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otomo August 29 2013 09:39 PM

First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
This really falls under both categories, but I just watched First Contact again and realized that the the movie does compare very well to Into Darkness, both being "action adventure" Star Trek to the extreme. The easy comparison is to Wrath of Khan, since the plot points of Into Darkness were so similar. I don't think it's an apt comparison all the same, since Wrath of Khan just from literary value of the writing is one of the better films ever made, and Into Darkness is much more of a "less thought out" action movie, similar to First Contact.

I started discussing this on facebook earlier, and realized that the discussion here would make a lot more sense, and probably get more interesting responses. Forgive me if this particular topic has been covered.

I'll start with my facebook posts (and actual good responses from a fellow trek fan) and go from there. Would love to see other thoughts of similarities/differences between the movies for good or ill.

The posts:

In a lot of ways, FC paved the way for what Star Trek became, being so successful in action with a property that was very much not action based. The difference is, First Contact maintains the feel of Star Trek. The characters still make intellectual decisions, there are still references to major works of art and literature. The writing was tight, symmetrical, layered with foreshadowing and beautiful metaphors. And they did that all WHILE giving us action. That's why First Contact is far superior in every way. It is possible to have a best of both worlds, proverbially speaking.

Friend's response: Contact while the superior of the two films still sucked. Picard is totally out of character the entire film. He is reacting emotionally and dredging up feelings of hatred and pain. The series already covered this material in the episode "Family." Which by the way, had a better climax with Picard getting in a fist fight with his brother not smashing some starship models.

My response: While I agree that "Family" is one of the better episodes, and does cover that emotional ground much better, I disagree on the point that First Contact sucked. I can only imagine that being faced with such a combat situation, hearing the sounds of ships getting blown up, seeing the borg assimilate others after one had been through that sort of capture and assimilation is absolutely credible traumatic stress for Picard to react in an overly emotional manner to being confronted with it again. In fact, the fleet in the movie even is very concerned about that to the point where they tell the Enterprise to stay away, so is Lily later on. Both situations point out those faults in him in the movie, so it was a well-written and well conceived departure from the "normal" Picard. It makes sense, and the writing justifies it. That's all I ask for in a script. He reacts pretty emotionally in Generations as well, so it is a logical progression of the character from that standpoint too.

I can actually contrast that character departure to the ones in the new films as well. Kirk and Spock fly off the handle all the time for no reason, make choices that are contrary to a military structure without justification, and let's not even talk about the sexual harassment lawsuits that would occur. It's only justified by an unsaid "Oh, well they're young now. Young people act like this," not by well written plot points or dialogue like in First Contact. While I could except that generally, I can't accept that in conjunction with "they're young people who are military geniuses who rise through the ranks quickly because of their amazingness." The two conflict.

Friends rebuttal: Picard deals with the borg on several occasions after his assimilation. Starfleet also appoints him to lead a task force to stop the borg from preying on federation colonies. What suddenly changed where he was fit to engage the borg before but not anymore? I know it is clearly just a movie device to set up the Picard character arc but it seems lazy and disregards the series itself. (He also posted this link to the FC review on Red Letter Media: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7Lr8cdZwHQ )

My response:I do like the red letter media, and opening up the can of worms where I'm analyzing the movies I have to grant a lot of his premises as correct, but I still don't think it was poorly written as far as action movies go. His main qualm with the plot is "why do the enemies act so dumb", which can apply to almost any movie, and any star trek episode. The best star trek episodes are really where they don't have a real "enemy" and they're dealing with "what does it mean to be a good human" type of issues, consequently. First Contact didn't address any broader points like that, though the hero worship subplot of Zephram Cochrane came close, and is the best part of the movie in my opinion.

As far as continuity of the admiralty and their orders, that doesn't even hold up episode to episode, depending on who the writer is, and who the actor is. The only point in star trek at all where that holds is through Deep Space 9, incidentally the best Star Trek. I'm more prone to allow small plot devices in the interest of pacing a movie go. Borg Time Travel, Red Matter, Transporting across the galaxy, those things don't offend me so much.


