WARNING: THERE BE SPOILERS HERE!
Is originality even given cursory consideration any more?
2009's STAR TREK film proved that there was still life in the Trek franchise, and that audiences, even hardcore fans of the original series, could accept a new cast playing the beloved Trek characters. The film cleverly created a new Star Trek timeline, opening up vast story possibilities that would not have to rely on plot, characters and incidents from the original series or the movies that followed. So when time came to make the second movie of the new series, what did they do?
They remade THE WRATH OF KHAN.
Okay, remade, retooled, revisited or reimagined, they still pulled their punches and decided to go the easy route of taking their main inspiration from a story already told in what is still one of the most popular Star Trek films, and despite all the 21st century high-tech bells and whistles, INTO DARKNESS comes off as the lesser movie. Mind you, it is entertaining, full of fast and furious action and several laugh out loud lines (most supplied by Simon Pegg as Scotty) but THE WRATH OF KHAN is one of the greatest space adventures of all time, and INTO DARKNESS is just another loud, blue-tinged summer popcorn flick. Benedict Cumberbatch is a brilliant actor and one of the best things about the film, but his Khan is essentially your average James Bond villain, never approaching Ricardo Montalban's level of villainy (and classic ham acting) from WRATH OF KHAN.
They've weakened the story, too. In the original film, Khan had a personal reason for going after Captain Kirk, while in the new film, he is meeting Kirk for the first time and just using him as a means to an end. The film also falters in its ending, attempting to recreate the goodbye scene between a dying Spock and a heartbroken Captain Kirk (though this time around, it is Kirk who is dying), yet that scene is rendered pointless by miraculously bringing Kirk back to life in its final moments.
STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS is not one of the bad Trek films, and is more fun than several of the original cast films and the final two Next Generation films. Yet, after seeing 2009's STAR TREK, I can remember thinking how I could hardly wait to see this cast in new, original stories.
Four years later, I am still waiting. ½- JB
IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR GOOD MOVIE QUOTES
"Five years in space. God help me!"