When the first Star Trek reboot came out in 2009, I had never been a Trekkie, but nevertheless — fancying a grand big screen space spectacle — I grabbed a bunch of then-university mates (all students of physics and astrophysics) and we drunkenly filled out a row at the Empire in Leicester Square (an awful cinema in an awful place, but hey, we were drunk.)
And we had a blast. It wasn’t exactly a great movie, sure, but it was an energetic, frothy reboot with a likable cast and a decent stab into an unknown, adjacent continuity. I rewatched it a few times in the following years just to make sure that it wasn’t just the booze or the company clouding my critical faculties (surprisingly a whole row of excitable, drunken physicists cheering at Bones saying, ‘Dammit, man, I’m a doctor, not a physicist!’ really enhances the experience). It wasn’t. It held up.
Then, a few years later, the sequel came out. The goodly Steven Lloyd Wilson, of this very site, reviewed it very positively, and single handedly sent me and another group of friends to a midnight showing to experience what we anticipated to be a very enjoyable, drunken evening.
Except everyone’s reaction ended up being more akin to this:
I retreated to the woods for many months, angrily punching trees and yelling at flightless birds in rage at such a letdown. A reaction seemingly disproportionate to what I had hoped would be just a fun and disposable bit of fluff, but the thing is: this didn’t just feel like another Bad Movie. Star Trek Into Darkness felt so appallingly bad, so nonsensically written and awfully directed that it seemed like it was insulting the entire concept of cinema. I really hated, is what I’m trying to say.
I am aware, however, that this was an extreme reaction, so in the interest of fairness I’ve decided to give it another shot. I haven’t watched the movie since leaving the cinema that night, years ago, angry at the world and my choices in life. Maybe I was wrong. I could’ve been going through something else that coloured my perception. This time, I know what to expect.
And whisky will help.
Deep breath. Okay, here we go.
Whisky count: 0
00:10 - A slower, grander version of that theme tune from the first Abrams Star Trek plays. Vague stirrings of positivity are felt.
00:43 - Abrams’ Bad Robot makes his dash across the screen. Rather than this being any particular mark of quality (like, say, seeing ‘SYNCOPY’) or godawfulturdness (like, ‘a movie by Uwe Boll’), this could mean anything. It could be awesome; it could be meh; it could be shite. Most likely the one thing that you can count on is that the marketing campaign for the movie was probably fantastic.
01:09 - Okay we’re about 10 seconds into actual movie and already we’ve had one of Abrams’ signature flourishes/stylistic crutches: the SNAP ZOOM! This is a technique meant to denote speed, often over large distances, and is best used sparingly. J.J. has other theories on the matter.
No lens flare as of yet.
Whisky count: 1
01:23 - Colour-coded hooded bipedal aliens bark alien words and re-enact the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
01:31 - The hood being chased by the other hoods is a different colour hood. I wonder if… A-ha! A phaser! it’s Kirk! And he shoots a beast that rears up in front of him, only for Bones, stood right behind beast that Kirk shoots to emerge and say, ‘Dammit, man, that was our ride! You just stunned our ride!’ Okay, that’s fine. No reason why Kirk should’ve known about the escape method. Bones procuring this Tauntaun-alike was probably an improvised move by the chief medical officer of the Enterprise. Who also got brought along on this mission because this violence and running was definitely all part of the plan. That’s all fine. I see nothing to complain about here.
Whisky count: 3
01:53 - Bones: ‘What the hell did you take?!’
Kirk: ‘I have no idea but they were bowing to it’
If they were bowing to it, how in the holy hell did you get close enough to it to take it? Especially if you’re wearing completely different coloured robes to everyone else?!
03:10 - Okay, don’t worry everyone. I know this is the movie where Alice Eve bares flesh in one of the most nakedly (sorry) pointless uses of nudity and objectification in recent history, but remember this movie has many strong, well-developed female characters like Uhura, who provides invaluable supp-… OR, nope, she’s just here to push a lever and look worried.
03:39 - Spock: ‘Negative. This is our only chance to save this species. if this volcano erupts the whole planet dies.’
So, Kirk rescuing you violates the Prime Directive because the dandruff men of Planet Red would see the Enterprise and thus have their development indirectly meddled with, but stopping a volcano from erupting is not meddling at all? Methinks your logic is on the fritz there, doctor.
