Into Dorkness: An in-depth analysis of Star Trek Into Darkness
By Roger Sanderson
First off, let me start this analysis by saying that I enjoyed Star Trek Into Darkness. It was exactly what I expect from any action flick being made these days, it was fun, enjoyable, and entertaining. Unfortunately, as seems to be the trend in movies lately, it is fun, enjoyable, and entertaining so long as you don’t think about it. I don’t mean don’t think about it hard, I mean don’t think at all.
Surprisingly, most of the issues I had with Into Darkness was not from a nerdy over-analytical Trekkie point of view. Instead they were things that simply put made absolutely no sense if you though about them even just a little bit.
So, lets begin:
The movie starts on a spectacular looking planet with a primitive species living on it. Kirk and McCoy are luring the primitives away from a volcano that is about to erupt by stealing the sacred first pilot script. During the chase it is mentioned that the volcano’s eruption will ‘destroy the planet’ and they are going to stop it by tossing a ‘cold fusion device’ into it.
While a volcano destroying a planet and stopping its eruption by freezing the magma are unrealistic to say the least, it is exactly the kind of thing that Trekkies love to over analysis and try to figure out while the average movie goer can simply enjoy it. Unfortunately, we next learn that they have hidden the Enterprise from the natives by submerging it in the ocean.
That’s right, they hide a SPACEship underwater. There are immediately two things I see that make no sense here, one of which is purely a Trekkie issue. The first is, why would you hide the ship underwater, was geosynchronous orbit to conspicuous? The other is, since when has the Enterprise been rated for atmospheric flight?
The following sequence is awesome, but if you think about it even a little it has no reason to exist other than ‘it looks cool.’ Anyway, the Enterprise saves the day and leaves. While the natives, having seen the Enterprise rise out of the water, start worshiping its image. I dub this species; Trekki.
We return to Earth, and after spending the night with what are apparently Caitians, Kirk is with Spock and Pike talking about what happened on the primitive planet. We find that Kirk lied on his report about what happened, since this is an alternate time-line and different events have shaped this Kirk differently I will ignore the fact that he is hiding from the consequence’s of his actions. Now we could have a scene where Kirk defends his action, saying that while his actions were a violation of the Prime Directive it was the right thing to do.
Instead, he is surprised and pissed off over the fact that Mr. Logical and By The Book ratted him out. Keep that in mind for later. So Kirk is revealed of his command. So he does what anyone would do; goes to a bar to get drunk. Then we are introduced to our villain and things naturally blow up.
Things move forward and our heroes are brought to a meeting of Starfleet’s bigwigs, a meeting which is then attacked by our villain. Kirk hits his heroic moment and dives the villain off, but not before many are killed including Pike.
Now I know this is supposed to be an emotional death scene, with Kirk watching his mentor and father figure die right in front of him. Unfortunately, there is no connection. Between Kirk and Pike or Pike and the audience. In the first movie Kirk and Pike shared maybe 3 scenes, and at no time did you get a feeling that Pike was Kirk’s mentor. And this is supposed to be Kirk’s driving force for vengeance for the rest of the movie.
From there we find that the villain has transwarp transported to Qo’Nos. You know what, I am not even going to touch this, transwarp beaming was stupid in the first movie and it is stupid here. The only reason it exists is because somebody wrote themselves into a corner and could not think of a way to write themselves back out. Though, given what we learn later, I have to wonder why he went to Qo’Nos in the first place.
Kirk and Spock then go to Admiral Marcus, who with very little convincing decides to not just pursue the villain, but to launch an attack on Qo’Nos in order to kill him. They will go to the edge of Klingon space and launch stealth torpeodes at Qo’Nos to kill the villain. Cause there is no way anything could go wrong or for the Klingons to suspect that someone they are in conflict with might launch an attack on them. During this conversation, Admiral Marcus name drops Section 31, this will be important later.
