Hey, Hollywood, I'm available...

So, last week I saw Star Trek Into Darkness, and I enjoyed it.  It's pretty, it's fun, but dammit, it is stupid as hell.  Star Trek is not without faults in its long and storied history.  There are several candidates for most terrible hour of television conceived.  But most of the time it tried.  It tried to sell a future of unity and science based in the real world.  J.J. Abrams' Trek kind of throws the science fiction out for more space opera fantasy.  I like space opera, I love Star Wars and thereby can't wait to see what J.J. does with Star Wars.  But in Trek...try to be realistic...just a little.

I'm going to give my thoughts on what could have worked better for me, so major major major spoilers for the movie.  It's been out for a few weeks so I'm hoping anyone stumbling on this has seen it, but if you haven't, now's the time to back out if you want to be spoiler-free.

First and foremost, Benedict Cumberbatch.  He was pretty good in his role, I like seeing and hearing him, he's got major gravitas.  But after all the hoopla of who his character was or wasn't, I was really hoping, praying, he'd be a new villain.  And even though everyone suspected he was playing Khan and everyone on the film kept saying no, the obvious won out.  Now, how could we have done a "Khan" movie without Khan?  You could leave everything exactly the same in Into Darkness by changing one tiny detail and it would have gone from wah-wah to HOLY SHIT THAT WAS AWESOME!  Leave Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison.

He could have been a nobody to Starfleet, the crew of the Enterprise could find out he's a super soldier (Augment) from the Eugenics Wars (leave out how long ago it was, leaving it in the 1990's was kind of dumb, you could easily gloss over the years without ruining the story or believability) who's name really is John Harrison.  He was found floating in the Botany Bay with 72 other cryogenically frozen Augments and he was the one woken up.  Then, at the end of the movie when you find the Augments are all still safely sleeping you could sweep over the porthole of one of the tubes and digitally insert a young Ricardo Montalban.  Then every Trek fan would have had their minds blown with the awesome Easter egg nod to Khan without sullying Ricardo's perfect portrayal of the menace. How awesome it would have been that this young crew of the Enterprise really dodged a bullet and now this timeline is safe from that threat.  Also it would save us all from a white Khan.  I mean...come on.

Second, there was the perfect setup for an event we've never seen in Trek, but always had the looming threat of: war with the Klingons.  We have a new universe, let's finally have that war that's been brewing forever and see the epic starship battles we all really want to see.  This could still happen in a third movie, like I said, the setup is there, but it would have been a beautiful cliffhanger to show the Klingons gearing up.

Lastly, the science.  Okay, using an Augment's blood to save a person's life, sure, it's not real at all so make up your own science, but shouldn't there be some limitations?  Like maybe not bringing back the dead?  Or maybe some consequences so that you don't just have an infinite fountain of youth sitting in a hangar at Starfleet.

Also, this bugged the ever loving shit out of me: when the two ships dropped out of warp, crippled, they were floating above the Moon.  Then, ten minutes later after a secondary firefight, both ships crash through Earth's atmosphere.  How the fuck did that happen?  The fastest mission to reach the Moon (and then fly past) was 8 hours and that was accelerating, not just floating.  The slowest trip was over a year, so I would venture, two large ships, broken, more than likely would just crash into the Moon before they ever reached Earth.  But whatever, it made for an even more gratuitous scene, the Vengeance crashing into San Francisco, demolishing buildings along the way.

Thousands upon thousands of people would have died in this scene, and yes, that was Khan's intent, but as the movie ended, it carried very little weight.  We didn't see shock and terror and grief, and with the film's closing dedication to victims of 9/11 (apropos), it seemed the perfect opportunity to really inject some emotion.  Linger on some futuristic cops and firefighters, show people crying, and show members of Starfleet contemplating their futures considering just how devastating the last few days and years have been.  You made terrorism just an action scene, and of that I was disgusted.

Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, mused that maybe this alternate universe is the Mirror universe with the militarized Federation.  A Starfleet with xenophobia could mirror the post-9/11 United States and turn a peaceful organization intent on exploration into an army on patrol.  Instead of closing on a 5-year science mission as the movie did, we could have closed with the newly repaired and retro-fitted Enterprise going on military reconnaissance, perhaps on the Klingon border.  Maybe even show Spock hadn't shaved in a while after the stress of the events had gotten to him as a nod to the infamous evil goatee.

I'm being hard on the ending here, but I did enjoy the movie, as just an action movie with zero circumstances.  And the tweaks I'm talking about here could have been done mostly with dialogue (my favorite thing to write!).  I am totally for popcorn-fodder, sometimes we want escapism, but making Star Trek Into Darkness actually dark, actually about something, and finally lining up to something recognizable in the Trek universe would have given science fiction entertainment a good swift kick in the emotion-center it needs to be taken seriously.  To have it come from such a long-standing franchise would have made it more widespread and accessible, too.

But all of this speaks to a larger problem in Hollywood, a seeming lack of risk and originality.  This isn't the first movie I've had a few small ideas that would have completely changed the movie.  Instead of meeting a release date deadline maybe a movie should brew until it's done.  Surely I'm not the only person who could have seen these changes to make and early on.  So, Hollywood, or any major production studio who just wants an outside opinion?  I'm available.

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