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The UnPopular Opinion: Star Trek Into Darkness

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is the top grossing movie of all time. Everyone basically has returned to worshipping at the altar of J.J. Abrams. The filmmaker and self-professed STAR WARS nerd created a loving and honorable homage to George Lucas' original trilogy. While some detractors felt he played it too safe, the majority felt the film was a success that harkened back to the glory days in a galaxy far, far away. But, it was only three years ago that everybody was declaring that Abrams mystery box of tricks had been the dagger in his film STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS. The Khan debacle all but overtook every conversation about the film and resulted in many to consider the sequel to be lesser than it's predecessor. I felt then, and now, that STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is a damn fine sequel and a really good TREK movie despite all the controversy and deserves to be recognized as such.

I have long been a fan of both STAR TREK and STAR WARS series but my childhood held a special place for TREK. I watch The Next Generation series with my father who had shared the original William Shatner/Leonard Nimoy series with his dad. I never did understand why there had to be a divide between the two fan-bases as both tackle very different subject matter and themes. I also never understood the purists who trashed Abrams' reboot. The fact that the new films are still connected to the original franchise while delivering an alternate timeline universe is a brilliant way to keep everything in continuity and maintain one massive series of films and television shows. I enjoyed the 2009 reboot wholeheartedly and STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS just as much. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS delivers a darker and more action-oriented film that the previous eleven films while also introducing an iconic villain in a unique manner.

The UnPopular Opinion, Exclusive, Star Trek Into Darkness, Science Fiction, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Alice Eve, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch

To be clear, most critics did not hate STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS. The biggest criticism of the film was that it didn't do anything new or original and instead retread a similar story to the 2009 film. As any Star Trek series fan can tell you, some of the best episodes and stories from the original 1966 show were updated or re-used in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and beyond. What we have to take into consideration is that in this new take on the mythology of Gene Roddenberry's creation allowed Abrams to take familiar concepts and characters and turn them just slightly. Things are familiar and yet different. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) was never a character we saw meet Captain Kirk but rather someone from his past. Now, she is an fleshed out character and crew member whose relationship with Kirk (Chris Pine) will develop him more than we saw in the original television series or feature films. Spock and Uhura's relationship serves the same purpose. While the late Leonard Nimoy helped turn Spock into an iconic science fiction character, Zachary Quinto is given so much more to create Spock in these films. Including the reversed ending.

So, let's cut to the chase. The entire Khan secrecy flub by Bad Robot and everyone involved with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS was a mistake. Many of us felt, like the Blofeld twist in SPECTRE, that it was a foregone conclusion that Benedict Cumberbatch was portraying Khan Noonien Singh. Ignore the cries of whitewashing the character as anyone versed in the mythos of the character knows that his name is the only ethnic thing about him. Khan is a superman bred to be above the pitfalls of typical humanity. The alternate timeline of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS erases the events of the TV episode "Space Seed" and the events of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, but what this film does is set the stage for something much deadlier. Khan now exists in this universe and can come back in a future film. When Ricardo Montalban's original appearance on the 1967 episode concluded, it planted the seed for the villain to return. The result is widely considered the best TREK film. Now that Khan exists in the rebooted chronology, Cumberbatch is free to play him more extremely in a future sequel.

The UnPopular Opinion, Exclusive, Star Trek Into Darkness, Science Fiction, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Alice Eve, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch

What is great about STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS is that it inhabits a universe and is able to build it as the films progress. The movie is focused on a politically motivated storyline involving Peter Weller's Admiral Marcus but it also is able to introduce classic Trek elements like Tribbles and the Klingons. Many looked at these as predictable and consider the flipped dynamic between the dying Kirk and vengeful Spock as too by the numbers, but you also need to consider the fact that unlike STAR WARS, there are a lot of fans who would be seeing STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS not having prior knowledge of the original storyline or characters. It is a delicate and difficult line to balance entry level viewers and die-hard Trekkies but this film manages to do so while still delivering on the action and spectacle that the 2009 film did. Some criticized STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS as being a science fiction version of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS and they couldn't be more wrong.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS was embraced by critics more than fans who trashed the film as being as far from STAR TREK as anything produced to date. The core of STAR TREK has always been the Western element of a group on a quest into deep space, far away from the core government of the Federation. But, in order to establish a crew that can venture beyond, you first must show how they fit into the structure of this future society. It was a brilliant decision to use Khan in this film as his tale parallels the terrorist ideology in the media today. Admiral Marcus, a new character, delivers an echo of the politicians and xenophobic leaders around the globe. Trek has always been a prescient franchise that dramatizes our real world into an idealistic future. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS shows that the ideal future is not always a flawless Utopia but can often have evils all it's own.

The UnPopular Opinion, Exclusive, Star Trek Into Darkness, Science Fiction, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Alice Eve, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch

It is nearly impossible to please everyone all of the time but STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS comes very close to doing so. It is sexy, vibrant, and full of nostalgia and manages to balance everything alongside J.J. Abrams' keen direction. Thankfully, the lens flare is reduced but this still carries with it a higher caliber of action than many franchises are worth. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS looks better than the majority of the films in the franchise without sacrificing what sets the series apart from every other science fiction saga out there. This is still a damn good movie that had to deal with some unfortunate marketing decisions. In the end, this rebooted series is setting itself up for great things and this summer's STAR TREK BEYOND could finally boldy go where the new series has not gone before.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected], spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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