Movie Review: Star Trek 12: Into Darkness
Movie Review: Star Trek 12: Into Darkness (2013)
Director: JJ Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller, Alice Eve
Plot: How to summarize without spoilers…. Kirk (Pine) has been breaking the rules in his new command, and Spock (Quinto) has been giving totally truthful reports to Star Fleet. This leads to Kirk being demoted to be first officer under Admirall Pike (Greenwood). However, a bombing in London and an attack on Star Fleet HQ leaves several senior leads dead, and Kirk on a vendetta kind of mission. He has to track down the terrorist (Cumberbatch) responsible for these horrible events, who has fled to Kronos – the Klingon homeworld – and kill him at all costs. Preferably without starting an intergalactic war with the Klingon Empire.
While this sequel to the rebooted universe (started in Star Trek 11) was a fun action flick, it felt like a safe sequel to me rather than “boldly going where no one has gone before.” And that was a little disappointing. Essentially, the big twist (that everyone predicted on the internet a year before the trailer came out) is that the bad guy is Khan – the villain from Star Trek 2, and one of the most famous Star Trek villains of all time.
However, in this universe, Kirk has never wronged him. They’ve never even met before this movie. So why is he so angry at the Federation? Where is his cunning and poetic anger that he had in the original flick? In this movie he’s just a physically capable brute who can withstand multiple stun blasts from a phaser, as well as take a physical beating without getting tired or hurt. He’s just a one-man army – and Khan is more than that. They could have easily made him another genetic project of the same ilk as Khan and I would have enjoyed it more – because at least that is a new character, and his motivation could be different. But instead, they used Khan – more as a fan service than anything else.
They also copy scenes from Star Trek 2 – although reversing the roles some character play. While the scene is dramatic enough, my problem with it is that it lacked the punch and drama of Star Trek 2. When Spock died in Star Trek 2, you felt his sacrifice and Kirk’s loss of his best friend. In this movie when Kirk buys it (I did warn you there were spoilers), they just rehash the same scene with less poetic dialog and less dramatic acting. Sure, Spock loses it and gets emotional (and goes after Khan for revenge), but I didn’t feel during this movie when I felt when Spock was in that chamber in Star Trek 2 and Kirk could do nothing to save him.
Then there’s the magical blood. Genesis in a bottle. This felt like a betrayal and a cheap way to undo the drama the writers had created earlier in the movie. The thing that made Star Trek 2 so impactful was that, at the end of the movie, Spock was dead. However, once they revealed that Khan’s blood could bring people back to life the drama was over. Hell, I was surprised they didn’t try to inject it into Pike and bring him back to life at the end of the movie. My question is – now that Kirk has had a complete blood transfusion – does he have Khan’s super human strength and brain power? Or are the properties of Khan’s blood limited to just one-time “resurrection?”
All in all, Star Trek 12: Into Darkness is a fine and fun movie to see in theaters. However, I really was left wanting more at the end. And not in the way where I’m waiting for a sequel and have to know what happens next. More in the way that a child leaves the dinner table with a half empty belly after having an unsatisfying meal.
PS: Two other gripes:
1) The new Klingons are too pretty.
2) Also, how did the Enterprise (fighting by Jupiter) get sucked in Earth’s gravity at the end of the fight? They had no engine power…so how did they move from Jupiter to Earth without moving?