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Peter T Chattaway

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

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Incidentally, I've been catching up with the between-movie Star Trek comics lately, and Volume 3 -- i.e. issues #9-12 -- make some rather startling changes to the Star Trek timeline/universe.

For example, it is now suggested that Landru (from the episode 'The Return of the Archons') was *not* a 6,000-year-old computer but, rather, a scientist from before Kirk's time (and thus from the original timeline) who was part of a secret Federation experiment in population control, or something like that -- and, what's more, that the Federation is secretly upset with Kirk for undoing the experiment and somewhat openly upset with Admiral Pike for not keeping Kirk on a tighter leash. (When I say "somewhat openly", I mean that the Federation higher-up has been open about this *to Pike*. No one of lower rank, not even Kirk, knows about this.) This has all sorts of negative implications about the Federation and what it was up to *on the original timeline*, not just in the Abrams-produced alternate universe.

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Waitaminute. How can TrekMovie say that Robert April is a former captain of the Enterprise when the previous movie seemed to establish that the Enterprise was built just before Christopher Pike took command, and thus shortly before James T. Kirk took command?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Waitaminute. How can TrekMovie say that Robert April is a former captain of the Enterprise when the previous movie seemed to establish that the Enterprise was built just before Christopher Pike took command, and thus shortly before James T. Kirk took command?

No idea. Either it's something from Countdown to Darkness (in which case it's a NuTrek continuity issue) or it's TrekMovie extrapolating (in which case I dunno).

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*** COMIC-BOOK PREQUEL SPOILERS ***

Aha, apparently Robert April calls himself "former captain of a ship called Enterprise" (emphasis in the original). So, not the same Enterprise we see in the Abrams movies.

Drew McWeeny takes a look back at how he first intuited the Robert April connection from a caption on the production photos.

Oh, and apparently the prequel comic makes a reference to the 'Return of the Archons' storyline I mentioned a couple posts back. Is there a connection between the shady Federation goings-on there and the fact that Robert April is doing something similarly shady here?

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No new footage, though! I wonder if the Super Bowl will give us anything new to see?

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At this rate, I'm guessing the next teaser will feature whales.

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NBooth wrote:

: At this rate, I'm guessing the next teaser will feature whales.

Ha! And then after that, we'll discover that Benedict Cumberbatch is playing the God-alien. :)

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Cumberbatch on Harrison:

"[Look at] real social history and present history, everything that's going on: uprisings, people who are trying to spread democracy or fight their cause, not necessarily through political means ... he is a terrorist, and sadly, that's part of the fabric of our modern world," he explained to MTV when we spoke at a "Star Trek" event in late 2012. "You don't need to look far to research that one."

...so, nothing terribly new, either in the sense of giving us more information about the film or in the sense of being remarkably different from other action movies of the past decade or so. Making Harrison a terrorist puts him right in line with the Joker, Bane, and Silva (Loki, I'm not so sure).

Honestly, as certain as I am to see the film opening week, I'm much more interested that Into Darkness seems to be the continuation of a trend in contemporary action movies. Part of that is because I'm reading John Cawelti's Adventure, Mystery, and Romance, which is pretty important in the study of formula entertainment, and Cawelti does a reasonable job of drawing connections between the popularity of a formula and its cultural milieu, while at the same time approaching formula writing as an art-form of its own. It seems like we're witnessing a new variation on the old action-movie formula being created right before our eyes, and the implications (both for the genre and for culture more broadly) are interesting.

[Which also means that I'm not terribly bothered by the similarities that seem to be emerging between Darkness and the various other franchises mentioned. What matters to me isn't that it does something "different," but that it does that thing well.]

EDIT: A couple more thoughts:

[A] All of these movies are coming out at a time when terrorism seems more phantasmic than real (I mean, in the US); the last major [or, at least, widely-reported] terrorist attack was several years ago [incidents like the Sandy Hook shooting are never reported as terrorist attacks, for reasons that probably belong in the non-existent "Politics" thread]. The question, then, is this: why now?

Most of these terrorist-villains are in some sense created by the protagonists. Even the Joker, if we're to take the ending of Batman Begins at face value. Loki wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for Thor; Silva has connections to MI-6; Moriarty in Sherlock is responding to the titular detective as much as anything else. The only terrorist-villains I can think of right now that don't owe their existence to the hero are Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes and Bane (though Batman Begins is a pretty significant factor in the villain's motivation in Rises).

Edited by NBooth

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Issue #2 of Countdown to Darkness is out now, and it drops a few more tidbits that are... interesting.

