Now I know that Trek fans are going to have to cope with parallels and alternate plot flows as this universe is a skewed reality (a concept that is probably best described by Dr. Brown in Back to the Future II), but this Khan was just not the same at all. Cumberbatch was done a bit of a disservice by this because he is otherwise amazing.
Cumberbatch was a seriously good villain, but he's just not Khan. There is no resemblance. There is no similarity in speech patterns or movement styles. Its just not. You can see the original characters in the new actors. Cumberbatch was great, and what a rich voice! His acting was brilliantly chilling and mesmerizing. But he should have been an entirely different villain. Montalbom's Khan was just too defining. In ST:II he was driven by grief and anger over the death of his wife. He lived and loved. This was not the same character.
My other gripe: the stupid pointless Markus "bikini" shot. Why was she undressing? Kirk was not accompanying her to the planetoid. It was an idiotic, pathetic scene. It was actually a bit confusing when you see McCoy on the planetoid with her instead (though entirely funny thanks to a perfectly timed McCoy line about being stranded on a deserted planet with a beautiful lady). At least give the ladies a little sugar and create an equally pointless plot thread to get Kirk standing around with his shirt off (not hopping out of a bed with two ladies)! Geez… consistency people!
Overall, I found Markus a bit distracting and not overly necessary, as Spock said in the beginning. She was not part of the original cast. I understand her significance and all in Kirk's life, but I would have rather had Christine Chapel (pardon any misspellings). She has some good scenes and all, but I think the Markus thread watered things down a bit. The original crew could have easily accomplished what she did in the film.
Now that that's out of the way, this movie was pretty awesome. Very strong plot threads and character development, which is hard to do since the original Trek had three seasons to develop these characters. We have two movies, and the journeys of the various characters were great.
I did not want this movie to be ST:II, but I did like the parallels in this version. Now, sadly, Kirk in this one did not defeat Khan with his intellect. In ST:II, Kirk was up to the challenge of wits. But, of course, he was older in that version. His experience was so much broader. So I will allow the lack of tech smarts Kirk showed in this one.
Sulu and Chekov are getting a bit lost in the shuffle, sadly, but I think Abrams did his best to give them some significance to the plot. Of course, we have the strong performances of Pegg, Urban, Quinto, and Pine giving the script hilarity and heart. McCoy has his amusing metaphors and constant fretting, Chekov and his accent get their moment of heroics, Sulu gets to sit in the chair for a brief period, and Scotty gets a serious increase in screen time from the first film which is a major plus. Saldana has always been a worthy presence in this male-driven series. She holds her own with integrity as well as femininity. I thoroughly enjoyed her breakout performance in the first and again appreciate her continued strength in this second Trek installment. Greenwood and Weller are also fantastic.
Kirk was portrayed with strength, charisma, and surprising yet refreshing vulnerability. Pine’s casting has been pure perfection in both films.
James T. Kirk: I have no idea what I'm supposed to do, I only know what I can do!
The chemistry delivered between Kirk the other actors/characters is flawless. It fits with each different personality and situation he encounters. I especially loved when he turns to Khan, who’s been snippily poking about how he knows all the answers, and Kirk just lets him have it with such intensity not only in his voice but also in his eyes.
James T. Kirk (to Khan): Let me explain what's happening here: you are a criminal! I watched you murder innocent men and women! I was authorized to END you! And the only reason why you are still alive is because I am allowing it. So SHUT YOUR MOUTH!
Damn, we know we all wanted to say that to such a smug face.
Klingons are revealed! I felt this was a very good tribal look for them. It made sense for their primal-driven society (as I look at them with the eye of someone who loves studying ancient history). In DS9, when the crew went back in time to the Tribble episode, Worf would not explain "with outsiders" what happened to the Klingon foreheads. I liked their look in this film. And, of course, you cannot have Klingons and Kirk without Tribbles. Fantastic little plug.
The action: Wow. When Spock and Khan are running between vehicles? Holy wicked fight choreography. Khan handing a squad of Klingons their butts? Holy smokes. Of course, there were a bit more bloody beatings to the head than I would have preferred. Made me cringe a little. But while the action and fights were intense, it was all very true to the characters. Space battles – the FX are gorgeous eye candy!
The musical score was very well done. It enhanced the moods to a “T.” It helped build plot points and gave the film a smooth flow. Of course, the main theme, which rises, literally, when the Enterprise does, is always one that gives me goosebumps of awesomeness.
I also want to give props to the editors who pieced this film together. Transitions between people and places are done to keep up the suspense and intensity but also move things along seamlessly. Everything fit together quite harmoniously at a break-neck speed that is immensely compelling and somehow never jarring.
To again comment on the humor: Perfection. It really enhanced the character relationships. So many great lines! Kirk had some fantastic ones. I loved how he asks Uhura, when she admits her and Spock are fighting, “What’s that even like?” In addition, his chemistry with Spock was powerful. All this really helps transition fans from the originals to this new cast. You see the long-standing relationships that fans are used to, but it also works for new fans unfamiliar with Trek. There is enough spunk and subtle quirks that define these characters to make them familiar to old fans and still delightfully unpredictable.
Star Trek: Into Darkness combines visual wizardry with a compelling/clever narrative and multidimensional characters with a Next Gen-like team spirit (which is a step up from Original Trek). The ideas of friendship, family, and humanity are woven through this movie with subtle perfection. A truly spectacular, inventive, and unpredictable voyage. I might as well just give Abrams my wallet. I will be going back for more… again and again!
Just released December 2016: "The Forgotten" volume 2 "Heir of the Heretic"
Reviewed and awarded the
2016 Indie Editor's Choice
by the Historical Novel Society.
Long listed for the Historical Novel Society 2017 Indie Award.
Goodreads profile at: https://www.goodreads.com/JElse
Oh how this makes me laugh!
Just so funny!!! Grumpy Old Angels?