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Despite Flaws, I Really Enjoyed It

  • May 17, 2013
I'm taking a risk in saying I actually liked Star Trek into Darkness.  On a website such as where liking just about any damn mainstream movie (let alone J.J. Abrams) is considered not so good, it's a wonder how much I've come to embrace things.  And while I understand liking Mainstream movies or even praising them is not particularly "cool" with the crowd, I'll take my chances anyway.  See, I've always believed that there is an art to reviewing and that part of the art is that you review in the essence that you know WHAT you're reviewing and keep in the mind the audience that you're reviewing for.  The reason I say that it's probably not cool to like Star Trek here on is because everyone got my ass about giving J.J. Abrams the smallest ounce of praise.  On a website where liking anything "popular" is considered taboo I'm pretty certain this will be my last review because I'm simply tired of it nowadays.  So I'll leave this one with a glowing five.  Not because it deserves a five, but because I'm tired of this idea that I can't particularly enjoy mainstream movies or anything "popular" without some jackass deciding that I shouldn't because, "Mainstream cinema sucks compared to indie or foreign cinema," from some jackass who seems to think that just because something is indie makes it better.  Who cares?  I'm concerned about other things.  I'm in my mid twenties now and I'm passed that moment of trying to always distance myself from the crowd.  My grade school days are over and sometime just having a little bit of fun at the movies (especially in the summer) isn't such a bad thing.

So does it deserve a five?  Definitely not.  It's got some problems.  Some bigger than others (and perhaps a glaring one or two) but really, I just don't give a shit as I write this review.

So to begin, I realize that J.J. Abrams isn't perfect.  He's not the "next Spielberg," but he does have one thing in common with him: the fact that his popular success makes him one of the more hated film guys in the industry. (it was "bad" to like Spielberg at one point).  Spielberg suffered from this for a while but because he's done so much and has so much under his belt his popular appeal manages to command respect.  And while I don't believe J.J. Abrams will ever get THAT far, I do believe that he gets a lot more criticism than he deserves.  Certainly he's got a lot of cheesy stuff in his films and they're predicable... but so is Joss Wheddon and that doesn't seem to stop anyone from praising the ever living shit out of him, and I happen to like Joss Wheddon a great deal, despite the fact that Whedoon, like Abrams dabbles in cliches and predictability so much that you might as well have just started the movie at the end and played it backwards.

Case in point: Star Trek Into Darkness is not a particularly unpredictable film... or original, but I think if you really believe in originality it's because you've spent the last one thousand years or so under the rock.  It's not the idea that's important it's the execution of that idea, which is where Abrams falters just a tad, but it's also why he's actually quite good at what he does from time to time.  The only thing I don't particularly like about Star Trek Into Darkness is how it was advertised.  The idea of keeping so much secret.  The last movie I saw where I can't recall actually knowing what was going to happen was probably The Dark Knight and that's only because it was so far against the conventional formula that I wasn't sure WHICH formula it was following... but that's primarily because it was inventing it's own.  The Dark Knight has been so influential that THIS is why Into Darkness is a particularly predictable film because so much of what it does is dependent on whether or not you've seen The Dark Knight and Start Trek II: Wrath of Kahn. 

So let's start with something simple: The story concerns Kirk and company trying to stop a volcano from erupting on a planet.  And once it doesn't we understand what Into Darkness is about immediately.  Life and Death.  Spock is not particularly sure why Kirk saved him.  Things change, however, when a mysterious agent (I use the term loosely) decides to create a one-man army against Star Fleet.  When someone close to Kirk is lost then it becomes quite clear that they're not up against an ordinary man.  Instead what they're really up against is someone who is far more clever than that.  But there's more deception going on than Kirk could imagine and he and his crew are forced to deal with everything under the sun.

Certainly Star Trek Into Darkness has a simple story.  Every movie does when you think about it.  Although it's quite clear that Star Trek Into Darkness is more about the thrills.  But it certainly borrows more from The Dark Knight formula, which is pretty much what every movie tries to do nowadays.  That is to say that there is a criminal mastermind who plots to get himself captured and make the circumstances work for him.  A lot of movies have been doing this lately.  Particularly, The Avengers and Skyfall.  And by far Skyfall did it much better than The Avengers, but for very different reasons.  But Skyfall is also the only one I can think of where it was done particularly well.  The Avengers, for as good as it is has far too much of its story focused on the idea of the characters trying to get along that the villain is so uninteresting that you just don't care that he got himself captured to destroy them from within.  In Star Trek the formula is alive and well, although Abrams seems to make it work a little better.  Not because of how the bad guy works (or because of who he is... and if you can't figure it out you weren't much for Star Trek to begin with) but because it's not actually the bad guy you need to be paying attention to during this particular moment in the film.  It's why it works.  It's not much of a change or a twist but it's one that's executed well, at least.

There are a lot of thrills and a lot of fun to be had with Star Trek Into Darkness.  Most notably the action sequences are quite amazing, as well as some of the visuals.  That's not to say there are no annoyances.  Certainly that lens flare is going to get on your nerves.  If I was to make a drinking game in which we took a shot every time that lens flare came up then I'd be dead of alcohol poisoning within the first ten minutes of the movie.  I understand that some people don't mind this, but what I find stranger is why no one really finds it distracting.  It doesn't add drama and in some ways actually obstructs the visual flare of the scene.