So what are your thoughts in comparing the way characters were treated, plot treated, continuity, world building, etc. between the two films? Hopefully this provides an interesting starting point for a discussion :)

austen_pierce August 30 2013 02:04 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
I sort of agree, but if you look hard enough, you can find parallels in most of the movies. A star or planet explodes or is crucial to the plot in TSFS, VOY, TUC, GEN, and ST09.

Picard is arguably out of TNG series character in ALL the TNG movies.
GEN-lost family
FC-channeling Locutus
INS-influenced by fountain of youth
NEM-compromised by twin (despite statements to contrary)

BillJ August 30 2013 05:55 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
Into Darkness is the better film. First Contact felt like two separate stories stitched together. Picard was completely out of character and they destroyed the Borg.

otomo August 30 2013 07:13 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
Quote:

austen_pierce wrote: (Post 8576317)
I sort of agree, but if you look hard enough, you can find parallels in most of the movies. A star or planet explodes or is crucial to the plot in TSFS, VOY, TUC, GEN, and ST09.

Picard is arguably out of TNG series character in ALL the TNG movies.
GEN-lost family
FC-channeling Locutus
INS-influenced by fountain of youth
NEM-compromised by twin (despite statements to contrary)

Interesting thought on Picard there. His darker "movie personality" is interesting. As you said, they do go to the trouble to explain it in each of those movies, so it was on their minds when making the film.

Quote:

Into Darkness is the better film. First Contact felt like two separate stories stitched together. Picard was completely out of character and they destroyed the Borg.
I watched the FC extras yesterday on the blu ray, and the piece on "The story" really showed to me that they did put a lot of work and thought into their choices, foreshadowing, integration of the plots.

Into Darkness feels a lot more like each scene is trying to reference something classic, but not bring anything to the table for the plot on its own, and then it's loosely strung together. While the pacing of the movie might be faster, when you actually get into it FC had a lot more to offer on the writing end.

On the pacing note, I think the pacing in general in action movies these days is getting to be a bit much, it has to be so epic and explodey that there's no time to breathe and actually feel something for the characters. There's not much to feel for any of the characters outside of Kirk/Spock at all in the new movies. The back up crew are mostly caricatures of the prior versions. That said, I didn't hate Into Darkness, don't want it to be about that. It was fun for the most part. Don't know that I'd really re-watch it, not a lot of depth.

FC allowed that pacing for action and feeling. We felt that Picard was over the edge, even though he was mostly right. We felt the fear of Lily. Zephram Cochrane was probably the best part of the movie, feeling his discomfort from the hero worship. It gave us time in between the action to reflect, which I think is important. Troi and Riker offered comic relief in a lot of instances. And I think if all we had of TNG was this movie, there's enough there to care about the characters.

Into Darkness, by contrast, if that was all you'd ever seen or heard of Kirk, Spock and company, can you say you'd truly care about them? And why if that's the case?

BillJ August 30 2013 07:20 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
Quote:

otomo wrote: (Post 8577616)

Into Darkness, by contrast, if that was all you'd ever seen or heard of Kirk, Spock and company, can you say you'd truly care about them? And why if that's the case?

I don't think I could answer that question one way or the other, honestly. I've been watching the characters for my entire life.

MrJ August 30 2013 07:59 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
Quote:

BillJ wrote: (Post 8577253)
Into Darkness is the better film. First Contact felt like two separate stories stitched together. Picard was completely out of character and they destroyed the Borg.

I agree with your points about First Contact, but even with it's many flaws I still like it more than Into Darkness.



Quote:

BillJ wrote: (Post 8577655)
Quote:

otomo wrote: (Post 8577616)

Into Darkness, by contrast, if that was all you'd ever seen or heard of Kirk, Spock and company, can you say you'd truly care about them? And why if that's the case?

I don't think I could answer that question one way or the other, honestly. I've been watching the characters for my entire life.

Not these characters you haven't, we've only seen them in two, extremely fast paced, movies. Two movies full of action, but light on character development.

