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Star Trek Into Darkness: Revisited

I re-watched this movie a couple of times recently. I still enjoy the movie very much, yet despite my enjoyment there was something gnawing at my stomach with this movie and I had a difficult time putting my finger on it. Then as I watched it again twice I finally figured out what is bothering me.

There are two important moments in the film and in my opinion this franchise had not yet earned the importance of them. Let me explain: I still have mixed feeling about them using Khan as the villain. It was done so well in the original series episode Space Seed and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan with Ricardo Montalbán I really wanted them to leave it alone. It didn’t need to be redone in my opinion. This takes nothing away from Benedict Cumberbatch and his acting. He did a superb job in the role. It just didn’t feel like Khan to me.

Here is why. The movie was basically a remake of both the original series episode Space Seed and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In a sense Star Trek into Darkness emotionally piggy backed on the known threat that Khan was in those two shows. It even took a cameo by Leonard Nimoy as Spock Prime to drive that point home. The problem, as I see it, Star Trek Into Darkness did not earn the tension, the threat, that Khan was in this movie. To the crew of the Enterprise in Star Trek Into Darkness they had no clue who Khan was and in many ways, since Kirk or Spock really did not have much of a relationship with this Khan, he really wasn’t the big threat that the movie likes to pretend he was. We, the audience, felt the threat that Khan was in the movie because we had a multi-year relationship with the character!

Sure, Khan/Harrison did some bad things at the start of the movie but he could have been any villain. Heck, they could have made Cumberbatch the rouge Captain Garth of Izar from the original series episode Whom God’s Destroy. It would have worked just as well. Or he could have been a totally new villain with the same story and it would not have made much of a difference. So for me, this version of Khan lacked the history with the crew of the Enterprise to be such a big deal.

The same type of issue shows itself with the death of Kirk. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan the death of Spock was so powerful because both the crew and the audience had a long standing history with the character. In the rebooted Star Trek these relationships are not as well established. Just because we throw the name Kirk and Spock on these actors doesn’t mean we have the same emotional connection with these characters as we did/do with the original characters and actors and their portrayal of the characters.

In this universe/time-line Kirk and Spock are barely friends. At the start of Star Trek Into Darkness Spock betrays Kirk for violating the Prime Directive and it creates a problem for this growing friendship. Toward the end of this movie Kirk dies instead of Spock and Spock, in anguish over the loss of his friend, screams KHAAAAAN!! like Shatner did in the Wrath of Khan. However, the whole things feels hollow. This Kirk and Spock do not have the multi-year history as friends which made the death of one of them so moving. These two characters have not earned that intimacy yet! Sure, you could see this new Spocks reaction over Kirks death as a way to say that he regrets betraying Kirk at the start of the movie, it still lacks the emotional jolt the scene was going for because these two characters are not yet solid in their friendship.

Having said all of that I still do like the movie. It has a good story and good acting along with great special effects. Benedict Cumberbatch was spectacular. I just wished he wasn’t playing Khan.

In the next movie I do hope they do not rehash other characters from the original series. Well, at least not as the main villain. In truth I hope I hope they do give us someone and something new. I desire to see the new crew in exploration and wish that the enemy they face is some new anomaly or force of nature.

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Star Trek Time Line

Less than a month from now Star Trek Into Darkness will come out in theaters here in the US. I must confess that I am on message boards where people in Australia have already seen the film so I know the majority of the spoilers. This blog post however, will NOT CONTAIN ANY SPOILERS!

I am also working my way through the original series on the remastered DVDs. I really love the 1960s original series. I also love Star Trek: The Next Generation and also Voyager. I could never get into Star Trek: Deep Space 9 beyond a handful of episodes that I enjoy and the same goes for the final series called Enterprise. I do like all of the movies even the so-called “bad ones” Like Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Nemesis the last movie to feature the Next Generation crew.

