KHAAAAAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!!!! And I thought to myself… “dear lord… you people really did go there”. 1990 I watched my first Star Trek movie. On a rented VCR I watched it with my father and a friend of his. One of the rare memories I have with my father. That certain movie was ‘Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan’. I honestly didn’t understand much of what was going on. The only Trek I knew at that point was TNG with Picard. But still, even without knowing anything, that movie stood in my memory. I watched it several times in the past years and the film grew to be one of my all-time favourites. It IS the best of all the movies they did (and probably will ever be). Oh and by the way… SPOILERS! Sorry. =)
The movie starts and we see Kirk (Chris Pine) & gang on a mission, observating a planet and its inhabitants. A primitive race that stands on the verge of extinction because of a volcano that is close to break out. Kirk of course wants to save these creatures and therefore breaking prime directive of never interfering with the internal developments of alien civilizations. While doing so the movie develops the first conflict between the ideology of Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Kirk. The next conflict we have is between Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Spock because he risked his life without seemingly thinking about her opinion and emotions. Kirk gets punished by Starfleet Command because of his reckless behaviour/decisions and loses the Enterprise. In the meantime a weird guy named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) manages it to blow up a secret facility of the Starfleet. Stuff blows up, things happen, people die, new conflicts arise and Kirk gets back command of the Enterprise to hunt down Harrison. There is only a problem. And that is that Harrison is on the Klingon homeworld Kronos. So the Enterprise has to go on a covert mission to track him down. Once there we get to see how powerful Harrison really is. And on a sidenote we get a look at the Klingons. A kinda strange and somehow disappointing look. Kirk manages to capture Harrison and together they unveil what’s behind it all. In the meantime we learn that Harrison is Khan. And all the story twists the movie had, I saw coming miles before they hit.
I was really excited for this new movie. Watched the trailers which looked pretty awesome. But first and foremost I wanted to see Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain. I kind of had no doubt that he would reprise the role of Khan. And if he didn’t, he would probably be one of Khan’s soldiers. Ultimately it turns out that he indeed is Khan in the new movie as well. So it really had no impact for me when they revealed it in the movie. Honestly I would almost liked it better if Harrison would have been one of Khan’s soldiers. It would have kept some sort of mystique to the character of Khan. Cumberbatch however tries the best he can to play his part. And he does good. You could see in his performance that his character is indeed powerful and mysterious. You could never tell what he was really up to. Of course it’s obvious that he is up to no good. But still, it’s not the original universe. Maybe he’s a little different in this movie. I was hoping for that. But no, he’s plain evil and only following his own plan. Which is fine due to the performance of Cumberbatch. It’s still certainly not on par with the grand performance of Ricardo Montalban in the 1982 film. This new movie didn’t allow it to explore the character more deeply. Unfortunately.
The action is great. Even though it’s a little like all the other high budget movies I’ve seen lately. One action setpiece after another. It’s a little too much after a while and I left the theater pretty floored and exhausted. I would have preferred to leave one out and give character developments more space. But no. The studios seem to go for the kaboom nowadays. Unfortunately. Because the dynamics between our protagonists are great and a lot of fun. Bones (Karl Urban) still is a scene stealer like in the first movie. Simon Pegg got more space in the movie and pulls off a really good Scotty. Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) have their moments as well. Like in the first movie there overall is a really good balance between all the characters and their given room within the story. I really enjoyed that! And all of them deserve it.
LENSFLARES! Well, I dig lensflares. I use them for my own work to add that little bit extra optic flair. In the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek we pretty much had a lensflare overkill. It didn’t hurt much since it kinda fits the Scifi tone and look of it all. Abrams continued to use these flares in Super 8. Especially in situations where it did not make a tiny bit of sense. He understood the criticism after that movie and toned it down for Into Darkness. At least in the first half of the film. I noticed a huge jump in lensflare appearences the closer we got to the end. Overall the movie is just a beauty to look at. The VFX are astounding and now we really reached a point where you can do pretty much anything photorealistic with CGI. Especially the last big CGI scene in the film is an eyecatcher. All the destruction and detail that came with it is a great show.
So yeah, my overall impression is that it is a good movie. Other than Iron Man 3 recently, this movie does not leave a weird feeling in my stomach. But. Yes… the famous but! There are also a lot of parts that do not go so well. Especially when they are referencing things from the original 1982 movie. Things that actually have absolutely no right to be there in this new one. The line I mention right at the beginning of my review is in the movie. Yup! Only thing that is different though is that Spock is the one screaming it. They just reversed the parts and Kirk is the one dying. Only that he is not really dead which I (again) saw coming miles before it hit. And while Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto really try their best to give that death scene the weight it deserves, it never had a chance. In today’s popculture that famous scream became a parody. Especially on the internet. Which leads to the question why the hell they left it in there?! That certain element does only work in the 1982 movie. Also the fact that Harrison had to be Khan. Why? Like I said, Khan is a very interesting character that deserves a lot of room to be explored, which is not given in this movie. So the movie would have worked a lot better if Harrison would have been one of Khan’s soldiers instead of Khan himself. And another thing. At the end we hear that a year has passed since the happenings and that everything is back to normal again. I ask myself one thing. What about the Klingons? I mean… you landed on their planet and slaughtered a bunch of people there. The Klingons I grew up with would have gathered their fleet within a week and prepared for open war in no time! But well, at least the look of their planet had a nice industrial feel.
Like I said. I think it’s a good movie with a solid story that makes sense. Only certain elements sprinkled in there feel odd and out of place or just don’t belong there. They rebooted the universe to go new ways. So why adding references to the old movies while its your job to create a movie that creates references on its own!
Still a good movie. =)