- Nine: I think I was in love once.
- Ten: Really? What was her name?
- Nine: Her name was Rose.
- Ten: Doctor, we all love Rose.
- Nine: I love Rose because she's fantastic. She always knew just what to say and she made me better.
- Ten: Oh, yes! Rose was brilliant. All soft and warm and clever and so very human.
- Eleven: I love River!
- Nine: ...
- Ten: ...
- Eleven: I love Clara!
- Ten: Doctor, are you just looking at girls in the universe and saying that you love them?
- Eleven: I love... fez.
- Ten: Do you really love fez, or are you just saying that because you saw it?
- Eleven: I - I love fez! I love fez.
Okay, so - full disclosure (and spoilers ahead - you’ve been warned): I grew up watching and absolutely adoring Star Trek. The original crew are some of my very earliest heroes and I love them with the fervent adoration of an eight year old girl. I can take a lot of crap as long as you give me some wonderful little moments with Dr. McCoy, some arched eyebrow super competence from Uhura and a soupcon of rogue-ishness while still being an awesome captain from Kirk. I truly enjoyed the first of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies. Sure - the plot was a giant, stupid, badly written mess - but I didn’t care because I got my characters and I got my ship. Sitting down to watch Into Darkness I already knew the bar was pretty low.
I just didn’t realize how low.
I already knew that the deeper meaning of Star Trek had, shall we say, eluded Mr. Abrams. It had already been made clear to me that he wasn’t that interested in Kirk being a demonstrably good captain and tactician and instead preferred to give us a frat boy version of James. What I didn’t realize until last night was that Abrams had decided to douche Kirk up even more - turning him into a whiny ball of testosterone whose only “virtue” is his ability to go with his gut. This is problematic for any number of reasons - chief among them the idea of hanging the entire emotional context of the movie on the relationship between Zachary Quinto’s Spock and Chris Pine’s Kirk. Kirk the Jerk shows absolutely nothing to inspire the epic bro ship Spock is inexplicably invested in.
In Abram’s candy coated Star Trek universe Sulu still gets to be, briefly, a badass. Uhura exists only to show her emotional attachment to Spock (which seriously pisses me off - Zoe Saldana gets to show, in teensy increments, what a wonderful and strong character she almost got to play - if only she didn’t have to spend the entire fucking movie being worried about her boyfriend). Scotty gets to actually be Scotty, thank all the gods (and thanks to Simon Pegg, who is wonderful in this role). McCoy gets to be a cartoon version of McCoy while holding up his unweildly part of the “plot.” This is saying a lot, because McCoy has always been nearly cartoonish, so this is a portrayal of a caricature of a caricature. Happily, I can watch Karl Urban read the phone book and be satisfied. The Checkhov we got to know briefly in the first movie is all enthusiasm and nothing else. We get it, Abrams, he’s 17 - but COME ON.
The Starfleet Academy of the future is inexplicably run entirely by old white men. In a movie where the big reveal is that Kahn Noonien Singh (a genetically engineered super human from India) is a white guy I guess this shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. That there were no women, however, was. In Abrams’ Star Trek women exist only to demonstrate their attachment to men, get banged by Kirk, or…well, that’s it, that’s all I’ve got. The “new” female character introduced to the film does get to (briefly) demonstrate her science officer skills while opening a cryogenic tube. Her only other plot point? She’s the daughter of the evil admiral who wants war with the Klingons. That’s right - her big moment is asking her Dad not to blow up the Enterprise because she’s on it. Unless, of course, you count her getting down to her undies in front of Kirk because she needs to change clothes. For reasons. Eesh.
So - to recap - things I love about Star Trek:
1. The spirit of science and exploration.
2. Teamwork between the main characters where they demonstrate an understanding of military tactics and logic in order to save the universe/the ship/the crew/a horta.
3. The wonderful idea that we will, at some point, evolve enough as a race to leave racism and sexism behind.
4. The Enterprise itself.
Things J.J. Adams doesn’t understand about Star Trek - all of that. ALL OF IT. I spent the last 20 minutes of the movie waiting for the obvious plot points to resolve. I was bored. I was bored while waiting for a necrotic tribble to come back to life because I knew it had to. I was bored wondering what the movie would be like if Khan were allowed to triumph - watching Benedict Cumberbatch smolder across the universe became preferable to endless and completely unsatisfying main character in danger scenarios. I was bored wondering if the new bridge of the Enterprise had been designed by the team that made Sugar Rush. And then I was irritated while the original theme played while planets caught on fire and there was (SURPRISE) even more lense flare. You shouldn’t be allowed to play that theme, Abrams, you didn’t earn it and you don’t deserve it.