I also love JJ Abram’s last Star Trek movie…it really is one of my favorites, if not my very favorite. Yet I sill have some struggles with it. My main struggle is where to place this movie in the time line along with my other favorite Star Trek shows? Yup, I am a big old nerd concerned about such things.

Here is the problem. They have two future characters, Spock and Nero, a renegade Romulan ready for revenge that travel back in time. Or do they? The writers of the movie  Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have stated that the Narada (Nero’s ship) by going back in time and destroying the USS Kelvin, an laternate time line gets established but it doesn’t erase the old timeline. While I am fine with that concept, the problem is that the movie really fails to communicate that concept. In many ways the movie plays like a typical Star Trek time travel episode where in the end everything is set right…except in this case there is no reset button at the end.

Uhura says something about an alternate reality but that is a vague statement. While the term alternate reality is a synonym for a parallel universe which is a hypothetical or fictional self-contained separate reality coexisting with one’s own, much of the movie plays out as if Spock and Nero are from the future of the reality of the central characters. The writers want you to think both things at the same time and that is what gets confusing. They treat Nero and Spock Prime as if they are from the future of Young Spock and Young Kirk when in reality they are not from their future if the alternate reality theory is true.

Take the destruction of Vulcan for example. If the alternate reality theory is true, Spock Prime (old Spock) really is not witnessing the destruction of his planet Vulcan, but the Vulcan from this parallel universe or alternate reality. In Spock Prime’s reality his home planet, the one we first saw in the original series episode, “Amok Time” still exists in the original reality.

Lets take the destruction of Romulus. Supposedly it took place in the regular Prime Universe or reality and that by going through the Black Hole Nero and Spock Prime end up in the alternate reality where Romulus still exists. When Nero is interrogating Captain Pike and Pike says that Romulus still exists and Nero screams that it has happened (the destruction of Romulus), why didn’t Pike tell him…or someone tell him…that they are in a new reality and that in this reality Romulus still exists?

Bu they don’t say anything because, as I said, the movie plays out as if it is all occurring in the prime universe that we all love…but this time without a reset button. The loss of Vulcan, Spock’s mother, Kirk’s father etc, has more of an emotional punch if all of the characters are from the prime universe.

My struggle with that is I don’t care for the idea that old Trek has been erased through the actions of this Trek reboot. So I will accept the writers intent even though I think the evidence is pretty flimsy. I do like the movie, honestly I do…depite the problem.

I also had a scenario where Trek 09 does take place in an already preexisting reality completely separate from the original Trek time line. In other words, Spock Prime and Nero really are from the future of young Spock and young Kirk as depicted in the movie and they are not from the original time line. The only problem with that is it is hard to see Leonard Nimoy as Spock Prime and not think of him as the same Spock we all have known and loved. For this scenario to work I would have to see Zac Quinto as the older version of Spock. I agree with the many fans who wished they had done a straight out-and-out reboot instead of the half-reboot that we got.

Here come the Summer Blockbusters!!! Part 1

It is that time of year! Summer Blockbuster Season! The season begins in May so I would like to highlight the movies that I am interested in seeing. This first movie actually comes out April 19th! I will not be placing these movies in the order they are released, but more in the order of my interest.

 Man of Steel (June 14)

Superman, my all time favorite Superhero, is getting a new start in the theaters. I have been waiting for this for a long time! General Zod is the main villain and has not been seen in a major motion picture since Superman II over 30 years ago. Directed by Zack Snyder (of 300, Watchmen) and produced by Chrisopher Nolan of the Batman movies. Now I was fearful we would get a dark brooding Superman, but from all resports that is not how this movie will be played. It will be played like it is happning in the real world, but it will not be as dark as the Batman trilogy. Henry Cavill stars as Kal-El, Clark Kent, Superman, the Man of Steel.

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are back as Kirk and Spock, but I am very excited to see if Benedict Cumberbatch can be evil enough on his own to become a legendary sci-fi villain. Rumors are still flying around the net to just who he is playing. As a HUGE Star Trek fan I cannot wait to see this new installment of the rebooted franchise. This movie looks to have more action and adventure than the 2009 Star Trek and I am fine with that!

