Star Trek Into Darkness
starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch
written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
directed by J.J. Abrams
Before you read any further, be warned that there will be spoilers in this post. If spoilers ain't your thing, then see this film first then read my review. But by any means necessary, see this film and see it soon!
Star Trek Into Darkness not only succeeds as a direct follow up to its predecessor, but it is an amazing stand alone film that can appeal to anybody. One does not need to be a Trekkie to appreciate the story, performances and special effects Paramount has brought to the table. And just like 2009's Star Trek, this sequel spins an interesting twist on an older Trek installment that will not insult die-hard Trekkies such as myself.
Before I proceed, I must admit that this film did piss me off, almost to a point where I did not enjoy the film. I fancy myself as a pretty clever fella, and when I heard rumors all those months ago that Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing Khan (arguably Trek's most popular villain as portrayed by Ricardo Montalban) I did some research and came to the conclusion that it was just Internet rumor meant to throw off the fans. I refer you to this earlier post of mine as a reference. As it turns out, I was too smart for my own good. The Internet fooled me.
Well played, Internet. Well played.
Cumberbatch, in fact DOES play Khan Noonien Singh, a super-human product of 1990's gene manipulation experiments that led to an army that nearly conquered the Earth. They were defeated and banished into deep space cryo-stasis until their ship was stumbled upon by, not the Enterprise crew, but rather Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller). Marcus thawed out Khan with the hopes that his superior intellect would help design powerful weapons for the war against the Klingon Empire, which Marcus thinks is inevitable.
Marcus gets his upgraded technology, but is betrayed by Khan who escapes and becomes a terrorist.
That is the backstory that leads to the story proper of Into Darkness as Kirk, Spock and the the intrepid crew of the Enterprise are dispatched to catch Khan under his alias, John Harrison, a Starfleet officer turned traitor who is apparently in league with the Klingons.
There is absolutely nothing to hate about Star Trek Into Darkness. (Unless of course you guessed totally wrong about the identity of the film's bad guy). It is an intelligent and feasible sequence of events packed with action and peppered with some comedic moments and leads to a satisfying (if not familiar) climax. All the actors were retained to play their parts from the previous film and their chemistry with one another is a solid base from which their performances can grow.
Into Darkness introduces us (albeit briefly) to this franchise's incarnation of the Klingons. They have received a slight makeover but are still recognizable and it is almost certain that they will play a larger role in Star Trek 3 which, in my opinion, cannot come soon enough.
We also get to meet Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), the character who will give birth to Kirk's ill-fated son. (or at least, she did in the original Trek timeline. Who knows what will happen in this alternate timeline?)
And a special kudos goes to the writers who had the good grace NOT to kill off Khan so they can bring him back in maybe part 4 or 5, which in my opinion cannot come soon enough.