The Christmas Invasion - Behind the Scenes [Part 12]
Excerpt from Benjamin Cook’s articles in Doctor Who Magazine #365
“Buckle down, folks,” calls out John Older [first assistant director], his voice resonating around the caves [representing the inside of the Sycorax ship], “cos it’s very difficult to work in here. Let’s go for a take…”
“The door!” screams Billie. “Close the door!”
Noel spins around. As the Sycorax grabs him, he manages to pull the TARDIS door shut just in time. Slam! Door closes. Well, not quite.
“Er - he didn’t close the door,” says Jon. “It’s swung back open.”
“Oh fiddlesticks,” cries Noel, frustrated. “That TARDIS door is such a naughty old thing.”
Actually, that’s not exactly what Noel said. I’m paraphrasing. But this is a family magazine, so let’s just leave it.
“Okay, Noel, you blew the plot,” laughs James [Hawes, director]. “If the door doesn’t close, we’re screwed.”
The Christmas Invasion - Behind the Scenes [Part 14]
Excerpt from Benjamin Cook’s articles in Doctor Who Magazine #365
Sean [Sycorax leader] is now ready for his big confrontation with the Doctor. “Under all this latex,” he reminds David, “I’m an extremely sexy, gorgeous, attractive, blue-eyed blonde.”
Yeah, right, that’s what all the Sycorax say.
“It seems like ages since I’ve said any lines,” David laughs. “It’s been like a week! And some people say actors have an easy life…”
——- And how does he like spending virtually the whole episode in pyjamas?
“It’s fantastic on a day like this,” he laughs. “The caves were quite cold, but I had my dressing gown, which is very warm. I mean, if it had been bucketing with rain today, I would have been fantastically miserable, obviously, cos these are fairly sheer pyjamas, but it’s worked out all right. It’s boiling. Next to poor old Sean, who’s wrapped under a latex duvet from dawn till dusk, with horrible contact lenses irritating the heck out of him, I’ve got away quite lightly, I think.”
Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel - Behind the Scenes (Part Seven)
David’s memories of the episode, from Doctor Who Magazine #375:
“Very cold nights on location. It snowed. They Cybermen were fairly overwhelming. And the Tyler family all together - a nice place to be. I’d never met Shaun Dingwall (Pete Tyler) before, but he quickly became part of the clan. He’s a lovely guy.”
From the DVD commentary with Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), and Shaun Dingwall (Pete Tyler)
Camille: Do you think he does make it up as he goes along?
Noel: Partly, yeah. And I think the good thing that David brings to the Doctor is that old eccentricity where he kinda is winging it, winging it. […]
Camille: Oh I love David’s choices as an actor. He’s so commanding, isn’t he? You believe that this CyberLeader would…
Noel: Would listen
Noel: It’s really clever how the Doctor can sort of figure things out without letting you know that he’s figured them out.
Other posts in this set [ one ] [ two ] [ three ] [ four ] [ five ] [ six ] All of the behind-the-scenes photosets are available [ here ]
Was it a movie I saw since August 22nd, 2009: Yes. #227
1) The opening scene for this film is a lot of fun. It is a nice isolated adventure which reestablishes the world and the dynamic of the crew while also setting up some character interaction/arcs to come.
2) Hmm, wonder which Star Trek film this is going to take reference from…
Spock: “Doctor, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
3) Remember this question:
Kirk [when he has to either save Spock’s life or follow the prime directive]: “If Spock were here and I were there, what would he do?”
Bones: “He’d let you die.”
The opening scene with Noel Clarke in London - with his obviously sick daughter, elevated by Michael Giacchino’s subtle and somewhat haunting score - does well to set up the titular darkness the film features. It is somber, slower paced, and much more clawing than what we’ve seen before.
5) Sassy Spock returns!
Captain Pike: “You givin’ me attitude, Spock?”
Spock: “I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously, to which are you referring?”
