Friday, May 31, 2013

Update: Fast & Furious 6

I can't even begin to tell you how perfectly rounded this screenplay is: from the opening scenes to the finishing, the film just doesn't leave anything out. If you are serious about film criticism and interpretation, this would be a great film to practice on because all the tools and techniques are classic, that's why they work so well. And the film wants us to know it's doing it because the dumbest character in the film, Roman, points it out to us so we don't miss it! There are so many other films being referenced in F & F 6, I literally couldn't keep track of them all, so stay alert!
If you haven't been to the theater this month, I really feel sorry for you. If someone asked me, "What should I go see, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness or Fast and Furious 6?" I wouldn't be able to answer them. I went to the theater tonight to see Now You See Me, which you know I have been really looking forward to, and I got the times mixed up, so saw Fast and Furious 6; it was awesome. Fabulous film. If someone asked me to teach a class on screenwriting, F & F 6 is the example I would use. I am sorry I haven't posted this week, I had several posts all nearly done, but none of them actually done,.... it's a common story in my life; sorry. One does not need to have seen any other of the Fast and Furious films to see this one, but it would certainly help; I have seen a couple of them, but I have not seen Tokyo Drift and I feel like I am missing out on something because of that, but don't let that stop you from seeing it. You know I despise Obama and his administration, however, when there are difficult times, that is when art is at its greatest, because that is when art's mission is most important, and Hollywood is not disappointing us.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Enemy Of My Enemy: Star Trek Into Darkness & the Socialist Trinity

Let's suppose that, instead, Spock (Zachary Quinto) said, "The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many." What would that sound like to you? Liberalism? A person gets offended because they think Santa saying, "Ho, ho, ho!" is a slam against whores and wants no more ho-ho-hoing unless it's (whoring) sex; someone doesn't think the Ten Commandments belongs in a courtroom, so they are removed; a person feels offended by the Pledge of Allegiance so the country stops saying it; Spock, as the paragon of logic and good sense, doesn't support liberal "logic," he reminds Americans of the motto of democracy: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." When Kirk (Chris Pine) has to re-align the core towards the end of the film, it's because America--at her core--has become dis-aligned and it has to be straightened out again. From the opening scene to the last, Star Trek Into Darkness provides us with an important discussion on why and how socialism has taken over America in the three characters of the Nibiru inhabitants, Kahn and Admiral Marcus, each contributing to a total vision of why socialism is evil. In a move rather unusual for me, let's start with a genre analysis of science fiction, then move to Nibiru and its natives, compared to what happens in London.
Why is this a good image for the film as a whole? The insignia of the Starfleet is created in the "negative space," amidst the rubble, and that's how it usually happens when there are tragedies: we discover who we are and what we are when there is a void that has disrupted order (we should get used to seeing destruction, because Godzilla is coming out next year). As we saw in Iron Man 3, Captain Kirk knows--like Tony Stark--that hardships, as much as we dislike them, forces us into the fullness of our ability and potential in ways we would not know if not for those trials (not that anyone enjoys going through things like that). The landscape we see is futuristic London, and we have all ready discussed the ambiguous role of England and its entitlement programs (discussed fully below) so seeing "John Harrison," i.e., Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) surveying a wreck (that he caused) in London provides us with the first important clue regarding the message about who he symbolizes STID wants to convey to audiences. Regarding the title, Into Darkness, we have to ask, what darkness? "Darkness" contains a high degree of instability in its meaning: what is that darkness and who is going into it? What "vehicle" will allow this someone to enter the darkness and why are they going? Is it a choice or is it happening because of a lack of choice? "Darkness" plays an important role in the upcoming Thor the Dark World film (as Odin narrates, "darkness" was the original state of creation that is still with us). It's easy to see how we can "deconstruct" "darkness" presented to us because there is no stable meaning with which to anchor "darkness" in: is the darkness the destruction caused by Khan? Is Kirk's reckless mistakes the darkness because he displays an absence of illumination in making good, wise decisions? Is it the "darkness" created within Kirk by the death of Pike? Is it the "darkness" of Admiral Marcus' betrayal to Starfleet? Is it the "darkness" of death Kirk experiences after his radiation exposure? Is it the "darkness" of outer space? For Uhara, the darkness would be Spock's lack of humanity; for Spock, the "darkness" might be losing Kirk or Spock's own inner darkness over not experiencing the way he sees Admiral Pike experience it. Is the film illumination and we, the audience, are going "into darkness," not just in the theater where we are watching the film (the literal darkness) but metaphorically "in the dark" about the film's meaning and message (well, you and I aren't, but "audience" in a general sense)? This is the hallmark trait of "deconstruction," that there is no stable meaning of a word (in this case, "darkness"), even though we think we know what it means when we first encounter it and we fill in "the gap" of meaning but, in the poster above, it's precisely "the gap" where the insignia of Starfleet is, so perhaps we shouldn't "fill in the darkness," rather, look to what the darkness is signaling (like the "darkness" across America with the increasing fear of our own government). There is a purpose to this ambiguity in "darkness," a deeper, cultural truth it reflects: who else has used language publicly that we thought we knew what he meant, but it turns out, he didn't mean that at all, and intentionally exploited the inherent ambiguity of words like "hope" and "change" for his own agenda?
In my earlier post, Science Fiction & Westerns: Genre Analysis, I mention how one of the most shocking lessons learned in intro to film criticism was that science fiction shares the same structure of genre with westerns. Yes, the horses and stagecoaches are replaced with space ships, the six-shooters with phasers, homesteads and ranches with planets, mountain ranges with neutral zones or enemy territories; oh, people have argued that the biggest difference between westerns and space films are the aliens, there are no aliens in westerns, but if we allow the meaning of "aliens" to include--as it does in the Bible--people dwelling in an "alien land," or the land not of their birth, then there are plenty of "aliens" in westerns (all the immigrants: Irish, Chinese, English, Russians, Germans, etc.); there are also the landscapes which, like outer space, are empty and desolate, evolving into one of the characters. The dominant, shared trait between westerns and science fiction stories is "frontier," where there is no law, or a law so fragile it has to be defended and constantly re-enforced, usually in situations of violent conflict.
Part of the opening sequence; there appear to be two different versions of the film: the one I saw where the events on Nibiru all happen in traditional, narrative sequence, then we go to London where those events take place; there appears to be another version where director Abrams cuts back-and-forth between Nibiru and London, weaving them together more closely. Why would he do that? Because the Nibiru events provide one side of the coin, and the London events the consequences of the other side of the coin. In this scene, we don't even definitely know for sure who we see running through this red jungle landscape, completely wrapped in gray linen from head to toe, until just a second after the moment pictured above. We discover that this character is Captain James Kirk, and the animal/alien he shoots is "his ride," as Bones reveals while taking off his wrapping. Bones uses the metaphor in a different scene, "You don't rob a bank when your get-away car has a flat tire," but I think this scene actually demonstrates that you don't rob a bank at all and that's what is really happening in this scene. Why does Kirk shoot their ride? As I have said many times, if something in a film reminds you of something you have see n in another film, it's probably an intentional invoking by the film makers to make you think of that other film so a connection can be made between characters or circumstances (one person noted that the natives, pictured below, reminds her of the engineers in Prometheus); in this case, Kirk running through a jungle, holding a stolen artifact the natives worship, as spears are thrown at him, reminds me of Indiana Jones Raiders Of the Lost Ark, as Harrison Ford's archaeologist ran with the golden idol and his French adversary Dr Rene Belloq ordered the natives to hunt him down. Why tie this in? Remember that Rene was hired by the Nazis to find the Ark to be used in World War II and this "artifact" of the 1981 classic film ties in with the larger picture Nibiru presents; in contrast to Dr. Belloq, Star Trek Into Darkness has Dr. "Bones" McCoy a real doctor, a medical doctor, and his presence on the near-doomed planet of Niburu provides the commentary that Kirk and the Enterprise are there to fix things, not exploit them unlike Dr. Belloq in Raiders Of the Lost Ark. So why does Kirk kill "their ride?" He doesn't. When Kirk shoots that animal, he's killing the "animal instinct" within himself to take advantage of the natives with his superior technology (the natives of Nibiru have barely invented the wheel, we discover later through Admiral Pike; in Raiders Of the Lost Ark, Belloq does take advantage of them), like Kirk turning his phaser against their wooden spears to save himself (the way Indiana Jones does not use his gun to fire on the natives shooting poisoned darts at him in the jungle).
Why take time to mention this?
The two most recent westerns--Django Unchained and The Lone Ranger--are competing with far more space films (Oblivion, Prometheus, Star Trek Into Darkness, Europa Report, Ender's Game, Gravity, The Black Hole) and the reason why one aesthetic (the sci-fi) has been chosen over another aesthetic (the western) hints at a cultural mania or even neurosis. Something we can definitely say about the space genre is that--like the Old West--it's part of our Manifest Destiny, a part of American history derisively mentioned in the anti-capitalist Gangster Squad. At the close of STID, we hear Kirk reciting the famed and iconic opening of the TV series:  Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. It's important because, in 1958, the White House did a study in which it examined the rational for going into space and its conclusion is what the Star Trek series centered its manifesto up (please see Trailers: Star Trek Into Darkness #3 for more on this discussion). Cleverly putting--what has traditionally been the opening at the ending--means it's the last impression upon the audience, begging the question of why Obama cut NASA missions in favor of archiving Islam contributions to science instead?
