Wed
Sep 4 2013 10:00am

Forget Odds Vs. Evens: Bad Star Trek Movies Can Be Detected By Their Subtitle

In Simon Pegg’s brilliant sitcom Spaced his character Tim declares certain things he knows to be universally true including the acknowledged fact that “every odd-numbered Star Trek movie is shite.” And yet, Star Trek (2009) was technically the eleventh Star Trek film, and Into Darkness the twelfth. And like post-Phantom Menace trauma, it’s probably taken too long to admit this, but Into Darkness was complete and utter shite.

So, the odds versus evens of Star Trek films certainly no longer applies, but maybe never has. Instead, look at the subtitle, and you’ll know everything!

Because its ideal format is as an episodic television show with (possibly) unrelated stories featuring the same characters, Star Trek films are always experiencing an identity crisis from the get-go. They never seem quite comfortable as big-budget action films, and it's only getting worse as the series goes on. Why was there a scene at the end of Into Darkness in which Spock brutally punched someone in the face over and over again? Well, as a friend of mine pointed out, “it seemed like it was about that time.” The growing forumulic nature of tent-pole action movies is getting ridiculous, and it's pretty obvious that Star Trek Into Darkness is just following that prescriptive formula.

But we know all that, right? So what does this have to do with the Star Trek franchise, specifically? Well, ideally Star Trek shouldn’t be a movie. Even the best Star Trek films are NOTHING compared to the source material on television. True, The Wrath of Khan is better made than episodes of the TV show, but for this idealistic Trekkie (yeah, Trekkie. Trekker sounds dumb, y’all) it’s a TV show always. Meaning the translation into film is always tricky. But since Hollywood says we must have Star Trek films, what should they be about? The answer is: they should be about something specific.

And here’s how you can tell if a Star Trek movie is going to suck or not. If the subtitle of the film references something specific, then it’s going to be good. If it’s vague, or unclear, the chances of it sucking are way higher. Here we go:

The Motion Picture

Way too vague. And though I love the primary concept of this movie, I will admit it doesn’t work as film. It’s thoughtful, and similar to an episode of the TV show, which actually means it’s title is fairly accurate. It’s like Star Trek, only a “Motion Picture.” This subtitle is not lying to you.

The Wrath of Khan

Though Nicholas Meyer wanted to call this one “The Undiscovered Country,” I think the powers-that-be were right to change it. The Wrath of Khan is about the wrath of Khan. This movie features Khan, his wrath, the consequences of said wrath. This is why is rocks. It’s a story about one thing and that thing is in the title. (Don’t say “what it says on the tin.” Nobody remembers things that came in tins. It’s a silly statement.)

The Search for Spock

Again, this is what happens in the film. And despite being an odd-numbered Star Trek movie, The Search for Spock is awesome! The characters are literally searching for Spock, and (spoiler!) they find him. Great movie, accurate title.

The Voyage Home

Now, while I might have called this one Star Trek Saves the Whales, the subtitle is not at all inaccurate. The crew of the Enterprise needs to get back to Earth and face the music of all the stuff they’ve done. And though they take a long and-winding road to get home, this movie does chronicle that voyage.

The Final Frontier

Is not the human heart. Nor is it God. It’s space! Duh! That’s the deal. Again, I have a soft-spot for The Final Frontier, but its troubled thematic message is right there in its weird, overly generic title. What’s the final frontier? Is it climbing a mountain? Why is he climbing the mountain?

The Undiscovered Country

Well, here I might be wrong. The Undiscovered Country is a great movie, and a good Star Trek movie. The reference is from Hamlet and is all about death. And because I guess The Undiscovered Country is kind of about death, this sort of works. At the very least, Gorkon (David Warner) actually says “the undiscovered country” out loud, and Christopher Plummer quotes from Shakespeare a lot too. I suppose if I were to re-title this one, I’d call it Star Trek: Into Shakespeare, and it would be slightly more accurate.

