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Digedag
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 6:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Jeez, another comment. I'm sorry, I can't think, translate and type that fast without making a clusterf*ck out of the post, both in terms of content and grammar.

I see your points, it just didn't work for me. I know it's lazy, but I have again point you to some of my earlier entries in this thread where I tried to explain why that was case.
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Digedag
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 6:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Yeah, and there were people groaning and at two points unintentionally laughing at in my viewing. So, yeah, now we have established that people were pretty split on the movie, which hardly goes in line with the claim that the movie was successful in its goals.

My disconnect comment was aimed at the dramatic scenes and how the execution that screams "Drama! Conflict! Hard Decisions!" was at odds with the lack of emotional resonance that the movie was able to achieve.

I explained already why the character bits mostly didn't work for me in prior comments, somewhere in the middle of this thread (early June, I think). Please forgive me that I'm not going to reiterate this now, since I had actually planned to slowly withdraw myself from this discussion. I just responded because you kinda addressed me.
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Digedag
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 5:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Also, and I have alluded to this before, the filmmaker who are able to craft unconventional drama that doesn't follow established storytelling rules are nevertheless people who have a firm grip on it and, in general, a pretty all-encompassing understanding of story function. Tarantino springs to mind.

But this hardly applies in this case since Orci/Kurtzman/Lindelof stuck to the most basic rules. Unfortunately there weren't able or - more likely - willing to translate their vision properly, opting instead to rely on lazy shortcuts and hoping that the audience would take everything they were fed at face value.
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Digedag
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 5:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Yup, there are many ways to tell a story. The problem is, the approach STID chose didn't work. The screenwriters didn't accomplish what they set out to - which, by the way, is as basic as it gets in terms of drama - thus resulting in an unengaging film with poorly realized character arcs and shoddy, put-on conflicts. And funnily enough there was a huge disconnect between the visual language and the emotional resonance the filmmakers were aiming for.

And while STID might have worked for a part of the audience, the fact that a lot of other people responded negatively to this movie should call into question this alleged successfulness.
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Digedag
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 11:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Macca,

I would take a hard look at yourself. You have been the one who has repeatedly caught attention with ad hominem attacks. You, more than once, have left snarky and dismissive comments aimed at those of us who like to discuss this movie more in-depth: "You and your kind", "He can't handle", "cinemas scholars" etc. pp. - and that's just from the last couple of posts.

The thing is, apart from perhaps the last exchange with CadetNorris which contained what I already admitted was a poorly worded line, I haven't attacked anyone in person, nor have I insinuated disparaging things.

You talk about "jumping on people who have different opinions"/"Let others have their say" as if it were my modus operandi here, which is just not true. I've argued with people over certain aspects of the movie that we had contrary opinions about, and sometimes it got heated, but I don't insult them for having different viewpoints. Neither do a reply to every post. And I hadn't even addressed you prior to my last comment.

Now, perhaps some of my formulation leave room for misinterpretation, I've already pointed out that English is not my native tongue, and tone is notoriously difficult to convey in written form. However, you make it sound as if I had a vendetta against people who don't share my perspective.

This is a discussion, people argue. What is gained if everybody is in the mindset of "agree to disagree"? For me to actually agree or disagree with someone I need to here his or her reasoning, not just his initial impression, especially if can be reduced to "awesome" or "lame", as Grumpy put it. In fact, I tried to refrain from replying to comments that can be summarized as "it's fun", which as an impression is all fine and nice, as a review or contribution to an ongoing discussion has basically no value. Contrary to your accusation, I'm mostly interested in a stimulating exchange of thoughts that might expand my horizon, not enforcing some kind of conformity that is in line with what I think. But for this to happen you have to offer actual arguments.

To me it seems that YOU are the one who can't take being disagreed with, as if our complains (and the analysis of why we think STID fails to live up to expectations) would somehow invalidate your enjoyment of the movie. After all you have repeatedly written that you have been "really dismayed" or "annoyed" by people picking at this and that, stating absolutes "there can be no doubt that Abrams has revitalized Trek" as if it were some truth written in stone.

You act like some kind of moral authority that virtuously defends the poor souls that I and the evil likes of me verbally abuse for holding deviating opinions, which, as already pointed out, is just not true. So, perhaps you take a step back and perhaps consider the possibility that you are perhaps a bit thin-skinned or read to much into certain things.
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Digedag
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 8:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Pretty much what Demosthenes said.

And, Macca, please read my post thoroughly and don't try to build a straw man. I agreed with CadetNorris after he acknowledged that he didn't understand the difference in the critical approach that I pointed out in my previous post. Now, while his remark might have been sarcastic snark, it nevertheless proved that he wasn't able to grasp the distinction between the two concepts. And the fact that he not only contested the existence of said distinction without providing any proof or explanation, but simultaneously dismissed everything I (and other participants here, I might add) had written in regards to, well, storytelling, led me to believe that he lacked the necessary knowledge of the subject matter and that therefore there was really nothing gained by delving deeper into the discussion if he wasn't able to see the finer points of what I was talking about. Now, I freely admit after rereading the paragraph in question that my choice of words might have left something to be desired, but I stand by the gist of what I wrote, especially since I took pains to point out that this had nothing to do with him being not intelligent enough.