Manifest Destiny was the spirit of Americans just as "boldly going where no man had gone before" was, and we see, in another instance of building up the identity of Nibiru has a socialist symbol, the American manifesto contrasted with the Marxist Communist Manifesto. As Kirk runs for his life, he puts up a scroll (pictured above) and the natives instantly stop and worship it, providing Kirk with a moment to get a lead on them (again, this is a detail we see repeated from Indiana Jones and Raiders Of the Lost Ark). Why? Why does this happen and why does Kirk know they will stop to worship it? Because socialists worship the writings of Marx like it's a Gospel. The island is erupting but the natives stop, ignoring all else, the same way socialists ignore all the failures and destruction caused by socialism to continue worshipping Marx's simplistic writings because they--like the natives--refuse to see reality and interact with it (like chasing down Kirk and stopping him, or saving themselves from the volcano). We see socialists saying nearly the exact same thing about themselves in Cloud Atlas and the "writing" of Sonmi-451 who they (Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon)come to worship as a god because she says some things not much more advanced than a high school student,... That's why the scroll in the image above is so simple in its drawing: Marxism attracts the simple-minded who are looking for a utopia anywhere they can find it except in reality. 
What we can say of both westerns and science fiction adventures is that the "blank landscape" (space or the wild west) presents a "blank slate" upon which new rules can be written, or old rules can be tried and proven true; reminding us of why the rules of American democracy are the best rules. But we also have to remember that STID is based off the 1982 sci-fi thriller Star Trek II: Wrath Of Khan. Why go back to that one for inspiration? Simply put, because of the year Wrath Of Khan was made: we are facing the same evils as we were in 1982, a year during the Cold War.
The exploding volcano on the planet of Nibiru. Of all the things that could have been employed as a potential destructive force against the natives of Nibiru, why a volcano? Well, we have seen a destructive volcano all ready threatening a place similar to Nibiru: Atlantis. In Journey 2 Mysterious Island, when Atlantis is discovered, and it's quite beautiful, the island is sinking and can't stay afloat, just like a socialist economy sinking under its own weight (please see The Socialist Utopia: Journey 2 the Mysterious Island for more; Atlantis is also referenced in Ice Age 4: Continental Drift at the end when Scrat, a parody of a capitalist controlled by his appetites, sinks the island filled with the superior intellects of socialists as he chases after his nut; please see Drifting Waaaaay Left: Ice Age 4 Continental Drift for more). This isn't the only reason we can say Nibiru provides one of three examples of socialism in STID (those are discussed more fully below), but Nibiru was actually rumored to be on a collision course with earth and tied to many fears of an apocalypse. Of all the planets that could have been fabricated, why Nibiru? Because we fictitiously feared the planet instead of what the planet (in STID) symbolizes, the encroaching socialism taking over America. We can say the planet itself is a symbol of socialism because it's red all over. In and of itself, that wouldn't mean anything in particular, but taken with the natives themselves, the re-creation of the same color palette when Kahn attacks the admirals' meeting (discussed below in another caption) and the structure of the film, the phrase "Red Scare" certainly applies to the inhabitants.
Like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, and Wreck-It Ralph (his games was created in 1982), Red Dawn and Evil Dead, all remakes of early 1980s films, and films STID shares particular points of dialogue with, Hollywood is going back to that anti-socialist arsenal from the Cold War because what worked then, still works now. If Hollywood were pro-socialist, anti-socialist films wouldn't be getting re-made (there are individuals who support socialism, but Hollywood as a whole doesn't). Wrath Of Khan exposed socialism at its worst in Kahn and democracy at its best in Kirk and Spock but--perhaps the most important reason of all--the conflict between Kahn and Kirk highlighted the good qualities a leader should have against the bad qualities a socialist leader will have. In STID, Kirk's style of leadership is the exact opposite of what we see in Obama and STID intentionally wants to remind us--in Kirk--that even on Kirk's worse days, his embodiment of the American spirit and principles of democracy are infinitely desirable to Obama's endless golf games, parties in Vegas, spending sprees, lies, denials of responsibility and treason (we have all ready discussed the resurrection of "American swagger" in numerous cinematic heroes [including Kirk] and the protest against Obama it supports in Emperor & American Swagger: the Persona Of the American Hero). We will pick up these lines again later in this post, but for now, let's examine Nibiru in greater detail.
Why a volcano? I think there are at least two reasons. First, socialism tends to self-destruct, usually from a fatal build-up of corruption (like what we have been seeing with the Obama administration from the CIA prostitute scandal, to the Fast and Furious scandal, the war in Libya, voter fraud charges, the deaths of all the Navy Seals who got Osama Bin Laden, the IRS scandal, more than $10 million dollars spent on personal vacations, Benghazi murders and the new finding that Obama has used drones to kill at least 4 Americans so far thus, as well as millions, or hundreds of millions, of dollars and weapons sent to the Muslim Brotherhood). Socialism also tends to self-destruct from within because of political in-fighting. In the film, Admiral Marcus--another face of socialism the film presents to us--talks about a brewing war with the Klingons, and the volcano can symbolize that as well. Another reason it can be a volcano is because that was America in 2008 and Obama was able to take advantage of the situation. We can''t forget that we have also seen volcanoes in Wreck-It Ralph, when Ralph offers to sacrifice himself at the Diet Cola Mountain to knock down Mintos, creating an explosion so the cyber-bugs would react to the beacon and not destroy Sugar Rush. In 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, there is also an erupting volcano and, in family photos for the upcoming Man Of Steel, little Clark and his father (Kevin Costner) are seen with his volcano at the science fair. Recurring symbols should be kept in mind because they help establish patterns of thought.
Again, the natives of Nibiru, Kahn and Admiral Marcus each symbolize a different vein of socialism, but each one is a part of socialism. What do we know about the inhabitants of Nibiru? They wear yellow, they throw spears, they paint themselves white, they worship a piece of writing, their planet is self-destructing with the volcano, the planet is red, they are on the brink of extinction and they have "barely invented the wheel." On the Class M(arxist) planet of Nibiru, the inhabitants are like liberals/socialists, because they live primitively on an "island utopia" that is self-destructing (socialism can't fund itself and breeds so much corruption in the government it self-destructs like the erupting volcano). Unlike the crew of the Enterprise, the natives of Nibiru don't have any technology because socialist countries don't advance as rapidly as do capitalist countries because this particular vein of socialism is anti-industry (the tree huggers). They throw spears because that's what liberals do to everyone else: if they don't like you, they spear you with some simplistic accusation like "racist" or "hater" and that's how they take care of business.
But that's not all,...
Yellow symbolizes royalty because it's the color of gold (which only royalty can afford to own) but it can also symbolize cowardice because a king (a royal) should be the bravest of all the people and if he isn't brave, he's a coward. Who else in the film wears yellow? Kirk. As we have mentioned before, it would have been easy for film makers to update the Enterprise's wardrobe, but they chose to keep that ugly color he wears instead; why? It's the color of gold that has not yet been refined. The trials and hardships Kirk goes through--like his death in STID--each work to purify his bad traits (which get plenty of attention) while strengthening his good traits. This might seem a minor point, but as socialists intentionally wage a war that tells us suffering is bad, and hardship is inflicted upon us--do all you can to avoid suffering (and no one wants to suffer or go through trials and hardships, but we recognize that good can come from them) and let the government take care of you so you don't have to suffer or go through hardship because that's all bad--for film makers to be reminding audiences of "character development" and personal integrity, honor and morality is, well, counter-cultural. The yellow then, the natives wear, conflicts with Kirk's gold uniform, because socialists have both made themselves superior (kings) to everyone else and we see this exhibited in Kahn telling Kirk that he's better "at everything" and when Spock relays that Kahn and his crew are intent on destroying everyone to whom they are superior, the way socialists want to destroy capitalists (if you haven't been tortured by a self-proclaimed liberal deity, please visit the comment section on my post Trapeze Americano: Madagascar 3 & the Capitalist Circus where you can be treated to everything they think). On a different note, we should take note that their white and black make-up anticipates Tonto's (Johnn Depp) in the upcoming The Lone Ranger which, I am confident, will be pro-socialist. What does the white make-up do? Socialists present themselves as not only being superior to everyone else, but specifically being "innocent" of all the crimes and sins committed by others. The white make-up covers up their skin, acting to "mask" the person beneath the make-up but, more importantly, making us think of "white washing," or what someone does when they have told a lie and try erasing the effects of it or covering it up to make it look not so bad (and they lie because they don't believe in character or moral integrity, just like the Clintons). Why would STID make their characters so closely resemble Tonto? The last year has seen a trickle of films advancing the thesis that we should throw in the towel and go back to living like "savages," i.e., the natives, and both the inhabitants of Nibiru and Tonto would fit this proposal (such films include Moonrise Kingdom, Savages and The Apparition; these films mirror films of the early 1970's promoting the "mountain man" aesthetic, like Little Big Man, Jeremiah Johnson, A Man Called Horse, etc.).  We can see then how this simple scene provides us with a highly popular form of socialism and taking the intangible--this movement's ideas--and making them tangible in the home and appearance of the inhabitants.
We can say the primitive planet is socialist because there are obviously no corporations. Films such as The East, Mama and The Hunger Games, criminalize corporations/companies by showing how bad they are and what they claim corporations do to people, so Nibiru is a world without corporations. Like Moonrise Kingdom, Savages, World War Z (the book) and the upcoming The Lone Ranger, Nibiru is a world promoting the world socialists want you to desire: a world free of "stuff." Socialists want you to want to give up your house and car, your gun and your money, your clothes and job to wear the uniform of socialism and be free of God and religion and be just like everyone else (these strategies really come across in Imagine Dragon's song Radioactive). By cleansing themselves of corporations and private ownership, socialists argue, they have purified themselves of the evils inherent in capitalism (the white skin of the primitive natives as a sign of "cleanliness" and "purity" from evil and sin).  Here is the million dollar question: if I am accurate in this interpretation, why doesn't Kirk let the volcano explode and kill all the Nibiru natives(kill all the socialists)? Because that is what Kahn would do. Kahn tells Kirk that Marcus wanted Kahn for his "savagery," not his intellect, and this trait--as well as Kahn killing everyone not his equal which is savage--links Kahn symbolically to the "savage" of Nibiru.
Now, let's see what Spock is doing.
Sorry this is so blurry. There are two more traits to discuss. First, these Nibiru "aliens" appear humanoid, but they aren't humans, and that is ultimately the problem with socialism: aspects of human nature socialists chalk up to being the corrupting influences of capitalism, are actually part of our fiber as human beings, traits like greed, self-preservation and a desire to worship God have successfully been employed to vilify capitalism but exist regardless of the economic model to which a culture adheres. Secondly, please note the eyes that are completely dark. As we all know, the eyes are the window of the soul, and eyes that have completely darkened/blackened out communicate there is no soul, which is completely accurate of socialism. Socialists don't believe in God for two reasons: first, the encouragement of vice and sin (as Christians understand it, like homosexuality, drug use and promiscuous sex) appeals to young people who readily protest against the parents' strict religion by becoming socialists; secondly, a socialist government needs to be able to treat it's citizens as livestock when rationing health care, food and jobs, and talk about being "the children of God" keeps people from agreeing to abortions in areas where there is population control--which the government always controls--and "inherent rights and freedoms" have to be seen as coming from the government, not God, so people will obey and fear punishment. The natives of Nibiru not having souls(claiming souls and God don't exist) perfectly compliments the socialist agendas for advancing their indoctrination, except in the case of free will. As Christians, we know we have free will because it's God's greatest gift to us, but socialist regimes deny free will (they might talk about it in the early stages of take-over, but only regarding a minority's power to do what they want, like homosexuality is "free will" to socialists) because if everyone is doing what they want, no one will be working for the government to produce food, clothing and other basic necessities. There is a third characterization of the blackened out eyes: vampires. You might not buy this, and that's fine, however, I would like to at least mention it. In the TV series Being Human, the eyes of the vampire are totally blacked-out as we see above; I like STID attributing the vampire label on socialists because socialists usually call capitalists vampires (consider Gangster Squad and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) but, because of the elite Party members who rule over the workers (as it takes place in reality, not the sanitized books of Marx the socialists worship) the Party members become the vampires on the workers who have no chance of advancing or improving their lot.
While Kirk and Bones lure the natives of Nibiru away from their village and the threat of the volcano's lava overtaking them, Spock has been lowered into the volcano by Uhara and Sulu, who plan on bringing him back into the ship for their getaway after Spock sets the cold fusion reaction to neutralize the volcano exploding:
It's not a lack of compassion prompting Spock to make the sacrifice he makes, but the turmoil of his own emotional experiences having lost his own home when his planet was blown apart in Star Trek (2009) and his mother (who was human); so Spock is facing a kind of radical "self-identification" with the natives of Nibiru and that's Spock's problem: his calculations outweighing his emotions (and he makes it clear he does have emotions regardless of Bones' comments suggesting the opposite) makes him like the socialists (we will see this in one particular character when we examine the book World War Z) that we are not pure common sense and coldly rational beings, rather, rationally emotional beings who bond with others to help preserve them and preserve ourselves.
I was lucky to find this image. The Enterprise is under water hiding from the Nibiru natives while Spock has been temporarily stranded in the volcano; while Kirk tries to plan a means of rescuing Spock, Scottie (Simon Pegg) sees the underwater monster swim past his window; why? This detail offers us just one more example of skilled craftsmanship and writing in films: that sea monster is Spock. Just as the Nibiru natives provide a tangible example of one fact of socialism, so does this sea monster in providing a tangible example of "what is wrong" with Spock's otherwise heroic behavior (we will see Kirk compared to an animal later with the tribble). Please notice the eyes of the sea monster: big, round and blacked out, just like the eyes of the Nibiru natives and, we can say, symbolically just like Spock's own eyes. I say a photograph of a 1960s era protest march, and some women held a banner which read, "Save the Planet Kill Yourself." I think we are actually going to be seeing more of this as the UN's Agenda 21 is forced, but I mention it because Spock is kind of doing the same thing.  Even though he gets in trouble for doing it, Kirk does the right thing hands down in compromising the instructions of the Prime Directive not to interfere with the Nibiru inhabitants by revealing their presence to save them and Spock (we will see later how, just as Spock shares similarities with the Nibiru natives, so Kirk shares traits with Khan, and Kirk's willingness violate the directive to save his crew member Spock can be countered against Kahn''s willingness to save his crew and murder Admiral Marcus and the Enterprise's crew).  But back to Spock. Even though we can say Spock is in "the hot seat" in the belly of the volcano, he maintains his usual rational, unwavering personality; likewise, we can see this in the image above. Like Spock "keeping his cool" in the volcano, the sea monster is in the cool of the water; Spock isn't getting emotional or angry, and like the reptilian sea monster can appear "cold blooded" even as Spock calculates the value of his own life. Like the sea monster who has only tiny teeth, Spock is not a Vulcan ruled by his appetites (the mouth symbolizes the appetites or passions) and substantiating this reading is later, when Uhura confronts Spock about his behavior during this situation about not giving a thought to "them," the future she hopes they will share together; contrast this with Kirk's appetites for women and him sleeping around, we only see Uhura and Spock kissing respectfully, we could even say--since this is Spock--chastely. So, Spock doesn't have an "appetite" driving him to want to survive; like the diagrams on the window next to the sea monster in the image above, Spock has mapped how the dilemma must be played out to follow the directives and save the natives of the planet. Why a sea monster? It has often been written that, like the surface of the sea, a storm may rage above, crashing the waves, but beneath the surface, all is calm and still, and that's traditionally a kind of Christian metaphor for wisdom and Christ's peace (in spite of life's troubles, we are called to have faith and remain calm and at peace in our soul). Although Spock later confesses to Uhura and Kirk that he was going through emotions during this time, and he didn't want to die, he felt this bravery he exhibits was the best response to the situation.
There is an interesting detail that I can't believe was accidental: the cord tying Spock to the ship. Because that cord is a life support, we can symbolically understand it as an umbilical cord. As we have said many times, mature women usually symbolize the "motherland" because the country/planet that is our home "gave birth to us" (people from New York are very different from people in Louisiana, for example). We can see the "cutting of the umbilical cord" from the ship (losing his home and mother, Spock substituted the Enterprise for his home and his mother) but also as the general loss of his home and mother "lands him" upon Nibiru and suddenly substituting Nibiru for his home and mother. When Uhura asks Spock if he's all right, he replies, "I am, surprisingly,.... alive." The way he says this line, it's almost like two separate thoughts, because it seems as if he responds to Uhura's inquiry I am surprisingly all right, and that's what we are being led to believe he means until he says "alive." Why? For the same reason discussed in the caption to the poster above: the hardships or challenges we face bring out he best in us, and in this dire moment, Spock feels alive, willing to take whatever happens to him (hence why he stands in the volcano with his arms extended out in a gesture of acceptance). Here is the clip of Kirk's dilemma as all this plays out:
Let's talk about what Kirk is wearing.
In the picture below, on the right side, we see Kirk in his wet suit (which was underneath the gray linen he wore on the island while being chased by the inhabitants). If you look closely, there is a smooth part of the suit--like covering the chest--and then a "scaly" part, mimicking reptile skin, correlating to the sea monster Scottie sees in the window. There are also two bands of gold going over and under the shoulders. In this outfit, we can see Kirk being compared to the sea monster symbolizing Spock because of the blue color (like the water) and the "scaly" material is usually reptilian, as well as it being a wet suit for water wear. The bands of gold, however, tell us that--whereas Spock exhibits the negative characteristics of the sea monster--Kirk exhibits the positives. Because the bands of gold highlight Kirk's shoulders, we know he has the strength to break the directive and the strength not to be enslaved to it the way Bones tells Kirk Spock would be in letting Kirk die if the situation were reversed. The purpose of all this opening act is to contrast Kirk with Kahn in the second act, so it's time to go to London.
Pictured above, left is how we first see Kirk when the film opens in Nibiru (you can click on the image to expand it): completely covered in gray. Why? Gray is the color of the pilgrim because it's the color pf penance (when someone was performing an act of penance, they would cover themselves with ashes, to remember how passing life is, as Catholics still wear ashes on Ash Wednesday) and pilgrimages were usually made as an act of penance. Penance is performed as a recognition that sin has destroyed the life of Grace within us and we must rejuvenate that life. We can see the entire film being a pilgrimage for Kirk because of his "sins" of pride, arrogance and even his sexual appetites (like Tony Stark being tied to a bed in Iron Man 3). But there's another dimension to this as well. When Pike tells Kirk, "There's greatness in you Jim, I can see it," it's not just because of what Pike sees in Kirk, but also what he does not see in Kirk: greed, selfishness, a tendency towards betraying others, base ambition, laziness and even madness as corrosive characteristics that could really lead Kirk astray on his path in life. Again, it's always good to pause and ask, on the larger scale, what does this matter? In terms of reality, who cares what Kirk is wearing or not wearing? Why waste our time examining such minute details and reading/writing about it? Because it's the purpose of art to articulate and comment upon society at large. What we see in art we are supposed to be able to see in ourselves, see what we would not be able to see under normal circumstances, the good, the bad and the ugly. We know the USS Enterprise symbolizes America and the "ship of state," and
Why London?
Of all the places in the world, why stage an attack in London? At least two reasons. First, we have previously noted why London has been getting blown up so much so recently, and the shift that has been made with films like Oblivion, GI Joe Retaliation and (possibly) Red 2: the entitlement programs have "destroyed" England through bankruptcy and civil unrest (the last couple of years have seen protest marches against "austerity measures"). The scene that plays out with Thomas Harewood, his wife and sick daughter validates this reading (and we will analyze this scene in a moment) but what about the second reason for an attack on what appears to be the Starfleet Data Archives (the British Archives)? Because there is something in the British Archives.
Barack Hussein Obama's real birth certificate.
Here is an important detail: pictured above are the cryogenic pods holding the 72 member-crew of Khan he desperately wants to save so they can go through the universe, destroying everyone who is their inferior. When Bones examines them, he tells Kirk they are 300 years old; the film takes place in the year 2259, so, if we subtract 300 from 2259, we come up with the year which "gave birth" to Khan and his crew: 1959. What happened in 1959? Several things, including Fidel Castro and Che Guevara taking over Cuba in a socialist revolution; the Kitchen Debate between USSR leader Nikita Khruschev and Vice President Richard Nixon take place, but, I think what might be the real "birth" event for Khan and his crew is another birth event: the birth of the Workers World Party in America, i.e., a socialist/communist organization whose official color is, yes, you guessed it, red.  We can say that the WWP (although they have been active since their founding) is Obama's crew still sleeping because they have not yet started the kind of totalitarian dictatorship they have supported and defended, like the Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il, as well as their support of the Chinese government when they cracked down on democratic protests at Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 (remember that picture of the blindfolded man, holding a suitcase, standing in front of an oncoming tank? Yea, that was Tiananmen Square and the WWP sided with the government, not the protesters). Just as Khan is the only one of his crew awakened in STID, so Obama has not yet awakened the kinds of totalitarian practices supported by the WWP but that doesn't mean he won't when the time is ripe. On a different note, we have seen cryogenic pods just used in Oblivion: Jack (Tom Cruise) finds his real wife, Julia Ruskokova (Olga Kurylenko) after she was placed in cryogenic sleep for 60+ years during which time, Jack was living with Victoria (from Great Britain). Oblivion introduces the theme of what will happen to the US if we stay "in a relationship" with Great Britain and follow them in becoming increasingly socialist when, in fact, we should be in a relationship with the Russians because they are more committed to capitalism; we will be visiting this theme again (for more, please see A Tale Of Two Jacks: Oblivion & Facing Fearful Odds).
Kenya was a colony of Great Britain and it's from Kenya that Barack Obama Sr. is from, which is why Obama Jr has cited dual citizenship with US and British. The records contained in the British Archives in London--the building targeted by Khan to be blown up--has the actual record of Barack Obama Sr's son born the year Obama Jr claims he was born (this isn't a newspaper clipping but an official record and document of the British Empire). Until 2009, the information was public and could be viewed by anyone; a sudden, unplanned visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to have changed that, because since then, the record is "privileged access only" (again, you can access the informaiton at this link).
The scene on the left comes from Kirk running on Nibiru from the attacking inhabitants while the scene on the right comes from the Admirals' meeting in San Francisco post-London attack when Khan attacks them; lots of attacks going on, aren't there? Khan, knowing Starfleet directives call for all Captains and First Officers to meet  when such an attack has happened, knew they would be all together so he could attack them all at the same time (rather like Pearl Harbor) and, just before he opens fire, his space craft/helicopter floods the room with this red light,... coincidence? We see, once again, the repeating color palette of red, white, gray which--in my humble estimation--unconsciously intends to invoke attacks by socialism/communism (we see the same color pattern being repeated again when Spock fights Khan after Kirk's death, so three times really is not a coincidence, but an intentional message).   
I understand someone arguing it's not really an archive, it's Section 31; recall, please, in the meeting of Officers, how Kirk goes on about the Archives being public access, and anyone can go in and see anything they want, so why would someone decide to blow up the Archives in London? What we have in this scene is a clever "build-up" of encoding: if the film makers didn't want us to be thinking of the Archives in London, why would they waste valuable air time and money repeating a story (that the building housed the Archives) instead of Marcus starting the meeting with, "It wasn't the Archives, it was our intelligence branch, Section 31?" so we wouldn't listen to Kirk talk about all the records and information in there? Even better, being the Captain of the Enterprise, shouldn't Kirk all ready have known that the building exploded was Section 31? Every single second of film costs thousands of dollars (maybe more) to produce, so why waste that time unless it isn't being wasted? The reason is, just as Kirk turns the picture of Kahn around and zooms in on the "black bag," so we the audience are meant to look at the picture we are being presented and find what's "in the bag." 
This is the first reason why I think London was attacked.
This is at least the third time we have seen a sick little girl: the first was in Oz the Great and Powerful (the girl in the wheelchair at the fair who asked Oscar to heal her); the second is in Iron Man 3 at the house of the Vice President on Christmas morning (she is in a wheelchair and is missing part of her leg). Why is this important? Children symbolize the future, and women symbolically represent the motherland, so these little girls are the future of the motherland in danger. With the Harewood girl, we don't know what her sickness is, but we know how we are supposed to react. There have also been three times lately we have seen rabbits: first, the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) in Rise Of the Guardians, and the huge rabbit Tony gives Pepper for her Christmas present in Iron Man 3. We also have to note that the family's name is Hare-wood" (hare for a type of rabbit, and "wood" probably invoking the Cross; more on this in a moment); in Iron Man 3 and Rise Of the Guardians, the rabbit is clearly associated with Easter, the holiday of rebirth and resurrection, so we can hope that the little girl in STID--being named "Hare"wood and having a rabbit toy, would experience that rebirth without the intervention of Khan (which is our introduction to him). Case in point: when Khan's blood is circulated throughout the little girl's system, her vital signs change on the monitoring machine (we don't see any physical change in her, it's just the vital signs being measured on the machine); later in the film, when Kirk is preparing to board the Enterprise and go after Kahn, Bones gives Kirk a last minute examination and tells him, your vitals are way off, but Kirk goes anyway, and we don't hear anything else about it, nor do we see Kirk going into sick bay or not feeling well; Kirk completely recovers. Even though the little Harewood girl is sick, that doesn't mean she isn't going to pull out of it but her father takes up Kahn's offer anyway.
Back to the first reason I think London was attacked: the increasing socialist programs destroying the country. The perfect example is the little girl of Thomas Harewood. As Spock says in the volcano, risking his own life to save the inhabitants of Nibiru, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," with the Harewoods in London, however, the dictum is, "The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many." 40 people had to pay with their lives for the life of the girl, that we can't even be sure was doomed to die. Where have we seen this before? Evil Dead. When the demon "infects" one of the girls, she cuts off her arm and feels better; why? If there is a "gangrenous" limb, it threatens the health of the rest of the body so you have to cut it off, and the same rule applies in capitalism: when a company fails, you have to let it fail because--if you keep it going artificially--that artificial preservation will infect the rest of society. This is what has happened with the little Harewood girl (again, we don't even know that she was going to die). This willingness to sacrifice the many for the sake of the few is prevalent throughout STID.
Thomas Harewood in Section 31 where he works, about to drop the ring Kahn gave him into (what appears to be) a glass of water which will set off the explosion and destroy the building. We have discussed the "hare" part of Harewood, but what of the "wood" part? Please recall the great number of times God is invoked throughout the film, especially by Bones. "Wood," then, not only refers to the Cross of Christianity, (in conjunction with the "hare" and girl's toy invoking Easter and the Cross) but what the Cross means (none of us can escape suffering, even children but through suffering, we can all hope for eternal life). Now, why does Kahn give him a ring? Why does a ring in water set off a deadly explosion? Remember, this is an exchange: Kahn gives Harewood a vial of Kahn's genetically modified blood in exchange for the ring (and Thomas' life) that will explode Section 31. The ring is Khan's Starfleet ring (because he had been a member of Starfleet, so it's like a high school ring; the Starfleet insignia references NASA's logo for the Apollo program) and rings are usually signs of covenants: when you have made an oath or a vow to uphold/protect/defend something, you wear a ring as a sign the bond of your oath, in this case, to act as an officer of Starfleet. The ring "dissolving" in the water before it explodes is symbolic of Khan's vows dissolving (he cleanses himself of Starfleet) and the repercussions (the explosion) it entails. Kahn, then, is not going to use his skills and talents for the good of Starfleet, but for the downfall of Starfleet.
On the same note, Khan is willing to kill all the Admirals and Officers of Starfleet for his revenge, and kill as many necessary to save his crew (more on this below), and Admiral Marcus clearly doesn't care how many people he kills as long as his daughter Carol (Alice Eve) is not one of them and he gets his war with the Klingons. With these examples, we see how "The needs of the few outweighing the needs of the many" is a foreign concept to Americans, but one which the Obama administration is completely at ease with: hundreds of millions of American taxpayers are paying for the failure of GM to run its business; Obama giving $535 million taxpayer dollars to failed SolyndraObama is spending $11 million taxpayer dollars to create one "green job" that probably isn't even neededthe Obamas taking separate jets on the same day to stay in a house for a week that rents at $50,000 and Michelle's personal vacations over the last five years that have cost more than $10 million dollars. Yes, the needs of the Obamas outweighing the needs of the American taxpayers is a dictum Obama believes in, but Spock doesn't.
The third example of the Nibiru color palette being used again in the film to tie-in Khan to the natives. On the left is Kirk and Bones running through the "red jungle," and the left is Khan fleeing Spock after Kirk's death. Why is this important? As we saw in Jet Li's martial art masterpiece Hero, we saw the power of color to communicate the intangibles of emotions and motivations. Why is the logo color of socialists/communist always red? Like all colors, red has a positive and negative value. In positive terms, red is the color of love because, when you love someone you are willing to shed your "red" blood for them; negatively, when you are angry with someone--the opposite emotion of love--you are wiling to shed their red blood for you (another common expression is that they have made you so angry, you "face turns red" because you have reached your boiling point with them, like a volcano getting ready to explode).  Socialists choose red because they are angry enough at everyone else to shed the blood of the upper-class and anyone who gets in their way of their revolution. We can see this as being true in the characters of Thomas Harewood (saving his daughter by blowing up others), Kahn (saving his crew by killing the crew of the Enterprise and anyone else in the universe) and Admiral Marcus (who is willing to kill the crew of the Enterprise, Kahn and anyone else who gets in his way to destroy the Klingons).
Let's pause for a moment in our analysis to examine the state of the ship of state, the Enterprise, during the heat of the battle with the Vengeance. Everything in the ship has been "turned upside-down," (that is, "perverted"), the gravity on the ship has been disabled (we can see that as symbolizing justice and keeping everything in its place and balanced) and the core of the ship--which was sabotaged by Marcus--is mis-aligned and Kirk has to sacrifice his life to get it re-aligned. In order for this scene to "work," in order for audiences to identify and enter into the situation and characters, the events must reflect events/situations we ourselves have been in; so the question is, is there someone, like Marcus, in a position higher up than ourselves, who we have trusted, but has intentionally sabotaged the ship of state (the Enterprise), turned everything upside-down (the needs of the few outweighing the needs of the man) and misaligned our core so we would be crippled and it would be easier to destroy us?
Yes. 
Those who have seen Star Trek II: Wrath Of Khan know an important switch was made from Spock being the one to die of radiation in the 1982 film to Kirk being the one to do it today. We don't have time to go in-depth for Wrath Of Kahn, but Khan was motivated by his hatred of Kirk, and letting Kirk die would have been a validation of Kirk's sentence of justice against the mad-man who was a danger to everyone as well as upholding that genetically modified people are not superior to humans with all our faults (and our virtues as well). Today, however, America has been invaded by socialism as if we lost a nuclear war (the radiation from nuke warheads, and we saw this in Oblivion). Kirk embodies everything we value and cherish about the American spirit each of us embodies in some way and Kirk giving himself up in 2013 is not a statement that it deserves to die, but that it deserves "a second chance," as Pike said, and Kirk--what he symbolizes and represents in America--is infinitely better than what Khan represents. When Kirk goes to realign the warp core, he has to use both his feet, numerous times, to get it straightened back out; what does this symbolize? There are two parts: one, the moral order of America (the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few) and secondly the economy (the economy is discussed below). If we, as a country, don't use our will to realign the needs of the many, rather than the needs of the few, to our moral order, we won't be able to escape the "vengeance" of our enemies, as Iron Man 3 warns us with not punishing those who have committed crimes.
Even as I watched the film, the character of Admiral Marcus confused me and several other comments I have read about him line him up with former Vice President Dick Cheney as an imperialist (this interpretation only focuses on one part of the film and fails to account for the rest of the narrative so it's not valid); this is the purpose of the film, however, to remind us of who the real imperialists have always been: socialists and communists. The Nazis started World War II because they wanted to take over the world; the Soviets perpetuated the Cold War because they wanted to take over the world; the North Korean communists started the Korean War when they wanted South Korea to become communist; the Vietnamese started the Vietnam War because they wanted to spread communism throughout all Asia in countries not wanting it; Saddam Hussein started the Gulf War in attacking Kuwait and threatening bombing Israel. Al-Queda started the War on Terror when they destroyed the World Trade Towers. Anyone accusing America of being imperialist is purely ignorant of history and how wars really start: socialists start wars because of the call of Karl Marx to force revolutions throughout the world. So let's examine Kahn and Marcus now.
There are actually four faces of socialism in the film and the fourth is the Klingons. You are probably confused, because if Marcus is a socialist, why wage war on fellow socialists? During the early days of the television show, the Klingons were created specifically to embody the characteristics of socialism/communism that Star Trek intended to fight. Marcus declaring war on the Klingons is socialism today declaring war on American perceptions of socialism that shows like Star Trek (the TV series) educated us about: it's only European socialism being promoted by liberals, never the "barbaric" socialism seen in North Korea, the Soviet Union, Argentina, Cuba, Vietnam, China, etc., only a sanitized, polite socialism is going to exist today, and to do that, liberals have to destroy the old perceptions of socialism and communism represented by the "savage" Klingons. Why else would the "savage" Khan go and hide among them after his ruthless attack on the admirals' meeting? Because Khan belongs there and knows he can hide among them. Kahn "turning" on the Klingons to kill them all to "save" Kirk, Uhura and Spock is meant to illustrate the genuine savagery of the kind of socialism Khan symbolizes and we have seen this also in the brother Charlie from Stoker who likewise appeared so cultivated and sophisticated, but--like Khan--is really "mad," "unpredictable" and "savage." Khan hiding in the abandoned city of the Klingons should remind us of another Benedict Cumberbatch film: The Hobbit (yes, that was Cumberbatch portraying the evil Necromancer). Radagast the Brown goes to Dol Gadur (the old fort) and encounters the growing strength of the Necromancer who everyone thought was dead. Likewise, Khan goes to the abandoned, industrial Klingon city; have we seen this recently? We have, in both The Chernobyl Diaries and A Good Day to Die Hard when the heroes have to go to the abandoned city of Chernobyl (a communist nuclear power plant that melted down and had to be abandoned).   
We know Kahn's voice has been artificially dubbed, and that can serve as an excellent example for "noise," because it suggests that what Kahn is saying, isn't really his words, he is just a mouthpiece (and he is for Marcus); just as Kahn has been "resurrected" by Marcus, we can also see how Kahn has been resurrected by the film makers from the 1981 version of Star Trek II: Wrath Of Khan. Why is an important point? Well, Kahn is also the mouthpiece of the film makers, and especially when Kahn says, "You should have let me sleep," because it resembles the "awakening" of the dead socialism liberals called for in 2008. "Masking" Kahn's voice also points to the mask Marcus wears as an Admiral but is really a traitor (and we can say his daughter, Carol [Alice Eve] also wears a mask in hiding her identity when using her mother's name to sneak on board the Enterprise).
So, what about Marcus?
Kahn when he first sees Kirk and Kirk has used a fire hose to tie a gun and throw into the engine of Kahn's advanced space-type helicopter so the craft would fail. Please note how "EMERGENCY" is written on the window of the craft, covering Kahn's face; this exemplifies subliminal messaging to the viewer that Kahn is an emergency, as well as providing us with an instance of "erasure" we have had great occasion to discuss as of late. The identity of "John Harrison" is erased by Kahn (who the one-time agent really is beneath his fictious identity) and Kahn is really an "EMERGENCY" behind his quiet, superior facade and fake friendship with Kirk to overtake Marcus. One level of identity erases the reality of the other level of identity until the whole being becomes blurred and we can't know who we are really dealing with (as happens to Kirk with both Marcus and Kahn). Perfectly crafted, the film makers tell us, as Kahn brutally attacks the helpless officers in the building, the "CY" letters over Kahn's face really means, "See, why" socialism is so bad and we are in a state of emergency because of what is happening to us. The genius of Kahn, however, is starkly contrasted with the genius of Kirk, because Kahn (like the North Korean leader in Olympus Has Fallen using America's own nukes against us) has used the rules and guidelines for the safety of Starfleet against them by gathering them together and attacking them unarmed (again, like Pearl Harbor). Kirk, on the other hand, uses his genius to save the officers and it might even be with an "umbilical cord" type device: the fire hose (like the "umbilical cord" of the ship that breaks when Spock is dropped into the volcano). Let's pause a moment to consider how many villains recently there have been who have "turned" out to be someone who turned against the hero: Skyfall's Silva (Javier Bardem), Bill Haydon (Colin Firth) in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; the South Korean delegation in Olympus Has Fallen was really terrorists; the president in GI Joe Retaliation, Tobin (Denzel Washington) in Safe House, Loki in both Thor and The Avengers (as well as Stellig and Hawkeye turning, and Loki trying to turn Hulk against the Avengers); in Iron Man 3, Maya pretends Tony and Pepper can trust her, but she has turned as well, and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is turned against Dom in Fast and Furious 6. What does this tell us? STID is part of a larger dialogue in American cinema today claiming that someone we trusted and thought we knew has turned against is and is using our safety mechanisms against us. Who does that sound like to you? Obama? When Kirk takes the fire hose, it's like he is trying to establish a "relationship" (the umbilical cord) with Kahn, reminding him who gave birth to him (or, like Frankenstein, who created him since he is genetically modified) and telling Kahn, you are one of us, why are you attacking us? It's really not that far-fetched a theory, because the opposite happens in Skyfall: Silva tries to make M (Judi Dench) remember that she is his mother, and she refuses. With Kahn, Kirk has given him a choice by including the gun on the end of the fire hose (the symbolic umbilical cord): either you and I are brothers, because Starfleet has given birth to both of us, or we are enemies (the gun) and I will kill you. This might explain why Kirk is so determined to kill Kahn regardless of Starfleet regulations to give him a trail, because Kirk recognizes that he himself could become Kahn and by wiping Kahn out, Kirk hopes to insure he won't. Then, through the counseling of Spock and Uhura, he realizes that killing Kahn without a trial would put him on Khan's level. 
Marcus can best be understood by his opposite, Pike. Just as Marcus is a "surrogate father" for Kahn (someone else actually created him, but Marcus lured him out of sleep and is developing Kahn's "potential") so Pike is not Kirk's father but Pike lured Kirk out of his sleep when he talked him into joining Starfleet (a fact repeated when Pike goes to the bar to tell Kirk he has a second chance) and "resurrecting" Kirk when Starfleet was going to bury him in the lower ranks. Why is this important? Marcus asks Kirk if he knew who enlisted Pike in Starfleet, and while we are not told the answer, it's safe to assume it was Kirk's own father, George (Chris Hemsworth from Star Trek 2009). Why? That would explain Pike feeling the role of surrogate father, rather like K (Tommy Lee Jones) in Men In Black III with Will Smith's character.  It also demonstrates and validates the ideal in Starfleet and America: when someone does a good turn for us, we repay that kindness by doing a good turn for someone else. Kirk honors his surrogate father, whereas Kahn murders his (again, we see this in the sibling-rivalry triangle between Bond, Silva, and M in Skyfall).
Why does Pike die and why is he scared? Scared for two reasons: first, he's not afraid of dying (a person who goes into deep space exploration knows the risks) it's probably that he's afraid and angry that he won't be able to fight Kahn because he knows he has reached the end. We can compare this to John McClane (Bruce Willis) in A Good Day to Die Hard: John wants to help Jack (Jai Courtney) defeat the bad guys, and Jack needs his dad, whether he admits it or not (and he doesn't admit it). So why does Pike die? The older generation always dies in reality, we always die, the next generation always inherits the land to do what they will and Kahn killing Pike accurately reflects Obama killing the founding fathers in his ignoring of the Constitution which they bequeathed to us. I will be the first person to admit, until the 2nd Amendment was encroached upon, I didn't care about it until I realized the reason it was put there; similarly, realizing how important Pike has been in his life makes Kirk realize how important Starfleet is. We should consider the role of Pike and explorer Pike who founded Pike's Peak creating a gold rush, like the '49 number on Jack's uniform in Oblivion referring to the Gold Rush of 1849. On a different note, Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) being summoned is like Wrath Of Khan itself being summoned: the upcoming X-Man film, Days Of Future Past, makes us think of the past foretelling the future, and in seeking out the past, Spock knows what to do in the future.
So, the million dollar question: if Kahn is so bad, and such a threat, why does Kirk and Spock not kill Kahn and his crew? For at least two reasons. The first reason mirrors Kirk not killing Kahn without his trial, that if Kirk were to execute Kahn and his crew--as Kahn was going to execute Kirk and his crew on the Enterprise--then Kirk would become Kahn (psychologically and spiritually); the very act of showing compassion and mercy, especially to your worst enemy, is a trait unknown in barbaric socialism which seeks--as Spock says--to destroy everything not its equal (or, in other words, everything outside Kahn and his crew). The second reason is there are benefits of Kahn and his crew just as there are benefits of "socialist-styled" programs (which we will see in Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters in "not all witches are bad"): one benefit is the critique of capitalism socialism offers, especially by weeding out bad capitalists or those abusing the system, like Marcus abusing the system. Whereas socialists seek to kill all capitalists to establish a totalitarian regime, capitalism requires diversity to function properly and optimally, which leads us to our next point: Kirk's resurrection.
This was handled skillfully. Kirk, having decided he will trust Kahn enough to board the Vengeance, tells Spock, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," to which Spock replies that it was an Arab prince who said that and was beheaded by his "friend." Forrest Wickman has done a marvellous job researching the proverb, "The enemy of my enemy," and its history; while he ascertains that Spock has misspoken, I would like to disagree with him; Spock tells us the viewers exactly what the film makers want us to know (I won't go into all of it here, political correctness forbids it). The person who compromises their own moral integrity to join forces with one whom they would normally not be aligned with (in this case, Kahn) becomes weakened by this compromise so they are then vulnerable to the attacks of the one who would normally also be an enemy; in other words, joining Kahn strengthens Kahn (Kirk tells Scotty, "I think we're helping him," not Kahn helping us) but weakens Kirk morally and this is revealed in the warp core being damaged and Kirk having to be the one to fix it. He fixes it with both feet (the feet symbolize our will and the path we want to take in life) so Kirk has to try again and again to use his will power to straighten out the core (his purpose and being) so the ship can be saved because the Enterprise and Starfleet are only as virtuous as the people who are in it. This interpretation is also supported by Spock's observation that the man who said "The enemy of my enemy," was beheaded by his "friend," when Khan goes to kill Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. So, why put this discussion with the images above, with Kirk in his space jump suit and Kahn jumping through a sheet of glass? When Kirk and Kahn make the space jump to board the Vengeance, the glass visor over his face cracks during the journey; why is this important? Glass and mirrors symbolize "reflection," and Kirk is all ready realizing (in his reflecting on what he is doing) that he has made a bad decision in trusting Kahn. Even though Kahn appears trustworthy in helping and even saving Kirk during this jump, Kirk knows it's only for Kahn's own purpose. Kirk, on the other hand, has only the purpose of justice for both Kahn and Marcus in mind, nothing else. In the image above, on the right, Kahn jumps through glass, shattering it, as Spock chases him after Kirk has died. Why does this happen? Again, glass symbolizes "reflection" because--we see our physical self in glass--just as we see our spiritual and psychological self when we meditate and reflect. Kahn, too, sees himself in a more damaging way, probably that Kirk and Spock were more of a challenge than he anticipated and regardless of Kahn's superior intellect, he should not have underestimated them and Kahn's own feeling of superiority to Kirk and Spock is being shattered just as Kirk's visor shield.  
