Thursday, 23 May 2013

Leaf Men - An Epic Reaction

Animated films gets a bad rep in the film world. They're generally considered for children alone and thus uninteresting to older viewers and "film buffs". Myself I have been studying the art of making animated short films for the last three years, and I get a lot of humourous comments and questions in regards to its legitimacy. Often is the phrase "it's just a cartoon" uttered, and under that term they umbrella everything from feature-length animated films about barbarians trying to get laid to short animated GIFs featuring dancing babies. People believe that animation is something to just be silly and mindlessly entertaining, and won't give them the the benefit of the doubt. They won't let animated films captivate them in the same way as "proper films". This has lead to the big dogs of animation giving in, they start creating what the audiences want.

The biggest thing  you can notice for yourself is the way that most films these days feature several different age themes, at different times of the films they're aimed at different ages and people. Pixar's UP is the best example of this. If you ask any adult about the film they'll immediately start talking about how great the montage between Carl and Ellie is, they'll talk to length about how that film really is for adults as well as the children they went with. But if you listen closely, they won't tell you much about what's happening after that. At the point when dogs start talking and flying planes the adults are lost and the children starts enjoying themselves. You could argue that UP on its own didn't get an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, but the montage did.

This sort of deal is happening in most of the animated films being made today, with some exceptions amongst the smaller studios trying to break through. And as a person who tries to watch as many animated films as he can I'm starting to get a bit sick of it. The films starts dividing in my head, and I start thinking I've seen a multiple of the films I actually have seen.

Today I watched the film inappropriately titled "Epic".

Walking into this I did have certain expectations, the marketing of the film was pretty clear on what they wanted me to think of this film. They wanted me to think that it's an animated tale about a war of epic proportion, a love story between people who could never be together, a fantasy story about a fantastic world in the midst of our own. Then for some reason a snail showed up and delivered some kind of joke about being a snail.

The film didn't deliver on any of these promises, except for the part of the snail jokes. The film is more of a buddy road-trip film set on a background of an epic war and a fantastical secret world. Now, this is actually a good thing, because for me it meant that everything I had seen in the trailers were wrong and I got to be surprised a lot more than I normally do during films. It could of course have gone horribly wrong, they could've had a much worse film than the trailers lead to believe, but I always found the trailers to be rather mediocre. They were pretty to look at, but didn't seem like anything beyond that. The fact is that this film was pretty marvellous, I don't I'd be stretching reality too far if I said it's the most I've ever laughed out loud during a film.

That's the thing, though, the film is much more of a comedy than an epic romance-fantasy. Those snail/slug jokes are actually some of the best parts of the film.

In a standard, more general, animated film characters like Mub and Grub would just be the comical relief. The characters that keeps the children entertained during darker hours of the film, but in Epic they are merely the more funny characters. Most every character crack a joke at some point, and most of them are pretty darn good.

Aside from the above-average comedic part of the film, there are some pretty good dramatic moments as well. The villian, Mandrake, is one of the better animated villains I've seen in a long time. He's funny, he's scary, and he doesn't seem to mind killing people. You really get the vibe that if he had the option, he would kill you straight away. The few times he doesn't go all out and attack characters is if there's a genuine need for them. Other films might overplay this and have him need every character, but Mandrake is pretty clear on who he needs for what. Another thing that's perhaps a bit unusual for an animated villain these days is that he's motivation isn't purely "I have to take over the world because I need to rule it", he's a bit like that at the start, but the film does evolve his reasons and without spoiling the film I can say that his son is killed by the good guys. This both make you look at the good guys as actual killers, murderers even, and gives the bad guy a good reason to fight back even harder.

When it comes to the problems I addressed at the beginning of this post, of how animated films often are divided into sections for different age groups, this managed to do so very slightly. There was few parts were I thought "oh, this is for children" or "this is for adults", they all blended nicely and turned into one pretty fun film. There are some out of place moments, especially in the beginning, where the overall feeling is in question and it doesn't quite know what it wants to be. That's mostly due to exposition, there are some parts where they just seem to push a bit too much all at once onto the audience.