Also, you seem to have overlooked the part where I said "If you like STID, that's fine".

And do you know what film theory (if that sounds less pompous to you) is good for, Macca? Providing a conceptual framework for understanding film and exploring the inherent possibilities of expression through the medium. That thing that enables filmmakers to craft "fun" movies in the first place. See, I - and obviously a lot of other people here - hadn't that much "fun" with STID precisely because it disregards so many basic rules of good drama. Not because it was silly or didn't have a message or because it was aimed squarely at audiences that not that long ago might have scoffed at the idea of paying to see a Star Trek movie, BUT because it didn't entertain us due to its subpar storytelling that pretty much killed any enjoyment we might have had.

See, every "fun" movie of the last couple of years that was almost universally greeted with acceptance by moviegoers - even if it's something as inherently dumb as Fast 5 (and, to a somewhat lesser degree, Furious 6) - works both structurally and dramatically. That is the very reason people enjoy them. Good Storytelling.

And good storytelling doesn't mean a plot has to be extremely complex (and most screenwriter these days seem to confuse complicated with complex anyway) with an intricately-drawn narratives that feature profound, multi-layered characters. Hell, take James Cameron's Avatar. It's the most generic, predictable story imaginable. But for all things you can fault the movie for - its lack of originality, its stock characters and aggregation of cliches - it works because Jim Cameron knows his sh#t when it comes to storytelling. All the creatively designed stuff in that movie wouldn't have resonated half as much with audiences if the drama, as basic as it is, wouldn't work.


Now, we - the people who disliked STID - could talk all day long about how silly it was that Spock yelled "KHAAAAAN", but then we would discuss the symptom, not the cause. That would make this debate perhaps less pretentious sounding (;-)), but it most definitely wouldn't lead to a better understanding of why STID was such a disappointment to so many people.


PS: I can handle being disagreed with. In fact, if you provide convincing counterarguments to my thesis I might even reconsider my standpoint. ;-)
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Digedag
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 2:16pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Nope, different quote. Besides, I'd be careful with this constant quoting. People might assume you have no words or ideas of your own (like STID). ;-)

Oh, I let you off the hook. It's obvious that you lack the necessary theoretical knowledge of film and, in general, storytelling - your "tangible details" criticism of Wrath of Khan is kind of a giveaway - to have a more in-depth discussion here.

And just for the record: There's nothing wrong with that. I, for instance, don't know sh*t about musical theory (among other things) and could only insufficiently explain why I like or dislike certain songs (Um, melody? Rhythm? Lyrics!). My examination of a song's merits or shortcomings is therefore bound to only scratch the surface.

Perhaps you should accept that some people do possess a more comprehensive and detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. I'm not saying that you have to blindly believe everything that I or someone else is spouting off here, but in this instance ... well, you CAN believe that there is a vast, fundamental difference between the critical approaches mentioned above.

If you like STID, that's fine. But please understand that other people have legitimate reasons to dislike it - even if you disagree.

And I very much doubt that STID's reputation as a good piece of art/entertainment will grow in time. People will care less and less about it, because, apart from some insultingly dumb moments that may stay in people's mind temporarily (and fuel threads like this one), there's really nothing worthwhile or even unique to remember.
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Digedag
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 1:38am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

*sigh*

Basically all those "flaws" mentioned above fall in the category of technical plot holes. Every movie can be faulted for featuring myriads of aspects that don't make sense or are unbelievable when approached from a real world perspective. Sadly, there are people who pick apart movies on that level (like the guys that do the "Everything wrong with movie X in Y minutes or less") - and they are a perfect representation of what's wrong with today's movie-going audience.

However, that is NOT what our complains are leveled at. We're talking here mainly about storytelling shortcomings: incoherent narrative, inconsistent, contradictory or downright nonsensical characterization, far too many (and lazy) plot contrivances, underdeveloped themes, etc. - and how the accumulation of those issues renders every attempt at creating successful drama or emotional investment void. In short: We're not talking about plot holes, but about bad storytelling (even if former, occasionally, can be the result of the latter). Not about surface problems, but missing substance. Huge difference.

All this has already been discussed at length here. And Wrath of Khan, while surely not perfect, is so extremely superior to STID it's honestly laughable. Trying to knock down Wrath of Khan for perceived deficiencies won't make STID any less of a mess. Neither will it undo Wrath's excellent drama, thematic resonance and fantastic execution.

And since you're so fond of quoting from Star Trek's rich fundus of memorable dialogue, I finish with a line from Space Seed (doing my best impression of Ricardo Montalbán's charismatic, Latin-inflected speech pattern):

"This grows tiresome."
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Digedag
Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 1:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

PPS. Of course I can't claim to speak for everyone who came away feeling hugely disappointed by STID, but I'm somewhat tired of the accusation that fans of "the old Star Trek" are dismissing Abrams new version out of principle. Sure, there are probably people for whom the whole reboot is one huge affront, but the majority, I'd argue, judges each movie individually. It's when a film deliberately and so heavily draws parallels to former installments (like STID does to Wrath of Khan) that comparisons become inevitable. But, again, this is not real issue here. If the movie would work on a storytelling level, people would have far less of a problem with those homages and references.