6) Kirk’s key conflict throughout this film is how he deals with mortality. Outside of the death of his father, it is not something he is familiar with. And even that was something which occurred literally the day he was born, meaning he has no memory of it. Yet it still guides his actions. Everything he does - letting the indigenous species from the beginning see the Enterprise to save Spock, attempting to save the species in the first place - is striving to prevent what happened to his father. Kirk plays god not out of ego but because he doesn’t wish anyone to feel the emptiness he knows from that kind of conflict. But he has to learn to let it happen. He has to learn to deal with it, otherwise he’ll go on a bad path. Look at what he almost did when Captain Pike died. He almost let himself get played and go against the core beliefs of Starfleet just to make sure no one else got hurt. But death is a part of life. And he will come face to face with death in a way in a similar-yet-unique way as he did in Wrath of Khan.
7) The whole “Kirk loses his command, has to go back to Starfleet academy, only to become a first officer and immediately get his command back” thing feels sort of frivolous. I feel it would have been much more effective to have him just be on probation or something, because this sort of undermines the lesson he was meant to learn. There’s not much of a consequence to it.
8) The bar scene between Kirk and Pike (calling back to how they met in the first film) is something I have mixed feelings about.
Kirk: “How did you find me?”
Pike: “I know you better than you think.”
Kirk [in reference to the bar fight from the first film]: “Yeah, that was a good fight.”
Pike: “A good fight? I think that’s your problem right there.”
For the most part I think it is a nice piece of the film. It gives us one last good look at their relationship, Pike’s mentorship, and the respect Kirk has for Pike before Pike’s death in a little bit. However - for me - it doesn’t feel like it matches up with when Pike was railing on Kirk earlier in the film. At all. There is this dissonance there I just cannot remedy.
9) The key conflict between Kirk and Spock in this film is interesting. We’ve moved past the place of sheer conflict they started out in the 2009 reboot to a place of respect but there’s still this dissonance between them. They’re not the strong pair that we are used to yet. The best friends. That’s what they become in this film, but they’re not there yet.
Kirk: “Do you understand why I went back for you [to save your life]?”
[Spock does not have an answer.]
10) Hey look, Robocop!
11) At the meeting of the captains, Kirk - even though he’s been disgraced - still says his piece. Yes it took some convincing but he notices something no one else could and stood up for it. And so continues the tradition of Kirk standing up for himself.
12) Spock’s mind meld with Pike plays into his own arc of dealing with death (similar to Kirk’s) very well, but more on that later.
13) Alice Eve as Carol “Wallace”.
With one noteworthy exception, I truly enjoy Carol’s presence in this film. Alice Eve has always been a favorite of mine and I think she does well in the part. Carol Marcus was an interesting character in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and it’s fun getting to see this younger side of her. She is probably one of the characters with the most underused potential from the original series of Star Trek feature films and I’m glad that - at least for this film - they decide to explore that potential more. More on that one exception later though…
14) It is good to see that Kirk, Bones, and Scotty - while all loyal to Kirk - care more about making sure he is okay than following him blindly. They all act as voices of reason to their captain and their words do set in, it is just a delayed settling.
15) I think Scotty resigning was a nice surprise. I honestly was not expecting it and it lends itself to a few things:
Kirk realizing just how sketchy some of this stuff is.
Kirk being pushed/pushing himself to places he’s never been before.
An organic & unique way of including Scotty later in the film.
16) Love this.
Kirk [about Spock]: “Sometimes I want to rip the bangs off his head. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.”
Uhura: “It’s not you.”
Kirk: “It’s not? [Beat.] Wait a minute, are you guys fighting?…Oh my god, what is that even like?”
17) Even Chekov knows what a red shirt in Star Trek means.
Kirk [giving Chekov’s Scotty’s old job]: “Go put on a red shirt.”
Chekov [nervously]: “Aye sir…”
18) So one thing that sort of confused me was the fact that Carol is British in this film while in Wrath of Khan she was American. My theory is that the results of the Kelvin made Admiral Marcus (her father) a much more paranoid man, which we know lead to his wife leaving him. I feel like his wife is British and since Carol takes on her mom’s maiden name I have a feeling she grew up more with her than in the original timeline. Hence her British accent. But that’s besides the point…
19) I like that Uhura knows and uses Klingon in this film. In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Nichelle Nichols objected to a scene where Uhura had to hurriedly learn Klingon since she felt her character should already know it. In this film, she does! Yay! Progress!