As always, it's difficult to tell at this point which parts are truly setting up the next movie and which parts are just "continuity porn" (or, given that this story takes place on an alternate timeline, "alternate-continuity porn"). Think of how the previous movie's prequel mini-series set up the movie's villain pretty well but also featured lots of Star Trek: The Next Generation cameos that weren't really all that necessary.

Anyway. Spoilers for the comic-book prequel follow:

First, we learn a little more about Robert April. He's been presumed dead for 20 years, and his Enterprise was decommissioned a few years ago -- shortly before Pike and Kirk got the current Enterprise. (So shouldn't the Enterprise of these movies be NCC-1701-A, rather than NCC-1701?) April also mentions that he was a captain for 10 years. Does that mean he was captain of the *Enterprise* for 10 years? If so, it would mean that April's Enterprise had been around since for a few years before the birth of Kirk, and thus a few years before the new timeline started. (The new movie takes place mere months after the previous movie, and the previous movie covered a period of 25 years, from the birth of Kirk in 2233 to the destruction of Vulcan in 2258.) In other words, it would mean that April had been captain of that Enterprise on *both* timelines, going back to 2228 -- but Memory Alpha says he oversaw the ship's construction in the 2240s and was its captain from 2245 to 2250. (Pike was captain from 2251 to 2262, while Kirk became captain in 2264.)

We *also* learn that reports of April's alleged death were spread, at his request, by his first officer, one Alex Marcus. Hmmm. Any relation to Carol?

And then, near the end, we learn that April and the aliens he is assisting (in violation of the prime directive) are receiving their supplies from a female -- who appears to be Bajoran -- named Mudd. Curiouser and curiouser...

Oh, one other detail: Memory Alpha reports that, according to a couple of novels written by Diane Carey, Robert April was born in the UK. Could this be relevant at all to the fact that Star Trek into Darkness features a Brit as its main villain, and takes place partly in England? (Then again, the villain in question was almost played by Spanish and/or Latino actors...)

And yes, you might argue that the novels are apocryphal and thus not canon, *but* the makers of these films *have*, in the past, cited at least one of those novels (Best Destiny) as an influence on their portrayal of Kirk's father in the previous film...

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EDIT: A couple more thoughts:

[A] All of these movies are coming out at a time when terrorism seems more phantasmic than real (I mean, in the US); the last major [or, at least, widely-reported] terrorist attack was several years ago [incidents like the Sandy Hook shooting are never reported as terrorist attacks, for reasons that probably belong in the non-existent "Politics" thread]. The question, then, is this: why now?

I expect Harrison to follow a similar mode to Bane, a "terrorist" who clothes his violent actions in the "injustice" that the Federation embodies. Kirk will probably at some point say that "if I had grown up like him, I would be the one in that cell." Spock will argue that injustice does not justify injustice, embodying a cold moral absolutism.

The question films like this might be addressing, however indirectly & unintentionally, is "where have all the terrorists gone?"(Mali?) Have we really been so successful in suppressing their actions? Did they exist at all? Or have we just succeeded in removing their actions & the threat so far from "our comfortable existence" that the daily struggle & violence seems to not exist to most people? Harrison, in my guess, will be motivated in some sense by his desire to remind the citizens of the Federation that while Earth may be a techno-utopia, the rest of the galaxy is not.

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EDIT: A couple more thoughts:

[A] All of these movies are coming out at a time when terrorism seems more phantasmic than real (I mean, in the US); the last major [or, at least, widely-reported] terrorist attack was several years ago [incidents like the Sandy Hook shooting are never reported as terrorist attacks, for reasons that probably belong in the non-existent "Politics" thread]. The question, then, is this: why now?

I expect Harrison to follow a similar mode to Bane, a "terrorist" who clothes his violent actions in the "injustice" that the Federation embodies. Kirk will probably at some point say that "if I had grown up like him, I would be the one in that cell." Spock will argue that injustice does not justify injustice, embodying a cold moral absolutism.

Very likely. Given some of the things Peter's mentioned from the comics, I'd say that the whole "detonating the fleet and everything it stands for" line in the original synopsis points that direction. Which could be interesting--although I hardly think Into Darkness will handle the problem even as well as TDKR (I'm still unhappy with the resolution--or lack of one--there). Still, it's more interesting than "let's just bring back Khan."