Pacific Rim  (July 12)

This movie will have to tide me over until next year’s Godzilla comes out in May of 2014. “Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!” Directed by Guillermo del Toro (of Cronos, Blade II, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) the movie features giant monsters (Kaiju) and human-driven robots to match them. This movie is Sci-fi as its best, and with the director being a fan of the giant monster genre he has crafted a movie with fantastic detail and designed to overwhelm our nerdy sci-fi expectations.

 Oblivion (April 19)

The second feature from sci-fi filmmaker Joe Kosinski (of Tron Legacy), this time envisioning a futuristic world where humans have been driven off Earth to space stations above a desolate planet. Tom Cruise stars with Olga Kurylenko and Morgan Freeman. The special effects look stunning. There is still a lot about the story that is under wraps. Cruise and Freeman are two of my favorite actors so it will be very interesting to see them together. Although I often do not like depressing dystopian movies this one looks more like an action adventure with mystery thrown in.

Iron Man 3 (May 3)

The first Iron Man movie is one of the best Superhero movies ever made. (until I see Man of Steel) Yes, I enjoyed it more than Batman Begins which came out the same year, 2005. Iron Man 2 was a bit of a let down even though I still enjoyed the movie. If the trailer is any indication this looks to have upped the action. Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sir Ben Kinglsey round out this all star cast.

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Friday!

What is coming in the new year??

Like last year there were many movies coming out that I was looking forward to and 2013 is no exception. Today I want to take a brief look at some of the movies I am looking forward to. One of the interesting aspects of following movies is that despite all my work some studios keep their movies close to the chest and I will not even hear about some of them until it is close to their release date. I will only highlight some of the movies I am looking forward to. If I talked about all of them this post would be book length!

Here are my top 3 that I am looking forward to.

1. The Man of Steel. Starring Henry Cavill as Superman and directed by Zac Snyder. I have been a fan of Superman since I was very small. He is by far my favorite Superhero. Christopher Nolan has been on board as a producer and he and Snyder want to bring a sense of realism to Superman. Some fans, like myself, do not want to see Superman being a dark and brooding character. He isn’t Batman after all. Despite that slight worry I am very optimistic about the movie. From the trailers I have seen I am almost giddy with anticipation.  I also really love the redesigned costume. This movie also features Zod as the villain who has not been seen since Superman II. Superman II has been my favorite Superman movie so far therefore I am happy to see Zod return. This movie is a reboot of the franchise and will have no relation to the Christopher Reeve Superman films. Sometimes I am not crazy about origin stories because it takes too long for the superhero to show up, but from the trailers I have seen it does seem like Superman will be seen a great deal of the movie.

2. Star Trek Into Darkness. I have been a fan of Star Trek since I saw the original series in syndication back in the early 70s. I have loved all of the movies, for the most part, and the other series in the franchise…except for DS9 which I could never get into. After the poor showing of Star Trek: Nemesis the Franchise was pretty much dead in the water…or should that be dead in space? Then along comes JJ. Abrams who reboots the original series characters and delivered a great movie that rescued the franchise from the abyss. A couple of trailers have been released and as much as I enjoyed the most recent movie this looks to top that one. A madman is on the loose (ok, that is nothing new) and Kirk looses his Captain’s chair due to being reckless and must find a way back to his proper place while saving the galaxy once again.

3. Pacific Rim. Giant Monsters rise from the Pacific via a dimensional portal and begins to destroy the earth. In a last-ditch attempt giant robots are formed to combat these giant beasts. I just love giant monster movies! The trailer to this does look pretty awesome. Yeah, the robots have a Transformers vibe to them but from what I have seen the movie looks like it will be great. I haven’t seen too many of the monsters and not sure much of the plot beyond the synopsis but giant monsters fighting giant robots?…how much more does a Nerd like myself want?