Whisky count: 5
04:39 - Wait a minute. If the whole purpose of the mission is for Spock to stop the volcano erupting, what’re Kirk and Bones even doing there, sneaking into the place of worship and stealing the sacred scroll?!
07:48 - Spock adopts a vague Christlike death pose in an erupting volcano. That’s fine. That’s logical
09:10 - They beam Spock up. Which they said was impossible without a line of sight. THEY’RE MILES AWAY FROM THE THING WHEN THE BEAMING HAPPENS, BEAMING HIM THROUGH ASH, CLOUD, ROCK, EVERYTHING!
09:58 - Kirk: ‘Aw come on, Spock. They saw us. Big deal.’
Gotta agree with the rule-breaking berk there, Spock. I mean, I dunno how many of the dandruff people there are, but only about 20 of them saw the ship, and the only evidence they got was a sketch in some sand, so…
10:14 - Christ on a bendy bus we’re only at the bloody title! Speaking of, have we talked about how annoying this fucking title is? Trek into darkness. Star trek into darkness! Shut up.
Whisky count: 6
10:37 - There’s a dog in this now. I like this movie a bit more. Also, he does a boob-sniff. Like, he gets right in there.
That’s my spirit dog.
10:50 - Future London is one of the worst designed things I have ever seen. Seriously, what is this shit:
It looks like a half-arsed concept sketch for a pretentious Nike commercial.
11:19 - There are no paediatric units in Future London. Gotta drive out miles into Future Hobbiton for that kinda treatment.
12:17 - Heeeeeeeeere’s Cumberbatch!
13:00 - Aww, they didn’t have hats in size Spock
16:00 - Kirk’s look of shock at having the Enterprise confiscated and being sent back to the academy is at first annoying in its apparent cluelessness, until you realise that he’s shocked because this is the first time any repercussions have followed on from his bullshit. Almost every other time he does something bad or breaks the rules he gets rewarded.
16:25 - I never realised how big Chris Pine’s eyebrows are. This is important.
17:25 - Grieving dad just voluntarily injects his precariously ill daughter with a strange, ominous man’s blood. A man that, incidentally, looks like Bongledork Crumblesplodge.
20:40 - Admiral Pike was angry at Kirk before because he disrespected him and Starfleet by breaking the rules. Starfleet didn’t even invite Pike to the disciplinary meeting because he’s the one responsible for Kirk and thus this whole mess. Buuuuuut they just give the Enterprise back to Pike. Because no-one in this universe ever has to pay for anything.
24:25 - Robocop is the head of Starfleet. He says
Definitely Not Khan John Harrison just started a war against Starfleet.
A few seconds later:
Kirk: ‘This could just be beginning’
Robocop: ‘The beginning of what, son?’
YOU JUST SAID IT! YOU LITERALLY JUST HE STARTED A WAR, YOU PLEB!
Also, all Starfleet protocols dictate that in the event of an attack all senior officers gather in one place. One place in an exposed tower, with a giant glass window. If I remember correctly from last time this means a really stupi-…
25:42 - Aaaaaand, there he is. Binglesmurf Cruddlesticks, the most wanted man on the planet, just flies up to the giant display window of the room holding all senior Starfleet officers, with no security even trying to stop him — or indeed bothering with existing — from where he proceeds to pepper the room with several thousand rounds of hot lead. No-one from Starfleet’s experienced, grizzled command notices him of course, or thinks to duck, until Kirk walks right up to the window, looks at Harrison for a second or two, and then yells, ‘duck!’. Do the senior Starfleet command need Kirk to phone them up after a set time of sitting on the toilet to yell, ‘wipe!’?
And, again, Starfleet security? You see, what actually happened here is the equivalent of someone performing a drive-by on the Oval Office with a moped. Also there are no fences around the White House.
Luckily, some semblance of reality then ensues unbelievably, the madness doesn’t stop there, as the aforementioned barrage of hot lead blasts the giant window into a million shards of razor sharp shrapnel and approximately none of that has any effect whatsoever on Kirk who was standing about a foot away.
27:21 - Kirk disables the ship by throwing a weapon at it. The weapon itself was not good enough. Why fire the Desert Eagle, when you can lob it!
