There are purists who will never like anything but the original. There are viewers who will satisfied with anything with enough explosions and fast cuts. I can understand both because I am both. With Abrams new Star Trek universe I’ve fallen somewhere into grayness.
On the one hand I have to say that I absolutely love the characters and their relationships. Star Trek has lasting power because we care so much about Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov. Abrams has brought them from the often cheesy 60s TV show and made them meaningful to a whole new audience much like Tarantino brought the exploitation genre and made it cool. Chris Pine and Karl Urban own Kirk and McCoy, respectively, without dismissing, or worse, mocking, the characters Shatner and Kelly created. Anton Yelchin is spot on as the dangerously young but capable Chekov. Simon Pegg’s Scotty has a leg up on Douhan because Pegg gets to be both the fusspot scot engineer from the TV series and the humorous relief Douhan got to play in the movies. Zoe Saldana’s Uhura is the Foxy Brown of the new Star Trek universe.
Now, Zachary Quinto’s Spock is a departure, and a significant one at that. Dating Uhura? Showing emotions? WTF, right? For the purist, yeah. For me, Spock really comes into his own in this movie, as does Abrams reasons for destroying Vulcan. Abrams has taken a huge chance on changing such an iconic figure. While it’s still a bit strange to see Spock this way, but for now I like the idea of this universe exploring more of Spock’s human side.
Finally, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan stomps ass. There is no denying his genetic super-human abilities. Well played, sir. Well played.
While Cumberbatch’s Khan was brilliant, the betrayal that is the homage scene was hard to take. Spock’s death scene in Wrath of Khan is one of the most memorable death scenes in movie history. Had Abrams decided to not acknowledge it at all would have been worse, but switching up roles was a close second. Doing so took homage beyond reverence for the source material and into the sad realm of aping. As a re-imaging of Wrath of Khan the death scene is superfluous. The new death scene really took me out of the movie in a bad way. A re-MAKE may have called for the death scene, but a straight remake would have sucked. Surely there’s a way to recall such a powerful scene subtly, much like Sulu’s reference to Harry Mudd when talking about the shuttle craft, without being so flippant as simply switching Kirk and Spock.
Star Trek Into Darkness is a mediocre summer blockbuster film, worth the price of a matinee admission. If you can time it just right and get a refill on your coke or go to the bathroom during the “death” scene you will have an exponentially enjoyable experience.