20) According to IMDb:
When calling down to the shuttle bay, Sulu commands the crew to prepare the transport captured during the “Mudd incident last month”, a reference to the same character who appeared in Star Trek: Mudd’s Women (1966) and Star Trek: I, Mudd (1967) as a rogue trader. He also appeared in the comic prequel “Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness”.
Last I heard, Rainn Wilson (of “The Office”) would be playing Harcourt Mudd in the upcoming Star Trek TV show “Star Trek: Discovery”. Moving on…
21) I feel like I’d be Kirk in this scenario.
Kirk [as Uhura and Spock start arguing on a dangerous mission to the Klingon home world]: “Are you - are you really going to do this now?”
22) This is so important to Spock’s arc throughout the film:
Uhura: “At that volcano, you didn’t give a thought to us. What it would do to me if you died, Spock. You didn’t feel anything. You didn’t care…”
Spock: “Your suggestion that I do not care about dying is incorrect. A sentient being’s optimal chance at maximizing their utility is a long and prosperous life.”
Spock [later]: “You misunderstand. It is true I chose not to feel anything upon realizing my own life was ending. As Admiral Pike was dying, I joined with his consciousness and experienced what he felt at the moment of his passing. Anger. Confusion. Loneliness. Fear. I had experiences those feelings before, multiplied exponentially on the day my planet was destroyed. Such a feeling is something I choose never to experience again. Nyota, you mistake my choice not to feel as a reflection of my not caring. Well, I assure you, the truth is precisely the opposite.”
That’s it. Right there. I don’t think there’s any more analysis needed. Spock is dealing with death in a similar way Kirk is, except he is dealing with much more relevant and painful memories he is trying to avoid. Kirk has to learn how to deal with those kinds of experiences as opposed to death as a concept.
23) Remember how I said I love that Uhura can speak Klingon now?
Uhura [convincing Kirk to avoid a fight with Klingons]: “You brought me here because I speak Klingon. Then let me speak Klingon.”
I love that she takes such an active role on Kronos of trying to avoid conflict. I love that she puts herself out there for her crew and her team. I just love it all.
24) Here we have Kirk just beating the shit out of “John Harrison” and “Harrison” not doing anything about it because it doesn’t really effect him. Or the plot. I get that Kirk is dealing with how “Harrison” killed Pike, but can’t we just have him hit him once, see it does nothing, and move on?
Also I will talk about Benedict Cumberbatch as “John Harrison”, just not yet.
25) I love Carol Marcus in this film. I think she’s smart, competent, is able to hold her own with Kirk well, and just works really well. However, I hate - hate hate hate - this moment:
So according to IMDb:
Writer Damon Lindelof apologized on Twitter for the seemingly gratuitous and much criticized scene where Alice Eve strips down to her underwear. J.J. Abrams would counter the criticism later when he appeared on Conan O'Brien’s talk show and premiered a deleted scene featuring Benedict Cumberbatch showering. For her part, Eve staunchly defended the scene, and stated that she was very proud to show her her body after working out intensely for the shot. She has maintained that doing the scene was not forced upon her, and that in no way she felt exploited by this.
I like that Eve herself was comfortable with it, that makes me a bit more comfortable with it. However, gratuitous is totally the right word. It literally serves no purpose other than to objectify Marcus when she is so much more than her body. It’s eye candy for Kirk in a film written by guys, directed by a guy, and produced by a guy. And at the end of the day the filmmakers DID cut the scene with Khan, they did not cut this scene. I just…do not like this moment. At all. It feels pointless and makes me sad every time I see it. Again, I like that Eve was comfortable with it. But from a storytelling standpoint it just does not need to exist. At all.
26) I do enjoy the scene immediately following Carol’s strip down, which is where she and Bones take a torpedo to a nearby safe space to try and open it up only to risk blowing it up. It’s a simple, short, yet tense scene which I think is an elegant piece of conflict. It also plays into something which was a regular occurrence in the first film: the idea of if something can go wrong it should go wrong.
