Thursday, May 16, 2013

TO BOLDLY SPLIT INFINITIVES: I haven't yet seen Star Trek Into Darkness, but I wanted to talk a little bit about its marketing.  To get there requires a spoiler, but it's one that's been pretty much made public already--nonetheless, the further discussion is after the break.  (For the comments, let's keep to the spoiler talked about in the post below and not any further spoilers.)
As usual with a J.J. Abrams film, the trailers and marketing were devoted to showing a lot of cool images while hiding much of the plot.  Most notably, everyone swore up and down that Benedict Cumberbatch's villain was "John Harrison" and dodged (if not denying outright) that Cumberbatch was playing Khan.  Well, as it turns out, yes, Cumberbatch is playing this timeline's version of Khan.  My question is "why all the secrecy?"  It's not like anyone's excitement would be terribly affected by knowing this--those who care deeply about Khan have already either denounced Abrams' reboot, said they'll see it multiple times, or both.  Furthermore, as I understand, there are further swerves beyond the reveal of Cumberbatch's character's identity, so why play hide the ball?


  1. I think that Abrams just generally believes that the idea of a mystery will get people buzzing about whatever film/show he's doing. I don't know whether he's right or wrong. I for, one, was sure that they were bringing back the big baddie from Star Trek: Insurrection -- um, that guy/woman/race of... baddies.

  2. Carmichael Harold9:05 PM

    I think it'll be clearer to you, Matt, once (if) you see it. It's hard to respond to this in detail without spoiling other elements of the movie, but I hope it's not a spoiler to say that Cumberbatch is playing someone named "John Harrison" (whose motives are unclear) for a significant portion of the film. To market him as playing Khan would have put the audience well ahead of the characters, and I'm not sure what, exactly, the upside would have been (especially if, as you wrote, "it's not like anyone's excitement would be terribly affected by knowing this").

    I'll also say that despite consuming a decent amount of pop culture writing (though generally avoiding reviews for things I haven't seen), I was lucky enough to avoid being spoiled on this element. I'm not a huge legacy Star Trek fan (so haven't either denounced or dived into the minutiae of Abrams movies), but have seen "The Wrath of Khan," so I was aware of the character such that the reveal somewhat added to my enjoyment.

  3. This is the first I'm hearing that Cumberbatch is playing Khan and it makes me more interested in seeing it. I saw a preview in the theater last weekend and it just looked like a loud, unpleasant, explosioney mess. The Fast and Furious preview was more fun. But since Wrath of the Khan is the only previous Trek movie worth watching, I'm kinda interested in how Abrams will fuck this up. Pencil me in for the dollar theater viewing in a month.

  4. Slowlylu2:28 AM

    I went opening night assuming that Cumberbatch was Khan, but having not been indoctrinated into the Trek mythos that knowledge didn't spoil the plotting or momentum.

    Knowing the volatility of hard core fans I can understand the logic behind playing hide the ball.

    For what it's worth I liked this as a movie more than the first one. Partly due to the performances and partly because it didn't seem to be constantly acknowledging and validating a rabid and opinionated fan base.

    If we're going to have endless re-boots and re-imaginings and prequels then they should at least provide different moral/character/narrative beats.

  5. bellawilfer1:48 PM

    ...and I'm patting myself on the back for writing that whole post w/o a Khan pun.

  6. I Khan-gratulate you on your restraint.

  7. Adam B.3:21 PM

    I was contemplating posting something today on whether Ocean's Eleven or The Spanish Prisoner was the best con movie.

  8. J. Bowman8:46 AM

    I also managed to avoid the definite spoiler on whether or not Cumberbatch was Khan. I went in assuming he would be, but I agree that it was better to not be certain of that. In that vein (and avoiding non-Khan spoilers as much as possible): One of the supporting characters also has an assumed identity, and I was somewhat disappointed that I knew ahead of time who that character was.

  9. Jenn.1:50 PM

    I came close to avoiding the spoiler (I'd assumed Benedict Cumberbatch was Khan from basically the moment I'd heard he'd been hired for the movie), but alas, spoiled on Thursday. Will still see the movie once our vacation is done,

  10. Well, having going in unspoiled (yes, I work HAD at avoiding spoilers), I'm happy with the evasion. As Carmichael said, automatically being ahead of the characters would have been quite annoying to me.

    Anyhoo, fun movie I liked quite a bit.