An Unnecessary Remake
Why remake Star Trek’s most successful film? The Wrath of Khan followed an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series called “Space Seed” and saw Kirk combat an old and enhanced human, Khan. He became one of the most iconic villains, not only in Star Trek, but in all cinema. Although Into Darkness tried to hide it, it is in many ways a re-interpretation of The Wrath of Khan. I did enjoy this movie, on a basic level, yet it is not good enough to get any higher than a 3/5 in my book.
By themselves, many elements of Into Darkness are pretty good. The acting is good and Benedict Cumberbatch is a strong addition to the cast for this film. Chris Pine’s role of Kirk steadily evolves, and overall perhaps the only bad character is Alice Eve’s Carol Marcus. It’s not to her fault, but the filmmakers use her for sex-appeal rather than to add value to the story. This isn’t foreign to Star Trek, take Seven of Nine and Deanna Troi…having a shot of Carol Marcus in a bikini is completely unnecessary to the story, so why do that?
The action in this film is the best it is in any of the rebooted Star Trek films. Khan’s assault on a troop of Klingons is epic, his various face offs with Spock and Kirk are great, and there are some cool set pieces with the crew. The combat between Admiral Marcus’ advanced Section 31 ship and the Enterprise is great, so is the design of the ships. Except for the Enterprise’s warp core…it looks stupid. All in all, the film is largely very engaging.
Things go South though. From various bizarre terrorist attacks, cross-galactic transporters, again the warp core design, the Section 31 ship crashing through London, the Enterprise being destroyed yet again, and the…Klingons. The Klingons are ruined in this film, for the rest of Star Trek (Discovery). Their appearance is wrong and very poorly done. Swapping Kirk for Spock dying in the warp core is an interesting twist, and actually successful. There are simply too many misses for the few hits this film has.
This isn’t a successful Khan movie because this version of Kirk doesn’t have a set-up to make the audience fear this Khan. It’s all new, but they play it off as if we should be amply afraid of this new villain just because of the name. Keep in mind, these films welcome a new generation of fans, many of which probably are unfamiliar with Khan himself.
Overall, this film doesn’t offer much “Star Trek” visually. This is more of an action movie than a Sci-Fi Star Trek Story. The positive humanity is sacrificed for more CGI Action. It’s not bad, but it’s just not Star Trek. It definitely does not live up to the Wrath of Khan and it will never not be compared to that film. Would I watch it again? Yes, if only for the action. Should you watch it? Yes, but don’t expect the Khan from The Original Series.