Generations

Okay. Here we go. What does that mean? There’s going to be more than one  “generation” featured in this movie? Well, that’s true. But, really, this title just felt like they took part of the title of the TV show away to make a snappier movie title. And the movie feels exactly the same way. Where’s that TV show I loved? Has it been turned into a lame movie? Yes.

First Contact

This movie is about the Borg traveling back in time to stop First Contact. And while the Borg’s plan makes almost no sense, the title does. Consequently, it’s a pretty good movie, and still the best of the TNG films. The title also sounds cool, and when the event of First Contact is actually depicted in a movie called First Contact, it’s super satisfying. Since The Voyage Home, this is the first Star Trek film to have a subtitle actually telling you what the movie is about.

Insurrection and Nemesis

Yeah. Both these titles are super generic and indicate a total desperation on the part of the franchise to fool people into thinking these movies were “bad-ass,” a word here which means “generic.” And while I’ve defended Insurrection many, many times, it is a bad film and has a bad title. Let’s not even get started on Nemesis. If it had been called The Wrath of Shinzon, well, maybe.

Star Trek (2009)

This was a new Star Trek movie which was about old Star Trek. Its title wasn’t confusing at all. It was perfect. Good job, J.J. Abrams!

Star Trek Into Darkness

A meaningless title for a movie about nothing. If the movie gradually lowered the lights until Kirk, Spock, and Cumberbatch were whispering to each other in darkness, then I’d understand where the title came from. “Into Darkness” betrays just how generic and carefully made this film was. The title is weak and unclear, which is exactly what the film feels like. While io9 called it “Star Trek Into Dumbness” a better title could be “Star Trek Into Vagueness” because the themes and plot of this film are so muddled! Some fans recently voted this the worst Star Trek movie ever, and while I’m not sure that’s true, it does have the worst title.

What does everyone think? Does this new rubric of detecting the quality of Trek films work? Hailing frequencies open! 


Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com and thinks the next Star Trek movie should just be called “Strange New World” and not have “Star Trek” in the title. 

44 comments
StuartB
1. StuartB
but Into Darkness was complete and utter shite.
Still not true, no matter how many times the meme gets said.
F Shelley
2. FSS
Well, I was down on Into Darkness since I learned that the vilian was Khan, to the point where I just saw the movie the day before yesterday. (well, that and the fact that with a new baby i tend to limit the movies I see to ones that really really need the big screen, like movies with hobbits in them) Anyway, I wanted to hate the new movie, I really did. The problem is...I don't. Not really. I guess I didn't expect too much out of it, and as a result, got to see the movie on its own merits more than the ideal movie I wanted. And really, only 2 scenes needed to have Khan be some sort of super man - the part where he shoots all the Klingons, and the whole magic blood thing. I suppose I could nit-pick, but choose not to. As much as the movies are successful, I don't see a regular TV series spinning off with this cast and production values, so worrying about the difference between this and the "5 year mission" is fairly meaningless to me.
David Gunter
3. spdavid
I haven't seen Into Darkness and won't till it comes to cable (not because I don't want to,because that's how it is for me).I doubt I'll "hate" it.But I do agree with one aspect of the memes going around.Star Trek has lost some of it's heart and become an action series.It's not a total sell out,not by a long shot,but Star Trek originally was about so much more than action,space and the like.It needs that back.
StuartB
4. Cybersnark
See, I actually think Nemesis was a perfectly appropriate title (which I guess fits because I'm one of the only people who likes that movie). It was about Picard and Data confronting their opposites and in the process reaffirming what they themselves stood for.

Of course, I'll also argue with the thesis that Star Trek works best on television; I think Trek works better in prose than it ever has on any screen. Prose benefits from a singular creative vision, while television and (increasingly) movies are about compromise, focus groups, and "product" over "art."