And as I mentioned before, I actually enjoyed the 2009 Star Trek, despite its numerous flaws.


Oops, and that should read "out there right now" in the previous post.
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Digedag
Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 12:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

For the last time, what you - and apparently a lot of other ardent defender of STID - don't seem to understand is that this is NOT about grumpy old Star Trek fans being narrow-minded, having an out-dated taste, wearing rose-tinted glasses or whatever ad hominem excuse one can come up with in order to undermine or invalidate the criticism of the movie. This is first and foremost about basics of storytelling, really fundamental and, above all, important stuff - and how STID gets it all wrong.

It's not so much about the story itself, it's about how it's told, if that makes sense.

And the only thing that cements a film's success are the box office numbers. Its status as a work of art, however, is not only absolutely detached from the earned revenue but, in the end, will be determined by future generations of movie fans. If there's one thing that film history has taught us it's that critics - no matter how popular, respected or influential they might have been at the time of a film's theatrical release - more often than not totally got it wrong, savaging films that later became widely accepted masterpieces or praising films of middling quality to the skies nobody cares or even knows today.

By the way, are you talking about the young minds that build the Excelsior, a ship advertised as a bold new technological leap in engineering that completely breaks down after Scotty removes a handful of screws. Interesting analogy. ;-)


PS: The link should work now: badassdigest.com/2013/06/12/film-crit-hulk-smash-the-age-of-the-convoluted-blockbuster/

If not, it can be easily found via Google. And please don't be put off by the All Caps. Film Crit Hulk is arguably the most intelligent, knowledgeable and articulate film critic out dare right now.
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Digedag
Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 6:54am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Um ... and now, for a change, a (sort of) review of someone who actually really understands the medium because, you know, he has studied film, is an actual screenwriter and also happens to be the incredible smart (Film Crit) Hulk:

THE AGE OF THE CONVOLUTED BLOCKBUSTER - badassdigest.com/2013/06/12/film-crit-hulk-smash-the-age-of-the-convoluted-blockbuster/

THE IMPORTANCE OF DRAMATIZING CHARACTER - badassdigest.com/2013/07/03/film-crit-hulk-man-of-steel/

The first one addresses STID and J.J. Abrams (in the context of Hollywood's approach to filmmaking these days), the latter is predominantly about Man of Steel, but much of the criticism applies to STID (and other blockbusters) in equal measure.
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Digedag
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 3:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Okay, before we go on about a mass murdering Superman and how Snyder/Goyer/Nolan messed up the fundamental core of what the Man of Steel is supposed to be, here's an absolute must-read concerning the stupid, stupid science of STID, and how it undermines every aspect of what made Roddenberry's Star Trek so great.

Copernicus On The Science Of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS: www.aintitcool.com/node/62867
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Digedag
Tue, Jun 11, 2013, 4:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

@Paul:

It's quite ironic, isn't it? For all the plundering of the lore, the ripping off plot points and referencing moments from previous Star Trek movies, the writers were unable or unwilling - and I don't know which of the two is worse - to adapt the things that make in particular Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country work so well.

After all, Khan isn't such an iconic villain because he was played by the late, great Ricardo Montalban (although his charismatic Shakespearean turn as what is at its core a variation of Melville's Ahab certainly helped a lot), but because his motivation and subsequent actions played beautifully into the subjects of aging, family, friendship, responsibility, mortality that especially Kirk has to face over the course of the movie. These topics aren't just superficially imposed upon the storyline but beautifully and organically interwoven with both the characterization and narrative.

The same with the action set pieces. The much-heralded final confrontation in the Mutara Nebula doesn't simply try to ape naval warfare by having two star vessels circling each other and every now and then blindly firing shots, every aspect of the execution - from set-design, lighting, sound design, camera angles and even the more militaristic designed uniforms - fully commits to this idea, creating an atmosphere that reflects the thematic approach in a tonally coherent way.

And yes, that is equally true for The Undiscovered Country which, not coincidentally, was also directed and co-written by Nicholas Meyer. And in regards to the "Bold New World": The whole idea of the Perestroika in space metaphor wouldn't work if it were just a lazy plot gimmick. It works because the concept is sufficiently explored from a narrative standpoint and directly tied into the portrayals of the protagonists - who nevertheless remain consistent with earlier depictions. That's the brilliance of the script. It never violates or changes the essential core of who these people are in order to introduce new elements into the story, but creates motivations and develops familiar personality traits that represent a believable character progression for our heroes.

Even the antagonists are much more fleshed out than any villain in Abram's Trek so far. The motives of Chang and his conspirators are reasonable in the context of story and setting. Their cause might be misguided, their mentality hopelessly outdated, but we - the audience - can at least related to them - even if we don't exactly feel sympathy - because their concerns are ultimately only too human.