It's important that Bones tested Kahn's blood on a tribble because tribbles have no known function, drive or ambition outside of eating and reproducing. We could, in a very direct way, see the tribble as a symbol of Kirk (who is driven by his appetites) just as we have seen another hero lately driven by his appetites: Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) in Battleship. When Alex is at the bar, his brother begs him not to waste his birthday wish on a girl, Sam, but Alex does so anyway, and because of that, Sam (sex, the drive to reproduce) awakens the best in Alex so he excels in the Navy. Kirk is driven by his appetite for women (there are too many examples to bother naming) and alcohol (Pike knew Kirk would be in a bar after he was dismissed because that's where he found Kirk the first time). Why put Captain James T Kirk on the level of a tribble? To validate the drive of the appetites and reproduction. 
Captain Kirk (William Shatner) in the Star Trek TV series surrounded by tribbles. Can we morally validate Bones using Kahn's blood to resurrect Kirk? Absolutely. First, no one had to die to save Kirk, unlike the deaths of the 40 people in Section 31. Secondly, as we noted, Kirk has a fear of Kahn because Kirk secretly knows he could become Kahn himself, so the fusing of Kahn's blood with Kirk's illustrates that "brotherly connection" they have (as both being "born" of Starfleet) and Kirk's accomplishment in his overcoming his Kahn-ness within because what could have brought Kirk death, instead gives him life. If, as in Evil Dead, the blood of Kahn introduced infection into Kirk (Kirk wasn't good enough to withstand the blood of Khan), Kirk would have had to been destroyed as in Evil Dead. Comparing Kirk to Khan, Kahn would have killed Kirk, the Enterprise crew, and who knows how many others throughout the universe and never accomplished anything real and lasting but we know, starting out on his five-year mission, Kirk will bring peace and the very best of humanity wherever he and the Enterprise goes, and that is meant to inspire us to do the same. On a different note--and we shall go into it deeper later--we have all ready seen a tribble-esque creative being revived in The Hobbit with Radagast the Brown going to such lengths to revive the little hedgehog; why? It's a sign of character how the powerful treat the weak who cannot pay them back for their troubles and aid. To save a creature so small and helpless reveals the depth of the heart, just as killing someone who is noble and good (like Kirk and Spock) illustrates the depravity of the soul in Khan.
We have to see Spock as being a Vulcan/human driven by his high ideals, but we saw in the volcano how there is a darker side to that with the sea monster; likewise, we see Kirk as a man of ambition and daring who is also like a tribble with his appetites (this is the sign of great writing, that other elements in a narrative can be employed to "flesh out" the character of the characters). We've seen the bad side of Kirk's appetites, but there is a good side to our appetites and drive to reproduce and establish a line, and STID validates this in Kirk because socialism demonizes it (please consider Lawless and Gangster Squad, for example, and we have also seen this in Iron Man 3 with Tony Stark and his demons and appetites, just like Kirk's; we can include James Bond in Skyfall as well, because he drinks quite a bit and has a "way with the women"). So, men generally symbolize the economy as the active force of the country; STID reminds us that to regenerate the economy (Kirk and capitalism) we might require the "stimulus" of socialism (Khan's blood which also--supposedly--regenerated the little Harwood girl just as we saw Tony Stark being regenerated with Killian's Extremis in Iron Man 3) but it's the appetites of capitalism (like the voices Kirk hears as he wakens up) that gives the stimulus something to bond to and makes capitalism worth saving.
Hopefully, by now, I have convinced you the red color scheme throughout the film refers to socialism/communism; so why are the crew members of Enterprise wearing red (we will refer to Checkov in a later post)? Compare, if you will, Kirk's crew surrounding Khan, and Khans crew in the torpedoes. Just as Khan's crew are in torpedoes, so they are themselves like torpedoes, weapons, not humans. One of the great evils of socialism is its dehumanizing of the human being--the way Marcus dehumanizes Khan (and we know Khan is intensely human in his love for his crew) to use as a weapon--which highlights the great risk, two times, that Kirk negotiates life for his crew: first, when he negotiates with Marcus to spare his crew and just kill him, and secondly when Kirk goes into the radiation chamber knowing he won't make it out alive. As we have said, colors always have a positive and negative symbolic value, and red is the color of love because we are willing to spill our blood for those we love (Kirk sacrificing himself for his crew) but red is also the color of anger because when we are angry, we are willing to sacrifice the blood of others to appease our anger (Khan killing the admirals and officers to get revenge). In this scene above, the Enterprise crew wears red because they are acting out of love to protect the universe from the threat of Kahn. 
In conclusion, Star Trek Into Darkness warns the younger generation not familiar with socialism, that it takes many forms and guises, but is always dangerous, simultaneously inspiring the younger generation of the great values of this country and its people, and that we as a people and a country are worth fighting for. Closing with the iconic opening no one can not know in America, STID reminds the youth of this country what our destiny is, that we belong in space regardless of the limitations this current administration has placed upon us in NASA, and that we must boldly go where no man has gone before.  
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Why use the iconic Vulcan death grip to subdue Khan (as a symbol of socialism)? For two reasons. First, because it is iconic. The icons of America--like the American flag, the Statue Of Liberty, the Constitution--inspire us to overcome what those icons stand against because an icon is a collective memory, a sentiment that is wrapped in mystery yet still expressible, and the Vulcan death grip is like that. Secondly, because the death grip goes to the "nerve" of the problem. The shoulders symbolize the burden we are carrying or willing to carry, and in this case, we can say Spock has "a grip" on the plan of Khan and knowing the evil Khan intends, Spock with his Vulcan virtues is able to squash it the way Khan squashes the skulls of others.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Science Fiction & Westerns: Genre Analysis

The original Lone Ranger and Silver, 1965. With TVs becoming more affordable so that every home could have one, Westerns soon dominated the medium, peaking in 1959 with 26 weekly shows being Western/Western themed. As color television became more popular, production companies had to trade-off the expensive action sequences essential to Westerns in favor of spending money on color productions instead, leading to the dramatic decrease in weekly Western series.
Sometimes, stepping back to get a macro picture is the best thing we can do. At different periods in history, different types of films and books, art and music, have been popular, and one of the reasons why criticism (interpretation and decoding) is important is because it reveals what drives the demand for certain art forms: specifically, what are the fears and hopes, ambitions and inhibitions of a culture at various times, how historical events are shaping and re-shaping the norms of a society at different points in history. Art is, in its own way, an archaeological record of the psyche of humanity. Why should we take a moment to examine this? Django Unchained and The Lone Ranger (still to be released) are trying to help Westerns make a comeback, but it's the dominance of films like Star Trek Into Darkness, Prometheus, After Earth, Thor the Dark World, Oblivion, Ender's Game, Men In Black III, Gravity, Europa Report and Pacific Rim(not to mention the resurrecting of the new Star Wars series beginning 2015) which are gaining dominance and--in our day and culture--there is a reason for it.
It's not the best Western ever made by any means, however, it is the best example of a Western, for the simple reason that it contains all the elements essential to a film being "Western." There are many reasons why Westerns were so popular in the 1950-s1960s, and one reason might be that it showed regular men keeping order, usually through killing another man/men with a gun; what was the biggest historical event that would have caused this? World War II. Men of all ages faced the horrors and tragedies of mass killing and chaos, witnessing what others had done and perhaps what they themselves had done; Westerns were one means of slowly and carefully offering a psychological release, "artistic therapy" so to speak, of validating what American men had to do and why they did it and the guilt they experienced for it; Sci-Fi, on the other hand, could offer the same safe, slow release of catharsis with--usually--being threatened and in a foreign land (Europe or the islands of the Pacific).  By slowly offering cathartic release to veterans and their families, it helped to heal bonds: men came to have some relief from the pain of their experiences (although that cannot be an across-the-board statement) and families came to have some idea, unconsciously, of how their fathers, husbands, brothers and neighbors felt and why, which healed their personal bonds and brought families together around the TV. Again, this is a simple approach to what was happening, but it's also valid, and offers a starting point for going into the phenomena at greater depth and detail.
One of the most important lessons I learned in my first film criticism class was that Westerns and Sci-Fi films are essentially the same, just with aesthetic differences. Both genres rely upon vast, open landscapes wherein their action and adventure take place, the wild west for Westerns or outer space for Sci-Fi, and often, the landscape/galaxy becomes a character in the story because it helps to form the character of the characters, asserting themselves against the "blankness" of the un-settled wild west or the unexplored depths of outer space. One on level, we can say the Western was comforting because it reminded us of what we had all ready accomplished (this can be clearly seen in the ending of How the West Was Won with the clip of contemporary highway systems which replaced the old horse and buggy days) whereas Sci-Fi provided a sense of adventure and platform for ambition with what there was still to achieve. (I have done much more analysis on Sci-Fi than Westerns: please see both The Second Original Sin: Art In the Atomic Age and The Decade Of Turmoil: Film In the 1950s for more details on this genre). 