Whisky count: 8
29:44 - OH, NOW THE SECURITY ARRIVES! That’s over 4 freaking minutes since the most wanted terrorist appeared outside the Oval Office! Somebody better get fired for this. And by ‘somebody’ I mean Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof.
Also, after Kirk disables his ship by throwing his gun at it Harrison beams up to an alien planet that looks like a Linkin Park video and immediately puts his hood up because it is a Linkin Park video. Also, that’s far to beam. I hope they explain this apparent quantum leap in beaming technology.
30:51 - Okay, Scotty explains it. It’s called a transwarp beaming device. It looks like a Soviet-era portable printer but that’s fine. I just hope everybody has it, because that seems like a pretty crucial bit of tech.
32:50 - Why. Are. Everyone’s. Eyes. So. Freaking. Blue?!
This’ll be a reference lost on those of you not raised in England during a certain period but these eyes make it look like everyone is auditioning for the role of the Demon Headmaster
34:40 - Bones just likes hovering around Kirk and probing him with medical tools while he rushes from place to place. I’m sure these tests are officially done in a hospital or lab, Bones, dude, this is just you mobile-probing your mate, like one of those fish that swims near the bigger fish and cleans their gills.
35:05 - Aww, Spock is jealous of the hot scientist lady.
Whisky count: 10
38:42 - Kirk to Spock and Uhura: ‘Wait, are you guys fighting?’ Hurray! Uhura isn’t here just to pull levers and look worried! She’s also been written as having the super important task of whining! Bravo, female representation in this movie.
38:59 - ‘CAPTAIN ON ZE BRIDGE’. This is all Chekhov does. He just keeps yelling this shit to remind us he’s in this movie. That ‘HELM TO 108’ guy from The Fifth Element has more of a function.
39:13 - I suppose it’s nice, at least, that J.J. seems to be tempering his desire for lens fl-…
40:22 - Seriously, those Pinebrows.
40:48 - Holy shit it’s the welfare office chick from It’s Always Sunny!
[Sober next day edit: she has a name. It’s Aisha Hinds.]
43:24 - Idea for a drinking game: drink when Bones frowns and incredulously questions something!
Whisky count: 12
44:02 - Idea for another drinking game: drink when Bones uses a hilariously ill-written ‘hard boiled’ analogy! Holy shit, even Kirk pointed that out! Maybe this movie does have some merit!
Whisky count: 14
48:13 - Another unnecessary giant SNAP ZOOM! Thank god I’m not drinking along to these.
48:49 - Cue shitty, visually incoherent, sub-original-Star Wars aerial battle, with — is that an exhaust port?!
49:17 - Spock: ‘Captain, this ship will not fit through that gap!’
Kirk: ‘It will fit. It will fiiiiiiiiiiii-…’
It fits. Of course it fucking fits. Aren’t you ever tired of being wrong, Spock? I mean, for a genius and all?
Oh, witty Spock rejoinder after a close shave: ‘I am not sure that qualifies.’
IT STILL FIT DIDN’T IT?!
Speaking of which, don’t you also get tired of always doing what’s right and never being rewarded for it, while your mate Kirk breaks every rule known to man (and the alien race of whatever chick he happens to be boning and forgetting the name of at the time) and gets rewarded all the time.
53:00 - Firefight with badass Klingons.
Cumber- John Harrison stands on a ledge, duel-wielding gigantic mini guns like a mid-level videogame boss. None of the Klingons even get near him. Or try shoot at him from a distance, even though they do actually have guns. And ships. Finally he leaps down and in the least convincing display off badassery ever he kills some final Klingons that like to stand still while being attacked a lot.
Also what’s with that hood? Who is he disguising himself from?
Kirk then whales on him loads but it doesn’t even hurt, bro. Is it that haircut that gives him his power?? Is he Space Samson??
Whisky count: 16
58:00 - Hey they’ve put Harrison in Loki’s cell! Or is this Magneto’s? Also, how hard is Benedril Cumberblotch trying with this low voice? Like, that’s not his real voice, right? It’s too low I’m sure. Sometimes when I’m hungover this happens to me, my voice drops like a half-octave for a day or so. It’s great. I just walk into shops and order things I don’t even need, just to enjoy interacting with people in this baritone existence:
Me: *walks into shop* ‘Hello. You sell bread?’
