Elements Taken from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
In VI, Starfleet personnel conspire with Klingon military officers to create a situation that will prohibit the achievement of a lasting peace between the Federation and the Empire. While not exactly a copy of this plot point, Admiral Marcus in Into Darkness secretly builds weapons and ships for a war that he knows is coming with the Klingons. This is a somewhat subtle take from the original version, so it isn’t hard to overlook just where the source for this came from, but it is still pretty clear that the idea for this action was taken from VI’s underlying plot points.
Elements Taken from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
A scene from V has Chekov pretending to be the captain of the Enterprise in order to throw off Sybok while Kirk and others stage a daring frontal assault on the planet of Nimbus III. During a scene in Into Darkness, Sulu takes on this role, pretending to be the captain in an audio transmission sent to John Harrison, so as to keep his attention away from Kirk’s assault team. An interesting thing is that I actually like the redone scene better than the original; John Cho’s Sulu does an excellent job of sounding very commanding and authoritative, whereas Walter Koenig’s Chekov doesn’t seem quite so impressive. In fact, even William Shatner’s Kirk doesn’t seem that impressive as a commanding, authoritative captain when put against this single display performed by John Cho. Not to badmouth the superb acting style of George Takei, but I have a much easier time seeing Cho end up being the captain of the Excelsior than I do Takei.
Elements Taken from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
In III, James Doohan’s Scotty sabotages the Excelsior while working in the Engineering department, and his legendary skills as a tinkerer have transferred well to Simon Pegg. After learning about the secret existence of Admiral Marcus’ warship, the Vengeance, Scotty sneaks aboard and is able to sabotage the combat systems when Marcus confronts Kirk. While this is certainly a nice way of allowing for the disabling of the Vengeance and evening the odds between Marcus and Kirk, I find it really hard to believe that Scotty’s just able to get onto a top-secret warship made for the express purpose of fighting a war with the Klingons. Never mind the fact that such a warship was being made somewhat in the open (I mean, Jupiter, come on.) but take into consideration that no one seems to discover Scotty’s presence or—if they do—they don’t question the sudden appearance of a new face within a super-secret area. I know starships are huge and it isn’t possible for everyone to know everyone else, but with something like this, security has got to be an issue.
Though not really as close to the original source material, the resurrection of the dead is taken from III as well, a direct result of the reversed situation of Kirk and Spock. The metaphysical aspects associated with the transference of a person’s soul, their inner being, what the Vulcans call a Katra, are not brought up in Into Darkness, the bringing back the dead is still explored—though only in a very small fashion.
Elements Taken from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
For anyone who has seen the two films, it is pretty clear that a substantial amount of material from II has been reused in Into Darkness. The appearance of Khan and his genetic traits, the self-sacrifice of an officer to save the Enterprise, a fight between the Enterprise and a starship under the control of Khan, and much more. It would be long-winded to go into details concerning all of the elements taken from II, but I would like to say that the subtle way in which Khan was hidden as a character would have been great if it weren’t for the fact that he was leaked to the fans extensively.
The Future of the New Star Trek
I have no idea what the plans are going to be for the third new Trek film, or even if there will be a third film, but I really do hope they don’t take from the past quite so blatantly. What really drew me to the first remake was the way it was tied into the main timeline, how time travel and a slight change of events created this divergent strain and yet the historic crew of the Enterprise was still able to come together. There weren’t any stolen elements from the original films save the explanation of how Kirk beat the “No-Win Scenario,” so why was it so hard for this film to be an original piece? I’m all for action and military science fiction—when done right—and I like Star Trek in all its forms, but I’ve always disliked taking from the old to make new. So, please, J.J. and whoever else is working on the possibility of a third film, be more original, be more substantial, and be more enjoyable.