And you're absolutely right with your assessment of the ending of The Undiscovered Country. It's such a poignant and poetic sendoff that works on all three levels. It concludes the story in an appropriately melancholic but satisfactory fashion, it provides an optimistic outlook and social commentary - true to Roddenberry's original vision - on the changing landscape of real world politics and, last but not least, it ushers in a new age of Star Trek.

The funny thing is, STID makes you appreciate these movies all the more.
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Digedag
Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 6:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Guys, let us not open the can of worms that is Prometheus, okay. Even attempting to approach that unwieldy behemoth of a movie is going to derail this discussion completely. I already lightly touched upon certain problems that plagued Scott's pretentious pseudo-Alien abomination when I was talking about Lindelof, but that was only scratching the surface.

Suffice to say that "unanswered questions" and "stupid behavior of supposedly smart people" are only the tip of the iceberg, tangible details if you will. Criticisms of effects that are the result of more complex problems, but not the actual cause. The reasons why Prometheus failed so grandiosely are manifold and deep-rooted.

One thing though - and Dom already addressed this to an extend - there's a huge difference between STID and movies that purposefully toy with ambiguity and/or thoroughly dissect complex moral issues without taking a clear stance and ultimately committing to one position, thus basically forcing the audience to contemplate and reflect on the events of the movie and then come to its own conclusion.

STID's wannabe commentary on the whole post 9/11-terrorist topic is superficial and lackadaisical at best. A tired rehash of old ideas that ...
a) are never supported by the movie in terms of of tone, visual language and contextualization, making them awkwardly stand out in an otherwise homogenous and (admittedly) effective execution.
b) don't get further explored in the remainder of the movie - despite certain theoretically significant implications - and are completely forgotten by the time everything goes boom.
c) probably only found their way into the movie because they needed some kind of motivation for the villain. Never mind that the reasons for Admiral Robocop's disregard for Starfleet's lofty ideals neither get a satisfactory explanation, nor are in any way, shape, or form represented by the actual world these characters inhabit (see point a).


Yeah, I guess we (meaning the fandom in general) are gonna keep discussing the movie's merits and shortcommings. But then again, currently there's nothing else Star Trek-related you could talk about. That's the sad truth.
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Digedag
Sat, Jun 8, 2013, 9:03am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Unfortunately It's unlikely that we'll see a return to the small screen in the foreseeable future. If I remember correctly, Abrams actually had plans to launch a TV series alongside the reboot some years ago that were ultimately squashed by the complicated legal position concerning the ownership of the rights to Trek.

And while STID is by no means a commercial failure, the movie nevertheless wasn't able to fulfill the (perhaps unrealistic, clearly too optimistic) box office expectations, making it somewhat of a financial disappointment for the studio.

But yes, Star Trek ultimately belongs on TV. It's the place for which it was originally conceived, were it had its finest hours and prospered the most. And it would be interesting to see how Star Trek would adjust to today's TV landscape and the challenges of serialized storytelling.

And I agree with your assessment, Paul, that many of the flaws that plague Abrams' version of Trek also were prevalent in the two last TV installments as well as in TNG's last cinematic outing.

There was also a good point made by Dom earlier. I agree that Abrams - being a Spielberg disciple through and through - definitely knows how to put a movie together. And seen individually many of the action sequences work beautifully on a visceral level, the only major point of criticism being the generic nature and familiarity of it all. However, unfortunately he lacks The Beard's talent for not only effortlessly infusing the action with human drama and conflict (let alone real purpose), but making the characters the ultimate anchor point of the story and the driving force behind the narrative.

In regards to Lindelof: It may come as a surprise, but I honestly think that it's unfair and a bit too convenient to put the blame of STID's numerous shortcomings solely on Damon Lindelof. Yes, he's the scapegoat of large sections of the Internet these days thanks to the debacle that was Prometheus. Yes, his rewrites ruined a perfectly fine (albeit not exactly world-shattering) script and turned the movie into a huge mess that shares many of the STID's problems like the unmotivated and oftentimes downright stupid character behavior. And Lost's disappointing resolution is also mostly his fault, no doubt about it.

However, out of the three writers he's the only one who's got actual talent and a distinct vision of his own. If only he could get rid of his obsession with the supernatural, like his rather juvenile reduction of complex issues to the simplistic dichotomy between faith and knowledge - and the incongruent, haphazard and pretentious way these themes oftentimes get explored. The confusion of unresolvedness with actual (meaningful) ambiguity, etc.

But while Lindelof's latest attempts at crafting a good script all have been pretty unsuccessful due to his strange fixations mentioned above, the main problem with Abrams' version of Star Trek is the duo of Alex Kurzmann and Robert Orci. They are responsible for the lion's share of these movies. Kurzmann and Orci are basically two fanboys who, ironically, neither understand nor care about what Star Trek is supposed to be about, who are more interested in a succession of "kewl" (to borrow that term) scenes without bothering to come up with a reasonable story or crafting real character drama. Two overpaid guys who never had a single original idea in their whole career, whose entire body of work is made up of other people's work arbitrarily slapped together and clumsily rearranged. It doesn't help that Orci is obviously a conspiracy theorist, which is what most likely lead to the stupid terrorist/paranoid admiral angle of the movie that not only feels artificially imposed - and doesn't work at all in terms of tone, Mise en scène and semiotics - but is in stark contrast to what is otherwise meant to be a fun romp inserted with a few serious moments (that don't work, neither emotionally nor thematically ... but, I digress).

