It’s so much fun to nitpick: Star Trek Into Darkness

Ah, nitpicking. It’s so much fun. Especially for movies that put a premium on action over story, like Star Trek Into Darkness.

(Warning: what follows contains spoilers.)

Don’t get me wrong — I thoroughly enjoyed STID. (Wait, that’s looks like STD. Never mind.) I’ll probably see it again. I think J.J. Abrams is a good director on his way to being great as soon as he finds writing partners equal to his talent at constructing action sequences.

But there are some things in Darkness that cried out for a little more care in the writing, and I think they could have been fixed without sacrificing the summer action movie pace Paramount demands of Abrams for the rebooted Trek franchise.

Right off the bat, we have the Enterprise hiding underwater to avoid being seen. Um, okay… so staying in orbit was out of the question? And to beam up Spock meant they had to come up out of the water to get “line of sight” on him? It would have been possible to get “line of sight” on Spock in the volcano from orbit… although that would have killed the shot Abrams wanted to get of the massive Enterprise coming up out of the ocean.

Easy fix: offer an explanation for why orbit wasn’t an option. It could have been a two-second line of dialogue.

Speaking of Spock in the volcano, are we really supposed to believe that his suit can withstand the heat, but the shuttle couldn’t? Easy fix: explain that particles in the volcano would have fouled the shuttle’s ability to fly or hover. A two-second line of dialogue. They wasted those two seconds telling us the shuttle couldn’t take the volcano heat, which makes no sense if Spock’s suit can.

I’m not going to bog this article down with trying to explain the problems with Khan’s overly-complicated and nonsensical plan, not that we ever got a clear idea of what he was hoping to accomplish. But this seems to be an Abrams eccentricity with all his villains.

Towards the end, we have Spock beating Khan senseless, except, not. Khan takes the beating because of his enhanced, genetically-engineered strength. Then Uhura appears and stuns Khan repeatedly and he doesn’t go down — because of his genetically-engineered strength. Except that earlier Scotty dropped him on Kirk’s order with one stun blast.

Easy fix: Make it clearer that Khan faked being put down by Scotty’s phaser blast because it was part of his already overly-complicated plan. See how easy?

Then there’s Khan’s blood being used to bring people (and tribbles) back to life. So does this mean that now when someone dies they just need to grab some Khan blood to bring them back? Now the Federation has a miracle cure and no one ever has to die or be sick? So why didn’t they use Khan’s blood to bring back some of the other crewmen who died? Is it too late to bring Admiral Pike back?

Speaking of which, why only Khan’s blood to save Kirk? Didn’t they have 72 canisters with more of these genetically-engineered supermen and women waiting around in suspended animation? Doesn’t their blood work too?

Lazy storytelling, that’s all it is. Granted, you don’t want to slow down the summer action with too much exposition, but in these cases I think spending an extra few minutes on thinking through the plot could have fixed these WITHOUT sacrificing the breakneck pace.

But I’m a nitpicker. Can’t help it.

P.S. Hollywood, I’m available to nitpick your scripts. Low rates and easy availability.

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