Now I'm not one of those stupid "CGI is killing movies," people because that's just the dumbest thing I've ever heard and shows that people understand dialog and character but not narrative.  And indeed there is a lot of CGI in Star Trek and a lot of strange set pieces, but CGI doesn't kill movies.  And if you think it does, you're a dumbass.  Period.  No, what's distracting about some of the CGI is that Star Trek just never feels like it's a world that's been lived in.  One of the things Star Wars (the original trilogy) did so well was that you got the sense that the universe was inhabited.  Here, as in real Sci-Fi fashion, everything looks slick and clean.  So it's actually quite something when you realize J.J. Abrams isn't afraid to make the enterprise look like a floating piece of crap at some point when the characters get into some real danger.  It's quite something and quite the spectacle to see.  On the other hand, it's also quite distracting at times because the characters are not particularly that interesting.  Now, I don't care what people thought of the original show, but those characters also sucked.  They were devoid of most personality.  When creating the reboot it's not as though there was a lot to draw from.  This is why some of the characters are so close.  The sixties was a campy time and regardless of what people think those particularly characters are nothing more than caricatures in 2013 because they were already devoid of any real character to begin with.  They had personality (which is perfectly emulated here) but I never actually gave a shit.  So here it's surprising that there are some moments when I do.  It's just a shame that Abrams puts them in such artificial danger.  Like so many movies Abrams can't bring himself to make it seem like the characters are in any real danger, even in moments where the ship around them is being destroyed.  If there was one thing I think Abrams should've borrowed a page from Nolan about it's not being ashamed to put everything on the table.  Anyone can die.  And anyone should be able to be in the running for being killed.  One of the most amusing aspects about The Dark Knight was that Nolan was willing to kill of a pretty major character just for the sake of proving a point.  Star Trek takes no such risks.  Like Iron Man 3 it's so over the top that you simply know your characters aren't in any actual danger.  Like The Avengers it's also very boring when this realization comes to light.

On the other hand, at the very least the characters are actually actively involved in much of the plot.  Despite knowing they're in no real danger, at least Abrams is willing to inconvenience them at any turn.  The plans the characters hatch are always going wrong which is enough to keep you going through the movie.  It's not the cleverest thing out there, but it's a farcry from the Star Wars prequels where everything is always anti-climactic at every goddamn turn.

There are a few funny moments in Star Trek Into Darkness, which continues the other trend of having the tone of a movie clash constantly.  It's not as bad about it as The Amazing Spider-Man but again, Abrams failed to learn anything from Nolan (who he so clearly was trying to emulate in MANY moments).  The humor in The Dark Knight is very twisted.  The character committing most of it is the darkest character there.  We know we shouldn't laugh at the Joker but we understand that this is what he's about.  It's hard to go from crying to jubilation in an instant.  Not that you'll cry much.  Despite how much Star Trek ups the emotional ante, it's constantly trying to lighten the mood with strange humor at every turn.  It would be like Alfred deciding to do standup at the moment Rachel died just because.  It's not too annoying here, but it is enough to make you wonder why you wasted the last five minute feeling bad for a characters predicament only to laugh at it ten seconds later (in particular the scenes with Scotty are like this).  The emotional moments are destroyed by Star Trek: Into Darkness constant moments to try to remind you how serious its supposed to be.  Marvel sucks at this big time and Abrams isn't doing any better. 

Yet for all its worth, Star Trek Into Darkness is actually a lot of fun.  It's easy on the eyes and has quite a few twists and turns.  Nothing actually surprising but as I've said, a movie hasn't "surprised" me in quite some time and I'm not one to care.  Storytelling isn't about surprises, it's about execution.  There are some things Abrams doesn't do so well.  Not at the emotional core, but in making a big deal about much of what the movie is about.  The villain, for instance, is exactly who you think it is.  The fact that Abrams and company tried to keep this underwraps is surprising.  The big twist at the end?  Same thing.  Very obvious (actually it's not... we're literally told halfway through what will happen).  That's not to say there aren't some things you won't see coming.  The other problem is that there is a lot of convenience in the plot.  And while that's not necessarily a bad thing (EVERY movie has it) it is kind of annoying that some characters are put in one place or another for no apparent reason only for us to learn later that they just happened to be there.  Scotty's predicament isn't so bad, but there's a particular female character that has absolutely no business being where she is and it doesn't actually make any logical sense, but lo and behold there she is.

That doesn't mean the movie isn't fun.  I had a lot of fun with it.  I was blown away by quite a bit of the movie because I was impressed with just how entertaining it was.  I get that being "entertaining," isn't enough for the Lunch crowd and that I've sinned by liking a movie because of it's "entertainment" factor instead of its "intellectual" one, but again... you have to know the audience.  And I've little problem with actually sitting down and just enjoying something.  Sometimes a movie really works out better that way ("Raiders of the Lost Ark") while other movies are destroyed by being too all out pretentious about what they do ("Lions for Lambs," "The Art of Getting By,").  The point is that the movie is still fun as hell to watch and I'd probably go see it again because the ride was actually a very good one.  It was entertaining and thrilling.  I laughed (although I didn't cry) and I really believed that I saw something pretty darn good despite its flaws.  Again, predictable, but as I said the last "unpredictable" movie I saw was five years ago and I don't think it's really such a bad thing if you do know what happens (everyone talks about the "big twist" in Iron Man 3 but I figured it out pretty soon into the film... so much so I didn't know it was actually a twist). 

So yes, fellow Lunchers, I've committed the sin of enjoying a mainstream movie.  I've committed the sin of liking J.J. Abrams and I've committed the scene of actually being entertained by something considerably mindless.  But I just don't care anymore.  I went to have some fun and I got my fun.  This isn't a particularly bad movie.  It has it's flaws and I'd never suggest any film is perfect (if a film is, you're an idiot).  But I am particularly tired of this idea that mainstream=bad.  That's just stupid.  There are A LOT of Star Trek references to the original film and series, which may also be something that is kind of annoying.  As I hated the television series (but was delighted to see Star Trek II, IV and VI... because the odd number movies suck) I was surprised I still caught onto so many references.  This may actually be a bit of a problem.  The story is not going to interest you unless you can pick up on these particular bits (in particular: Watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn).  All of the best moments of Into Darkness are pretty pale and forgettable unless you actually do.  And I'm not a fan of that sort of stuff.  The movie-goer shouldn't be forced to do outside homework.  And seeing as how the movie going crowd sucks at reading books and going anything beyond watching a goddamn movie I'm sure some people will miss a lot of references that'll fly over their head (or will they?).  And it kind of sucks that Into Darkness relies so heavily on a movie from thirty years ago to create some of its biggest moments.

Anyway, it was not a bad movie.  I'd highly recommend it for those looking to have some fun.  Not to turn off their brain, but just to have fun and perhaps find themselves excited by some of the majesty of the movie itself.  It's a fun movie and deserves your attention at least once.

What did you think of this review?

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June 04, 2013
Don't blame fans and fanboys for the fan service with this film. Most of the Star Trek fans I know hated Into Darkness. I consider myself a fan and while I enjoyed the movie I found the Wrath of Khan ripoffs really distracting. So I don't even think Abrams achieved his goal here in drawing in older Trek fans. I agree. This type of fan service is a sign of an insecure director or producer (I don't know if it comes from Paramount or Abrams). I hope Abrams is mature enough not to engage in this sort of blatant fan service in the Star Wars sequels.
June 04, 2013
Yeah, it was REALLY distracting.  Especially the second time I saw it.  It felt like he was trying so hard to appeal to the Trekkies with it and then I was thinking to myself, "Why?"  But more than that at some point I was just wondering why it was so blasted important that it had to be Khan.  He could've been anyone and it just wouldn't have mattered!
May 21, 2013
I agree with Bill. This was a good read.
May 21, 2013
really not sure what you mean that this site isn't into the mainstream movies since I think it is all it is all about. I mean, mainstream movies get more hits than the other stuff. Yeah, this was pretty fun and worth a look. Abrams does know what his audience wants to see and it certainly shows. Ok, you almost wrote this as if you were a little peeved or something LOL! good read
June 04, 2013
Uh... I should take this in two parts.  The first part just to explain the "mainstream" thing.  But the second is the honest review that I probably should've written instead of the drunken angry rant I (strangely enough) posted here just to spite some jerk off online.  Anyway, I'll also make two separate comments.  You know how I sometimes am.  I have this habit of typing too much.

The second part is actually the more honest review.  The stuff that occured to me days later and after seeing the film a second time (it could've been a third).  And finally zeroing in on why J.J. Abrams just might be a tad big annoying (and why this review is probably mute as a result).  In other words: I get it.  But I strangely still loved this.  I just had one BIG problem that's expressed in this review, but it comes across as so much more charming in the review itself!

PART ONE: The Mainstream vs. Indie Debate

My problem wasn't about the "hits" with mainstream movies. It's about the idea that mainstream=bad.  That's rampant throughout Lunch.  Hits has never been an indication of what one thinks of the quality.   The problem isn't hits.  It's actually more the idea that the moment people think of a mainstream movie or how popular a movie is there's this strange reaction on Lunch that comes across like to do so paints you in a very strange and unintelligent light.  Even on Amazon I didn't get that much vitriol from giving a "popular" movie a 4.  I read a review once (here! on this site!) that even began with, "I know I shouldn't like this because it's popular..."  That's very telling about how some reviewers come to the review forum on this site.  On many other websites the population is so diverse they don't worry about it, but on Lunch people do.  They want their reviews to sound smart and intelligent and that's good.  But they sacrifice enjoyment to do so.  Something can't be seen as good if it's "too popular," on Lunch.  Where there are far too many people that seem to think, "This is popular, I need to show that it's actually flawed."  If I ever read the words: "I don't understand why this popular," or "It's overrated," then I know beyond a doubt that I am reading a review written by someone who is reviewing the success of the film not the actual quality of it.  That happens a lot on Lunch.  To a disturbing degree, in fact.  And sometimes I agree (everyone knows I'm no fan of Michael Bay) but sometimes it's a little unwarranted.  I still feel the "The Hunger Games is basically Battle Royale" crowd was just doing a "This is how we'll shit on THIS popular thing!" (it was like they all went to a meeting and decided on it after it's opening box office figures, until that moment... no one gave a rats ass) For one very big reason that I needn't point out here, that's actually not THAT big of a deal.  The Hunger Games had a few things wrong with it but being similar to Battle Royale isn't one of them because if that's the case: then fans of the film Battle Royale have to explain why they don't read books.  They were REALLY late jumping on that bandwagon (there were many discussions of the similarities in the literary community four years earlier).  Especially because Battle Royale was a very good book before it was a very bad film--at least in my opinion it was bad.  But I can't say that on so uh... "Battle Royale was a great film because YOU never heard of it! And The Hunger Games is shitty because its eerily similar to a foreign film that did what it does a little better."  Now that I've satisfied the hipster crowd, let me continue with my comment.

My whole point was that if a mainstream movie isn't that good... it's not because it's a mainstream movie (but many on this site would disagree--and I do mean many, I have many an inbox and Facebook comment to prove it).  The idea that indie or foreign films are inherently better is just... stupid.  Like, really stupid.  The idea of avoiding a movie because it's mainstream, or somehow being harsher on it because it's mainstream is just stupid.  The mainstream vs. indie appeal is just... stupid.  My comments weren't about the "hits" so much as it was about the attitude.  That attitude seems to be that if it's Mainstream we're going to assume that it's bad.  If it's "popular" mainstream we're supposed to be skeptical of that popularity.  Not because it might be bad, but because being mainstream is what we assume makes it bad.  Because apparently Indie movies are immune to being bad even when they actually are (Boy oh boy "The Orgasm Diaries" sure was very artful and poignant, wasn't it?)  Hell, even when they are bad everyone sits down and basically says it's that terribleness that makes it good.  And don't get me wrong, I like Indie and Foreign films.  But I don't like them BECAUSE they're Indie and Foreign Films.  I like them because I like movies and just enjoy watching them. 

Mainstream just about always gets more hits because there's a bigger marketing muscle behind it and usually an attempt to get it to appeal to a broader base.  So typically more people see them, not actually because they're always more popular, but because more people just happen to know about it.  Which does lead to less risky films but the idea that this is always a "bad" thing is a misguided thing, in my mind.  It defeats the idea of WHY some movies are made.  I just happen to see more of it here than in other places.  And... for what, exactly?  I don't get it.  A few years ago I got it.  A few years ago I was like, "Ah, okay."  But now so much of it comes across as, "This movie is popular and it is up to ME to show that it is not perfect and that it is flawed," as though to give something a 5 is somehow saying the film, game etc. is flawless.  If I see the phrases, "It's overrated," or "I don't understand why it's popular," then I automatically know this is what's happening within the review.  It's just another pretentious, "Too many people like this and it's up to ME and ONLY ME to save them from their own stupidity."  THAT'S how it sounds.  And sometimes I'm okay with it.  Even when I disagree.  But in many cases it's only been used as an excuse by smart people not to think.  And they think that because they're smart their thoughtlessness in this regard should just be excused despite how unintelligent that is to do.  One doesn't come across as more of an observer.  Sometimes one just comes across as just a tad too prickish for my taste (and that takes a lot).  In the case of this review, I'd been dealing with it for some time, which also accounts for my extended absences from Lunch from time to time.  I just needed a break from that.

It has only given smart people an excuse not to think (or to be dismissive of anything that has so-called "mainstream appeal," because apparently that matters in a world where--I'm sorry to say--Indie isn't as much of a thing anymore because this thing called "The Internet" exist).  When I say the site isn't into mainstream movies, the hits aren't what I'm talking about.  I'm talking the people who constantly leave me messages for daring to have actually enjoyed a mainstream film.  You have to be careful about saying "nice things" about popular movies on Lunch.  It doesn't matter how many people saw it.  What matters is that a lot of people on this site are looking to see you rip a movie apart.  And I'm okay with that.  What I'm not okay with is this idea that if I choose not to rip a mainstream movie apart it's a "bad" thing.  But if I criticize a smaller indie film I'm somehow against "art" or against "originality" (because some idiot still thinks that exist in a world where it's all been done before) or something along those lines.  Or I'm constantly being told I "Don't Get it."  I wanted to write a review for "There Will Be Blood," but refrained because my original draft was ripped apart because I dared to say it was "boring."  So because I said that, suddenly I was accused of just being another idiot who enjoys nothing but explosions and mindless fun (as though having fun at the movies is a bad thing...) and that "There Will Be Blood" was just "too smart" for me.  Because apparently "There Will Be Blood" is a difficult movie to understand.  But it was... boring.  It's hard to review because there's actually nothing "wrong" with it.  It's just boring as shit.  Tight screenplay, great acting.  It's just... boring. 

This review came out because someone (on this site, no less) asked me if I actually liked Star Trek: Into Darkness.  Because my Facebook post sounded just a tad "too positive," about a movie that had so many glaring plotholes etc.  And they were right, there were glaring plot holes.  Every movie has something a little off.  Every movie has moments where you ask yourself, "Why didn't the characters just do this?"  And while Star Trek: Into Darkness has a ton (oh boy does it ever) the point of good movies is that if they distract me enough that I'm not thinking about them, they overall don't matter.  Some movies do a good job (The Dark Knight--despite that it's plot holes are even EXPLAINED to you without being filled in).  Some do an okay job (The Avengers) and others are just horrible about it (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) because they're bringing far too much attention to them.  Some make the ride so good you just don't care (again, The Avengers, but for me Skyfall did it better).  It doesn't quite make Into Darkness forgivable in that regard (though if I'm enjoying the ride it's no big deal: Honest Trailers said it best about The Avengers: "That doesn't matter because that shot was awesome!!")  And I'll fully admit that hell yeah it's got plot holes.  Some that really bothered the crap out of me because the movie wasn't distracting enough from them (well, neither did The Avengers, but there was something else The Avengers was actively getting at).  I'd rather not talk about this particular feeling in the comments section, though.  I don't think it's fully appropriate here.  This probably won't be my last review here on Lunch.  I've got two more planned (my Iron Man 3 review, which isn't being written drunk this time, and thus much more focused than this one).  I'll refrain from responding to any comments concerning that whole "Mainstream/Indie" stuff and how I feel Lunch just... sort of became a lot less fun because of it.
June 04, 2013

This review was written as something I like to call a drunken tirade.  That being, I was so drunk off my ass writing it I wasn't entirely sure what I'd written (case in point, I'm pretty sure when I awoke I didn't know it was here until I saw a comment in my email inbox and I thought, "I wrote a review?" because I've been trying to quit reviewing).  If I were to go back and revise this review it would definitely get a 3.  I was just in a mood because I actually liked it and was being bombarded by so many jackasses about it.  But as much as I liked it I don't particularly like the screenplay. 

There's too much fanservice.  And I REALLY REALLY REALLY hate fan service.  I hate that J.J. Abrams went the route of, "I need to try to please Star Trek fans somehow."  Or felt that he did.  When people include things because they feel they have to or to give a nod to fans (as you can imagine, Batman getting his back broken in The Dark Knight Rises pissed me the hell off... it only happened because it was "supposed" to; it's what fans expected... at least Nolan worked it in to be more than fan service but I still hated it... I read the comics to get the comics, I don't watch the movie for that reason--that's just... stupid).  It's the sign of a timid director who wants to be loved but not who wants to be expressive.  It's the sign of a director who doesn't want to take risks.  I still like Abrams, but Star Trek: Into Darkness really does have that one big issue. 

Basically, the need to appease stupid fanboys ALMOST made this a bad movie (fanboys fuck up something else for all of us!).  Don't get me wrong, I had fun with this movie.  Came out of the theater wanting to see it again, in fact.  Actually... went back to see it just a few hours later.  Because I actually really liked this movie.  But...

Things like *SPOILER ALERT BECAUSE APPARENTLY IT'S A SPOILER* the main villain actually being Khan was just... eh... for me.  Loved Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan but here I was just like, "This is only meaningful if you watched TOS (which I hated) or watched The Wrath of Khan (which I loved)." So why in the hell did anyone feel it was worthwhile to keep this shrouded in mystery?  The people who were fans previously already knew.  The people who weren't fans have no idea who the hell Khan is in the first place, or why he's so iconic.  So... why?  See the problem I mostly had with this movie is that it tries to invite in new Star Trek fans the way the previous one did by adding more adventure and excitement (mostly because Abrams was inspired by Star Wars... which is blasphemy to some idiot out there, but I don't care) but Into Darkness tries to retain those new fans... by excluding them with its villain and plot twists that are only good to those who liked Star Trek BEFORE the reboot.  Which means that all the work he put into the first one to get it to appeal to a broader audience is pretty much nullified when you bring about this whole Khan thing.  Especially when so much of the movie IS Wrath of Khan.  I've had to explain more than once to friends why Khan is a big deal.  What he's all about.  Friends who didn't understand why, when this was revealed, people in the audience clapped and cheered.  It seems just all around lazy to me to do absolutely nothing to establish the villain.  But more than that, I absolutely HATE it when a movie is put out there and you have to feel like you're on the "inside" to fully grasp the significance.  You don't have to read the Harry Potter books, for instance to actually understand the movies.  You don't have to read the comic books to get Spider Man.  But in order to understand why Khan is such a big deal here... you MUST already have prior understanding.  Otherwise there's just no impact.  And in my opinion... yeah, that's kind of a big deal.  Your audience shouldn't have to do outside work to get it.  One of the perks of Abrams reboot of Star Trek was that people who were normally not interested in Star Trek actually went back and watched TOS.  It revived interest in what so many had considered a dead series to anyone that wasn't already obsessed with it.

The best part about The Dark Knight (I'm sorry I keep coming back to this film, but it's the BEST parallel example because it's so obvious that Abrams was inspired by it) was that Nolan doesn't rely on The Joker's built in fanbase.  He actually works to establish the Joker as a dangerous criminal.  A mastermind.  Someone you don't want to mess with.  Ya know, for those who don't read the comics or what have you.  And THEN he presses forward.  Then, just to add a cherry on top, The Joker himself explains just WHAT he is... in case the audience doesn't quite understand it (but it's done in good context so that he's explaining it to Dent... not the audience).  Into Darkness never does this.  Khan is never "established."  They just sort of hope that knowing who he is previously will be enough.  And that to me just sucks.  If you haven't seen Wrath of Khan then the villain being Khan is just... meaningless.  And for those who DID see Wrath of Khan, there was no reason to "hide" his identity behind a different name from those audience members.  It benefits the film itself in no way.  It benefits the marketing, but not the film itself.  It's not a twist!  Not because we know, but because there's nothing in the plot that actually dictates it should be kept secret.  Why is it important for the characters to not know who he is?  It's not as though the reveal somehow changes the way Kirk or his crew see any of it.  They haven't had any run-ins with Khan before, for instance.  None of them know who Khan is or anything about Khan.  It's not even important for Khan's identity to be a secret from Starfleet. 

So why did Abrams do it?  For marketing!  Keeping Khan a mystery is good for marketing, but terrible for the sake of storytelling and plot.  And boy oh boy does Abrams do this a lot.  Abrams biggest problems can be seen in Super 8. The story concerning the kids was pretty cool and clever.  But the alien?  The part the marketing centered on?  Kind of boring.  One of those, "Keep this part a mystery!"  Problem is, the mystery is never the part that's exciting.  Not because it's predictable but because the mystery only benefits the marketing of the film not necessarily the story of the film.  The mystery box marketing that Abrams is so fond of works.  It gets people into the theater.  It's just that the problem with it is that it doesn't do anything for the story.  In the case of Into Darkness, Khan was the big "mystery box" marketing gimmick.  But when seeing the movie I thought what point did the mystery serve in the purpose of the story? 

J.J. Abrams is a good director... but he has to get rid of his screenwriters.  Or look at the scripts more closely and ask his writers: "Why does this make sense?"

It was actually pretty good but it had a really really sloppy screenplay that was more concerned about fanservice than anything, I think.  So it's more of a +3 movie.  Maybe a +3.5.  Really fun and exciting but I do tire of J.J. Abrams "Mystery Box" method of marketing.  Great for getting people in the theater... horrible for storytelling.

There were a lot of things I was not particularly big on with this movie.  My +5 is just a pitiful, immature, drunken, rebellious attempt to prove that it's... ya know, okay to like something that may be considered "popular."  It totally doesn't deserve a +5.  But I think in my drunken state (in addition to some jerk off) I was just annoyed so I wrote a review to express how annoyed I was.
June 04, 2013
I think this is actually a better review ;)
June 04, 2013
Me too.
June 06, 2013
I only got one thing to say...I hope you realize that BATTLE ROYALE is actually a cult movie in America but mainstream in Asia right? I think you are very mistaken about what you have said about how people seem to like negative reviews and how something they had never heard of is 'cool'. I don't agree with your reasoning but it is yours. At the risk of sparking a debate, well, you do understand that mainstream movies are often a) featured more than indie movies b) there are more reviews here for the mainstream than foreign, indie or otherwise. However, there are cases that an indie can become popular through world of mouth.

I guess this rant had been provoked by someone, and so, hey, that is your call. But really, what others think about THE HUNGER GAMES, BATTLE ROYALE, The Dark Knight Rises or whatever else should not matter. I mean, I think paying attention to one individual or many, and then making that individual the whole is kind of not cool, but hey, I can see how something like that could've made you feel that way. Oh, the Hunger Games movie really did suck btw LOL!! Now as for me, I have been debated, trolled in the past or whatever it is, but that comes with posting reviews online. I don't pay attention to those people. I have my standards and I just stick by them. I think it would be a nice thing if I managed to change the mind of a detractor than having everyone agree with me all the time.

Now, I still do not understand your frustration over the indie vs. mainstream thing, but they are just movies....everyone has their tastes and most tastes come from where they are coming from. It kind of feels like your rant had been provoked by someone I know (someone I had debated in the past), someone even told me that it sounded like your rant was in reference to my own tastes but I didn't think so. There is no such thing as a useless review, they are opinions.  I am sorry that you feel that this place wants to see one rip something apart. I don't agree with your observations and I don't know where you got them, but it is your right to vent and express them.

I do hope you still review here even if 'it is just on occasion'. Hey,  I have my own vents and rants, but I always just review movies for myself....if someone gets entertained by my write ups then that is just a plus.
June 06, 2013
No, you're still misunderstanding my point.

When I talk about the Indie vs. Mainstream and Lunch I'm not talking about "hits" and "featured."  That's pretty irrelevant.  I don't give a shit about a movie "sucking" it's the idea of, "HOLY SHIT THIS IS POPULAR SO WE HAVE TO SHIT ON IT!"  When People say things like your, "I liked it better when it was Battle Royale," That's what happening.  It comes across less like criticism and more like, "Wait... why is this popular?".  It's a useless and baseless criticism in a world where everyone is so very big on trying to prove something like that.  I don't care if it's mainstream in Asian cinema because I think you're smart enough to understand I'm talking about American cinema here.  So please, don't pull that stuff with me.  You know exactly what I meant.  The point is that it was a jumping off point for people to try to put themselves on a higher pedestal when it was actually a useless bullshit thing.  It was just another, "this is how we can shit on this popular thing," type thing.  And as it turns out: It actually was.  I came across many a forum that basically said, "if it wasn't so popular I wouldn't care..."  But it said nothing about that particular piece itself (again... there's the whole books thing, of which Battle Royale is not exactly a movie that could've even hoped to justify the book in the first place--the book was just too damn long to be compressed into a movie, but I didn't find the movie awful because the book was better; the book is always better... at some point you just sort of separate yourself from that).

My point with say: "The Hunger Games and Battle Royale," example was that people were too stupid to realize that Battle Royale was also just another shameless ripoff (in this case it's either just a more sophisticated Lord of the Flies meets The Running Man or just another retelling of The Most Dangerous Game... with kids!)  that no one paid attention to (and that The Hunger Games wasn't actually a ripoff, but a very similar idea) because they didn't read books and because it was just an easy target to point out, not realizing why that was just a a stupid thing to say in the first place, or why that had no actual meaning in a world where people still haven't grasped that everything has been done.  My point with that was that saying, "It's basically Battle Royale," when the FILM came out is jumping on a bandwagon that sailed four years prior while trying to pretend this was some kind of astute observation when this was something being discussed in the literary community (in a much more intelligent and tangible way that drew more analysis as opposed to the more refined: "Aren't I clever knowing this?" kind of bullshit) for years before hand.  They waited until the FILM as opposed to just jumping into that discussion in 2008.  In some ways there's nothing wrong with that.  Or even outright stating: "It's Battle Royale."  But on the other hand there is something wrong with, "It's bad because it's basically Battle Royale."  Because, again we've never not done this as storytellers.  Depending on who you ask, Quentin Tarantino's entire career is based on doing just that (I don't fully agree with this statement, but people use this as a means to clown on Quentin Tarantino a lot).

My rant came about (as I said) based on a lot of feedback I personally received.  My point, as I keep trying to point out is that if you HAVE to note it as mainstream or indie... it's stupid.  Period.  No excuses  A debaseless review.  If a movie is good it's good.  It doesn't matter if it's mainstream or not.  I wasn't actually pointing out your taste, that was just an amusing coincidence if anyone found it.  Some may have fallen in line, but actually there were a couple of others I had in mind when I wrote about it.  See, for me it's not about whether The Hunger Games sucked (I think "that sucked" is a another useless debaseless criticism; it's like the popular, "It's overrated" it's really just another way of making sure you don't HAVE to justify yourself... and you don't, but if that's the case... why write a review?).  It's not an analysis, not a criticism or anything like that... it's useless bullshit.  It's about the idea that it garnered the "It sucks" because it was popular and because of the idea that because it was slightly more known than Battle Royale someone decided it was important to point out these parallels in a world where it's impossible for that to be a surprise because of this thing called: "The internet."  The only reason The Hunger Games is such a good example here is for the same reason Harry Potter might be at some point: It's more absurdly popular than the thing which came before it and people want to make sure that thing is actually known.  Which is actually understandable.  But it was more the idea that somehow that one mattered when say... Romeo and Juliet didn't.  Or Inception didn't.  Or Star Wars (holy shit, Star Wars had a lot... as did Raiders of the Lost Ark... there's one shot that I'm sure came from an old 1930's film during the famous "Desert Chase" scene)  Or the past eight movies that pretty much retold The Dark Knight didn't.  Or how A Fistful of Dollars is Yojimbo.  It was odd that all those things didn't matter but The Hunger Games did (especially because in the case of A Fistful of Dollars there was actually a court case about it... the verdict?  The producers were made to pay).  Does it make sense when put into that perspective?  It's just an example (though, really George Lucas's career would've been the BEST example).

I do review movies for myself.  That was the fucking problem. 

It's not about what others think so much as it was that I never quite understood why it was THAT IMPORTANT to try this pitiful crusade in the first place.  Again, A LOT of people on Lunch have done this (I've probably been guilty myself at some point... that "Eragon" review is floating around here somewhere) but I was curious about why.  Often people on other review sites aren't quite that quick to jump on me as they are here on Lunch (they certainly don't harass me on Facebook as much as Lunch members do).

But again, you keep thinking when I talk mainstream I'm talking exclusively about popularity and hits.  Mainstream being featured more doesn't actually mean anything to the point I was trying to express.  I mentioned in my comment for instance that mainstream does get more attention.  It's marketed more and put out there more.  The reason so many people saw Iron Man 3 is because there was no way you couldn't have flown under the radar.  We were so bombarded by previews and other types of things that at some point it was impossible NOT to know it was coming and it was impossible NOT to pique the interest of people.  Couple that with The Avengers and yeah, you're going to get more people into the theater.  This is in stark contrast to say... 2003's Lost in Translation which had such a limited marketing campaign that really... the only reason few saw it was because so many didn't know it was actually out there (though it did get quite a boost when Oscar season came around).  But you seem to miss the part where I was trying to explain this is what DOESN'T actually matter in terms of reception, criticism and reviewing.  What I was talking about was that to give praise to those kinds of movies is somehow seen as a "bad" thing on this particular website.  Just because you've made say... the highest grossing film of 1999 that had the biggest mainstream success of its time means that everyone who sat there and watched it said nice things (that movie, by the way, was Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menance, still possibly the most successful film in the Star Wars franchise).  And don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting "nice things."  I just find it odd that some people try really hard to go against popular opinion.  Abrams Star Trek got universal praise.  Probably didn't deserve it, but a lot of the boys and girls here on Lunch seemed to think they had to point out how baffling this was (as you can guess the phrase: "Popcorn flick," is also a useless bullshit phrase, in my opinion, just another sophisticated insult that doesn't mean anything--case in point The Dark Knight was a "popcorn" flick too, but no one called it one because it was considered a "good" movie; The Avengers fulfills every requirement of a "fun popcorn flick," but no one calls it that).  And that IS a growing popular trend (because the internet gave Hipsters a voice they didn't otherwise have... probably because they were too busy surprising the world with their own genius or something, who knows?).   