BillJ August 30 2013 08:04 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
Quote:

MrJ wrote: (Post 8577844)

Not these characters you haven't, we've only seen them in two, extremely fast paced, movies. Two movies full of action, but light on character development.

But if I had seen TOS for the first time at the age of forty, there's no guarantee that I would be as attached to those characters. If I had watched these movies at the age of five? Who knows how I would have reacted to them?

Kind of like time-travel: if you change something, the things you know and love may be entirely different.

DalekJim August 30 2013 08:25 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
Both are messy but First Contact is the superior film, and one of the better Star Trek movies. I really like the interactions between Picard and Lily, and how the movie didn't just try to ape the previous Borg stories. Star Trek Into Darkness was just a copy-and-paste job of the previous movie and Wrath of Khan.

otomo August 31 2013 06:49 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
Quote:

DalekJim wrote: (Post 8577964)
Both are messy but First Contact is the superior film, and one of the better Star Trek movies. I really like the interactions between Picard and Lily, and how the movie didn't just try to ape the previous Borg stories. Star Trek Into Darkness was just a copy-and-paste job of the previous movie and Wrath of Khan.

This is about how I feel, which is also how I feel about Nemesis. Even though they're two "different series", giving a copy paste movie of WoK in 2 out of the last 3 trek movies...and in a lot of ways Star Trek 2009 was the same plot in essence (superior being trying to get revenge), it'd be nice if they took some other base plot.

Back to the special features, they talked a lot about the Picard/Lily relationship and how she presented such a foil for his Ahab-style hunt. First draft apparently have her as a love interest, which I'm glad they took out. That would have been too much. The character of Lily both from a writing and acting perspective was pretty great.

Hober Mallow September 1 2013 10:54 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
Quote:

otomo wrote: (Post 8577616)
Into Darkness, by contrast, if that was all you'd ever seen or heard of Kirk, Spock and company, can you say you'd truly care about them? And why if that's the case?

Well, I've been a Trek fan since watching TOS reruns in the 80s... but I still didn't care about the characters in ID.

I'm not really a big fan of either films. FC is clearly TNG's best film, but that isn't really saying much. The Borg were interesting when they were a collective, not a "hive" with a "queen," which is B-movie crap that's been done to death.

Peach Wookiee September 2 2013 04:41 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
Honestly, I still love both of them. The hive mind was established with Locutus, but what was later established is that he was a puppet and... :barf: ... toy for Her Creepiness.

starburst October 1 2013 04:16 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
I really enjoy watching both movies despite the change of character in Picard and the icky scenes involving Data and the Queen.

Both First Contact and Into Darkness are two of the strongest movies of them all (the others in my top 5 being ST09, WOK and TUC - order changing depending on my own mood and taste at the time), but thats just me everyone elses mileage will undoubtedly vary, there isnt one of the films I dont really enjoy to watch every now and then.

sonak October 1 2013 04:21 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
yes, both of these are pretty much "action Star Trek" at its best. But they accomplish it without it being dumb action. To be sure, there are plot holes in both, but they're the same kind of plot holes in any Trek movie, not plot holes specifically as a result of trtying to be an action blockbuster movie.


Both of these movies are great, but STID get the slight nod.

CommishSleer October 1 2013 05:57 PM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
Quote:

otomo wrote: (Post 8577616)
Troi and Riker offered comic relief in a lot of instances. And I think if all we had of TNG was this movie, there's enough there to care about the characters.

Into Darkness, by contrast, if that was all you'd ever seen or heard of Kirk, Spock and company, can you say you'd truly care about them? And why if that's the case?

Nope FC didn't make me suddenly care about Riker and Troi just from seeing them here. In fact none of the Trek movies made me 'care' about any of the secondary characters excepting maybe nuScott in STID.
The only people I cared about in the Trek movies are Kirk, Spock, Picard and Data (when he wasn't being crazy). And I didn't really 'like' Picard in FC. I 'cared' more about his character in GEN and NEM.

Maurice October 2 2013 08:47 AM

Re: First Contact vs. Into Darkness
 
I'll take Into Darkness over ANY of the Next Gen films any day, as they're all mediocre to bad.


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