So, if you are a fan of Roddenberry's creation (or of good movies in general) and have been granted one free wish: Wish that these two idiots will not be rehired to write the next Star Trek.


Anyways, I'm now going to rewatch "Galaxy Quest". Now, that's a genuinely great movie!
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Digedag
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 2:50am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Plot contrivance. That's the word(s) I was looking for. I wish there was a similar term in my native language to perfectly describe this particular sin of story telling.

And of course I wasn't implying that the writers were lazy in the sense of not writing the script aka nor working at all. But they are guilty of being lazy in so far as they apparently didn't bother to craft a sound story that wouldn't completely collapse on first viewing and immediately reveal the nonsensical nature of the plot.

And I'm not talking about (technical) plot holes that you can find in almost any movie if you only look long and hard enough (see the awful and stupid "Everything wrong with movie XY in 3 minutes" videos on youtube). I normally don't care about this stuff as long as the movie abides by its own rules and presents a solid, character driven narrative in which the protagonists' course of action is contextually reasonable and dictated by understandable motivations.

The main problem I see is that especially Orci/Kurtzmann seem to operate according to the dictum "Wouldn't it be cool if ... (we saw the Enterprise under water/have a Star Wars dog fight)", "How great would it be if ... (a ship would crash into the San Francisco Bay/we have Khan in this movie)" "I've got this mental image of ... (Khan standing on Qo'noS/having a foot chase in a half destroyed SF)" They're basically stringing together a sequence of "cool" set pieces. The actual story seems to be an afterthought. That leads to protagonists being imposed with uncharacteristic traits and incoherent motivations, or, in the worst case, simply acting as plot devices.

Take Scotty. His moral concerns regarding the transportation of the torpedoes is not the result of an well-established character trait - in fact, in TOS, Scotty was portrayed as a capable "acting captain" who wasn't averse to using the Enterprise's weapon arsenal when the situation called for it (He even owned a sword!), definitely never opposing Kirk due to some pacifistic attitude -, no, his resignation is solely motivated by plot necessity. He needs to be absent from the Enterprise so he later can sneak aboard the - allegedly top secret and, one would assume, closely-guarded - Vengeance and sabotage it.

Now, wouldn't it have made a bit more sense from a character standpoint if Spock were the one to oppose Kirk, pointing out his illogical behavior driven by his wish for vengeance (and, in doing so, further widening the gulf between the two, something the writer obviously were going for anyway in terms of character dynamic for three quarters of the film)? Or how about McCoy, the ultimate humanist of the crew? Surely he wouldn't have approved of Kirk's decision. And while it's unlikely that Bones would have left the Enterprise, he surely would have given Kirk a mouthful. Honestly, I can't remember McCoy even mentioning the issue, definitely not arguing heatedly over it. Perhaps someone else of the crew could have stepped in?

Well, it doesn't matter because the plot calls for the Vengeance to be incapacitated for a short amount of time. So in order for this plot point to work they needed the engineer of the group on board of the enemy vessel. to recapitulate, Scotty basically acts out of character and displays a never before seen feature (even for this altered timeline, before someone digs up this argument) that gets abruptly introduced so the movie's narrative can move forward. The plot dictates the characterization and character action when it should be the other way around.

And this is just one of many example.


By the way, I'm not bashing STID out of principle because I'm sternly against Abrams' reboot or something similar. I'm criticizing the movie because I love Trek, because I think that the new cast is terrific and could really shine if given the opportunity and, in general, because there's so much potential to make a really good (Star Trek) movie.

But instead we've got the awful and aggravating STID. And I'm not even going to touch upon what a stupid idea it was trying to rip off Wrath of Khan and on how many levels STID failed to accomplish it successfully!

Anyway, here's a movie in which Spock yells "KHAAAAN", apparently so agonized by the death of Kirk that he has a surprising and for a Vulcan highly atypical emotional outburst - a reaction far more extreme than the one he showed when confronted with the destruction of his home planet and the extinction of his entire species! The funny thing is, though, we've never seen Kirk and Spock being friends. If one watches the movie one could almost assume that the two can't stand and barely tolerate each other. And no sign of real bonding over the whole course of the film. Strange! Even Uhura, his girlfriend is given the cold shoulder throughout because Spock doesn't want to make himself vulnerable (Pain! Pain!). Which of course begs the question what Uhura actually sees in this relationship which almost seems like a poorly thought out idea on part of the writers who wanted to introduce a new element into the franchise just for the sake of it. But again ... characterization, blah blah ...