Godzilla comes out in 2014 and had it come out this year it would have been a trifecta for me. Superman, Star Trek and Godzilla was how my love for science fiction started when I was young.

There are many more movies coming out this year…that is the focus of this blog, to feature what is up and coming and also to look nostalgically at the past.

Keep checking back as I will feature more movies for the coming year!

Star Trek Into Darkness: First 9 Minutes

http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o306/WmHohenzollern/star-trek-into-darkness-benedict-cumberbatch.jpg

Mini-spoliers below.

The other day the first 9 minutes of Star Trek into Darkness have been seen. There is both good news and bad news. Well, bad news if you were expecting the identity of the villain to be revealed, because that just doesn’t happen. The good news is that we are treated to a thrilling and adventurous tease at the beginning of the movie.

The movie begins with a couple on their way to visit thier daughter in the hospital where they are greated by a menacing looking Benedict Cumberbatch offering to heal their child. The next scene flashes to kirk and Bones on a planet covered with a red-vine like substance and being chased by chalked face natives trowing spears. The next scene show the USS Enterprise submerged underwater on this planet as the crew is trying to study them. We see Spock entering a valcano trying to prevent its erreuption and Kirk contemplating if he should place the ship in danger to rescue him or not?

It has been revealed that Cumberbatch is playing a man named John Harrison. Fans seems to be saying that this is one of the most non threatening bad guy names in the history of the franchise and I would have to agree with them. John Harrison was a very obscure background character that was only mentioned by name in the first season episode “Space Seed” of the original series. This is leading fans to speculate that Cumberbatch may be Khan and the Harrison name is just a cover up or he was one of Khan’s henchmen. Despite the reveal of the name the mystery continues.

One complaint about the trailer seems to be about the USS Enterprise. In the last movie people complained that the Enterprise was built on land. In this movie the complaints are rolling in that the Enterprise is hiding in the ocean of this planet instead of orbiting the planet. The culture is primitive so they could just as easily orbit the planet without being detected. Yes, that is true. I am sure some technobable reason will be given for the Enterprise being underwater so I am not worried. I also don’t care if a reasonable explanation is not given. I think seeing the Enterprise rise up out of the ocean will be just awesome to see and it will also be new and different. How many times have we seen pictures of the big E just orbiting a planet? I am in for something new.

I am extremely excited about seeing this movie and the more I see and the more I learn the more excited I get! May 2013 can’t come fast enough!

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS teaser trailer

http://youtu.be/diP-o_JxysA?hd=1

This trailer is simply awesome! I really loved the 2009 movie Star Trek and this one looks very, very good!!! I was already excited about this movie now I am even more excited!!!!

http://youtu.be/BrHlQUXFzfw

Here is the Japanes version with more footage!

Whats in the Hopper?

It is official right before filming begin on the new Kick-Ass sequel titled, Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall, Mark Miller reports they have signed Jim Carey to play Colonel Stars. The sequel will cover events depicted in the graphic novels from Hit-Girl #1 to Kick-Ass 2 #7. I have not followed the graphic novels but I really loved the first movie and I really like a lot of Jim Carrey’s work and I think this is excellent casting. Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Nicolas Cage will reprise their roles from Kick-Ass in the sequel, which will begin production next week.

Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall comes to theaters June 28th, 2013.

Although the Star Trek sequel doesn’t have a title Chris Pine spoke recently on the remake which is already in the can waiting for next summer to arrive.

This is copied from Trek Today:

According to Chris Pine, Star Trek 2 will not be “like the original but darker.”

Star Trek will be taking its own direction, not following that of another recent franchise reboot. “We’re not making Batman,” said Pine. “That is not our deal.”

Pine went on to talk a little about what Star Trek 2 would be. “There’s comedy, which I think J.J. does a great job of, but, like the first one, there’s some serious issues being dealt with,” he said. “And I’d say the threat is even greater in this one.

“The force [the Enterprise crew] are met with is much more frightening. It’s relentlessly action-packed and in terms of character development it goes places you’d never expect. The arc is huge for all the characters. It’s a really big story – I can’t hype it enough!”

