In an age of remakes, director J.J. Abrams did something remarkable: he validated his own remake intelligently to the point where it couldn’t even be called a remake. It was a relaunch.
Instead of just updating an old version of a movie plot for plot, Star Trek did what it has done over and over again in every series the name has been attached to: introduced time travel into the equation. It was perfect. Now Abrams could give nostalgic Easter egg nods to the glorious past of Star Trek while creating new plot-lines (It also helps relieve almost 50 years of meticulous research. I’m not saying Abrams only sneaks in pop Star Trek references to appease older fans, but it seems like it).
But, like all time travel that displaces the normal events of a timeline, eventually you’ll hit a snag. This was the case of Star Trek Into Darkness.
Captain Kirk goes against Starfleet protocol and loses his captain’s rank and the Enterprise to Admiral Pike. Moments later, Kirk regains control of the Enterprise when Commander John Harrison attacks an emergency meeting of the heads of Starfleet and kills Pike. To prove himself capable of following orders, Kirk follows Admiral Marcus’ orders to take the Enterprise to where Harrison has fled to, the Klingon home world of Kronos, in order to fire classified photon torpedoes at him. Instead, they decide to capture him and fight off a bunch of Klingons, most of which Harrison himself defeats with moves that look like they were lifted out of a superhero movie. Then Harrison suspiciously surrenders to the crew of the Enterprise. We learn that Harrison is actually a genetically altered super-human that is 300 years old and looks slightly Western Asian. Yes, he is Khan, whom Admiral Marcus fount on the starship Botany Bay and revived so that he could design weapons and a really big Enterprise look-alike for Starfleet. Apparently Marcus was tougher than Original Timeline Kirk. Khan’s crew are in the photon torpedoes that Kirk was ordered to fire on him, which is cause enough for Kirk and Khan to team up until the point that the audience fears that the Star Trek franchise is going to have a Search for Kirk sequel.
End of Summary
If you take Star Trek Into Darkness for what it is, a fun, popcorn summer movie, than you won’t be disappointed. It’s entertainment. It’s just like the first of the new installments: starship space-fights, aliens (even if the Klingons looked more budgeted than the 1966 series), and half-naked women (Thank you, Alice Eve. You have almost made me forget about Orion women). Spock (still played by Zachary Quinto) still pulls off the oblivious Vulcan face perfectly, giving Leonard Nimoy a run for his money. Chris Pine still doesn’t have the ability to over-act like William Shatner did, but we don’t need everything to be as it was. Simon Pegg: still funny.
Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to take movies at face value. It’s not because I’m a Trekkie. It’s just that the Khan storyline in Star Trek is, like just about everyone else in the universe, my favorite, so I know the most about it. I went as far as to compare Khan to the rendition of Bane in the Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. So, yeah, I’m a fan.
And yeah, I have a problem with an old Star Trek episode and movie being lumped together in a re-telling that has none of the gripping malevolence of either.
What we miss: women drooling over a Fabio look-alike; mind-controlling space eels; the Genesis device; Kirk’s son.
What we wished we missed: Chekov in the Engine Room; new Klingons; Spock hamming up a “KHAAAAAN” scream better than Shatner ever could; regenerative tissue.
The movie fast-forwarded through so much stuff in an effort for the “TA-DA” of Khan that, in the end, you really don’t care about the movie. Sure, you can still enjoy it, but following up the fanatical lust of Wrath of Khan with Into Darkness feels like such a let-down. Of course, the Indiana Jones-like storage of Khan and his crew at the end, can lead to a sequel, but by the time that happens, the Disney version of Star Wars will be up and running, so we probably won’t care.
I give Star Trek Into Darkness 2-1/2 out of 5 confused Kirks.