(There is however one piece of exposition that is beautifully done, click the show button to read my thoughts on that. It is however a bit more spoilerific than the average piece of information in this post, so only click if you're sure)

Nod, the main male character of the film, is a young Leaf-man, who's not yet ready for the adult responsibilities of his world. It's not something you notice at first, but he doesn't have any family in the film, we don't get to meet anyone he cares about, unlike most of the other main characters. Ronin is the closest he's got, he wants to help him get ready for the world, but comes of a bit tough as the army man he is. Their whole relationship is a tad generic, but the evolution is wonderful. As the film goes on and we learn more about Nod we learn that he did have a father. We don't really learn too much, other than he's apparently not around any more. The film goes on, and then it's mentioned almost in passing that he was dead and that Nod greatly misses him. He had fond memories of him. The entire scene is actually more pointed towards getting the main character Mary Katherine (MK) to reveal her feelings for her father who she'd previously brushed off and left behind.

Then, when our heroes are about to embark into the ultimate bad guy lair, Ronin mentions that himself and Nod's father had been there once before. When Nod comments that his father never told him, Ronin simply states that he never got the chance to. This is absolutely brilliant, we learn to easily and unintrusively that Nod's father was killed in action, trying to save his world. It's a last push to Nod to get him to live up to his father's name, and it gives Ronin even more reason to go to the lair. He wants to get revenge for what happened last time he was there.

There's nothing really special about the story about Ronin, Nod and Nod's father, but the way it's told is something I don't see often anymore. It doesn't feel like we're being told something, we're experiencing it along the characters. If all exposition in the film was done this way, it would've been an even better film.

Overall the film is everything from boring and unnecessary to magnificent and magical. I almost didn't go watch this film, and I'm really glad I did choose to go. If you do have the chance, do go watch it when it's out. But do not expect an epic film, except a wonderful one.


Oh, and there was a really neat little detail in the end credits. MK's father has collected a lot of stuff, and it's revealed that he has pictures and notes of all of them in the film. In the credits the very first picture is dated May 24th 2013. This is obviously the release date of the film in the USA, but they apparently didn't think of changing it for the UK where it premièred the May 22nd.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Name of the Doctor is...

Hey, you. Go away, this post is riddled with, in the words of River Song, spoilers. If you have not yet seen The Name of the Doctor, I need you to stop reading. I normally don't mind spoilers, but this is a biggin, you don't want it, trust me.

Now that the rest is gone, let us talk about The Name of the Doctor.

So I just watched the latest episode of The Name of the Doctor. I went into it with little expectations, I didn't really know much about it part from what I'd seen in the trailers, I thought they were pretty revealing, they were not. I never really thought we'd get to know the name of the Doctor, why would they reveal it now after fifty years, and just before the fiftieth anniversary. But what they did reveal was in my mind greater than I would've ever dared imagine. I cannot believe how they manage to keep all of this a secret. The big reveal, the big stakes, the big changes. If for some bizarre reason you are still here, and have not watched the episode, this is your last chance. I cannot believe that they've managed to disguise and hide the death of a Doctor this well. But I'm getting ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning.

I wasn't sure how I felt about the pre-title sequence at first, I felt it was a bit lame, and that the way of including past Doctors seemed weird and weak due to the difference in film quality and grain. Clara running around seeing all the Doctors, talking about how she's always saved him. How she's always been there, but he's never seen her. Never noticed her. Mostly. The pre-title sequence's role in film and TV is to set the tone for what you're about to watch, some sets of terminology call it the "teaser". It is best recognised in crime procedurals where the first few minutes of every episode is showing the crime, setting the stake for the episode and often actually setting it a bit too high. But it's more important that it teases the audience enough to sit through the episode than not. The Name of the Doctor's teaser really did tease the episode, but in no way will you understand how and in what way till you've seen the entirety of the episode. That's what makes it so great, unfortunately it can mean that some more casual viewers will tune out and not bother watching the rest and get the greatness that is The Name of the Doctor, but I am so glad that they went for it.

