Before you read on this review will contain spoilers FOR EVERYTHING in this movie and Star Trek.
”Star Trek Into Darkness’ AKA ‘Star Trek on Acid’ is the 12th film in the Star Trek franchise, a number which I remember ‘The Simpsons’ mocking 20 years previously with the title ‘So very tired’. Fortunately Star Trek Into Darkness is anything but that. But is the fast pace action of the film necessarily a good thing?
Rewind back to the beginning of 2012 when the news is announced that Benedict Cumberbatch will be cast as the Villain and I almost piss myself with excitement. Best casting ever. I love ‘Sherlock’ and he is a fantastic actor. The possibility that he might play Khan intrigued me and to hell with the idea that the actor has to be cast to fit the ethnicity of the character. It was never announced that he was playing Khan though, instead he would be playing a man called ‘John Harrison’. Most people thought this was a cover name/secret identity of course because we saw this done in numerous movies already, The Dark Knight Rises, James Bond etc. The audience at this stage is ahead of the game having been through similar plot twists which have become increasingly popular over the years.
I have held onto the thought that Khan would be the villain all along, it seems like a logical progress for the franchise, the character is iconic and most well known among fans and non-fans. Batman has his Joker but Star Trek never had that villain that always came back for more besides the faceless enemy of the Borg. But Khan was personal and was already bigger than what we had seen in the 1 episode and 1 movie he had previously been in. The writers of STID had mentioned in 2009 that they had considered putting a scene with the Botany Bay in there at the end of Star Trek 09. The name John Harrison has cropped up in the episode ‘Space Seed’ which first featured Khan. the trailer showed the character with superhuman strength and his clothes resembled that of what he wore in ST:TWOK.
November 2012 and I am fortunate enough to meet Benedict Cumberbatch even though he was surrounded by Japanese female fans who go nuts for this guy. My first geeky instinct is to shout “KHAN!!!” but since we live in civilized society I did my best to refrain from that, instead as he wrote his autograph I asked in a low voice “Are you Khan?” to which he gave a confused/slightly annoyed look with one Japanese girl beside me shouting “You can’t ask that!!!”, I had to though. I just had to. I gotta say, what an awesomely cool guy that’s down to earth, what a gentleman and a very friendly man. Mr. Cumberbatch did a fine Job not giving it away for he must have been asked the same question in every interview he did.
But yet still as we got closer to the release date they didn’t reveal who the villain was and denied that it was Khan. I know JJ Abrams loves to keep things secret and I love waiting to see the mystery revealed too but I think that kind of marketing hurt the film a bit. If you are going to put that big name villain in the movie, a name known to all then you want to advertize that. That’s something that would draw audiences to the film and might have helped the Box office in my opinion.
Some people said it might be Gary Mitchell (yawn) or Robert April. I thought it might possibly be the Android Dr. Roger Korby from ‘What are little girls made of” since who else could match that Superman strength.
So the movie plays and pretty early on if you are a Star Trek fan you are already ahead of the movie. Harrison’s interest in those 72 photon torpedos decided it for me that he was Khan and I guessed they would have people inside them too. I loved Cumberbatch’s performance of Khan, cold and brutal and manipulative. He is the most worthy star Trek villain in years.
Great seeing the Klingons here, they look cold and brutal and back to something that should be feared. Loved seeing Praxis smashed into the planet. Their Bird of Preys/D4 ships look something very realistic and deadly.
Admiral Marcus: Was another great villain. It is a little strange that here again we see Peter Weller play a Star Trek villain with similar motives to one we saw on ‘Star Trek Enterprise’ especially when you consider that the rule of thumb of these movies seemed to exclude anyone else involved with Star Trek previously except for the original cast. I watched ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ Animation earlier this year in which he voiced an aged Batman. The ways he plays Marcus kinda reminded me of it especially with the whole “Listen Son” and the need to protect themselves from the Klingons by going to War with them. He was pretty badass.
The USS Vengeance: which really should be called USS TEH Awesome!!!111
Ignoring the ridiculous name it’s the ugliest, fanwanky Starship ever. Like everyone else I am tired of these uber sized spaced ships controlled by villains. We saw the same thing in Star Trek 2009 and in Nemesis. Couldn’t we have a ship approximately the size of the Enterprise to make it a far more interesting battle of wits and tactics rather than the “my gun is bigger than yours” concept which is plaguing star trek movies and other action movies of similar note. It’s a 90s type of film writing mentality that the villain can only be represented by something so diabolically large. I love Starships gone bad in Star Trek, Reliant just being one example. It’s fun to watch similar ships with the same odds go one on one. This friggin Vengeance thing is just bleh! black and blocky, not even designed well for a dreadnought class. 3 times faster than the Enterprise? How the hell is that even possible?