But Pine feels the heat when it comes to expectations for the second movie in the rebooted Star Trek franchise. “I probably feel the stakes are a bit bigger,” he said regarding Star Trek 2. “The first one, we didn’t have much to lose, because we didn’t have much to lose! It was either going to be a great big hot and surprise everybody, or it was going to fall the down the drain and no one would’ve thought twice about it.”

And it just so happened [that] it was pretty well received. So going into this one, I was so excited that we’d brought all these new fans to this franchise that I wanted to do my job to make sure they come back. And I also wanted to do justice to my fellow actors and to the writers, because it’s such a good story.”

Pine doesn’t know about any plans for Star Trek 3, but he assumes there will be one. “Knowing these guys, there’s always a way to make some more installments,” he said. “I’m sure they’ve built-in something, I’m just not smart enough to have seen it! But I’m sure there’s a way. What I do know from the start, in terms of structure, they’ve had an idea of where they want to take the whole thing, just like a television series. I’m very excited about Part 2; when we finished shooting, everybody was [stoked].”

Source: Total Filmvia Irish Central
I am really looking forward to some great movies next summer.

What’s in the Hopper?

Yesterday I promised that I would update the status of the sequels to Independence Day. Last I heard, November of 2011, two back to back sequels were in production but Will Smith has yet to sign on with the project. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/independence-day-sequels-_n_1035307.html

Although the Star Trek sequel is in post production, I am sure there is someone at Industrial Light & magic is working on effects shots as I type this, here is a nice article from ACIN where Co-writer Alex Kurtzman talks about making bold and risky decisions for these movies.

Although some decisions made in Star Trek XI were apt to upset fans, Star Trek 2 Co-writer Alex Kurtzman believes that bold moves are what make for a great movie.

For Chris Pine though, it’s the people, not the major action sequences, that make for a good movie.

“[Star Trek 2] … is relentless,” said Pine, when asked about the Abrams’ sequel. “The movie is relentless, and for the visually inclined people who want to see major sequences, there are a couple specifically that I think…I’m not a huge 3-D fan, but I think will be incredible.”

Star Trek 2 may be relentless and chock-full of action, but Pine is more interested in the characters and their journey from strangers thrown together to cohesive crew. “But what I’m more excited about and what I think they did so well is that really the story is that much better,” said Pine, “and the journey that these guys go on is that much more, and what they always talked about is that even though they’re a crew from what we know about the original team, the fun of getting there is following that journey to where they become that tight-knit crew. It’s no fun if they’re already a tight-knit crew. So suffice it to say, they’re still learning how to get along.”

Kurtzman agreed with Pine on the importance of seeing the crew come together as one team. “One-hundred percent,” said Kurtzman. “They only really came together as a team at the end of the first movie as a function of story. But the bridge crew from the original series, they aren’t those people yet, neither in age nor in experience. So I think the worst mistake that we could have made was to assume that they were there already at the top of the movie and skip that stuff.”

In addition to the crew story, Kurtzman believed that choices made in Star Trek XI, controversial as some may have been, made for a better movie and fans can expect more bold moves in Star Trek 2. “And the other thing I’ll say without revealing too much,” he said, “is that in the first Trek, we made choices–in our invention of the story–that were extremely controversial. Blowing up Vulcan, hugely controversial choice, and we knew that die-hard Trekkers were either going to skewer us or accept it based on the emotional architecture around that choice. I think for us, Trek is at its best when it is making hugely bold moves like that, and there will be hugely bold moves in this one.”

http://www.trektoday.com/content/2012/06/star-trek-2-go-boldly/

Comic-Con starts on July 14 and I am expecting news on two movies I eagerly anticipate. There is going to be a teaser trailer for the next Superman movie, The Man of Steel, and Legendary Pictures (currently promoting the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises) is going to give some news on the Godzilla movie currently in production. I am hoping for a look at some conceptual art for that one!