There's then a small post-title teaser setting up a bit more, it starts with Vastra speaking to a prisoner, he warns of the Doctor's secret. He must go to Trenzalore.
The real episode starts Clara making a soufflé (wink, wink; hint, hint; nudge, nudge) when she gets a letter which seems to be very old. This immediately reminded me of that moment in Blink (you know the one), it's from Vastra and is inviting her to a conference call. Vastra, Jenny, Strax and (yay!) River Song all meet in a inter-timular psychic meeting. Vastra is warning them all about the news from the prisoner, and they are all worried (well, Strax isn't strictly worried, but what ever goes for worriedness on Sontar he is portraying it). 
Now one of my favourite parts of this episode happens, and it is great. Jenny starts talking about how she forgot to lock the door and that she thinks someone is there. 

"Sorry, ma'am, sorry, so sorry. So sorry, so sorry. I think I've been murdered."

The fact that's she's "actually" sitting there reporting that she's been murdered before quietly fading away is very disturbing and emotional. This was the first time in the episode I was close to tears. I don't even have a close relationship to this character, she's been cool, but she's sort of just been the sidekick of Vastra with a few surprises up her sleeve. This moment, however, is one of the most captivating I have had in any Doctor Who episode I've watched. The only thing that weakens this moment is the fact that they copped out and gave her back her life with the wave of a wand ("Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."). It ruined the moment for me, I wish they could've just let her die.
At this point River demands everybody wake up so they can face their attackers, but before she manages to wake Clara up (or even trying to be honest (it's complicated)) she is awakened by the sound of the Doctor's voice.

It's been a long time since I've seen the Doctor as grave as he was when Clara told him about Trenzalore and the meeting. But I were not prepared for what I would see only two cuts later.

He looked devastated, defeated, he was balling his eyes out, he looked scared out of his mind. Seeing the Doctor like this was a much a shock to Clara as it was to the audience, the Doctor is normally so held together, so courageous and brave. The fact that something could put him this far out, beat him this far down is evidence of something truly horrific and painful. He quickly pulls himself together and starts, scarcely telling Clara just what Trenzalore is, what he thinks. That it is where he is buried. 

"[We all have a grave] somewhere out there, in the future, waiting for us. The problem with time travel you can actually actually end up visiting."

The fact that he is so upset over visiting his own grave (he claims it is because it's so dangerous, having travelled so much through time - probably more than any other - it is the ultimate point of time line crossings in the universe) is heartbreaking. The Doctor has lived for so long, he's been through so much, so many worlds are alive because of him, but he is still afraid of death. That it will catch up with him. This isn't specifically mentioned in the episode, but I'd like to believe that that is what's going through the Doctor's mind. He isn't worried about the universe being at risk, it's been countless times and he's saved it every time, he's worried that he will die. Maybe because he won't be around to save the universe anymore, maybe because he'll leave someone behind, but I think, that in all the years he has been running, all the running he's done, he's been doing it because he is afraid of what will happen if he stops. 

OFF TO TRENZALORE! Regardless of how afraid he is of his own death, his friends have been attacked and taken. If he does not go to Trenzalore to face his attacker they will be lost, and that is even worse than losing himself. The TARIDS is less willing to let the Doctor die, she can live without the friends he brings along, but she cannot bear life without the Doctor. So she sabotages their attempt to get to Trenzalore, but not so much that the Doctor won't manage to push her that final mile. The TARIDS even gets a tear falling down her cheek as she realises what will happen now that they are, indeed, on Trenzalore.

I know I'm being very freely analytical and poetic about this imagery, but I do believe it is meant to mean something to that affect. At any rate, I'd like to believe so.

