into darkness

Director J.J. Abrams successfully relaunched the Trek franchise with 2009’s Star Trek, and he left audiences excited to go on more adventures with this new crew. But the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness didn’t ignite the same level of affection that its 2009 predecessor did. It disappointed some fans and audiences, earning even less money, domestically, than the first film.

There were many reasons why the sequel didn’t live up to some fans’ expectations. After the jump, Abrams acknowledges some of the Star Trek Into Darkness problems.

Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) is misused in Into Darkness. Before fans even walked in the theater, they were ahead of the film’s heroes — which is never a good spot to be in. The reveal itself doesn’t elicit the desired response, because we all see it coming and John Harrison really being Khan doesn’t feel like that big of a deal. Why can’t he just be John Harrison? Why the twist?

A few weeks ago the film’s co-writer, Damond Lindelof (The Leftovers), opened up about Khan:

When we did Star Trek Into Darkness for example, we decided that we weren’t going to tell people that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan. And that was a mistake, because the audience was like, ‘We know he’s playing Khan.’ That was why it was a mistake. But J.J. [Abrams] is telling us nothing about the new Star Wars movie and we love it. I’ve not come across a single person who’s like, ‘I wish I knew a little bit more.’ We are like, ‘Thank God he’s protecting us from all the things that will be revealed in the movie theater.’

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Abrams candidly reflects on his filmography, admitting the scripts for Into Darkness and Super 8 needed work:

At the end of the day, while I agree with Damon Lindelof that withholding the Khan thing ended up seeming like we were lying to people, I was trying to preserve the fun for the audience, and not just tell them something that the characters don’t learn for 45 minutes into the movie, so the audience wouldn’t be so ahead of it. I felt like, in a weird way, it was a little bit of a collection of scenes that were written by my friends — brilliantly talented writers — who I somehow misled in trying to do certain things. And yet, I found myself frustrated by my choices, and unable to hang my hat on an undeniable thread of the main story. So then I found myself on that movie basically tap-dancing as well as I could to try and make the sequences as entertaining as possible. Thank god I had the cast that we have, who are so unbelievably fun to watch. And an incredible new villain in Benedict Cumberbatch… I would never say that I don’t think that the movie ended up working. But I feel like it didn’t work as well as it could have had I made some better decisions before we started shooting.

Abrams’s energy as a filmmaker often makes up for the scripts. In Star Trek, there are some story problems you’re not too bothered by because of the exhilarating pacing and what does work on the page, but there are too many issues in Star Trek Into Darkness to ignore. It’s admirable of Abrams to take full responsibility for the film’s problems, and he’s certainly right about Cumberbatch. As mind-boggling as Khan is, Cumberbatch gives an excellent performance.

Abrams is famous for his “mystery box,” and it works in favor of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The trailers relied more on mood than story, so when you go see The Force Awakens, unlike Into Darkness, you’re completely along for the ride, instead of impatiently waiting for a twist. That’s how a Star Wars movie — or any movie, for that matter — should be experienced.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: