Is this a pseudo-reboot of arguably the best trek in the series, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan? Is it an homage? Do the writers even know? Why do people keep trusting Lindelof with sci-fi? Didn’t anyone learn anything from Prometheus other than how to make a good idea utterly incomprehensible?
Silly hyperbole aside, Cumberbatch’s ability to craft an interesting character out of so thin a role speaks volumes of both the measure of his talent and the lack thereof on behalf of the writers. Were they relying on everyone’s familiarity with the original Khan to get by on just one character beat for him in this movie? He has one monologue and then the rest is just him barking orders. He’s really not even a presence until the final act. How does one manage to turn the villain (especially one so interesting as Khan) into an afterthought? Seriously, how do you forget Khan? The entire tacked-on chase scene climax felt like the writers realized they’d given Khan almost nothing of consequence to do in this movie other than random acts of violence, and rather than give him any sort of interesting character development, they plop him and Spock onto a moving vehicle and reenact the finale from Speed. Where’s the brutal game of cat-and-mouse between Kirk and Khan, where the roles change with every move on the galactic chess board? The writers didn’t need to copy the original, obviously, but if they’re going to rip the spine out of the original and parade it around like they’re Norman Bates in his mother’s clothing, why not copy the best beats? In the original it was interesting to watch a man’s pride lead his to his downfall (old hat, sure, but Jack B. Soward and co. managed to invigorate it with some new tricks), and along the way we learned about these characters from the way they responded and reacted to what the other did. Great plots treat each beat like a stone dropping in a pond, with characters like water lilies. If the ripples don’t hit the lilies, there’s no point in dropping the stone. If the ripples don’t match the size of the stone, the whole illusion is shattered. And if the lilies don’t set off counter-ripples, they’re not really there, are they? Then, the trick as a writer becomes not letting the water get too muddled up with all these ripples. It’s a delicate and difficult balance, of course, but that’s why writers used to be so necessary, and why most films feel like maelstroms of activity. I’m not expecting these writers to craft a zen garden complete with pond (though that would’ve been great), but they needed to give us something other than Khan’s “I want revenge” refrain. Revenge is great motivation, but it’s not character development. Where’s the character development? And don’t you dare cut to an exterior shot of the Enterprise going psychedelic through hyperspace until you do!
My question is did they really spend four years making this movie, or did they sod off for three and then realize they better get cooking before everyone forgot there had even been a reboot? Here’s hoping Star Wars Episode VII gets more time in the oven.
I give this movie a pass because it’s just so much fun to watch, but the script definitely comes across as lazy.