Let Abrams have his big glossy blockbusters; they keep Hollywood distracted so novellists can keep making good Star Trek.
Mani A
5. sn0wcrash
but Into Darkness was complete and utter shite.
Still not true, no matter how many times the meme gets said.
Is too!
George Jong
6. IndependentGeorge
I'm one of the many who count Galaxy Quest as a Trek film, and one of the better ones at that.
Deana Whitney
7. Braid_Tug
@6: IG, I think I love you right now. As my husban said "Tim Allen / William Shatner, not much difference."
StuartB
8. shellywb
If the movie gradually lowered the lights until Kirk, Spock, and Cumberbatch were whispering to each other in darkness...

Is it wrong that I immediately thought that would be kind of hot?
Tom Smith
9. phuzz
Don’t say “what it says on the tin.” Nobody remembers things that came in tins. It’s a silly statement
Not sure where you hail from, but that phrase came from a bunch of adverts in the UK for Ronseal wood coatings.
eg, they make a tin (or can if you prefer) of something called 'Quick Drying Wood Varnish', and you'll never guess what it contains, yup, that's right, it contains custard.
(No, of course it doesn't, don't be silly.)
Rob Rater
10. Quasarmodo
When I started to read this article, I immediately thought of Star Trek 6 and thought "YES! That one's got a vague, useless title and I hate that movie! This new system is perfect just for that!"

Then I continued reading. Grrr.
Chris Nelly
11. Aeryl
I always felt, in this particular instance, the undiscovered country in this case wasn't death(we did that in Final Frontier, cuz that's ALSO death!) but peace, which really was an OUT THERE concept for the time, and especially the crew.
Chris Nelly
12. Aeryl
@4, I LIKE IT TOO! Plus it's got Tom Hardy, and who DOESN'T like Tom Hardy?
StuartB
13. Alright Then
I've recently come to the conclusion that the best Star Trek movie is none of these but... Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. No, really, watch it again. It has all the things that make good Star Trek (and has a specific subtitle, mind you). Okay, sure, it has nothing to do with space or the future---just a minor detail.
StuartB
14. Rook751
@4 I would love to read some good Trek fiction. Where would be a good place to start?
Emmet O'Brien
15. EmmetAOBrien
Between the swipe at Into Darkness here and the swipe at Pacific Rim in the Elysium post a few days back, I am getting kind of tired of being told that I must be in denial to have found good qualities in movies I have enjoyed this summer. Could we possibly have a little less of the "everyone knows X sucks really and the people wno claim to have liked X just aren't admitting it", please ?
Brett Stebbins
17. Wrinkledlight
I loved Into Darkness! One of my favorite movies this year. I love the role reversal and homeage to The Wrath of Khan when Spock looked on as Kirk was dieing.
StuartB
18. Phenix Nash
An interesting theory... I would account for some of the blips (for example 6 being pretty decent) thus: The better movies have easy "elevator pitches." You can concisely explain the plot in a sentence or two, which I feel like relates to what kind of subtitle makes sense. ST 2? "An old enemy sets out to destroy a rusty old, semi-retired Kirk." ST 4? "Save the whales, save Earth." As silly as it sounds, as you point out, it's a simple and elegant story. On the other hand, I tried explaining the plot of 5 to my wife recently. She didn't quite buy the part about Spock's messianic brother. I have yet to see Into Darkness and still haven't been able to figure out what its actually /about./ Something about a Starfleet conspiracy, Kligons, tribbles, and Khan? Anyone wanna elevator pitch that one?
Katharine Duckett
19. Katharine
@16 Comment deleted--there's no reason to be inflammatory or disrespectful of the author of the article. If you'd like to rephrase your disagreement, please refer to our moderation policy.
StuartB
20. DHMCarver
@15, I would venture that if you are so sensitive to your opinions being contradicted, you would be better off not reading on line commentary about movies you enjoyed. The fun of discussions llike this is that everyone has a different (usually strong) opinion. Not for the weak-of-heart! But all in good fun.
Dan Rice
21. driceman
I have to disagree with the very first paragraph: Into Darkness was no masterpiece, but it was nowhere near as bad of a catastrophe as Phantom Menace. I suppose it was a bit vague, but I didn't think the plot was a disaster by any stretch. It's biggest problem was that it was too much of a rehash, but I still thought it was an enjoyable movie. Khan was definitely a much better villain than Nero.
StuartB
22. Tesh
@18 "Retread of Wrath of Khan with Sherlock, psycho Spock and super 'splosions"

...it wasn't so much about the story as the "beats", those blockbuster moments that fill a highlight reel.
StuartB
23. drc413
but Into Darkness was complete and utter shite.
Still not true, no matter how many times the meme gets said.
Nailed it. Everyone wants to call it a bad movie, nobody offers a convincing explanation why. From an entertainment perspective, if you're not a Star Trek snob (yes, I said it), this is easily top three of all Star Trek movies. If your best criticism is that it is a rewrite of the best Star Trek movie ever made, but with better special FX, who's side are you really on?
StuartB
24. Alright Then
STID doesn't just riff on Wrath of Khan, but also Undiscovered Country, Space Seed and a few episodes of DS9. All in all, it's an expensive, slickly produced pastiche. A greatest hits collection. A product, much like the one from 2009. Only more so.

But now with muddled social commentary for extra flavor!
StuartB
25. drc413
But isn't that the underlying premise of the new series of ST? It's supposed to pay homage as an "alterverse" of the original series. "greatest hits" = the idea, not a lack of creativity. It's a feature, not a bug!

"muddled social commentary" - yeah, but that's Hollywood, name a recent blockbuster free of msc. They can't help themselves, it's how they convince themselves that their "artistry" has deeper meaning than just entertainment for the masses, as if that were a bad thing. Even Tor is frequently guilty of msc. It's the price of admission to the end product of creative people. Bleh.
StuartB
26. Alright Then
Bleh indeed. I didn't like the movie either.
StuartB
27. ZhaneEndrick
I will never understand all the hate directed at Star Trek Insurrection. While not my favorite Trek film (that honor goes to First Contact), I do think it is one of the best. Perhaps because, of all of them, it is the only one that actually feels like an extra two-part episode of the show, and I love that about it.
StuartB
28. HeWhoComesWithTheNoon
I understand this is tongue in cheek, but I was rolling my eyes all the way through it. Agree with @15 that I'm tired of being factually told what movies it is and isn't ok that I like. And you think that "Star Trek," the one constant through all the titles, is one of the "specific" ones?

My Trek movies preference from best to worst:
1. Wrath of Khan -- I know it's a cliche, it's a cliche for a reason.
2. Voyage Home -- The most "Trek" of the movies. The enemy is environmental problems? Perfect.
3. Undiscovered Country -- This one is the best of the action movies.

First big gap here. Above movies are excellent. Below are good.

4. First Contact -- would be in the above category if not for the Borg Queen. Really irks me how anachronistic she is. The Borg are a collective then they're not?
5. Search For Spock
6. Star Trek
7. Into Darkness -- Khan in this movie wasn't Khan from the first movie -- so why call him Khan? Why would you so specifically say you aren't beholden to the continuity of the alternate (original) universe then try to cram everything from it into your movie?
8. Insurrection

Another gap. The below movies I see as either mediocre, just plain bad, or good but with such glaring flaws that they just don't come together.