From 1956, Forbidden Planet, based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest and modernized with a substantial dose of Freudian psychoanalysis and is, like Shane, one of the typical films analyzed in introductions to film criticism courses. Like Shane, it's not the best Sci-Fi film ever made, but Forbidden Planet contains all the essential elements of a great Sci-Fi. Forbidden Planet was made in 1956 while The Lone Ranger ran from 1949-1957; how could two such dramatically different art forms co-exist and be so successful simultaneously, unless, they aren't so different?
Many might say, okay, I see how the empty wild west landscape can be compared to the emptiness of space, but I don't understand how you can call outlaws from Westerns aliens in Sci-Fi films? A somewhat recent film combining the two genres is Cowboys and Aliens (Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig; please see Cowboys and Aliens: the US-British Alliance) and there is a reason why a film like that could be made today. To begin with, aliens are not always outlaws, but outlaws are always bad guys who have to make the choice to either reform or face the dictates of justice. If we examine Cowboys and Aliens, we actually see two types of aliens: the aliens who have come from outer-space and the aliens who have come from Mexico, because anyone living in a land not where they were born or that is not their "homeland" can--since Biblical times--be considered an "alien in an alien land." 
Performing at the box office below expectations, Cowboys and Aliens was considered the "death of the Western" in Hollywood after its lack-luster release and was the primary reason for The Lone Ranger (Johnny Depp) being shelved for fear no one would go see it (it just takes a bit of star power to get things going) which might have had more to do with the bizarre trailer rather than the film itself, however, at least some in the film industry seem to be crediting Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained with resurrecting the Western. If The Lone Ranger doesn't do well, Hollywood will certainly site the genre as the cause, rather than the film's message as being the turn-off for audience members (but, if The Great Gatsby did so well, I don't doubt The Lone Ranger will do well also). In some ways, The Host is similar to Cowboys and Aliens because it primarily takes place in the desert and there are definitely aliens. We can also put forth that films taking place on the ocean resemble Westerns and Sci-Fi because there is a general lack of law (think of Pirates of the Caribbean and the upcoming Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks) because one can travel to "distant lands," like distant planets, and encounter aliens (either in people not resembling yourself or the animals underneath the surface of the water).
In Cowboys and Aliens, the outer-space aliens symbolize the Nazis because what they did was "alien" to the way of life for Americans (I demonstrate this in the post because the aliens had extracted the teeth of the humans like the Nazis did in the concentration camp); the Mexicans in the film are not aliens because their hard work and loyalty was "at home" in America. In earlier Sci-Fi, aliens could refer to anyone who was different than a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (Irish Catholics, Chinese, Latinos, Mexicans, Russians, Asians, Middle Easterners, etc.) because their ways (religion, food, dress, customs, etc.) appeared "alien" to the WASP families settling the Old West (as in Shane). As stated at the start of this post, there are far more space films coming out than Westerns (the only one I know of is The Lone Ranger and The GallowWalkers with Wesley Snipes, but that one might go straight to DVD/Blu-Ray) and the question is, what does it reflect that--in these box-office record-setting years for profits--there are more Sci-Fi films being made than Westerns?
I don't think things have changed much.
Also starring Harrison Ford is Enger's Game due out in November. The official synopsis runs: After an alien race called the Formics (also known as the "Buggers") attacks Earth, the International Fleet prepare for the next invasion by training the best young children to find the future leader to lead the International Military. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a shy but strategically brilliant boy, is pulled out of his Earth school to join International Fleet and attend the legendary Battle School in Space. After easily mastering the increasingly difficult war games, distinguishing himself and winning respect among his peers, Ender is soon ordained by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) as the military's next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he's trained by Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) himself to lead the military into a war that will determine the future of Earth and the human race.
Americans are proud of our technology for one, so "going back in time" isn't necessarily a chance to show off technological advances; we kind of consider space "ours," because of the landing on the moon--and I think Obama recognizes this which is why he intentionally cut the space program, to cut our pride in that area--even though we don't have dominance in space. "Being in space" unconsciously communicates to the audience that technology and space exploration are linked because technology aides us in meeting the challenges of exploring space. But--like Westerns--the vast region of space is "a clean slate," and I think this might be the "main thrust" for pro-capitalists making space films, that order doesn't exist in space, and so, when we see Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) capturing outlaws instead of letting them hide in remote outposts, it reaffirms that the ways and rules of Americans are inherently right, that we have adopted our codes of conduct because of "rightness" and moral alignment, not because of expediency or tyranny. In other words, space is a chance to "make America all over again," and to chose to make it the same country this time as our forefathers did in the past.
The official synopsis for George Clooney's and Sandra Bullock's Gravity is: Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first Space Shuttle mission and is accompanied by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney), who is in command of the shuttle flight, due to be his last. During a spacewalk, the space shuttle is destroyed, and Stone and Kowalsky are stranded in space with no communications with Earth. I could be wrong, but I think this is a statement about Obama's administration, that we are "drifting out in space," but we need to go further into space (socialism) because the "crash" (of 2008) destroyed the space shuttle (the vehicle of the economy, capitalism, which created the shuttle) and it just isn't viable anymore; this would reflect another George Clooney film, The Descendants, where his wife (America) was in a boat race (capitalism because it's competitive) and crashed (the 2008 economic crash) and landed in a coma which required her to be moved from life support (cutting off capitalism and going to socialism, like being cut off from the space shuttle in Gravity). Of course, I could be wrong, I admit that. Men In Black III, on the other hand, was about the socialist figure in Boris trying to stop K (Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones) from having the space shuttle launched because the shuttle put up the barrier protecting us from alien attack (America getting to space first insured the victory of capitalism over socialism and keeping the alien communists out of the country).
There is a lot more to say about the genres, but I think it best to say it in the individual posts about the films; having this in mind, however, will help us when we are thinking about the narrative of Star Trek Into Darkness, Thor the Dark World and this new film coming out that reminds me of Prometheus, the Europa Report about six astronauts who go to the sixth moon of Jupiter, Europa, to look for life:
What do you notice about this trailer?
First, probably, that it's quite like the trailer for Gravity with Clooney and Bullock we saw last week (the link will take you to YouTube). It might also remind you of Prometheus in two ways: first, because something that we set ourselves to go after, ended up being a bad idea (this is exactly what happens in Battleship, if you recall, NASA set up a beacon which attracted the aliens to earth). Secondly, there was a lot of "noise" in the Prometheus trailer, and there is plenty of noise and static in Europa Report as well; why? Noise and static lets us know that we aren't "hearing everything" or "seeing everything," we are, like Happy Hogan in Iron Man 3, in a coma, asleep, like Dr. Banner listening to Tony Stark. In other words, something is going on but we are not "picking up" the signal being sent to us by the film. There is another message, one I think will prove more problematic,....
See, there is even "static" and "noise" in the poster; please note the "bars" of color that don't belong as well as the white lines of static across the picture. Something I haven't been too sure of, and so haven't ventured forth an explanation, is why the moon in Oblivion was destroyed, and then humanity re-settled on another moon, Titan? (Of course, humanity was wiped out, not re-settled on Titan). Now, it's another moon being explored, Europa. Generally, moons symbolize our emotions because our emotions change like the different stages of the moon and--as the moon controls tides and exercises its influence on earth with the changing phase--so our emotions influence our comings and goings, all our dealings with other people. This is something to keep simmering on the back burner. It's tempting to suggest that "European socialism" has been awakened when we went looking for it (after 2008) and now it's a horror being unleashed. Interesting, Europa Report will be available on Video On Demand June 27, and in theaters August 2.
Why Jupiter?
We know, in Oblivion, that the remainder of humanity settled on Jupiter's moon Titan after the Tet wiped out humanity on earth to drain the planet of its resources. In Star Trek Into Darkness, Khan sends Kirk (who sends Scottie) to Jupiter, where the Hex is being worked on secretly for a war. Generally speaking, Jupiter--like the Romans' equivalent father of the gods of Greek mythology Zeus--is the ruler, because Jupiter is the biggest planet and the god Jupiter was the most powerful of the (Roman) gods (and there is quite a number of films based on mythology and ancient Greco-Roman culture being released, so we can't forget that link); Jupiter the planet usually symbolizes rulers/kings, which is why Dante, in Paridiso, places the Just Rulers in the realm of Jupiter. We could say, that Jupiter might be symbolic of America because we are (or, were, rather) a super-power and the most powerful country in the world the way Jupiter is the biggest planet. My point is, we are seeing a pattern established with Jupiter, so we should take note and keep track.
Will and Jaden Smith star in After Earth, which--in some ways--might be like Cowboys and Aliens and The Host in combining elements of Westerns (the uncharted expanse of the wild Earth) and outer space (they reside on a planet light years away from Earth). We might also see the same with Riddick (Vin Diesel).
This dialogue is in no way concluded, but I felt we needed to have a moment to converse about this as it will be imperative to understanding films being released in the very near future, and our immediate conversation on Star Trek Into Darkness.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner