A Trekkie review of Star Trek Into Darkness (with spoilers)

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*This review contains spoilers, if you would like a spoiler-free review, click here*

JJ Abrams has quoted that this movie is not for the Star Trek fan (Trekkies) but for movie fans. I took that into consideration when I went in to see Star Trek Into Darkness. I have to say, it was a really great movie. As a Trekkie fan, it was a good movie.

When Abrams rebooted Star Trek in 2009, I was weary with the changes but I learned that changes needed to be made to open up Star Trek as a franchise and to not allow a movie to be stuck in the past. The change in timeline has allowed more room for change, allowing the script to be more unpredictable. With Star Trek Into Darkness, there were a lot of changes from the original series.

I understand the changes with the timeline – Kirk dying instead of Spock, Spock yelling the signature scream: KHAN, Carol Marcus’s father Admiral Marcus was not in the original series, Admiral Pike’s death and of course the budding relationship between Spock and Uhura.

What I didn’t understand was the changes in the film that would have remained fixed.

Klingons:

I definitely did not recognize them as Klingons (only because we were told they were Klingons). This character reminded me of a character from 300 than a Star Trek Klingon. Where were their traditional weapons?! Where was the Bat’leth? D’k tahg? And would the Klingon really just attack Uhura like that without making it an even, honorable fight? Really? I felt like the Klingons we know from the past are not the same Klingons in Abrams’s world.

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Khan:

Well, “John Harrison” was really Khan. Yes, superhuman FROM INDIA (in the original series) – Khan Noonien Singh.

Although I love Benedict Cumberbatch and his performance in the film, they did not have to make him Khan. They could had reinvented the wheel and create a new villain that was believable. Khan was ethnically Indian. Although Khan was played by Mexican actor, Ricardo Montalbán, it was still a person of color.

With Abrams previously asking George Takei for his approval to have Korean-American actor John Cho to portray Japanese-American Hikaru Sulu, to which Takei answered that Sulu represented all Asians in Roddenberry’s world. I was surprised Abrams was quick to cast Cumberbatch as Khan.

I have no problem with having Cumberbatch as Khan, but I felt if they referenced the old timeline Khan (when Quinto’s Spock spoke to Nimoy’s Spock), then they should had some similarities at least. If there was no reference to the Original Series Khan, then I would not have had a problem with STID’s Khan.

Star Trek Into Darkness Khan

With Cumberbatch’s Khan, I feel like people who were not originally Star Trek fans will think this was how Original Series Khan was like.

  • Yes, Khan was a genetically-engineered superhuman;
  • Yes, he was in stasis and awaken before his crew;
  • Yes, he had 72 crewmen;
  • No, he was not trying to wipe out people less superior than him – TOS Khan would just make them slaves;
  • No, his blood was not known to regenerate OTHER cells than his own
  • No, Khan was known to be Sikh from India

Also, Khan has been done during the series and in a Star Trek movie. I know he was an iconic part of Star Trek, but I was hoping they would use smaller characters to evolve into more than what Trekkies have seen.

Kirk and Spock

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I understand it has been some time since the first movie when they were enemies and we could assume their relationship has grown by this movie, but it felt a little forced. Both Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto pull great performances as their respective characters but their interaction between each other felt like they were trying really hard to like each other. It could had been the situations they faced, but their chemistry as pals did not feel the same as Shatner’s Kirk and Nimoy’s Spock.

I’m not saying their interactions were not good. There were funny moments between the two, but it didn’t feel natural.

New Spock vs Old Spock

So… does everyone now know about the timeline change and that Old Spock is New Spock but from an alternate universe? Just wondering if it’s known to everyone now.

OldSpockNewSpock Star Trek Into Darkness

Overall:

Star Trek Into Darkness was a fast-paced adventure. The visual effects were used well and really – cinematic porn. The FX and use of 3D was brilliant – from Kirk and Bones jumping from a cliff to a ship landing into the water destroying parts of San Fransisco – it was absolutely beautiful. The scene when John Harrison/Khan attacked the Starfleet meeting was an amazing battle for my eyes. The 3D effects brought that battle alive in my eyes and then Admiral Pike died – which caused me to brawl my eyes out.

The script was well written and beautifully acted, especially by Chris Pine. I was extremely impressed with Pine’s performance. Pine’s Kirk went through a lot of growth throughout this movie. You really see and feel Kirk emotionally change from a cocky know-it-all to a true leader. He definitely earned his place in the chair. With Admiral Pike’s (Bruce Greenwood) death, you see another side of Kirk that really drives him throughout the movie. There was a moment when he placed Spock as acting captain where you see Kirk at his most vulnerable when he admits he’s following his gut and doesn’t know what he’s doing. A part of me felt Kirk is finally understanding how it is to be a real captain. Sacrificing his life to restore power and his talks of fear when he was dying was a shining moment for Pine. 

Star Trek Into Darkness Pike

Benedict Cumberbatch‘s character was also impressive. It’s different seeing Cumberbatch playing a villain, Khan, when you’re so used to seeing him playing a gentleman (in Parade’s End) and a cocky but sleuth detective (in Sherlock). But of course, we know Cumberbatch is an amazing actor. Throughout the film, you really did not know whether he was the good guy or the villain. We know in the original series, Khan was a villain bent on revenge but with the reboot – anything can happen. In the beginning, I thought he could possibly be a pawn in Admiral Marcus’s plot to start a war, but then he showed his true colors in the end.

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As for the other characters, Simon Pegg‘s Scotty and Karl Urban‘s McCoy/Bones were absolutely hilarious. I understand they were meant as comic relief for moments, but they definitely stole every scene they were in.  Zoe Saldana‘s Uhura had her moments – there is a great scene of her utilizing her linguistic skills. Unfortunately, I felt there was not enough Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Sulu (John Cho) – especially memorable moments. We see Cho has one moment that he shined in, but then he fell back behind the curtains.

Star Trek Into Darkness Sulu

I did enjoy when Kirk was egging Sulu on about sitting in the captain’s chair, which Sulu responded how much he liked it. I squealed because Sulu does eventually become captain of his own ship (USS Excelsior) in the original Star Trek movies.

As a movie fan, this movie told an emotional, adventurous story about a Captain and his love for his crew. It was brilliant. There was a lot of action throughout the movie – fighting scenes (one epic one that includes Klingons), ship chases, explosions, gun battles, etc. This movie was a great sci-fi adventure.

Would I say it was a good Star Trek movie? It was good, but not the best for Star Trek fans.

Abrams did provide the fans with Trek moments that made us excited and may have satisfied many of us, but not all. The infamous screaming of Khan’s name was included in the movie – but of course said by Spock instead of Kirk.

Overall, I kept in mind what Abrams said about the film – it’s for movie fans, not Trekkies. He did provide the Trekkies with some moments of the past. So, he did not completely forget about this audience. It was a movie for everyone. I have to say, I did like it better than the first movie because it had more action and more character development – not just for the crew we know and love – but also the villain. I recommend everyone – including Trekkies – to see it. Abrams is trying to open it up to everyone wanting to see a good sci-fi movie. And I’m okay with that.

Grade: B+

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Laura Sirikul
Laura Sirikul 1743 posts

Trekkie. Jedi. Whovian. Sherlockian. Hobbit. Sanrio. Comics. I am Spartacus. Warrior Princess. Superhero. Nerd. Follow me @lsirikul