PHASE I- THE REBOOT
In 2009 Paramount released its reboot of Star Trek's acclaimed Original Series. A ballsy undertaking, for sure. How would the studio address all of those iconic episodes and memorable moments that made this franchise a cultural phenomenon? They wouldn't. Brilliantly, the studio and its scribes employed a clever writing trick... The Alternate Timeline! That's right folks, here was an opportunity to retell so many great stories while opening up room for many more with the newly minted “Kelvin Timeline”! However, instead of handling this opportunity responsibly, they used it as an excuse to skip Kirk's entire career and continually try to force him into the Captain's Chair with flimsy justifications and forced circumstances. These decisions foreshadowed Paramount's impatience and disregard for the character development and narratives focused on the Human Condition that Gene Roddenberry and his writers so carefully crafted into the episodes of the Original Series in favor of attempting to make this classic franchise “cool” and “something the kids will watch”. Not to mention how a rich and complex plot about pressing social issues like human rights really doesn't translate well for the Chinese market.
PHASE II- INTO DARKNESS, INDEED
“Space Seed” is an episode from the Original Series that is rich with commentary on man's desire for perfection and power versus his physical and psychological frailties, and the implications of sacrificing one for the other. The episode also has a signature fist fight
between Shatner's Captain Kirk and a very fit looking Ricardo Montalban as Kahn, complete with stuntmen who don't look remotely like the men they're filling in for. This dynamic was resurrected with the 1982 release of the franchise's second feature film, The Wrath of Khan. Star Trek- Into Darkness takes these two pieces of fine storytelling, puts them in a particle accelerator, and attempts to smash them together, condensing into a single movie all the depth and nuance of the characters and their relationships that took 79 episodes and two feature films spanning over 17 years to develop. Into Darkness reduces the reboot down to a shallow shoot-em-up saturated with gratuitous violence (unbecoming of Starfleet Officers!) and CG effects. The lazily constructed plot is about a bloated, shortsighted institution that compromises its responsibilities and abuses its power in order to gain a short term advantage over its competitors, resulting in them trampling all over the expectations of the loyal followers they claim to serve... Does this sound at all familiar, Paramount? Poor Gene Roddenberry is turning over in his grave as the studio tries to make a quick buck on the cultural institution he created. This disappointment was nothing more than a voyage into the darkness of a Hollywood studio's impatience and greed. Thank goodness for reruns.