The entire planet is a grave yard, the grave yard of a battlefield. 
"They're soldiers; bigger the gravestone, higher the rank."
The Doctor seems to know a lot about it despite having supposedly  never been there, you might say this is just because he's seen so much that he instinctively knows things, he recognises them from past days, from repeated history. But there is something to his voice, he knows exactly where they are and what has happened there, just like he knows exactly what he is going to find.  And what does he find? The biggest gravestone of them all.

Yup, the Doctor's TARDIS from the future.

It's not actually a gravestone, it's the real TARDIS. In the words of the Doctor, it had somewhat of a size leak. And in the future it serves its purpose as the Doctor's final resting place, his tomb. 

I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but seeing as you've already seen the episode you will know, the Great Intelligence is the one who summoned the Doctor to Trenzalore. He's the one who attacked the Doctor's friends, he's the one behind it all.

On their way to the tomb Clara starts remembering memories she shouldn't have, she knows that the Doctor has met her before. That she has died many times. That the Doctor is as puzzled by her as she is by him. Along with this I assume she also remembers the Doctor's name, as she learnt it right before the Doctor saw fit to erase history and let her live without the knowledge of past and future deaths she has never experienced. This leads up to a moment outside of the tomb, the Great Intelligence demands that the Doctor speaks his name as that is the key to the tomb. The only word in the universe known to no one (well, as good as seeing how many sentient souls there are out there). The Doctor does not in fact speak his name, but the doors do open. River Song who's still lurking around through a mental link with Clara from the conference call speaks it. No one except Clara can see her, and the fact that the door opened bewilders the Doctor. A clever way of avoiding the reveal of his name, but still open the door. Especially seeing as for a few moments the audience is left to believe that "Please" is the name of the Doctor. 

Inside the tomb a light is found.
"What were you expecting? A body? Bodies are boring, I've had plenty of them."
The light is a time tunnel, it consists of every second of the Doctor's life. Every place he has ever been, every person he's ever met, every second he has ever lived. The Great Intelligence is going through. He means to kill the Doctor at every single second at once. The Doctor is dying all at once, all times, all places, all regenerations, they're all dying at once and the Doctor suffers as he has never suffered before. He is screaming, he is wrenching, and it is revealed now through some miracle past-alteration-telling-machine that Vastra has that the Doctor has died in the Dalek Asylum, and then in London with Vastra and Jenny. The very places that Clara has saved him before. This is where the teaser kicks in, Clara is realising. At the same time as Vastra is witnessing the disappearance of hundred of star systems, Jenny and even Strax, Clara knows what she must do. She has to enter the tunnel herself.

The Doctor has already seen her do it, it has already been done. Clara is the impossible girl, born to save the Doctor at every time all at once. Millions of versions of Clara living only to save the Doctor. Clara herself, the real her, will die. But it is the only way to to save him. The Doctor pleads her not to go, but she has to.
"Run. Run you cleaver boy. And remember me."
The teaser runs again, slightly altered. She tells of what she has always done and will always do. She is born, she lives, she saves the Doctor, and she dies. She's been there since Gallifrey and will be there till Trenzalore.  Immediately on her entrance the universe is restored, Clara saved him, every single time. And now, just for once, just for fun, the Doctor has to save Clara. River Song, through the mental link of Clara yells at the Doctor, he cannot go through the tunnel, it will destroy him. She is about to slap the Doctor, that's when he reaches out his hand and stops her. He has always seen her. Always. He's always heard her, always listened. But he was afraid how much it would hurt to talk to her that he has ignored her. He doesn't like good byes, but River won't leave until he does, she has to hear it. Hear it as if he is to come back. 

"See you around, professor River Song."

