Thursday, December 6, 2012

Star Trek Into Darkness Teaser Reaction

I love the Internet on days like this. You see, I knew that there was going to be nine minutes of footage from the new Star Trek film shown before the IMAX release of The Hobbit, and I hoped that we’d also see some kind of trailer released to the web around the same time. I certainly didn’t expect to see anything before then. But when I woke up this morning, the Internet was waiting for me with not only a Star Trek Into Darkness teaser, but also HD screencaps and a shot-by-shot breakdown of said teaser!

In case you haven’t seen the teaser, here it is (I’ve linked to the slightly longer, Japanese-subtitled version). Don’t worry about spoilers; it does a pretty good job showing you stuff without really giving away anything, not even the name of the villain:

If there’s one thing the trailer makes clear, it’s that the film’s villain, whoever he is, is mad about something, he believes the heroes are responsible in some way, and he’s out to get revenge by attacking Earth. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s the same plot device we’ve seen in the last two Star Trek films, and here’s where I worry a little bit.

Although 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis and 2009’s Star Trek were very different movies (i.e. one was a tired, derivative attempt to cash in on the Next Generation franchise one last time, and the other was a fresh, exciting, and genuinely entertaining romp) they each featured a revenge-driven villain who was determined to destroy Earth for reasons that didn’t really make sense. In each film, as the villain announced his Earth-destroying intentions you could almost hear the screenwriters saying to themselves “we’ve got to threaten Earth or the audience won’t be invested”. Now, this is not necessarily a problem if the movie is genuinely entertaining, but it can hurt the film in repeat viewings.

A key reason why The Wrath of Khan is still so highly-regarded three decades after its release is because it makes sense. Khan’s actions are what drive the plot, and because those actions make sense the movie has a high rewatchability value. I’m not saying that’s the only reason why Star Trek II is so good, because it’s not, but if Khan was just your regular poorly-written action movie bad guy whose motivations weren’t believable, that fact would become more and more obvious with each viewing of the film, and eventually it would be defined by its flaws. This happens all the time; when Independence Day came out all anyone could talk about was the action and the special effects; now it’s chiefly remembered for the nonsensical plot device of its heroes hacking into an alien spaceship with an old Macintosh PowerBook.

As of this writing, we really don’t know a lot about Star Trek Into Darkness. Hopefully there’s a well-thought-out plot behind all that action.

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