Star Trek Into Darkness opened this weekend! Hubby and I saw it last night. We had wildly differing opinions about Star Trek (2009). I loved it; he hated it. I went into this one excited, and he went along, by his own admission, for my sake and because he wanted to point out all the flaws afterwards. Into Darkness does have some flaws, even big ones, but we both agreed that it is overall a good movie. Well, Jason said it was "okay," but he also said it was "way better than the 2009 movie."
I'm going to begin my review with my spoiler-free observations, and then head into a discussion of the plot.
First off, this movie is shot much better than ST09. The lens flare is toned down quite a bit, where it is no longer the main camera effect. The camera shots themselves are also much more stable. It's good to know J.J. Abrams can keep the camera still for longer than half a second. I also like the continuing nods to the original series (though I'll discuss that more in the spoiler section). We got mention of the Gorn, Tribbles, and Harry Mudd, as well as Section 31 from Deep Space 9.
The acting was excellent. Jason pointed out Noel Clarke in an early scene, also known as Mickey Smith from Doctor Who (side note--season 7 finale this weekend!). Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent as John Harrison, the main villain. IMDB gives his character's real name, so go there if you want spoilers. Peter Weller as Admiral Marcus has some great scenes too. The main cast is just as good as they were in ST09. I especially enjoyed Chris Pine's performance. It was good to see Kirk get some actual character development. It was nice to see Nyota (Uhura) have some action scenes. Infinitely better than, say, dancing around in a skimpy costume to cause a distraction.
I'm looking at you, Star Trek V.
Oh, and this is a minor spoiler, but I was glad to see that someone at Starfleet finally decided the chairs on the bridge of the Federation flagship should include seat belts. Seriously, I know they have artificial gravity, but with all of the times we see people on the bridge getting knocked around, they needed seat belts badly.
Jason and I agreed that the opening scene was needlessly stupid. If a submarine can't go into space, why should a starship be able to go underwater? My other complaint about the movie was the way they handled things at the end, which will be discussed in the next section.
Overall, I'd give Star Trek Into Darkness 4 out of 5 stars.
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS
You have been warned.
I can understand why they decided to put Khan into the movie. He is the most iconic villain from the original movie continuity and, as Spock Prime points out, he was their biggest foe. They handled his character very well, both in terms of writing and acting. I can even buy that Kirk sacrifices himself to stop Khan and save the ship.
But did they really need to create the exact same circumstances from the end of Wrath of Khan? There were just way too many similarities. It went from feeling like a nod to the original movie to saying, "We couldn't think of anything original. Watch Wrath of Khan with Kirk dying instead."
And then they didn't even follow through with it! I'm still not sure whether I think this is good or bad. On the one hand, it undermines Kirk's sacrifice and shows that Abrams is still playing it safe. Plus, it would be very interesting to see how everyone goes on without Kirk. On the other hand, I didn't actually want to see him dead. Spock's death in Wrath of Khan is ultimately undone as well, so maybe they're combining the endings of II and III? I suppose what I would have wanted was for someone (probably Spock, to tie in with the opening) to save Kirk after he has shown he is willing to sacrifice himself. I would also have created an entirely different circumstance for Kirk to put himself in.
I am very intrigued by the idea of the militarized, possibly evil Starfleet. Admiral Marcus was such an evil slimeball that I almost wasn't sorry when Khan snapped his neck. I felt bad for Carol, though. Good to know she's made of tough stuff. I suppose the next movie will have to feature this "inevitable war" with the Klingons. Maybe they'll bring the Romulans in, too. I would love to see the Federation and the Romulans team up; ever since I read Diane Duane's Rihannsu series I thought it would be great to see some ties established. Maybe they can even bring in Ael. Wishful thinking, I know. I would love to know what Diane Duane thinks of the new movies.
Here is another unlikely prediction: the Borg. They have shown up in every series but TOS; they even appeared in the prequel series, although they were never named as such in order to preserve continuity.