Oh well ...
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Digedag
Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 9:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Unless Kirk now can impregnate women by merely lustfully looking at them, that's a definite no. Besides, Marcus isn't removing her clothes because she wants to engage in a bit of the ol' in-out with Kirk. In fact, she's clearly not enjoying Kirk's voyeuristic glances as she repeatedly tells him not to peek. And it becomes very clear from both her intonation and her facial expression that her rebuke is not meant to be interpreted as a thinly veiled attempt at flirting.

Also, I somehow doubt - given how blatant the references and pseudo-themes are presented through-out the movie - that any form of foreshadowing would be handled so comparatively subtle.

However, at the end of the movie Kirk and Marcus share a glance that is supposed to indicate a growing affection - never mind that the movie itself at no points hints that Marcus might be developing feelings for Kirk or at least is sexually attracted to him - for those members of the audience who neither are familiar with Trek lore nor have realized by that point that this timeline's Kirk is trying to screw anything with a heartbeat.
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Digedag
Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 8:24pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

The last post was in response to Grumpy's comment.
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Digedag
Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 8:19pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Fair enough. I admit that I sometimes get carried away a bit when discussing movies (or TV series, video games and books) and inadvertently might offend someone. If that's the case here, I duly apologize.

However, I firmly stand by my opinion that STID is lazily written. See, when the writers don't care to provide clear (and consistent) character motivation, don't bother to make sure their plot doesn't constantly violate the established rules of the movie's universe, arbitrarily introduce elements that have vast and severe consequences that change the very nature of the world they've created just to tie up the plot, and built their story around set-pieces instead of incorporating set-pieces organically into a character-driven narrative - that the very definition of lazy - and therefore bad - storytelling. And no, this being an action movie or a summer blockbuster doesn't mean STID gets a free pass.

Many others have already mentioned the gratuitous underwear shot of Carol Marcus. Now, that particular scene is aggravating for many reason, but the one that is probably most symptomatic of STID's shortcomings is that Orci/Kurtzmann/Lindelof, once again, didn't even come up with an excuse for it. They couldn't be bothered to give a simple reason for why the future Mrs. Kirk has to strip down. They just didn't care. And that's just lazy.

They are either awful at their job, not understanding basic principles of good storytelling, or they just don't give a damn. And while I think that especially Orci and Kurtzmann are talentless fanboys high on their own hubris, I just can not imagine that they weren't aware of the numerous inconsistencies, the lack of clarification, the dubious character motivation, etc.

No, they didn't feel the need to make the script tighter and more meaningful because ... BROOOOOMMM?!
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Digedag
Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 6:53am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

"If someone wants to condemn STID for being nothing more than an action picture, that person is condemning what the movie is about."

The problem is not that the movie is an action picture, the problem is that's an incredibly dumb, lazily written action picture that disregards any form of coherent narrative and internal logic.

And in regards to the Matt criticism/praise: While his effort to defend the movie is admirable, unfortunately he lacks a basic understanding of storytelling (consistent characterization -> character motivation -> character action -> plot development), semiotics and tonality ... to actually craft a convincing counterargument that isn't made up of mostly tangible details why STID supposedly succeeds on so many levels others felt the movie horribly failed.
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Mon, May 20, 2013, 9:26pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

PS: I apologize for numerous typos in my last comment. It's late and English is not my native tongue, so there are bound to be some grammatical hiccups that went unnoticed.
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Mon, May 20, 2013, 9:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

> Am I the only one who saw this movie?

Well, you seem to be the only one that saw an alternate version of the "Into Darkness" - after our time line was altered thanks to one extremely upset fan who traveled back in time and prevented the quartet of Abrams/Orci/Kurtzman/Lindelof from ever becoming engaged with the franchise - that was directed by Joss Whedon. ;-)

Well, it's pretty obvious that we have extremely different opinions regarding Into Darkness' respective merits and shortcomings. So, it's rather unlikely that I'm going to change your mind. And that's okay, different tastes and stuff :-)), but just a few things to contemplate:


> The militarization of Starfleet is clearly not "superficial", as it becomes evident that the HEAD OF STARFLEET is a WAR-MONGER. Fitting? Well, as I mentioned earlier, how is this a surprise when Spock is a member of an ENDANGERED SPECIES now?

Oh, how does this make itself felt apart from one war-mongering Admiral? How does Starfleet demonstrate this supposed development? How come this is a "Section 31" operation, an organization that works separately from the rest of the Federation and most importantly in absolute secrecy (but has a dockyard with a secret battle ship in plain sight) because their actions wouldn't possibly approved and sanctioned by the officials?
There are no real reverberations, no apparent evidence of this alleged change of attitude in Starfleet's modus operandi. Nor does the tone of the film reflect this in any significant way. For all we care, ol' Robocop could have acted out a revenge scheme because the Klingons killed his son during a camping trip, it wouldn't make a difference. He tells us some paranoid alibi reasoning about inevitable war or whatever, but it's ultimately an empty motivation spouted by a character that - like his daughter - serves only one purpose, to propel the plot forward. It's not reflected by the actual world the character inhabit. We're just told - in the most clumsy and unsubtle way imaginable - something without actually showing us some proof.