Me: ‘Excellent.’ *walks back out of shop*
1:00:00 - Jesus Christ how many times is this franchise gonna do the loud-pounding-music-and-camera-following-people-walking-into-a-club thing? Do we have to add that to the naughty list, J.J.?
1:02:00 - Kirk, on Kronos, calls Scotty. Who’s on Earth. So: transwarp beaming devices allow instantaneous interplanetary travel, and Super Skype allows instant interplanetary conversation? Just making sure I update my Plot Redundancy Technology list (see also: the existence of Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. At least the others had the good sense to put him on a plane home before he rendered the last hour of the movie pointless by solving everything in two seconds.)
1:03:36- Oh no. It’s not this bit is it? Ah shit I think it is. Maybe I just dreamt it the first time. No-one would really write a flesh-baring scene this gratuitous and just plain bad? Right? I mean, no-one would reall-… Well, there it is. Fuck you, Abrams. Alice Eve is a very attractive woman but could you at least try to get one of your three writers to make this make sense?!
Whisky count: 18
1:06:12 - Fucking super torpedo disarmed just by fucking shouting shit in a British accent and pulling the whole wire-thing out. Fuck off.
1:09:02 - Oh no. There’s that other awful thing coming up isn’t there?
1:09:52 - Ah FFS!
Also, why does every goddamn syllable that Khan enunciates make him look like he’s trying to swallow his own head?
Whisky count: 20
1:13:00 - Kirk, on receiving a transmission from now-probably-evil Robocop: ‘Onscreen. Broadcast ship-wide for the record.’ What record?! Doesn’t every transmission go on the record? Is it only on record if Ensign Buckley in storage hears it?
1:17:24 - Ship’s at warp. Gets attacked and a hole is blown in it. People managed to hang on for a second before being sucked out. While at warp. Fuck you.
1:18:25 - Maybe I’m being distracted by all the plot shit, but it really does seem like the lens flare isn’t that ba-…
Whisky count: 23
1:20:41 - Turns out Scotty snuck onto the super-secret hyper advanced warship earlier and that’s why he’s now able to help. This was after he snuck onto the super-secret hyper advanced warship building base behind Jupiter.
1:22:24 - Every conversation between our two primary protagonists boils down to this template:
Spock: ‘I advise against this.’
Kirk: ‘Well I’m gonna do it anyway.’
Spock: ‘It’s my job to tell you this is foolish and will most likely lead to death.’
Kirk: ‘Goddammit I don’t know what I’m supposed to do…’
Spock: ‘I do. I’m telling you right now.’
Kirk: ‘…but I do know what I FEEL like doing so I’m gonna do that!’
1:24:39 - Spock asks whether from their current position it is possible to contact Kronos. Kirk called Scotty on Earth earlier, dude. Are you even paying attention?
1:26:32 - It’s a good thing there are unsecured computer terminals EVERYWHERE in this super advanced ship.
Whisky count: 25
[Author passes out]
[Author opens eyes. Old Spock. Author passes back out.]
1:46:55 - Okay I’m back. Kirk’s kicking a thing in the down direction to move it in the horizontal direction. That’s good, the movie hasn’t started to make sense while I slept.
1:48:50 - Oh crap, I didn’t sleep through this part. Kirk ‘dies’ and Spock does, somehow, a worse version of this:
I’m losing the will to live.
Whisky count: 26
1:52:18 - Another SNAP ZOOM! I think I might’ve thrown up in my mouth a little bit. Why is this movie still going?
1:53:00 - Everyone jokes about that Man of Steel ending, but seriously — THIS ending. EVERYONE is dead in that part of San Francisco. Everyone.
1:55:47 - Gah. Fucking super blood. Whoever decided this should be a plot thing should be spanked on the head with a brick, blindfolded, and sent to Siberia to find their way out.
1:57:18 - There’s a fight on a moving platform/ship thing between Bungledork Clungebottom and Spock. Uhura beams down to fight. Hurray, the writers found something for her to do! It doesn’t make any sense, but at least she’s doing it!
1:59:33 - In the least surprising or emotionally involving reveal in cinema history, Kirk’s alive! The fact that there were some snakes on that plane in Snakes On A Plane was more of a surprise than this.
2:00:42 - Don’t worry. They’re gonna put those crew members/torpedoes somewhere safe. With top men.
2:02:11 - CAPTAIN ON ZE-…!!!
Whisky count: 27