9. Motion Picture -- Flawed
10. Final Frontier -- Just lukewarm. Seems like a filler episode of the original series, but they stretched it out for 2 hours.
11. Nemesis -- Hacky impression of Wrath. Starring Patrick Stewart as Not Even Close To Picard Who Is This Freaking Cowboy?
12. Generations -- it's all been said before; but Captain Kirk is killed first by a ribbon, then by a bridge?
StuartB
29. Cybersnark
@14

Someone from TrekBBS compiled a reading guide (with an eye towards the emergent shared-universe the novels have been building), but it mainly depends on what series you enjoy --part of the novelverse's strength is that there's something for everyone: DS9's character-driven drama (DS9, Corps of Engineers), TNG's political and diplomatic wrangling (TNG, Typhon Pact, Enterprise), TOS' exploration and sense of wonder (TOS, Titan, Voyager), TOS' occasionally-cartoony "pulp" fun (New Frontier, Klingon Empire), DS9's military action (Mirror Universe, Klingon Empire, Terok Nor), or even something unique and different (Myriad Universes, DTI, Articles of the Federation, the Lost Era, the Never-Ending Sacrifice).

If you're looking for specific authors, Christopher L. Bennett, Keith R.A. DeCandido, David Mack, Una McCormack, and Kirsten Beyer are never disappointing.
StuartB
31. DHMCarver
There have been calls for sprcific criticims of "Into Darkness" -- here are some, with the Abrams reboot thrown in for completeness.

First, @23 and others, it does not make you a "Star Trek snob" to judge "Into Darkness" and the reboot as part of the Star Trek canon. Paramount and (the incredibly overrated, and intellectually and creatively lazy) JJ Abrams bank on the film as a Star Trek film. So it is eminently fair to judge it as a Star Trek film and how it relates to the prior 11 films and the various series. They fail completely on that score -- and don't give us "alternative universe" crap, which is a complete intellectual and creative cop out. Neither of the Abrams Star Trek films show any fidelity to the characters he has co-opted. Aside from their names and roles, they bear only superficial resemblance to the characters we all have come to know. For all of the faults of many of the pre-Abrams Star Trek films, the characters in the films are at least true to their oginins.

Additionally, you do not have to be a Star Trek snob to roll your eyes with the expropriation and rewriting of Captain Pike in the first Abrams film, or the lazy storytelling of "Into Darkness" and its Khan echoes and switches.

Aside from their failure as Star Trek films, the films are "meh" as sci-fi action films, even if you extract them from the Star Trek context. Some snazzy effects, but overall weak storytelling, extended and gratuitous "action" scenes, and thin plots -- they are safe, Hollywood pap. And pretty much instantly forgotten. I think "Into Darkness" was superior to the Abrams reboot, which was utterly forgettable, but there is precious little in either film that stuck with me after 24 hours, not dialogue, not cinemetography, not action sequences.

So for this sci-fi fan, the Abrams films fail on all levels, as Star Trek films, as sci-fi action films. Are they horrible? No. But neither are they any good.
Chris Nelly
32. Aeryl
And don't forget that the ORIGINAL Pike was a woman.

What the Abrams films truly FAIL on, is that ST was all about showing us a better world. A world where the divisions of race and nation and species no longer matter. Abrams films show us NONE of that. They objectify women and because of the uniform, are denied their RANKS, they whitewash. If anything, they are more regressive than the show ever was.
StuartB
33. MaraW
I'm not going to defend Into Darkness. But I will say one thing--Spock beating in Khan's face had *potentiality* for something interesting. After all, the adherence to logic was a way of counteracting Vulcans' propencity for violence. If they had gone full-out with this seen, having Spock going fully apeshit on Khan as opposed to a few punches before Uhura snaps him out of it, it would have been a wonderful look at the violence lurking under Vulcan control.

As it was, it was just blah.
Chris Nelly
34. Aeryl
To further elaborate on my comment about the new ST movies sucking.

It's not that they aren't good, perfectly enjoyable popcorn flicks. They are.

They are TERRIBLE Star Trek movies though, and by attempting to bank on that goodwill from generations of fans, that is the merits they will be judged by.