Hell, Spock who - as you mention - is part of an endangered species doesn't even weight in on the matter. Clearly, since he's directly affected, he could provide some interesting insight, perhaps some divisive and polarizing (logical) arguments. Or any other character could reflect on whether Admiral Robocop's private little war (HA!) is justified given the oh so dire situation of Starfleet. But this would require to actual deal with a complex topic, to offer different viewpoints embodied by characters who have an actual, understandable motivation to feel that way. But I guess it's difficult to address political and moral issues other than in a perfunctory way when you want to craft an entertaining space romp. Oh wait, "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" totally did touch upon these things while delivering an enjoyable movie going experience.


> Eye candy who can defuse an experimental torpedo and won't be beamed out to save herself.

Yeah, she's a story telling device to further the plot, not a character. See above.


> A hissing, growling character who is concerned for his crew and motivated in part by grief. (He attacks London because he thinks they've been killed by Starfleet.

Still a one-dimensional character though. There's no complexity or depth. Most important, him being Khan is absolute negligible. In fact, the narrative would have worked better if he would have been an original antagonist created from scratch. After all, what idiot thinks he can force a megalomaniacal war criminal to do his dirty work for him because he thinks he has some leverage (Khan's cryogenically frozen pals). Probably the same who conceives an needlessly convoluted plan to start a war.

Absolute wasted potential.


> And keeping her cool while negotiating with trigger-happy Klingons.

So, she speaks Klingon and doesn't tremble with fear when confronted with a potentially dangerous situation. That's a skill set expected of a Starfleet officer I'd argue. Bravery is a trait. This has not really something to do with good characterization. Every emotional reaction and behavior displayed by Uhura over the course of "STID" is Spock-related. Gee, the time line shift obviously somehow erased feminism.


> I thought Chekov's look of terror when Kirk tells him to put on a red shirt was hilarious.

Apart from the fact that "Red-shirt" gags at this point are becoming tiresome (after all, ST09 already milked this particular cliché), but this kind of "Get it! Get it! We poking fun at your old boring Trek. Aren't we hip!" is just infuriating because it's just lazy. That's the equivalent of name-dropping. Oh, wasn't there some mention of a certain Christine Chapel and a guy named Mudd?

Hey, Nothing against a clever reference or an affectionate homage, but this kind of smug back-slapping just leads to eye-rolling on my part. The "The needs of the many" falls in the same category. It wants to be profound, but a) comes at a time when the audience has just settled into their seats b) is, again, a rehash of a sentiment that has not been earned yet, lacking the necessary build-up. In the end you're left with another shallow reference that the audience recognizes because it's endlessly parroted in pop culture ever since, but that once had an actual conviction behind its utterance, a deeper meaning thanks to its careful setup that led to a real - and earned - emotional response.


> The impact [Kirk's "death"] is character, not plot.

It has no meaning if we know that he'll be resurrected ten minutes later. This COMPLETELY undermines the emotional resonance of the scene.
Also, in order for this to actually provoke a genuine reaction from the audience, it takes time to digest. This, however, is rather difficult if the movie moves along at breakneck-speed, immediately indulging in the next poorly though-out action set piece. Never mind the fact that this scene is a poor and frankly unimaginative rehash of one of the most famous and gut-punching sequences in Star Trek history, thus severely diminishes its intended impact. And, of course, this scene comes far too early in the lives of these (new) characters. Again, we aren't nearly as involved in their friendship as we were when "Wrath" came around.
Also, I fail to see how the Prime Directive fits into Kirk sacrificing himself at the end of the movie.


And one thing. Kirk doesn't really take responsibility for his actions. And by the way, how lazy is it for the movie to have one person (Pike) straight up tell the audience what character arc the protagonist has to to undergo before the credits roll? Film is a visual medium, for crying out load! Show, don't tell. Anyway, Kirk risks his life to save his crew. Nice sentiment (although to be expected of a Captain, I guess), but that's not the same as taking responsibility. See, Kirk risks his life all the time for other people. He does so at the beginning at the movie when he steals the holy script of the native inhabitants of the planet to distract them. He risks his life (and that of everyone on the ship) to save Spock. He puts his life constantly on the line throughout the film, sometimes to save other people. Too bad this movie doesn't explore the heroes mortality like "Wrath" did, but wants us make to believe that Kirk learns to take responsibility.

You know what would have been a sign of character growth and acceptance of the consequences of rash and short-sighted decisions? Ordering Scotty to climb into that radioactive chamber to repair the damage and live with the knowledge that Scotty's resulting death is his fault. After all, Kirk is the Captain. Leaving the ship without its freakin' commanding officer in an emergency situation to fix a broken the drive core although an engineer is far more suited for this job, thus diminishing the chance of success ... is pretty irresponsible (also, dumb). Hell, that was even a major plot (that beautifully tied into the characterization of one character) point in one of the later TNG episodes.

On that thought:

> It[Kirk's sacrifice] worked for me because it IS emotionally earned.