Question: Why does Admiral Marcus have the model of the USS Vengeance on his Desk behind him when the ship is supposed to be a top secret weapon? Is he just fu*king with people to see if anyone will notice or ask him about it?
Scotty: I did laugh at Scotty this time who is a little bit more low key, less irritating and funnier in my opinion. Pegg totally redeemed the character and is equal to Karl Urban’s fantastic Bones performance. By the way, GIVE US MORE BONES!!!! Coming out of the film I felt very satisfied compared to 2009 where I just felt numb. It’s visually a good film too, less lens flares, I can see the action better.
The Homages to Wrath of Khan: I kinda expected them to go there but then again I didn’t think they would for it would be too obvious. But they did it. I couldn’t believe they did it. I liked it. It definitely doesn’t have the same impact as TWOK which is probably because Kirk was gonna come back at the end. I think Pine and Quinto were outclassed by Shatner’s and Nimoy’s version but they were two actors and characters who had far more history together. Pike’s death was better handled particularly because there was no big action scene taking place after it. It would have been an interesting move to leave Kirk dead (for his return in the sequel) but the character really needs to start maturing by now.
Things I didn’t like, again there a lot of plot holes and things at times make no sense except to move the plot along. James Kirk is a bigger dick in this movie than he was in the previous movie. You’d think been Captain for a year would have cooled him down or matured him, getting pissed off at Spock for writing a standard report is just childish, he should take responsibility for his actions. The Prime Directive is the biggest rule in all of Star Trek that should not be broken (even though it always is) it should at least have some consequences and responsibility to account for on Kirk’s behalf. I also realize he is a womanizer but is it necessary to show him in bed with two women in other to get that fact across. Is it such a defining element that needs to take priority above others? It’s a pretty lame way to introduce the character to the audience. This is Kirk after all and I love Kirk but here he’s just a punk most of the time.
Didn’t like the Warp Core, more suited to Enterprise NX era, for a movie that goes over the top on every other design aspect why go realistic on this? The problem I have is that you can’t really see it clearly, it’s just a big machine type thingy.
One of the problems with this movie is that you are given too many clues that help you stay ahead of the writing. Take for example the dead Tribble which came out of nowhere so it might be used to explain a plot point later. It’s spelled out too clearly. We already saw what Harrison’s blood did at the beginning of the movie, we didn’t need a refresher, that info is there already.
Question: How did the Tribble Die?
There are allegories to terrorism in this film and allusions to the real world events yet the social commentary comes a bit late compared to say Battlestar Galactica which was nailing things when it was still going down. In dealing with said real world issues it’s unsettling to see how they brush over them in the end to give us an upbeat “off we go” ending. The crew in this new timeline really have had their asses handed to them, Vulcan destroyed, Starship smashes into City etc. and yet these disasters are rarely reflected upon. That might be something that can be only done on the TV series.
My biggest gripe? Not enough Benedict Cumberbatch/Khan. The movie posters have him (and only him) at the center and at one point I joked they should call this ‘Star Trek Cumberbatch’ such was the way they were promoting it.
Did I enjoy the movie? Hell yes, way more than I did the 2009 movie. I did geek out at times over references such as section 31 etc. I find it strange that people nitpick this movie about being unoriginal for using Khan when the entire film has used Characters and a Ship from an earlier TV series that had 79 episodes and 6 movies. I walked out of Star Trek 2009 feeling numb, I didn’t like it. I didn’t go to watch it again. I didn’t buy it on DVD. Yet somehow I felt it set me up for this movie. This movie is very entertaining. It’s a bit big and dumb but I like that we have a big budget Star Trek movie that can finally show off Star Trek in a way that other movies couldn’t. I will watch this movie again and I will buy the DVD/Blu Ray, novelization etc. I am totally with it. Gods forbid I’m even starting to like the look of the Enterprise a bit though I still hoped it might get replaced at the end of the film.
What’s next for the sequel which I am guessing and hoping comes out in 2016 for the 50th anniversary. Might they do a ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ thing and crossover with older Trek cast members like Shatner? (please yes!) Or will they face a new threat in their 5 year mission which is only now starting…. War with the Klingons, yeah I can see that happening with the Organians not around to stop things. Face it, a full blown conflict with Klingons has been a long time coming.
Favorite Quote: “no ship should go down without her captain.” – Khan