I understand why a POC terrorist superman would be a terrible idea. Which this could have been fixed really easily; use the correct version of fucking Khan, and problem fucking solved.
The biggest problem with this movie has nothing to do with the actual movie itself. If you're a very casual or even new viewer of Star Trek, you will seriously love this. If you watched all of TOS, TNG, Voyager, most of DS9, and every movie ever (except the post-First Contact TNG, of course)--to say, if you are me--you stopped short and realize exactly why Abrams says he's not a fan.
See, this wasn't Khan. It should have been, but it wasn't, because you see, Khan was a superman with delusions of grandeur, but if you know your TOS--Abrams, you know google, right?--you'd know we handled this part when Khan was young and foolish and crazy. Kirk did, I mean. Khan got a girlfriend, discovered the power of love, and settled down with his people on a distant planet to live in peace, because the message was if you talk enough--and you are Jim Kirk and made of magic and ponies--you can do this (this is a very short summary of what actuallly happened, I'm bending a lot here). He came back actively insane for revenge on James Kirk because death blah blah blah. And for like, five minutes, I almost thought that half-way through it was going to go that way; Khan would take his people and go be at peace until he went crazy--crazier and came back for revenge. I get we don't have the TV show format, but you have to have seen the potential for how this could have been a set up for a later movie to bite Kirk in the ass, right? Come on. Everyone would have sat up straight waiting for the inevitable betrayal in a couple of movies. Because we all love when your good deeds come back to fuck you over.
We could have gotten Khan's race right because Khan actually had right on his side--except for Pike, you fucker--so hello, not a random ass terrorist, this would have been a huge Starfleet betrays its own movie--I love that, I eat up fighting for ideals like you have no idea--and we could have had the awesome of Khan really getting his shit on in personal goddamn revenge later. And it would have been epic. And nothing of the actual primary plot would have been sacrificed.
But no, we had to try and do it all at once.
Two--the entire downgrade for Kirk was the stupidest and pointless thing ever. It had no bearing on the movie whatsoever. It had no point whatsoever. It was random and I guess to show Pike and Kirk together, but it did nothing since we all assume Pike is Kirk's father figure and this did nothing.
Three--that was the stupidest use of the Prime Directive ever. And yes, Spock did throw Kirk under a bus, and they had to make him stupid to do it and not know it. Spock is not stupid. Spock exiles people to frozen planets, takes control of random starships to send Pike to live out his life in a paradise on another planet, and indulges in mentally compromising people with a grasp of sophistry that's charming in its ruthlessness. And they made Spock--SPOCK WHO MIND RAPED VALERIS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMN BRIDGE ONCE UPON A TIME--be completely shocked and bewildered how writing WE SERIOUSLY BROKE THE PRIME DIRECTIVE IN ALL THESE WAYS LET ME TELL YOU HOW could lead to tragedy. Dude, can he count to ten or does he need his fingers? Spock is honest, but he's practical.
Okay, I had general thoughts, and now I have very specific.
If this was about Kirk's bad decisions, then they have to give me slightly more than 'saved a civilization who just invented the wheel'. Yes, their development will now include thinking of wild leviathan starships in their oceans that can occasionally fly. The Prime Directive was built to avoid hurting their development, to avoid the horrors of colonization, to assure that no civilization assumed they knew what was best for another; it was not meant to watch them be destroyed by something they did not do to themselves because their development into extinction is a better idea. If they'd been a more advanced civilization with teh ability to grasp what they'd seen in the correct context, yes, this would have been a problem. If this was a nuclear war they'd caused, this would be a problem. But this is mythology for them.
If they dream of the stars earlier, if they stare into their skies and wonder what else lingers beyond it, if they look into infinity and their hearts believe that something's looking back, waiting for them, if as a people this is something that drives them, that they work toward--this is what people are. To say their extinction is preferable to the hopes and dreams of what could be, the unexplored potential of something not yet even begun--that's not Starfleet or the Federation, that's not ideals, that's fucking genocide.
What Jim and Spock and Uhura and Sulu and McCoy did for that planet was not just a right act, but one fundamental to the nature of sentient beings; compassion and empathy and the need to help, the drive to do just that when given the chance, to risk all in pursuit of life and its potential in all its forms. To do less would make them less than what they are; to do nothing would render the Federation's promise of freedom meaningless. They're what the Federation, what Starfleet, should be, ideals brought into practice, not meaninglessly parrotted in abstract.
