Back in 2009, JJ Abrams, Paramount’s latest wunderkind, was tasked with revitalizing the “Star Trek” brand for a new generation. Cleverly he found a way to create a parallel universe to the original Trek so they could continue the adventures of the USS Enterprise with a crop of fresh faces.
It was so clever that the new film kept die-hard Trekkies from crying outrage and even brought in the more action-oriented “Star Wars” fans into the mix. It was going to be an incredible achievement to top that film and carry on the momentum. Not only did Abrams have to surpass the relaunch but now he was going to come face-to-face with the classic “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan“. The best of the franchise.
Trek 2 was so classic because it brought back Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonien Singh, who had originally appeared in the original episode “Space Seed“. Khan was a genetically modified human who became a vicious dictator during Earth’s Eugenic Wars. Khan was ruthless and like Kirk did whatever he could to protect his crew.
Trek 2 opened with Khan being discovered on a dead world after he was marooned there with his crew by Kirk. When he is discovered, he vows revenge. Khan kills Kirk’s son and a war of titans begins.
Flashforward to 2013, the Federation is under siege by a terrorist named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). And Kirk, younger and brasher, offers to become the sword of the Federation and take down the terrorist at all costs. Even if it takes him to the Klingon Homeworld to do it. Can Kirk hunt down this sort of Osama Bin Laden of outer space? Is this mission as simple as it seems? Who is John Harrison?
I have never really been a reviewer that includes spoilers in a film. But to really dissect this superior sequel I really had to get to the meat-and-potatoes of the film. JJ Abrams didn’t steer away from the infamous Trek sequel he decided to hit it head on. “Star Trek Into Darkness” is basically a remake of “Star Trek II”.
And really that can be taken two ways.
First, Abrams has taken the core story and enhanced it. Since the Abrams Kirk is younger they kill someone different to drive Kirk on his mission. There is no “Genesis Device”. Instead Abrams went back into the heart of Star Trek and pulled out more references to the stories subject matter. Namely “Space Seed”.
In case you haven’t guessed it, Harrison = Khan. Except this Khan wants revenge on all the Federation and is sort of a psychotic Moses and only wants the Federation to let his people go. Khan’s story here is actually less personalized and instead becomes more of a test for Kirk and crew.
The references to the original series and the classic sequel are really something to cheer about. Because Abrams is really playing to his audience. These are big, grand and exciting popcorn moments. They are all a huge plus.
The downside is that if you have seen “Star Trek 2” a gazillion times then you might be bored. I hope if there is a third film that the homage is over. We don’t need to revisit “Search for Spock” or pickup “George & Gracie” in Star Trek 4. I want to see more original adventures.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” is a big bold homage to what we remember was superior about the original films. And a great popcorn movie for the summer.
(4 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer
Note: One last thing, please no more lens flares over a person’s face when they are talking. Especially one as lovely as Alice Eve. Thank you. Soothsayer Out!
- ‘Star Trek’: (A Giant Step) Into Darkness (947thewave.cbslocal.com)
- A Captain is Born: Star Trek Into Darkness (tor.com)
- Villain and visuals aside, ‘Star Trek’ sequel sets predictable course (dailyherald.com)
- Why I Walked Out of Star Trek into Darkness (winstonbowden.com)
- 10 Totally Spoilery Star Trek Into Darkness Easter Eggs (geek-news.mtv.com)
- ‘Into Darkness,’ Boldly And With A Few Twists (wnyc.org)
- Our Dysfunctional Relationship With The Wrath of Khan (tor.com)
- Space, just another frontier (jasonnajum.com)