So off they go with 72 stealth torpedoes and another science officer, Carol Wallace. Wait, hold on, 72 torpedoes? Isn’t that just the tiniest bit overkill? I know he killed Pike and bombed London but geez. As a result of the torpedoes being brought on board, and the fact that he cannot examine them to ensure the ships safety, Scotty is fired by Kirk, as is Scotty’s side kick.
Kirk then promotes Chekov to Chief Engineer. I’m sorry, but what? I know that Chekov’s role on the Enterprise in the prime universe was a little hazy, but your putting someone who is on the bridge most of the time and has only been out of the academy a year…….oh, I forgot, Kirk has also only been out of the academy a year and he is the Captain.
On the way to Klingon space we learn that Carol Wallace is really Carol Marcus, daughter of Admiral Marcus and future mother of David Marcus son of Kirk. We learn this via Spock, who then decides to keep this information from Kirk, you know that Captain. She lied her way on board cause she had access to all of daddies files and noticed that these torpeodes went missing and wanted to find out what makes them tick.
Meanwhile, after Spock having brought up the legality of their orders earlier, Kirk decides to at least try to arrest the villain. The ship then drops out of warp 20 minutes from Qo’Nos. Hold on, Qo’Nos is 20 minutes away from the boarder? And wouldn’t 20 minutes at impulse put them actually IN the Qo’Nos system?
Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Cupcake, and another security officer take a ship they confiscated on another mission to Qo’nos. During this Sulu proves just how seriously badass he is. On the trip to Qo’Nos Spock and Uhura have a heart to heart, which is a nice scene, but it quickly interrupted by a Klingon patrol. At least I think their Klingon, could be Reavers. A chase ensues and eventually Uhura convinces Kirk to land and let her talk to the Klingon, sound advise since the whole reason he brought her was because she speaks Klingon.
They land and Uhura speaks to the Klingons, appealing to their sense of honor. So neutrally the ‘honorable’ Klingons draw their weapons and prepare to kill the unarmed human. The villain swoops in and a pretty epic fight ensues. Afterward, the villain surrenders to which Kirk responds by punching him repeatedly.
They then return to the Enterprise, which still has no issues with Klingon ships despite being 20 minutes from Qo’Nos and a Federation strike team having just destroyed one of their patrols. The villain goads Kirk into talking to him.
The Villain gives Kirk some coordinates near Earth with answers and tell him to open one of the torpedoes. Kirk contacts Scotty on Earth, using his communicator so I assume it is connected to the ships subspace communications array, and convinces him to go check out those coordinates. The Enterprise limps to a nearby planet, after Kirk informs Admiral Marcus of Khan’s capture. This is when Spock decides to inform Kirk of Carol’s true identity.
This then leads us to an interesting scene. Carol Marcus takes Kirk down to a shuttle while explaining herself, she wanted to know what was up with the torpeodes. In the shuttle she proceeds to take off her uniform and stand there in her underwear annoyed when Kirk sneaks a peek. Then, apparently, she puts her uniform back on, grabs McCoy and takes a shuttle and a torpedo down to the planet .
I said it was interesting, I did not say it made any sense. Carol and McCoy discover that there are people in the torpeodes. This is when we learn who the villain really is: Khan! Yeah, I wasn’t impressed either. The people in the torpeodes are Khans crew whom he had planned on smuggling out and escaping but got caught.
We then learn that Section 31 found him, woke him up, and held his crew hostage to force him create weapons for them. But apparently had no plans on the off chance that he escaped. And these are the same people who in the prime universe were preparing for a war with the Romulans while still at war with the Dominion.
Back at the coordinates, near Jupiter, Scotty discovers a ‘hidden’ base and wanders right on in. A massive and heavily armed ship arrives, which turns out to be the Federation ship U.S.S. Vengeance commanded by Admiral Marcus. After a quick exchange, Admiral Marcus is revealed to be the one who had released and used Khan. The Enterprise then warps away, the Vengeance follows and knock the Enterprise out of warp.
