasing new and old fans.  They still had to tell a good story.  Now they don’t have to set anything up moving forward.  The world exists.  Star Trek Into Darkness will be able to build on the foundation they laid down in the reboot.  They have the attention of the new people (me).  Now they have a golden opportunity to incorporate elements that will put smiles on the faces of Trekkers that didn’t like the first film.

Do you think the sequel has a chance to win you over?  Will Star Trek Into Darkness be what Wrath of Kahn was to Star Trek: The Motion Picture?  I’ve got my money on ‘yes’.

It must have been frustrating to watch Kirk & Spock fight but solidifying that friendship and watching Kirk take his seat as captain was a great moment.  A launching pad for exciting things to come for the series.

They have an entire universe at their disposal now.

Going back to the Spider-Man reboot, I was just happy to see the character alive on the big screen again.  Obviously I don’t get the same feeling with the new Star Trek movie as I have no attachment to the original series but you might if the sequel delivers.  They had to reboot Star Trek with the original cast and find a way to co-exist with the original series.  I think they did a brilliant job.  Imagine if they rebooted Spider-Man but used Spider-Man 2099 as the template.  I think hardcore fans may have been excited but general audiences would have been frustrated.  Where is the Spider-Man we knew?  So you take the classic character and all the elements we know and love and then you bring something new to the table.  (Like the story of Peter Parker’s parents in the new film.)  J.J Abrams brought back classic characters and kept their rich histories in tact but brought us something new.  It’s the spirit of adaptation.  You take risks and hope for the best.  But going in a completely new direction would have been a mistake.

What do you think it would take for them to win you over when Star Trek Into Darkness is released? Maybe there will be elements that make you think back to exploring new worlds with Shatner and Co?  You might just be happy to see something new.  You might just be happy to see these characters on the big screen again.

Accept the new Kirk!


“You might just be happy to see these characters on the big screen again.”

Unfortunately, these aren’t the actors I want to see portraying these characters. Add to that, I’ve seen these characters live, (and in some cases die) and have accepted that time moves on and their journey is done. Nothing lasts forever and I’m cool with that. There are so many stories to choose from.  If I ever have a craving to see them on screen again, I’ll just pop in a DVD.

I will say that I think I’m definitely in the minority when it comes to people MY age that puts The Original Series as their favorite Star Trek series. The Next Generation ran while I grew up so one would think that was my automatic favorite series in the franchise, but as we discussed earlier, it’s narrowly edged out by the ORIGINAL Kirk and co. I only bring this up again because that may be part of the reason why the reboot didn’t work with me. A lot of other fans I know our age, yourself included, very much enjoyed the new “Star Trek” because they didn’t have the allegiance to TOS that I did. My dad has not seen the new film, nor will he ever. As a loyalist to the original I can tell you he has absolutely no interest in seeing it.

They didn’t do one “single” origin story about Kirk or Spock, more along the lines of adding little pieces of history as the series went along. Kirk was supposed to have already served on a few other starships before becoming Captain of the Enterprise, Spock had already been on board for up to 11 years serving under Captain Pike. These are direct references taken from TOS. I don’t mind “origin” stories, but it depends when they are being told. Many times during some of the original running of the various Trek series’ they did an origin story and that was fine. They used the existing characters and actors to tell it.  Well done. To do an origin story 46 years after the show premiered with a different cast just doesn’t translate with me.

I’m afraid to say that the sequel does not have a chance of winning me over. I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m stubborn but I just can’t accept new actors playing these characters. If it were up to me, they never would have gone back in time to revisit these characters. I’ve accepted that it’s over. I think sequels and prequels and any other kind of ‘quels are becoming a growing problem these days. Studio’s want to squeeze every bit of money they can out of an idea, so more and more we see one movie stretched out into 2,3 or more until they are absolute garbage come the end of the run.

We all laughed…because it’s true. Now I know this is a different scenario and I also know that once again, it’s all about dollar signs. Can’t we just let some things end?

“Maybe the new Star Trek will be different?”

Different than what? Having not ever seen an original episode or movie previous to this, what was the concern?

….and yes, I will probably go see the new movie in theaters.  To me, I won’t be going to see Star Trek. I’ll be seeing a sci-fi/action movie that just happens to be using some names I recognize.