How is it emotionally earned. When a) did Kirk realize the fundamental(!) errors of his ways and b) adjusted his behavior accordingly? When did we see him actually mature? I sincerely hope you're not referring to when he apologizes to the crew on the bridge. Acknowledging his mistake when facing imminent annihilation hardly qualifies as serious character development. Admitting a wrong (and obvious) decision, especially given the circumstances, is hardly earning him respect or can be interpreted as a sign of real character growth. Neither is the act of sacrifice symbolic when the character in question isn't afraid to risk his life for the sake of other people and has done so numerous times up to this point.




So, now Star Trek is a universe in which death is a minor inconvenience and almost instantly curable thanks to 72 frozen "Übermenschen", which the movie conveniently forgot about when Bones desperately needed that blood sample.
Long-distance beaming across the whole quadrant is possible, basically making space flight obsolete. Although beaming a moving object still only works when the plot demands it.
A war with the Klingon Empire impending (or are they gonna let the violation of their territory and killing of over a dozen warriors go unpunished).
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Sun, May 19, 2013, 6:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

By the way, MOVIEBOB tackles "STID" and its many problems in his usual eloquent fashion at:

moviebob.blogspot.de/2013/05/escape-to-movies-star-trek-into-darkness.html
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Sun, May 19, 2013, 5:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

@Clint:
Um ... what? These are just examples of recent movies that fit into that category of movies that despite their severe storytelling shortcomings and flawed execution have achieved a (honestly mind-boggling) huge success at the box office. I'm not saying that "STID" story is a direct consequence of, let's say, the plot shenanigans of "Transformers 2", but the obvious correlation (small hint: $$$) between the success of certain types of film is hard to deny. After all, somebody thought it a brilliant idea to hire Orci/Kurtzman/Lindelof despite their dubious track record in the past. And said "Transformers 2" might have been critically panned but it nevertheless made almost a billion dollars worldwide. Of course the fault lies with the audience and their acceptance of bad storytelling.

Now, the consequence for disappointed movie goers would be - as you yourself point out - to stop paying money to see these films at the cinema. And yes, in order to judge a movie's quality one has watch it first. But while this might seem like a catch-22 situation, fortunately, we as intelligent humans have the ability to learn. For instance, the huge disappointment that is "STID" will result in me skipping future projects in which Lindelof, Orci, Kurtzman or Abrams are involved in any noteworthy way from now on. The same course of action applies for projects that are related to the other movies mentioned above. And I can assure you that "STID" won't find its way on my Blu-ray shelf either. So, no ten bucks for Paramount from me. Also, I'm gonna spread the word to all my friends (who know me as a movie aficionado) that they better don't waste two hours of their precious life watching this garbage.

See, there are alternatives to time travel. And if some of the more widely read critics weren't so easily impressionable perhaps a lot of people would think twice before paying their movie ticket. Alas, "STOD"'s current Rottentomatoes rating makes me deeply pessimistic about the state of professional film criticism. But not to go off on yet another tangent ...

Anyway ...


... I have a problem with the notion that these kind of sub-par blockbuster movies are excusable because they are just "big dumb popcorn flicks" and as such inherently stupid and nonsensical anyway. "Die Hard", "Raiders of the lost Ark", "Back to the Future", "The Bourne Trilogy", "The Avengers", "The Terminator", "Inception", "Alien(s)" etc. pp. beg to differ.
Just because a movie falls squarely in the blockbuster category doesn't mean it has to be insultingly dumb.

And it's not as if I'm demanding movies to boast highly sophisticated, cerebral scripts and deeply complex characters that leave a huge impression on me for years to come. ;-)
My complain is leveled at the fact that "STID" (and similar films) disregards basic storytelling fundamentals and constantly violates its own established rules.
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Sun, May 19, 2013, 1:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Yeah, "Into Drakness" isn't stupid, it's breathtakingly, offensively dumb.

In regards to Whedon:
His "Avengers" is light years ahead of anything that both Abrams (and his trio infernal of writers Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof) and Bay have ever accomplished. It's not perfect by any means, but "Avengers" is a movie with consistent characterization and tone, coherent plotting driven by real character motivation (cause+effect), demonstrating a deft hand for balancing action, suspense, humor etc., its emotional beats work because Whedon understands basic human drama.

Abrams has no interest in telling a cohesive, organic story, he only cares about delivering impressive set pieces that are connected by a perfunctory plot that is a sad pastiche of far better original work.

"Avengers" and "Into Darkness" reside on the opposite ends of the story telling spectrum. The latter is the reason with have so many shallow, empty, emotional dishonest multi-million dollar spectacles. And if we aren't allowed to criticize this kind of brainless blockbuster summer fare, if we are content that these flicks aim for the lowest common denominator and don't demand more for our admission fee, than we - in all honesty - deserve to suffer through "Transformers", "G.I. Joe", "Amazing Spider-Man", "Prometheus" and what have you.

By the way: Every great (or at least good) Star Trek movie simultaneously happens to be a good movie in its own right. ;-)
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