Since readers know that Lost is my favorite TV show, it should be no surprise that show creator J. J. Abrams would contribute films to my top 100. After his game-changing reboot of the Star Trek franchise in 2009, fans were eager for the next installment, and Star Trek into Darkness did not disappoint. Some accused its reworking of Wrath of Khan to be plagiarism rather than homage, but the film clearly possesses enough originality to offset the cries of its detractors.
While Sulu and Chekhov are underused, the rest of the Enterprise crew continue to be memorable revisions of The Original Series cast. Particularly, the relationship between Chris Pine’s rebellious Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s conformist-yet-cheeky Spock is a highlight of character-building, and Simon Pegg’s Scotty is given a chance to engage on a deeper level than the usual engineer role. Peter Weller’s villainous turn as Admiral Marcus is all right but pales in comparison with Benedict Cumberbatch’s potent, authoritative presence as Harrison/Khan. Being a fan of Cumberbatch in Sherlock and Amazing Grace, I believe his casting as Khan was genius (even if it was criticized as “whitewashing” Khan’s original ethnicity) and, along with The Hobbit, will forever cement him as a go-to villain.
If I had to criticize the film, I suppose it would be for its obvious attempts at a plot twist. We’re not supposed to see twists coming, but they’re not particularly well-hidden. For instance, Alice Eve’s portrayal of Carol Marcus is originally under the name Carol Wallace. Why? Fans of Star Trek could see that coming simply from Admiral Marcus’s inclusion, and for non-fans, the name Carol Marcus doesn’t hold any significant meaning. Khan’s fake identity makes a bit more sense in the plot but wasn’t all that necessary. While many have pointed out plot holes in the film, the only major discrepancies I noticed were the diminution of distances, with transporters and warp engines traversing great spans much faster than they should at this point in Star Trek history. Also, while a certain scene echoing Wrath of Khan is quite effective, its consequences are wrapped up far too quickly.
While the film’s action sequences don’t quite hit the zenith of the first film’s drill showdown or ice planet chase, the special effects are well-employed to create some awesome visuals, such as during the tense space jump. The Enterprise’s descent into the atmosphere is a particular wonder, with gravity shifting to turn the ship into a giant Tilt-A-Whirl. So many films sacrifice their intelligence in favor of spectacle; J. J. Abrams and Marvel seem to be the main ones able to balance the two to create entertaining films, worthy of multiple viewings. With clever references to The Original Series and the introduction of Klingons to this altered timeline, Star Trek into Darkness stands on its own and sets the stage for what I hope will be an even more impressive threequel.Best line: (Dr. McCoy, after helping to save Kirk) “We synthesized a serum from his… super blood. Tell me, are you feeling homicidal, power-mad, despotic?” (Kirk) “No more than usual.” VC’s best line: (Kirk, speaking of Spock, to Uhura in turbolift) “Wait, are you guys… are you guys fighting?” (Uhura) “I’d rather not talk about it, sir.” (Kirk) “Oh my God, what is that even like?” [Turbolift opens to reveal Spock, and Uhura walks by him coldly] (Kirk, to Spock) “Ears burning?”
Rank: 54 out of 60
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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