The SciFi genre isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, let alone the Star Trek universe. Me? I happen to like it a lot since I grew up with Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m certainly not as fanatical of a fan as my dad who had an entire library of SciFi books, but some of my favorite movies would fall under the Science Fiction genre (The Matrix, for example).
I suppose you could say this movie mirrors Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, though it also differs in many respects. I will touch on that again a little later.
So, Star Trek Into Darkness. For those not in the know, this is the sequel to Star Trek, which is set in a new timeline (or parallel universe, if you will) with the original characters (Kirk, Spock, etc.).
Confusing? I suppose it is. Let’s just say that it’s a series reboot with a new storyline.
I say that because while some of the esthetics and feel of the original Star Trek were preserved (and in some ways it’s a little more than a tip of the hat), this series of movies has been glossier, more action oriented and higher octane than early Star Trek films (some people like to exaggerate and lampoon the long scenes in which you see the Enterprise go by).
While we’re on the subject, no, the glossier look doesn’t bother me. I know a lot of people took issue with that because it doesn’t look like the original Star Trek series. But let’s be real here. The setting is the distant future. They’re supposed to have technology that we don’t have. A space craft that can travel at warp speed? Yeah, we don’t have that yet. So we can really only guess what that would look like.
Should the ship look more aged and worn? I don’t know, I suppose you could make that argument, but it’s semantics at this point.
The casting is through and through amazing, though I would agree with Spoony’s assertion that Simon Pegg is perhaps the weak link. Though comedic relief can add a lot to the serious tone of a movie, it can also feel a little forced when every line coming from that character’s mouth is supposed to be funny. Not saying that is the case with Scotty, but I can almost hear the children in the theatre trying to force a laugh before the character says or does anything.
Compared to the original Khan, the Khan of this series looks quite a bit different. The original Khan had an 80s Heavy Metal look, while the Khan in Into Darkness is a slicked back, form-fitting suit-wearing, blank-faced, colourless but intimidating… dude. The reason for this difference is never really explained in the movie.
One can guess that the original Khan was catering to the times. Perhaps the new writers just thought it a good idea to update this character. It’s fine to take creative liberties, but I get stuck on this a little bit. The variety in characters is one of the things that made the original Star Trek series so interesting. Slick and polished isn’t always the best way to go.
Based on where the TV series went with Deep Space Nine and Voyager, one does wonder if the Star Trek universe was ever meant to be as action-packed as Into Darkness. But personally, I think this is a breath of fresh air. It’s a welcome change.
Deep Space Nine was bordering on soap opera territory compared to TNG. Story, character development, conflict, space travel, unexplained phenomena… All those things are great, but DS9 kind of did away with a lot of the intrigue.
Into Darkness does get intense though. Much like in the first movie where Kirk and crew base-jump towards a narrow platform from the planet’s atmosphere, in this movie there is a scene where Kirk and Khan have to rocket themselves from one ship to another (in space suits), with nothing but cold, dark space and treacherous debris between them. Whoa. They managed to top the intensity from the first movie.
Where in the original Wrath of Khan, Spock endangered his life to save the crew; Kirk puts his life at risk in this movie. The infamous “Khaaaaaaaan!!!” line is given instead to Spock. I will admit that this scene gave me goose-bumps.
To be fair, though, this is one of two things: brilliant, cheesy, or quite possibly both. I didn’t see it coming until Kirk chose to risk exposure to radiation, but for this and other reasons already mentioned; I feel this movie can’t really seem to make up its mind whether it’s a tribute or a reprise.
It may sound like I’m being harsh, but I still give this movie a resounding 8.5 out of 10. It’s definitely worth a viewing and the theatrical experience is a must.