They are now near Earth. So I guess now the heart of the Klingon Empire is 30 minutes to an hour away from the heart of the Federation? I know Star Trek does not have the best record when it comes to travel time, but this is just beyond….I can’t even……
Moving on. Admiral Marcus continues firing on the Enterprise, he stops once Carol reveals she is on-board. So Admiral Marcus beams her off. Fortunately, Scotty was able to board and wander the Vengeance undetected and disabled the ship. Kirk and Khan are then able to board the Vengeance by playing Need For Speed: Space Walk.
Once on-board Kirk, Khan, and Scotty head for the bridge, Khan kicking major butt along the way. Naturally, Kirk orders Scotty to stun Khan as soon as they get to the bridge. The man has been nothing but helpful up to this point. Granted I am waiting from him to betray Kirk and Scotty, but they have not seen ‘Space Seed’ and ‘The Wrath of Khan.’
At this point Spock contacts Old Spock, there’s an Old Spice joke here somewhere I’m just….not seeing it. Spock learns that Khan is a dangerously bad dude, and makes plans in the event that Khan betrays them.
Kirk, Khan, and Scotty make it to the bridge and stun everyone and arrest Admiral Marcus, then Scotty betrays Khan and ‘stuns’ him. Khan is not amused, he beats up Kirk and Scotty, breaks Carols leg, and kills Admiral Marcus by crushing his skull. Khan then beams Kirk, Carol, and Scotty back to the Enterprise.
Khan contacts the Enterprise and demands the torpeodes. Spock complies, having removed the people from the torpedoes, and then detonates them on the Vengeance crippling it. See Kirk, THAT’S how you deal with someone you think is going to betray you. You prepare and THEN act.
This next part has me a little confused. The Enterprise losses all power while in close proximity to the Moon and then begins to fall toward the Earth. Maybe I am wrong, and if I am someone can explain it too me. But if the Enterprise was near the moon when it lost power, shouldn’t it have fallen toward the moon nor Earth?
So the Enterprise is falling, people are getting hurt and/or killed due to bad ship design. Seriously, who designs a spaceship with a giant hole in-between decks? Kirk goes into the warp core to, literally, kick start it and the Enterprise is just able to stop their free-fall. Now we’re treated to a role reverse replay of a scene from ‘Wrath of Khan.’
Kirk is inside the warp core dieing of radiation, while Spock is stuck outside. Now this scene is supposed to be very emotional, and I am sure to some it is. But to me it feels hallow. This is supposed to be one man watching his best friend die. Yet to date; Spock has ratted Kirk out, withheld information, and Kirk has continually insulted Spock. Not exactly a deep friendship.
And then of course Spock yells Khan, which just does not feel right. I could see Spock keeping his anger inside while he pursued Khan in order to kill him. Speaking of, the Vengeance flies past the Enterprise and crashes into San Francisco. Khan survives because…well he’s Khan and he is needed for a plot point later.
Khan escapes the wreckage of the Vengeance and Spock beams down and gives chase, once he catches Khan he begins beating the crap out of him. Meanwhile, McCoy realizes that he can use Khan’s blood to save Kirk. So Kirk is put on ice and Uhura beams down to where Spock and Khan are fighting. After repeatedly shooting Khan, to no affect, and Spock beats on him some more they capture Khan and while his blood are able to resurrect Kirk.
The ship is repaired, Carol Marcus joins the crew, and they set off on their 5-year mission.
As I said at the beginning, this is an enjoyable and entertaining action flick. It is everything I have come to expect from most action movies now a days, lots of flash but with little to no substance. To me Star Trek has always been entertaining because we get to see complex and interesting character who we get to watch change and grow over time. And by telling stories that can be whimsical or that can touch on social issues but without only painting one side as ‘in the right,’ and of course the action/adventure.
Admittedly, not all of the Star Trek films have done this, and it is hard to do when you only have 2 hours in which to tell a story. But in the last two movies there is little to no character development and things happen because they happen, even if they make no scientific or literary sense. As a result, while I find the film enjoyable I could care less what happens to the characters or universe at large.
So my final thoughts on Into Darkness are: Fun and Entertaining, but not Star Trek.
Related articles across the web
But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.