If Abrams had done the same story about a hotheaded human named Dirk, an alien coping with his heritage named Steele(sorry Marjorie M. Liu), they'd be judged on the merits of an originalish summer sci fi movie.
Emmet O'Brien
35. EmmetAOBrien
DHMCarver@20: There is a difference between telling me a movie I liked was bad, and telling me that I must be flat-out lying to say I found a movie good. It is the latter which is striking me as less than entirely civil. Accusations of bad faith are not good fun.
StuartB
36. SueQ
I'm waiting to see what the little girl, who was saved by Khan's blood, gets up to when all the mega-maniacle powerfullness kicks in (probably about the time of puberty). Will she hunt down the Khan-popsicile-folks and thaw them out? Will she blame Khan for her dad's demise -- or will she blame Kirk & Co. for not offing Khan? She will make Charlie X look like a peacemonger.
Alan Brown
37. AlanBrown
I like Ryan's theory here--and unlike the odd/even thing, there is wiggle room in it that allows you to fudge things a little to fit your opinions. ;-)
Perhaps there is no tin involved any more, but I grew up calling cans "tin cans." And the other day my wife teased me for saying we should get some "tinned meat" at the market.
jeremiah gaster
38. jer
@32

That is partially exactly my disapointment with the Abrams Trek. I don't mind sexualization at all, but when the sexualization is primarily for the male gaze as happens in the Abrams Trek, wherein the women have no logic to their own characters, except as stimulation for the men, then i think it is horrible to do what he did.

Granted TOS was always like this, but one would think that 40 years after TOS aired, we could close our eyes to the orginal sexism and open up new worlds and possibilities. This is what rankles me the most of this alternative universe, the wimmins could have been so much more than the sexy roles they were given, imagine a reboot that treated the women as equals, and allowed them to flourish...

ETA: And i have no problems with the actors chosen, it appears that Kirk/Spock/etc. are brosifs, but actually, i think that the actors play them better than just bros/frat boys, which they could easily be.

On the other hand, in promethus, the men (except for maybe the capt.) were all played as bros.
StuartB
39. Nicocoer
I want to note that we can still like and enjoy bad movies. (Indeed, it'd sometimes be hard to be into classic sci fi movies if I didn't sometimes enjoy bad movies.) Just like a badly written/cliched/forumalic book can still introduce us to complex worlds, concepts, or even characters that we'l enjoy the rest of our lives, bad movies can still be enjoyable in how they introduce questions to us about the universe it is in works, or how the characters function. (Or you could just enjoy it because it's super pretty, regardless of story. That's still a super legit reason to enjoy something.)

Which is why either this or the odd/even theory is enjoyable enough speculation. I'm still putting off seeing Into Darkness for *reasons* but regardless of if it's good or bad or just pretty to look at, I'm pretty sure that, like the "bad" ones above, when I turn off my critical thinking skills I'll enjoy watching it. Almost as much as I"ll enjoy turning that part of my brain back on to critique it later.
StuartB
40. Cynthianna
I love your theory of Trek films--it's not the numbers that sink them but their subtitles of vagueness. Very clever! We recently saw "Into Darkness" at a second run theater just because we're 1) Avid SF readers and Star Trek fans and 2) Curious to see what the fuss was all about. I have to admit I was totally and completely taken aback at the poor quality of the script and the lack of respect for the source material. It's as if the scriptwriters/producers sat down and said, "What worked in the most financially successful Star Trek movies?" Their answer was to take out isolated lines of script from "Wrath of Khan" and somehow reweave it into an incoherent mess. To add insult to injury, they cast an Englishman (Cumberbatch) as a Sikh character (Khan). Why couldn't they just make the villain a Caucasian? I felt bad for the whole cast of young stars who are all excellent actors and for the SFX crew who are obviously the top of their class. All that time and energy and money wasted on a completely muddled, vague and ultimately insulting to Trekkies everywhere film. I don't know whether to be happy that this fiasco of vagueness kills off the Trek movie franchise or be afraid--very afraid--we'll see similar vague dreck in the future from JJ Abrams and company.
StuartB
41. nor
I have to agree with EmmetAOBrien @ 15. There is a tendency to assume a universally accepted stance on a given film. It's tiring.

