"Star Trek: Into Darkness"

reviewed by Fred Dixon

Star Trek Into Darkness is a well-crafted movie indeed – a talented and attractive cast, excellent special effects, pulse pounding action, and above all a good story. There are also lots of references to Trek canon, but they do no render the movie inaccessible to the casual film-goer. Nestled underneath it all this is some incisive political commentary. In the Star Trek Writers’ Guide, Gene Roddenberry stated that the stories should deal with 20th Century problems within a 23rd Century context. With Star Trek Into Darkness, now we have advanced into the 21st Century. One would hope by the time humankind makes it to the 23rd Century that almost all the problems of our time would have been solved. This would include intolerance, hunger, poverty, disease, war and economics. Roddenberry also hoped that human beings themselves would have evolved more. He did not want his characters to have personal flaws. However, such perfect individuals or societies might get in the way of interesting story telling. With Star Trek Into Darkness, we indeed have the 21st Century set in the 23rd.

As Commodore Pike noted in the first new movie, Starfleet was lacking something. That something to him was aggression, creativity, and risk taking. Admiral Alexander Marcus, the head of Starfleet, took this a step further. He believes Starfleet lacks a certain amount of viciousness and ruthlessness needed for survival. The 23rd Century Federation has become too civilized perhaps. The Admiral has reasoned that the barbaric Klingons are a grave threat to the Federation and the Federation is simply not up to the task. As set forth in the 2009 movie Star Trek, the timeline has been altered. Instead of the Enterprise coming across the SS Botany Bay, Admiral Marcus has. He encounters Khan Noonian Singh first. The admiral finds the qualities he is looking for in Khan and puts him to use. He strikes a bargain with him. Design advance weaponry capable of destroying the Klingons in exchange for reviving the rest of Khan’s crew – all seventy-two of them. The Admiral then establishes a black project. A super starship is designed by Khan and built by Starfleet at a secret site in orbit around Jupiter. When Marcus reneges on their deal, Khan commits acts of terror on Earth. He takes it out on Section 31 (the black ops unit) and Admiral Marcus himself. Khan escapes to the Klingon homeworld of Qo'noS, a place he believed Starfleet would not dare to follow him to. Marcus illegally orders the Enterprise to find and kill him. Kirk is all too willing to follow this order and avenge the death of Pike. Spock and Scotty caution Kirk not to follow through, but for different reasons – Spock cites regulation and Scotty cites safety reasons. The Enterprise is to use a new missile technology to standoff at the edge of Klingon space and fire at an unpopulated province of Qo'noS where Khan is hiding. Only the Enterprise’s warp core has been sabotaged to prevent the Enterprise from getting away undetected. Once disabled, it would only be a matter of time before the Klingons would find the ship. The Klingons would certainly destroy it and start a war with the Federation. The technologically inferior Klingons could not win this war and would be defeated by the Federation.

Of course, we find the 21st Century parallel of this with the war in Iraq and in the 20th Century for that matter with Viet Nam. Trumped up incidents like yellow cake in Nigeria or the Gulf of Tonkin were used to start wars that were wanted but not needed. The destruction of the Enterprise would have fit into this category. Like our troops in Iraq and Viet Nam, the crew of the Enterprise responds to orders because of a sense of duty to country and belief. Certain elements in the Federation hold that the Klingons can’t be negotiated with. War gets things done quickly and there is no time for diplomacy. Who knows? If Kirk and crew did not foil the Admiral’s plan, perhaps the Federation would have quickly defeated the Klingons and occupied Qo'noS. Could you imagine would kind of mission creep that would of lead to?

This theme was struck in Star Trek VI, the Undiscovered Country. A faction in Starfleet attempted to sabotage the peace process and a coup as well. In STID, this was a war of choice, a unilateral act of aggression. I find it interesting the STID did not take it a step further and involve the civilian leadership. In Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, Carol Marcus noted that Starfleet had kept the peace for 100 years. While Kennedy fended off the military and the intelligence community in the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile crisis, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney (as well as various neocons) were all for a preemptive war in Iraq with the American military becoming somewhat cool to the prospect.

It is good to see that underneath of all the flash and sparkle, this Star Trek movie has some meat on its philosophical bone.

main.gif (14802 bytes)

Free counters provided by Vendio.

banner.gif (2815 bytes)

Click here to return to the Star Trek Reviews page.
Click here to return to the Main Index Page.