Oh, and remember how she was there due to the mental link to Clara? How can she still be there if she's dead? River fades away, and the Doctor is left with only one option. He steps into the tunnel and finds Clara lying in a wasteland of time and space. A place where all of the Doctor's time is spread, where his ghosts roam freely and the universe comes to die. This is when Clara hears the Doctor's voice one more time. He contacts her through every day he's ever had all at once, the Doctor is reaching out to her, he wants to save her just once. She embraces him, weak through all of the lives she has just lived through all of time and space.

This is when it gets really interesting. The Doctor sees something that truly shocks him, that leaves him speechless. A man. 

Clara: "Who is that?"

The Doctor: "That is me, everything here is, that's the point."

Clara: "But how can he be? I saw all your faces and he wasn't one of them.
The Doctor: "I said he was me, I didn't say he was the Doctor. The name you choose is like a promise you've made, he's the one who broke the promise. He is my secret."
The Secret: "What I did I did without choice. In the name of peace and sanity." 
The Doctor: "But not in the name of the Doctor."

He turns around, and John Hurt is introduced as the Doctor.

This was just incredible to me. That through all of what's happened since the idea came up, through the BD leak and till today, I didn't get a single whiff of anything hinting at the 11th Doctor's adventure on television coming to an end and an old Secret stepping in to take us with. We all knew, of course, that John Hurt would be in the 50th special, there were apparently rumours that he would play a forgotten regeneration of the Doctor, that he had been involved in the Time War and therefore exiled from memory. That sort of died down when Hurt himself said his part in the special would be in a "kind of trinity".

He would play a part of the Doctor along with David Tennant and Matt Smith. I, along with others, figured it would be a kind of ghost of Christmas past, present and future thing going on. With Tennant being the past, Smith the present and Hurt the future. It seems however that some twisted version of that is what's happening. Hurt is Christmas past, how else would the Eleventh even know of him? People can scream that he was found in the time tunnel stretching all the way from beginning to end all they want, but the Eleventh knew who he was. And that means he's been him. He's not proud at all of that fact, he can't respect him, what he's done is horrible. 

If the rumours are to be believed, that has something to do with the Time War, and I wouldn't look past it. I believe that what will happen now is not the Eleventh dying, not an actual on-screen death at least, but instead of keeping up with the Eleventh and Clara we will start following the Secret. The fact that the episode introduces Hurt as the Doctor means that it isn't just a one-of thing for the anniversary or a mini-arc, at least not how I see it. I think that the entire series is being revamp again like it was when Smith took over. The entire feel and build of the show will become different. I doubt the Secret will bring many companions with him, it just doesn't seem like his style right now. And if we're going to see a man dealing with the concious of something so horrible on his back, I think we'll spend more time in gritty neighbourhoods feeling pain alone than jumping around bright star systems feeling wonder with friends. 

Many will probably dislike this, as they did when Smith came around, but I think it will certainly freshen up the show. A lot of people has started to dislike the episodes coming out, though no one will really say the show has changed or the quality sunk measurably. People have just grown to accustomed to a level of excellence and expect more. Maybe this new approach won't bring more, but it will certainly bring new. An entire new show is going to return after the 50th anniversary special. I don't know how the change will happen, and I'm having a hard time imagining it happening very smoothly. But I do believe and hope it will happen.


There was just released an interview with Smith and Tennant on playing the Doctor, and they mention "another character" that they can't talk about. They say that he's bemused by how the Tenth and Eleventh act and behave. I hope it's done well, that they don't make the Secret seem too sad and unlikeable. I'm starting to get worried that they won't get something unconfirmed just right, that's how invested I am in this show.

No, I have faith in Moffat. I believe he can do this, that he can pull it off. We are really going towards a great new era of Doctor Who, and I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Timo Vuorensola is Captured by North Koreans!

It's been known for some time now that the makers of my favourite film of 2012, Iron Sky, wants to make a sequel. Just under a week ago signs started appearing on Iron Sky's Facebook page and on various Twitter accounts.

