WARNING! HUGE SPOILERS DISCUSSED IN THIS REVIEW
STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS!
I recently had a debate with my friend John about J.J Abrams’ Star Trek and how it compares to the original series. The basic setup was simple: I never saw the original series and therefore, my first exposure to the characters (other than pop culture references) came when the reboot was released in 2009. John grew up watching The Original Series and was extremely disappointed when they rebooted the universe he adored.
What followed was a 3 part series where we went back and forth discussing the pros and ‘I have the’ cons of Star Trek.
Obviously, I was beyond excited to see Star Trek Into Darkness. I couldn’t wait to see J.J would take these characters next. John has repeatedly sworn not to see the sequel until someone loans it to him or it appears On Demand free of charge.
I bought my ticket a week in advance and caught a matinee on opening day. So how was Star Trek Into Darkness?
I liked Star Trek Into Darkness a lot but I found myself thinking about our friendly debate often as the story progressed.
FINAL SPOILER WARNING…
A few months back, in an effort to better understand TOS, I took it upon myself to finally sit through The Wrath of Kahn. A movie many would agree is the best Star Trek movie of all time. I can’t make that claim as I haven’t seen them all but I did enjoy it. When it was revealed that Benedict Cumberbatch was actually Kahn, I couldn’t help but think about our friendly debate.
John didn’t like the idea of rebooting Captain Kirk and his crew. He can watch his Star Trek whenever he wants on DVD. As soon as it was revealed that Kahn was indeed a part of this rebooted universe I smiled and thought:
“John is absolutely going to hate this movie.”
I won’t know for sure until he sees it but even I had to admit it would be strange. To love a group of characters only to have them reinterpreted would be frustrating to some. Personally, I’m thankful that I watched Wrath of Kahn first because it was my first chance to truly compare the two universes. I’m obviously not as attached to the original series so I actually appreciated what J.J Abrams did with Star Trek Into Darkness.
Separating the two Kahns was difficult at first. I kept picturing Ricardo Montalban but Benedict Cumberbatch has created a truly memorable villain here. He’s ruthless yet sympathetic to a certain degree. A man driven to do whatever it takes to save his family. He’s a relentless foe with a booming voice and a worthy adversary for the crew of the Enterprise.
Speaking of which, the rest of the crew evolves accordingly in this film. Obviously, we are once again thrust into the captain’s seat with Kirk still learning humility as a commanding officer. By his side, the ever logical Spock who still questions virtually every decision Kirk makes.
It’s a relationship that mirrors the original series but Star Trek Into Darkness also takes liberties that may or may not upset the hardcore fans. For the most part, I don’t know the difference but I do know I liked it.
I read a little online after I saw the film and many people were upset with the very idea of a new Kahn. Weren’t people hoping Kahn would be the villain? It’s strange because I found myself wondering why they didn’t change Kahn more…
There are so many nods to The Wrath of Kahn here including major plot points. In our debate, I defended J.J Abrams’ rebooted universe because it threw out the rule book. They used time travel to create a reality where both universes would co-exist. As evidenced by old Spock’s return to warn new Spock about Kahn.
Why go to such great lengths to create a new Star Trek universe where anything could happen yet still go back to a tale we’ve already seen. Star Trek Into Darkness is basically bizarro Wrath of Kahn. There are obviously BIG differences but this movie functions more as a homage.
Still, I liked that they brought back Kahn. I really liked that they included an impending conflict with the Klingons… I liked Star Trek Into Darkness.
It was great to see these characters on the big screen again. Even though I had an idea where the story was going once Kahn revealed himself, there were still plenty of surprises in store. Not too mention some pretty amazing action sequences.
All in all, this summer is off to a great start with Iron Man 3 leading off and Superman on deck.
As for our debate? I still believe they have done enough to please new fans like me while respecting fans of the original series. No matter what you do, you can’t please everyone. There will always be people who dislike movies like this. It doesn’t matter what Star Trek universe you call home. Some movies aren’t for everyone.
This movie was for me. Perhaps my friend John will see it someday and enjoy seeing a new vision of Kahn on the big screen. (He probably won’t.)
Overall, I thought Star Trek Into Darkness was a fantastic sequel that doesn’t quite live up to ‘the original’. Multiply that by about a million and that’s probably how John felt about the 2009 reboot.
I get it now.
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