27) Alright, Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison.
(GIF source unknown [if this is your GIF please let me know].)
Cumberbatch as Khan is a very mixed bag for me. Like I have a lot of different feelings about it. I like that he is able to play the intellect/physical prowess of the character well, but obviously no one will ever be able to touch Montalban’s performance so there’s not really a point in trying. Since this is an earlier version of Khan, he’s a lot less wrathful than what we’re used to. He’s also less poetic and greener (as is the rest of the crew, in relation to the later of those two). But Cumberbatch is also able to give Khan a brief vulnerability we are not exposed to in Wrath of Khan, specifically in his care for his crew. So in terms of the performance alone, I think Cumberbatch does a nice job. He is a terrific actor so I’m not surprised. But…
I don’t think they should have gone with a white actor, if I’m being honest.
For one thing, Ricardo Montalban is Mexican. And based on what I’ve read about the character’s episode in the original series (I’ve never seen it myself, so I might not be totally right here) he was a ruler of Asia and the Middle East before being deposed and cryogenically frozen (I read on Wikipedia that he’s Sikh, but it still is Wikipedia so there’s a chance that’s not 100% accurate). None of this really screams, “white british guy,” to me. This is a criticism of the casting, not Cumberbatch or his performance.
In an interview with Trekmovie.com, cowriter Bob Orci said:
“Basically, as we went through the casting process and we began honing in on the themes of the movie, it became uncomfortable for me to support demonizing anyone of color, particularly any one of Middle Eastern descent or anyone evoking that. One of the points of the movie is that we must be careful about the villain within US, not some other race”
I do understand the issue there, but Khan is not meant to be representative of all Middle Eastern people or a certain ethnicity. He is a visual representation of himself but he is an individual. It’s not like you are writing him to be the big bad Middle Eastern bad guy. You’re writing Khan, and in the past Khan has been non-White.
Again, this is not a criticism of Cumberbatch himself but of the casting decision. I think Cumberbatch does a fine job in the film, I just think a non-white actor should have been cast. Now that I’m done talking about that…
28) This is Kirk at his most frightened.
He see no way out right now. Admiral Marcus is going to blow his ship out of the sky with his crew, so he pleads with Marcus to just take him and spare his crew. He knows what it feels like to lose a loved one in a situation like this, he knows the hole it leaves in your heart even if it isn’t one he can’t define in the same way as Spock. He wants to spare them so they can go home to their families. Just like he wished his father was spared. And when he can’t do that…
Kirk [to his crew]: “I’m sorry.”
I think Kirk’s emotional conflict in this film is one of its standout elements (possibly its strongest), and whatever other issues this film may have I’m glad it does that well.
29) Fans of voiceover actors will recognize Nolan North as a member of Admiral Marcus’ crew.
North is most famous for his role as Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series of video games, but also has voiced Deadpool on a number of occasions and even the Penguin in the Batman: Arkham video game series. He’s one of the most prolific and talented voice over actors there is and I believe JJ Abrams included him because he’s a fan of his work.
30) Similarly, Bill Hader voices the computer on Admiral Marcus’ ship and would collaborate with JJ Abrams again on Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens as a voice consultant for BB-8 with Ben Schwartz.
31) I think it’s nice that the tribble (a fan favorite from the original series) is included, but it’s sort of just awkwardly placed while Kirk is talking with Khan just so it can establish a way to resurrect Kirk later in the film.
32) The dive Kirk and CumberKhan make from the Enterprise to Marcus’ ship is a great set piece in the film. Supported by strong visual and great action, it has the potential to be considered iconic Trek a few years down the road.
33) It makes so much sense that Zachary Quinto Spock would call Spock Prime to ask about Khan.
Spock Prime: “Khan Noonien Singh is the most dangerous adversary the Enterprise has ever faced…”
Spock: “Did you defeat him?”
Spock Prime: “At great cost, yes.”
34) I like that Kirk is not stupid enough to actually trust Khan.
