As a warning, this review contains spoilers. I usually don’t preface posts like that, but seeing how this is a new film, I’ll make an exception. So, Star Trek Into Darkness is basically a remake of Wrath of Khan… but I think we all saw this coming. It does seem that every time the Star Trek franchise wants a big hit, they turn to Khan. They did it in the Next Generation with Nemesis, with Data basically pulling a Spock and nobly sacrificing himself.
I’ve noticed a strange criticism of the movie made by trekkies: that since Into Darkness is primarily an action film, it is fundamentally not Star Trek. They say that the philosophical and exploration aspects of the series are hardly touched on. Well, they’re somewhat correct. If you’re talking about the tv show, then yeah, it doesn’t really adhere to that model. Yet, if you’re talking about the original film series, then you’re wrong. The most critically acclaimed and loved Star Trek movie was Wrath of Khan… which was predominantly an action movie compared to the previously released Motion Picture (that was almost universally hated).
With all that being said, this is the best Star Trek’s been in years. Khan’s in here (brilliantly and chillingly played by Benedict Cumberbatch), the Klingons make an appearance, and most importantly, Kirk and Spock are back. What’s not to like? The film is also intense as well, with dozens of thrilling sequences where the Enterprise looks like it’s going 20,000 leagues under the sea (actually that does happen once), and all hands are going to be lost. By the way, I love how they bring in Khan. The trailers made us certain that it couldn’t be him due to him wearing a Federation uniform; his introduction literally sent chills down my spine.
I guess what needs to talked about is the reversal of Kirk and Spock’s roles. It works wonderfully. Kirk sacrificing himself instead of Spock was such a twist, and I got a little misty eyed watching it. The scene also seems a little less hokey than in Wrath of Khan. When Kirk is kicking the generator back in place, you really feel the weight of his selfless decision. Spock’s reaction to his friend’s death also had me doing an “oh shit” face in the theater.
J.J. Abrams has done a fantastic job at bringing Star Trek to the masses while still maintaining the cast’s lovable personalities. Is there a lot of technobabble and pondering of the meaning of it all here? Not really, but at least Kirk isn’t asking God what he wants with a starship.