There weren't much information following this image, part from a few odd phrases and quotes. It didn't get really interesting till Jarmo Puskala, the man who sparked Iron Sky, sent out a short and sweet tweet.

The link in his tweet went to an article posted at It declared the Nordic Genre Invasion at Cannes. A new lounge at Cannes would be hosted by a group of, well, Nordic genre films, among which "Iron Sky II: The Coming Race" sparked the most interest.

Little else was known at the time, this was all we had been given, but fans were eating it up. I know that personally I was just waiting for the big go from somewhere, something that definitely said "yes, this is happening, we have the money now". And that, came today.

I was out and about at an exhibition this afternoon, thinking nothing at all special would happen today, but then, on the bus ride home I read something amazing. A tweet from Iron Sky's director, Timo Vuorensola, the very tweet every Iron Sky fan had been waiting for since 04.04.12, a confirmation.

An indiegogo campaign has been started for Iron Sky: The Coming Race and they're asking for surprisingly little. 150.000 USD. And this is were you have to start listening, this campaign isn't for the film itself. It is solely to finish the script, make a production plan and work out a budget, and film a four-five minute promo to help get funding for the actual film. It is important that you know this, because it doesn't come very clearly out form the campaign video, you'll have to actually read it (yes, read).

In a very exciting and entertaining campaign video director Timo Vuorensola appears to be held prisoner by NOT NORTH KOREA. NORTH KOREA HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING. TIMO IS MAKING THIS VIDEO OUT OF HIS OWN FREE WILL. DO NOT WORRY. Kah! Wow, sorry about that. He appears to be taken captive by North Korean forces, not pleased with his previous film Iron Sky. Timo swears on his life that there is no such thing as the Fourth Reich and that his portrayal of North Korea in the film was horribly wrong and totally untrue, totally. 
This all hints that North Korea will be given a larger role in Iron Sky's sequel, the including of Nazi Moon soldiers implies a Nazi-North Korean coalition of sorts will be in order. Personally I hope North Korea turns out to have a base on Mars, in a nice nod to the end of the end credits of Iron Sky.

Last time around, with Iron Sky, they tried many different crowdfunding sites and methods. The film was as much an experiment on crowdfunding as it was an actual film. Their choice of indiegogo for the sequel would imply a lot of faith in the website from the film makers, but I'm still not totally convinced by the entire thing. 
First of all, the perks aren't the greatest. Let's be honest, most projects has lame perks, especially films. The best that can be done is for the most part an expensive pre-ordered film ticket, but more often it's just an expensive DVD box set with "never before seen behind-the-scenes material". And seeing how this is just a pre-production campaign things are even scarcer among the good pickings.

The first tier is $10, this will get  you a final draft of the film's script. Meaning you'll get to read the film before it's even filmed. 

The second tier of $25 ensures that you (in addition to the script) get a 24-hour head start to watch and spread the finished promo before anyone else. This basically means that you get to promote the film, as there is no way to keep the promo itself hidden from the masses once one soul has access. If you don't pay attention to your mailbox you might even end up seeing a tweet about it before you've even received your 24-hour sneak peek.

You'll have to pay $50 for the third tier, it will gain you access to the first draft of the script. You'll get to comment on it and have your opinion heard if valid. This is probably my favourite perk, as it's cooler to get a first draft and comment on it, than just the final draft or a promo. With this, you'll also get the final draft and the promo anyways, so win all the way.

$100 for the fourth tier, director Timo Vuorensola will upload a special and personal thank-you video to YouTube for you. This tier is popular with many campaigns, and I can never say it's particularly interesting. Still, for those who likes that sort of thing, this is perfect. As always, you'll get everything below this tier as well.

