Set Phasers to Lens Flare
Once again, JJ Abrams takes us into his interpretation of Star Trek, where the inside of a spaceship is brighter than the stars it is passing by. Sorry, I’m trying to get all references to lens flare out of my system so we can all move on.
There. Much better.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” opens with the Enterprise crew visiting a primitive planet to stop a volcano from killing the locals. In the process, they fail their prime directive and Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is once again reprimanded for ignoring regulations. Around the same time, a bombing by one of their own rocks Starfleet and leads to the deaths of many of their senior officers. Kirk is then reinstated to lead a vengeful mission to find the man responsible (Benedict Cumberbatch).
If you don’t want to know who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing (hint: It’s not John Harrison, the name he is originally given in the film), then I suggest you stop reading now and come back later. It hasn’t been the best kept secret, but I’d rather have a pointless disclaimer than ruin the film for someone.
The great thing about “Into Darkness” is that we finally get to see Kirk not being the douchiest character known to man. Sure, he got to be more likable by the end of the 2009 film, but he still didn’t seem like much of a leader. Here we get to see Pine playing the character a little more maturely and Kirk even starts to form a serious friendship with Spock (Zachary Quinto). Other characters who finally get to breathe a little are Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and, to a lesser extent, Scotty (Simon Pegg).
Although many of the original Trekkies don’t care for how much this new series resembles Star Wars with its big space battles, these scenes are pretty well done here (especially a scene where one ship overtakes another mid-warp). That being said, I do hope in the future these films find a way to make a story happen on a planet not called Earth. There’s minimal trekking going on and it seems a more accurate title for the series would be “Starfleet”.
Hopefully all of our Cumberbatch spoiler people are gone because I want to talk about his portrayal of the legendary Star Trek villain Khan. Once made popular by Ricardo Montalban, Cumberbatch doesn’t look a thing like the original villain. Nor does he really act like him, aside from being wrathful and overall not a person I would want to upset. However, the actor’s interpretation of the character is very fun to watch. Without chewing up the scenery, Cumberbatch delivers a deliciously evil bad guy that makes Eric Bana’s Nero seem like a cat stuck in a tree. There are two complaints I have about Khan, neither of which are the fault of the actor. 1) If JJ Abrams wants to pull off the “Can we trust him or not?” idea halfway through the film (you’ll know it when you see it), it would have been better to not make Khan look like the devil himself leading up to this point. 2) Why is the character not in the film more? Khan has maybe 4 or 5 scenes where he’s talking a substantial amount of time and the rest of the film he is given relatively no dialogue. To use an analogy from the Nolan Batman films, Khan is the Joker, but he gets as much screentime as Scarecrow.
The biggest problem with “Star Trek Into Darkness” is that it doesn’t know if it wants to be a new Star Trek film or just a remake of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”. If the whole point of an alternate universe in the 2009 film was to destroy expectations and make your own films, why would you copy several scenes and lines of dialogue from 1982? Despite this confusion, “Into Darkness” does provide many of its own ideas and pulls off a very exciting sci-fi film.
This is a promising sequel for the Star Trek franchise, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens in the next few years, as JJ Abrams will now take over the Star Wars sequels.