It doesn't matter how often it's featured or how many "hits" it gets.  That's not the part that matters.  It's what people SAY that matters, and each time I find myself in this strange area where it's "You praised a mainstream movie?  On Lunch?  What the hell is wrong with you?".  Them being "featured" isn't what actually matters.  As I said, quantity isn't an indication of quality.  The fact of more mainstream films being featured has nothing to do with what I'm actually saying.  It doesn't matter if there are MORE reviews here for mainstream films.  Again, that's not what I'M talking about.  That's not what I'm saying actually matters.  What I'm saying is that the idea of praising a mainstream film is considered a "bad" thing here.  The hits and how often they get featured don't matter in that regard.

I'll most likely still be reviewing here, I'm just sick of this, "I MUST point out that it's not perfect to the pitiful idiots who loved the shit out of it!" attitude here.  For a while it was fun, but now it's gotten to the point where it's so annoying it's hard to actually enjoy the reviewing process.  For as much of a shithole as amazon was, at least the feedback was often mixed and unique.  Here, I haven't experienced that for a while anymore.

I'm not looking for a debate, I'm looking for people to see where I'm coming from.  I don't care about how OTHERS view this (although I am most certainly not the only one, as I've talked to other members).  I'm simply looking for a small shred of understanding.  Not pity, just understanding in knowing I'm not the only one who has felt like Lunch is just a boring place to review anymore.  But the one thing I have to keep expressing is that it's not about the "featured" content and the "hits."  It's not about whether the mainstream movie gets "featured" or "seen more."  It's about the idea that if I write a review praising it is something so many will be skeptical of.  In the case of Star Trek, for example, despite that it wold honestly be a 3 star review, the fact that I revealed I liked it is going to urk the shit out of people for the wrong reasons.

There's a Southpark episode that probably best describes what I mean.  It's the episode where Stan turns ten years old and suddenly everything he sees and hears is shit.  Literally, it's shit.  It's not some metaphorical thing, it's literally all he can see and hear.  He goes to the movies and every movie trailer he sees he pronounces as shit.  He goes out for ice cream and all he sees in his bowl is shit (just... digest that one for a second--HA!  I made a pun!).  His friends talk and they just vomit shit.  It feels like that being around Lunch sometimes.  Not from everyone mind you, but sometimes I keep thinking to myself that I'd rather read reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or Amazon or Yelp or something than Lunch. 

So once more I'm going to point out, I don't wish to do this discussion on the forums.  I'd rather this just be a private message thing.  At some point I'll probably take down this whole forum.  I'm making an ass of myself here.
June 06, 2013
fair enough. just message me if you'd like.

Oh you do know that I was poking fun when I said The Hunger Games sucked right?

I gotcha, sorry if you feel that way.  I just want to make sure that you're comfortable and you are not being directly picked on here.
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I might be the only person on Earth who liked this movie more than I liked Abrams' Star Trek 2009. Unfortunately, that's partly because I disliked the 2009 Star Trek. But Into Darkness does have stunning visuals, some fun moments, and a much more compelling villain. It seems overall that viewers who don't know much about Star Trek seem to enjoy this movie and Abrams' larger take on Trek, whereas many viewers who do know Trek despise this movie. I'm more of the latter category …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
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I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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A good portion of Trekkies (or Trekkers, depending on one's level ofStar Trekobsession) have special affection for episodes of the original TV series that related to Earth and other-Earth cultures visited by the crew of theEnterprise, version 1.0. Some of the shows unfolded in distorted forms of the past, some in the present day ofStar Trek's future reality. Director J.J. Abrams recognized the importance of this relationship in his origin-story reboot of the franchise in 2009, and inStar Trek Into Darknesshe has made it an even greater touchstone to the roots ofStar Trekcreator Gene Roddenberry's defining philosophy from nearly 50 years ago. The human home world is key to the plot of this spectacularly bold leap intoStar Treklore, which cleverly continues along the alternate path that was established as separate from the "original"Star Trekuniverse in Abrams's first whiz-bang crack at advancing the mythology. But it's not just Earth that is cool and imperiled in this rendering of adventure in the 23rd century;Into Darknessalso plays with the original conceit that Earthlings were member to a multi-species United Federation of Planets ruled by a "Prime Directive" of noninterference with other civilizations. The conflict comes when rogue elements in the Earth-based Starfleet Command hunger to shift focus from peaceful exploration to militarization, a concept that is anathema to the crew of theEnterpriseand her ongoing mission. The new cast...
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