$500, now we're talking big money. This will get you an invitation to Finland to watch, comment and discuss the first edit of the film (I'm assuming this is for the actual film and not just the promo) with the director and producer. You're promised a nice evening "with the most awesome filmmakers in the Northern hemisphere". You'll have to pay for travel and stay, so unless you live close to Tampere or Helsinki I'd gather you wouldn't be very interested. That's more of a consumer problem than creator problem, though. Imagine the havoc of a leaked first cut of the film before it's even made it to cinemas. (also the below tiers)

For a thousand bucks you'll be invited to a script meeting to hear everything going on in the genius room. Again, travel is your worry, so this is getting awfully expensive for you if you're not even from Europe. All below tiers included as per usual.

TEN THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS! Think about that for a minute. Wow. That's a lot of money. For this huge amount of money you'll get a speaking part in the Iron Sky 2 promo. Meaning you'll be showcased around Cannes and many other places while the team tries to sell the film to secure further funding. You'll play the security officer of the POTUS, fingers crossed it's still Sarah Fakin! You'll also get your name in the end credits of the film as "Supporter" and all the below tiers.

You thought ten thousand bucks was a lot? Take a deep breath. *breath* For nothing less than $25.000 your name (personal or company) will be in the promo under the credits "Presented by", which is a pretty damn big deal. They're claiming it's a really good place to be, as the original Iron Sky trailer has been seen over twelve million times, which means one hell of an advertisement. You'll as well get all the other tiers except for the speaking part (can only be one security officer of POTUS). Wow. There's three available slots on this one, I doubt they'll all sell out, but I wouldn't put it past some rich fan putting in that money for some ad place.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm really looking forward to this film. Maybe not as much as I was to its predecessor or other future films, but once this project starts rolling and Director's Diaries and tweets starts flowing I'm sure I'll hype myself up to the extreme.
The campaign is currently at $1.592 with 55 funders averaging at 29 dollars per funder.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Into Darkness We Go

Warnings as always, this film reaction does have spoilers in it, some pretty big ones to, so if that's not your thing steer clear. It's the 10th of May, twenty thirteen, it's half past one at night, and I've just watched Star Trek Into Darkness.

I can't really say I've ever been a Trekker or Trekkie, although I did once participate in a Twitter based "WARS vs TREK" challenge on Trek's side, but I've always liked the idea of it. A few years back, in fact the year leading up to the Stark Trek reboot, I decided to plough through Star Trek before the reboot could potentially ruin the series for me. I was surprised at how much I actually liked it, the original series was well-thought out, entertaining, and brought important issues of its time (and ours!) into light. I fell in love with the characters and consumed everything I could of the original crew. I believe this is the reason why I'm one of the few who really, really like Star Trek: The Animated Series, the extra stuff possible by having the original crew animated was really great.
I went on to The Next Generation after having watched all of the original films, but I couldn't make it pass the second season (something many have claimed I really should try, as the series apparently really takes off in season three). Instead of continuing on with my plan of watching all Star Trek, I just went ahead and tried to find everything Original Crew related. I read a bunch of comics and short stories. For me Star Trek is Kirk, Spock, Bones, Sulu, Scotty, Uhura, Chekov, Chapel, Rand, everyone aboard good old NCC-1701 (and NCC-1701-A).

After having discovered all of this amazingness I was really looking forward to J.J. Abrams' 2009 "Star Trek", though of course cautious. I ended up really not caring much for the 2009 "Star Trek" at all, I've not even seen it again since that premier all those years ago. I just couldn't get past how young everyone was, how they acted, and how the film treated the original original crew. I didn't think much of it, I wasn't really annoyed, it just wasn't anything for me. If anything, the film had inspired me to seek out Star Trek, and I was, and am, grateful.

Fast forward a few years, and Star Trek Into Darkness is really ramping up on its advertising, people are discussing everything about it, what might happen, and who might be in it. I kept half an eye on the whole ordeal, seeing if anything interesting popped up, but part from the major discussion of who Benedict Cumberbatch was going to portray nothing really triggered my interest.