The question films like this might be addressing, however indirectly & unintentionally, is "where have all the terrorists gone?"(Mali?) Have we really been so successful in suppressing their actions? Did they exist at all? Or have we just succeeded in removing their actions & the threat so far from "our comfortable existence" that the daily struggle & violence seems to not exist to most people? Harrison, in my guess, will be motivated in some sense by his desire to remind the citizens of the Federation that while Earth may be a techno-utopia, the rest of the galaxy is not.

I like this idea. The question "where have all the terrorists gone?" is, of course, central to Skyfall--explicitly so, rather than implicitly--making that movie, perhaps, a key film for reading the other genre flicks that have come out in the past decade or so (more so than The Dark Knight [Rises], which is much more muddled/complex, and so less useful for basic interpretive work, I think). In this case, the pattern of capture and escape could be read as evincing an uncertain relationship with "our comfortable existence," which works pretty well.

[it just occurred to me that this pattern is, in fact, the reverse of the usual scenario where the hero is captured--though, of course, movies like Skyfall and TDKR do both.]

And, of course, (following Cawelti) the function of these movies would be to resolve certain conflicts that are felt within the culture itself to be irresolvable. So now I'm wondering what happens when we put a "straight" or "serious" movie like Zero Dark Thirty in dialogue with a popcorn flick like Skyfall or (I'm presuming) Into Darkness. There's a sense in which ZDT also serves to resolve key anxieties about the War On Terror, but there's another sense in which it refuses to (as when, for instance, it withholds a clear shot of OBL). And, of course, that movie also features imprisoned terrorists, but it plays more toward a fantasy of power over the terrorists, in some sense (perhaps not in other senses). [Which makes me think that, in some ways, ZDT is more comforting than these genre flicks, even if they both end up in the same place: i.e. the final defeat of the antagonist. And that's a curious direction to follow--not one I want to marry, exactly, but one that might be worth exploring]

You know, now I'm going to be really disappointed if Into Darkness ends up not falling into any of these tropes. I hate it when facts get in the way of speculation.

Edited by NBooth

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We now know who the Peter Weller character is. And the revelation is... interesting, inasmuch as he's a character we've never seen before, but his existence in this movie would imply certain things about the original timeline. (Not very important things, just things.)

Oh, and the movie is opening overseas (and in not-quite-overseas places like Mexico) a week before it opens in the U.S. and Canada. Spoilerphobes beware!

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Den of Geek [spoilers, obviously]:

[T]his looks like a sequel done right: bigger, better, much more of it.
Edited by NBooth

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No whale, but does the big turtle thing count?

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Wondering today if Star Trek Into Darkness will reveal the origin of Dr. Carol Marcus' strong insistence that "James T. Kirk was many things, but he was NEVER a boy scout."

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Always thought it meant that if Kirk had followed the Boy Scout’s motto --“Be Prepared”— Carol Marcus wouldn’t have become a single mother...(though you’d think as a brilliant molecular biologist, she could’ve taken precautions - !)

Edited by phlox

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Oh please no. This probably wouldn't be as dodgy as the previous film "explaining" Dr McCoy's nickname (which already had a very good explanation, thankyouverymuch), but still. I thought it was clear enough that "Boy Scout" connotated squeaky-cleanness, and Kirk was not the squeaky-clean type.

BTW, what does one of the trailers for this film have in common with recent trailers for Iron Man 3 and World War Z?

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So Peter. What would happen to someone who was blasted out of a starship while it was in warp? :)

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I have no idea. I'm not sure these movies/shows have ever had a consistent theory as to how warp drive *works*.

In fact, apart from the wormhole sequence in the 1979 movie (where the warp drive creates a wormhole and an asteroid gets trapped in it, and somehow the Enterprise gets out of the wormhole when it blows up the asteroid), I'm not sure warp drive has ever been treated as anything but a high-tech magic trick for getting the ship from one place to another.

In any case, as we've seen, J.J. Abrams is not above radically messing with the physics of these starships (e.g. having Spock beam people onto the Enterprise when it was in warp, light-years away, in the 2009 film; or having the Enterprise go *underwater* in the new film; etc.). So anything's possible, I guess.

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To my way of thinking. If they were in space without anything to really slow them down, they would zip alongside the starship until it left warp. Then they would simply continue along at that speed until they hit a planet or something to stop them.

Also. I'm not a huge trekkie, but this business of beaming people on board the enterprise during warp, from light years away strikes me as big problem. It kinda takes away from part of the point of using starships in the first place. Going underwater isn't as big of a problem to my mind. It doesn't change the functionality of the Star Trek universe to any major degree (that I can see), and a Starship would have to be airtight in the first place, to be able to work in space.

Edited by Attica

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