Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Khan Don't

As you know if you read this site, last May's Star Trek Into Darkness wasn't exactly a home run for me. Beyond the sloppy storytelling and generally listless nature of the thing, what irked me the most was the way legendary Trek villain Khan was shoehorned in seemingly for the sole purpose of the producers getting to say they "did" Khan. And while actor Benedict Cumberbatch was fine in the part, he also would have been fine if the character wasn't Khan. And given the superfluous ways they utilized his backstory, he might as well not have been Khan.

An observation I made on the MovieFilm Podcast a few months ago was that the filmmakers' desperate desire to preserve the supposed "twist" of Cumberbatch's identity (a twist that had long since been spoiled by the Internet doing what the Internet does) hampered the ability to tell a compelling story with a compelling character. The result was a big "meh" that did well with critics and at the till, but still felt like a missed opportunity. Still, with director JJ Abrams now departing for that other "Star" franchise, it seems he feels a bit freer to speak his mind, and with the benefit of hindsight it looks like he's come around to the same point-of-view as me (and others). Here's what he told MTV recently:
The truth is I think it probably would have been smarter just to say upfront 'This is who it is.' It was only trying to preserve the fun of it, and it might have given more time to acclimate and accept that's what the thing was.
Yes. It would have. He then goes on to lay the blame at home studio Paramount's feet:
The truth is because it was so important to the studio that we not angle this thing for existing fans. If we said it was Khan, it would feel like you've really got to know what Star Trek is about to see this movie...That would have been limiting. I can understand their argument to try to keep that quiet, but I do wonder if it would have seemed a little bit less like an attempt at deception if we had just come out with it.
Okay, I'm gonna go ahead and call BS on this one. The whole "mystery box" thing is part-and-parcel of Abrams' repertoire. From Cloverfield to Lost to Super 8, it's what he does. And I doubt very much Paramount would have blanched at the opportunity to promote the return of Trek's most iconic villain. I'm not saying Abrams is lying, just that he's probably viewing things through a very selective prism. Regardless, with the reins of the franchise now landing with another director (maybe Joe Cornish?), it looks like we're in for some kind of a change for the next entry. Whether that change is a good thing or a bad thing, we'll find out soon enough (probably 2016).

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