Fast forward yet again, and it's now, and I've just watched Into Darkness, I just had to. I hadn't planned on it, but I was invited, and it's not really like me to reject an invitation to a science fiction film. What followed was 133 minutes of trying to get really excited, but never being it. I just had a lot of problems with it over all, things I normally wouldn't have problems with. For example, the film starts with the Enterprise being submerged at the bottom of an ocean. It was pretty well established in the original series that the Enterprise can't even enter a planet's atmosphere, it's not built for that. In fact, if I remember correctly, a ship like that wasn't built for quite some time. But alright, I'll buy that it can fly in a planet's atmosphere, though it seems to lack any aerodynamic traits required, but that it can stay under water like that? Don't tell me that they thought of that as a possible use while building the ship. First time I've openly questioned a tech decision in a film in a long while.

But let's not get into problems I might have with technology that some writer thought might exist several decades into the future, my main problem is that the characters are supposed to be the original crew. They aren't another up-and-coming team of young rascals, I might have been fine with them, but I just can't wrap my head around that the people I'm watching are supposed to be Kirk and his gang. To me it all just registers as some stupid sketch show parody of the real deal. I don't see Kirk and Spock, I see Pine and Quinto.
They seem to try to emulate Shatner and Nimoy into the uncanny valley, I can see what they're trying to do, but they're not pulling it off. I end up seeing a film about no one, and that's kind of sad.

NOW! Let's get to some big spoilery bits, if you don't like spoilers but you've read up to this point, now's the time to jump off.
So Cumberbatch was Khan, yeah? Yup, that's who I thought he'd be, and for a while hoped he'd be, but still I'm disappointed. I wanted it to be a new person, a new villain for the new crew to deal with. Instead I'm left with a rehash of a really great character that not even Cumberbatch can do justice. I have to admit, for a while I was actually shaking in my seat of excitement and audibly giggling when I realised that they were indeed going to announce that John Harrison was in fact Khan, but that was more of a masturbatory reference reflex. I was being told to recall feelings I had of Khan from before, and those are great, but the Khan in this film just wasn't Khan at all, now was he? No. Ricardo Montalban was Khan, from the highest hair, to the lowest toe. Cumberbatch is nothing but a cheap copy meant to instil feelings of yesteryear.

It's all just masturbatory references through out the film. It borders on a remake of Wrath of Khan, a remake that doesn't dare be a remake, but it is. For example, in the very beginning Spock is ready to sacrifice his life and he says his famous Wrath of Khan line "the good of the many, outweigh the good of the few", hinting at what is going to happen later. Then, at the end, Kirk has to go into a radiation filled room, fix the warp core drive majigger and essentially kill himself. Spock then comes up to the glass door, looks at Kirk, and puts his hand besides Kirk's on the door, just like the scene in Wrath of Khan except with the roles reversed. Now, what followed was to me the stupidest moment of the film. Spock yelled out "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!" in truest Kirk style. It was horrible, it didn't fit the film, it didn't fit Spock. It was all just so damn wrong, I cringed in my seat. I get annoyed just thinking back on it. Bah, perhaps I'm overreacting. Perhaps if I rewatch this film in a few years, I'll feel differently. In fact, reading what I've written, I am overreacting. It's not as bad as I want it to be, it's just that the film made me wish I'd stayed at home and watched Wrath of Khan instead.

I kind of wish I could watch the film over again without having all the knowledge of the original crew series, many I've talked to who have not seen Star Trek before quite enjoyed the film, and seemed to not find the same things bad that I did, and I suppose that's a good thing. After all, this rebooted series is supposed to be aimed at a new audience, make a new generation swoon over space exploration, and humanoid aliens galore. And for that purpose, it seems to be working.
I did not like Into Darkness, but maybe you did or will.

One last thing, can we talk about how absolutely ridiculously lazy writing it was to have young Spock contact old Spock about how to defeat Khan? I smiled when I first saw Nimoy on the screen, but that scene was so stupid, and wasn't even needed for the final takedown of Khan!