So I watched Star Trek: Into Darkness last night. I've always liked Star Trek, despite its sometimes cheesiness. Like a lot of sci-fi/fan, when it gets it right it really does get it right. The first J J Abrams/Chris Pine/ Zachary Quinto film was very good, not only decent cinema but a good plot too, and well told.
Sadly the sequel isn't. It's still a decent film, but the 3D gimmicks are annoying me now, they're pointless and sometimes distort a film just so the director can fit in that really great shot with bits flying towards the audience... but mostly the story is just poor. The idea is good, but it isn't well told. There are too many knowing nods to the earlier Star Trek, that of Shatner and Nimoy et al, and the last hour (or nearly) of the film is just one flash-bang-scream piled on the last, which just made my eyes ache.
A peril of being an author: you notice when a story is flabby, or when it wanders, or when something has been stuck in just because it goes wheeee but it doesn't help the story at all. There's an old saying; kill your darlings, which means that any writer has to be able to review his own work and cut out this, trim that, skip that whole scene... However good it is, or however keen on it you are, you have to cut. (Spoiler alert) An online reviewer called Caroline Sheehan said of The Risen King that there were scenes she'd have liked to see, rather than just hear about, for example the fall of Gailhom and the deaths of the king and Stefan, but I just couldn't fit it in. The novel is nearly 140,000 words long anyway, I had to cut like a madman just to keep it down to that.
It's a shame J J Abrams doesn't seem to have done that with Into Darkness. It's the same malaise that ruined the latter three Star Wars films, when nobody was close enough to George Lucas to say No, stop, that bit of dialogue clunks like a wooden leg and by the way, Jar-Jar Binks is a REALLY bad idea. I'm not sure anyone can be trusted to do this editing all alone. Everyone needs a reader who can tell them where the clunks are, when the story waffles and grows fat without going anywhere, and so on. I can see it with Into Darkness, but I know from experience that it often takes someone else's eyes to see it in my own writing.
And on that note I'll quit, before this blog post also becomes flabby.