Compare and contrast with Admiral Marcus, who is all that the Federation isn't and shouldn't be; warlike and colonialist, expedience over justice, power unchecked--Spock might say: I object to intellect without discipline, power without constructive purpose. Frank Herbert would say: power attracts the corruptible.
Kirk's bad decisions seem to include the following:
1.) Saving a planet from extinction as well as his first officer.
2.) Volunteering to bring Khan to justice and getting an admiral's orders to do it.
3.) Not wanting to kill him without a trial.
4.) Not wanting to let Marcus kill him without a trial.
I'd almost say allying with Khan was a bad idea, but I'm not sure how to reconcile this with "better to die in space for no reason" and let Marcus cause a galaxy wide Federation war with the Klingons. I'm willing to say that the risk here was kind of worth it. The other being galaxy wide war with billions of deaths and no guarantee of winning and morally, I'd have to hope they'd lose because the Federation started a fucking illegal war for kicks and I don't know about anyone else, but if this wasn't almost a pre-Mirror Universe scenario, I don't know what is.
This was not a bad movie, it was just not a movie for hardcore fans who kind of thought the entire Khan arc was awesome.
1.) Uhura and Spock -- still together! Like, with fights. Like people! I wasn't sure how Trek would handle it--or even if they'd bother--but dude, it wasn't just a random thing; it was a part of the tertiary plot and pressures going on in their lives.
2.) Uhura nailing Spock to the wall about not caring about his life in that ship and dragging Kirk in, since he didn't realize that he's part of one of the most adorable threesomes in history. If you rewatch the movie with the understanding that they're all sleeping together but Kirk's still fighting the idea he's in a committed relationship with them, everyone's behavior suddenly makes a lot more sense. And Spock's intensely hostile reaction to Carol Marcus is fucking hilarious. Not to mention Uhura waiting until she's got them both in an isolated area to bang this shit out, since she's kinda tired of everyone meditating or being busy when they're supposed to be communicating.
I do actually like how they're friends; Spock and Kirk, and Uhura and Kirk (I love this), and I think the reboot series needs these kind of strong relationships, not just as bridge crew, but because of Spock and Kirk's friendship and not making this into a very idiotic competition between Uhura and Kirk over Spock--adult relationships, who saw that coming. And I think honestly that of everyone in their lives, Uhura needs someone like Jim who knows Spock as well as she does, because other than sex, their issues with Spock's relationships with them are gonna have huge overlap, and since they aren't children or teenagers, they can turn to each other for help or support both as two of his primary relationships as well as officers.
In the turbolift, I didn't get the impression from Uhura that Kirk's knee-jerk question about her relationship was intrusive but not a good time when they were both acting as officers, and I also got the impression she did want to talk to Jim about it but was still working on it in her head herself. The scene in the ship later confirmed it; Spock, you pissed me off and this is why, and the Captain is upset, too. Which I'm inclined to think, from that, that she had at that point talked to Jim already and thrashed it out.
(Not being an idiot, she didn't warn him that his presence was mandatory during the Spock Intervention later; she's a communications officer. She knows what not to communicate.)
3.) Uhura getting her Klingon on. Hell, yes. Actually, Uhura in this movie did a lot to reconcile me to the screwing of the Khan characterization. And it was about her abilities that were needed--speaking Klingon, knowing Klingon culture--and their necessity.
4.) Spock running to Engineering when Scott called. That was amazing. I'm surprised he didn't walk through walls to get there.
5.) Spock's reaction to Carol Marcus. And like the good, ruthless Spock he is, researched the fuck out of her because reasons. Totally not about anything but doing his job. That would be getting her ass off his ship and his captain--er, the ship.
6.) Spock beating the hell out of Khan. I will say this for their Khan--he was kind of really asking for that, and Cumberbatch totally made me want to punch him with a fork forever. That was very cathartic. Uhura standing there coolly phasering his ass was also deeply gratifying, with a look on her face suggesting she'd happily do that forever with her goddamn boot, which again, cathartic.
I know how a lot of people feel about the use of Kirk and Spock in that iconic scene--yeah, ti was a cheat--but here's what did work about it for me:
1.) Kirk saying he was afraid, and the way Spock looked like he wanted to chew through that glass to get to him.
2.) Spock crying. Jesus, that hurt.
3.) Uhura crying. That hit me out of nowhere.
I may have more thoughts later. Mostly, I'm working into what I did like, which actually does outnumber what I don't on the strength of how much I do like how there is a surprising amount of personal character development going on
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