Also, insofar as I can see, the criticisms leveled at the two reboot movies does seem deeply rooted in what drc413 @ 23 would call "Star Trek snobbery". (DHMCarver @ 31 being no exception).
Shelly wb
42. shellywb
I work with 3 other people, none of whom are Star Trek fans but who still went to see the movie. They thought it was laughable. Why? The plot jumped all over the place with so many inconsistencies and contradictions within the movie itself that the gaps in logic became ridiculous.

These are not sf fans, or tech folks, just people who wanted some decent entertainment. Like me, they found the movie lacking in almost everything that makes a movie a whole. It was a haphazard string of contradictory events that they called a movie. There were great explosions, and some humor. The rest was just poorly done. The only good thing that can be said of it is that it was mindless entertainment. It was a terrible script; it was a bad movie.
Beccy Higman
43. Jazzlet
@ Phuzz, the phrase 'what it says on the tin' was around way before Ronseal used it- that's why they used it. Comes from the days when you could buy mislabelled tins cheap so you didn't know what you'd get until you opened it.

@ shellywb, interesting, I think that it is fair to make a distinction between any of them being good Star Trek films and being good films. I would describe myself as a fan, but not a fanatic, partly because I just don't have the kind of brain that remembers all the details of plots from past shows so I never know if a film is going off book in any franchise unless it does it really badly, this often means my reaction to films is different from those of fanatics. But I am also rather wary of the idea of there being a single 'correct' response to a film; after all it is that idea of a 'correct' response to genre fiction that made it so despised until mainstream authors tried to prove anyone could do it.
Donia L
44. Donia
@drc413, no one has given you specific reasons why it's bad? Let's start with this (fyi, I'm not even close to a Trekkie, just a *sci-fi* fan): aside from needing an excuse for an "epic" fight scene between Spock and Khan, why couldn't they have just gotten some blood for Kirk from say, one of the many blood donors they conveniently had on ice on their very ship? Utterly ridiculous. And that's just *one* of the many glaring problems with this stupid excuse for blowing/beating sh*t up for an estimated 113 minutes.

We've got enough movies like that being made to please all those people who enjoy them and give them "positive reviews." That just means that they've found a formula that makes money and entertains a lot of people. That doesn't mean they're good movies.

@Phenix Nash, to paraphrase another part of my comment in a previous discussion of the movie (http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/09/bob-orci-blows-up-at-star-trek-fans-for-not-adoring-into-darkness), the elevator pitch would be:

"Star Trek meets Transformers: 2 hours of catastrophes, fights, and catastrophic fights culminating in Spock beating the sh*t out of Khan!!!!!!!!!!!!"

That pretty much sums up this movie that removed the science from science-fiction.
StuartB
45. Michael Durwin
Into Darkness means that the franchise, and the characters are delving into darkness, in terms of plot, in terms of human behavior:
A major character that everyone loved dies (Pike)
Spock decides to use his big Vulcan hammer fists, rather than his intelect, to beat the crap out of the bad guy, succumbing to his emotions.
Kirk goes on a vengeaful quest.
Kirk dies.
The communications officer shoots someone (we haven't seen Uhura with a gun since that alternate reality episode of TOS).

While I do agree that the movie has some failings (the plot was confused and distracted, Khan's plotline was sort of thrown up on the table), the core of the plot was brilliant (like Undiscovered Country it featured war hungry Federation big shots, resurrecting the biggest badass baddybadguy of Star Trek's history out side the Borg; Khan, to cause a war with Klingons, giving Kirk an opportunity to come to the edge of losing his soul to revenge, before allowing him to redeem himself, to become the Kirk we want) and both the live action, space action, and interpersonal relationship dialogue scenes were awesome. This was the first Star Trek movie I've seen, that I wanted to see again at the theater.

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