Scotty [after Kirk tells him to stun Khan when he’s given the signal]: “I thought he was helping us.”
Kirk: “I’m pretty sure we’re helping him.”
35) Wow, the ego on this guy.
Admiral Marcus: “If I’m not in charge our entire way of life is decimated!”
That does not justify the horrific crimes, attempted murder, or extortion you’ve committed. This guy pisses me off way more in 2017 than he did in 2013.
36) Khan crushing Marcus’ head is very strong for me. It feels like it’s straight out of a horror film and really shows just how dark this character is willing to get in the fulfillment of his wrath (see what I did there?).
37) The preceding mental chess game between Spock and Khan is very nice, though. It shows just how smart each is, how they’re intellectually matched, and see to succeed Spock must use Khan’s ego (a flaw he has always had) to his advantage. Khan underestimates Spock and just how crafty he can get, to his own disadvantage.
38) Remember note #3? Where Kirk was wondering what Spock would have done if the roles were reversed? Well Trek fans know what Spock DID do when the roles were reversed in the past (alternate timeline? I don’t know). We know Spock very willingly sacrificed himself to save the crew, and so does Jim.
Spock [about the trick he pulled on Khan]: “It’s what you would’ve done.”
Kirk: “And this…this is what you would have done.”
Kirk admits that he’s afraid and that has been his conflict all along. He’s afraid of death, or mortality. Not just for him, but for his crew as well. For his loved ones. But his need to keep them safe outweighs his fear for himself. And this is how Kirk learns to face mortality, by sacrificing himself (as opposed to dealing with Spock’s death in Wrath of Khan). As I said before, a similar-yet-unique way of facing that conflict.
39) Of course this had to be somewhere in the film.
40) When the Enterprise crashes into the San Francisco bay it destroys Alcatraz. JJ Abrams had a 2011 TV series on Fox named/surrounding Alcatraz that was cancelled in its first season. Hmmm….
41) I like the final chase between Spock and Khan through San Francisco but I always feel its sort of extra. Fun to watch but maybe a little long. The real climax was Spock/Khan’s mental chess game and then Kirk sacrificing himself, this just does not carry the same amount of conflict with it.
42) So Khaan’s blood can…cure death?
Whatever you can do to keep James T. Kirk alive, I guess.
Kirk: “Dr. Marcus, I’m glad you could be a part of the family.”
Okay, I actually googled why Carol Marcus was left out of Star Trek Beyond and the reason I found I actually REALLY like. This is a quote from Simon Pegg, who cowrote Beyond in a somewhat rushed amount of time.
“With this it felt like we would under-serve her if we included her, she might end up feeling like she hadn’t been given the amount of screen-time she deserves, so rather than bring her in and just have her be a supporting role, like, have her not be in this one, and when the time comes [bring her back], the worst thing to do would be to have her in the film and have that character be killed, and that felt like a cynical thing to do. We thought rather than have Carol Marcus not be used to a reasonable capacity, let’s just not include her, have her be alive, in canon, and ready to come back at any time.”
I’m actually REALLY glad they went that route, because more often than not characters are included out of obligation and killed off because they can’t think of anything better to do with them.
While I do enjoy Star Trek Into Darkness, it is a mixed bag for me. I think the acting is still topnotch and the conflicts each character deals with (ESPECIALLY Kirk and Spock) make for incredible storytelling. Sometime it can feel a bit extra and convoluted however, I’m disappointed in the whitewashing of Khan (even if I do think Cumberbatch did a nice job), and I find the underwear shot of Carol gratuitous. Overall I think it’s a good film just not a great one, and occasionally a problematic one. I do enjoy it. It’s not like I feel like I waste 2 hours of my life whenever I put it in, and this is about the third time I’ve seen it. I just am very aware of its flaws. I hope some of that makes sense. If you want to watch it, watch it. If you are more of a fan of it than I am, fantastic! It’s still a good Trek film (there are much worse Trek films out there), but if it comes down to watching this or any of the rebooted Star Trek films I’d go with any of the other two. Or even better, Wrath of Khan. Maybe I should stop talking now.