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106. Fan “Service”

We've come a long way when a white British guy can play a brown Indian previously portrayed by a tan Latino. Or something.

I don't know who coined the term “fan service,” but that's what all the winks and nods in Star Trek Into Darkness are — things thrown into the film for no reason other than to buy the affection of a fan base that they don't understand. And, naturally, it backfired massively, because this particular fan base will not be pandered to. “Don't insult my intelligence,” as some character that they think they used in this film but really didn't once said.

The cast, though, is first-rate. They are the only reason STID works at all. Zach Quinto, Simon Pegg, and Bruce Greenwood in particular, but also Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana. Peter Weller is OK in a badly-written role, and Benedict Cumberbatch tries his best to make the cardboard character written for him feel real, but the material wouldn't let him get there.

Pegg is just brilliant in every scene he's in, and not just because he's hilarious. The scene where Scotty resigns is really great for Pine, he expresses this sense of “oh-shit-what-just-happened” really well without the benefit of dialogue. Quinto does a similarly terrific job of expression/body language communication in Admiral Pike's death scene. The ripped-off-from-Nicholas-Meyer scene near the end is also quite well done by both Pine and Quinto, tempering the “WTF is this doing here???” reaction to the “plot.” And Greenwood has presence, man. Too bad he gets offed so soon into the movie. And Zoe, like Cumberbatch, does what she can with a role written with too-little substance. Anton Yelchin also delivers a great reaction shot when told to “put on a red shirt” (that is also a bit of “fan service,” but it's the sort that works, because it's a multi-faceted thing — we the audience get the red-shirt joke, but this edition of the character of Chekov would also quite rightly be scared out of his freakin' mind to be suddenly given an enormous responsibility he's shown later to be not remotely qualified for even though last time he was a prodigal genius who could solve lots of complicated issues by himself).

Next time around, ditch the writers and director, but keep the actors. They're where all the good stuff is.

I was directed to this last night, thanks to the Twitter machine. It's outstanding, so go read it and enjoy the fun little photo-comics within. “Some call this nitpicking, we call it not letting Star Trek get crapped on.

Haters gonna hate
May 31, 2013 - 01:22 AM Pac | Link

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