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Star Trek: Into Darkness review (with SPOILERS)

I saw the new Star Trek film and I have some thoughts. Don’t read it if you don’t want to know at least some of it (or unless you already saw the movie).

Let’s just get this out of the way from the beginning: This is a “re-imagining” of Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanJ.J. Abrams denied it for the entire course of the production but there it is. There’s both good and bad aspects of it. First the bad: There’s really no reason to remake the best Star Trek film of all time. J.J. has a fresh continuity to play around with and make his own. He should make a film that tells an original story. This could have very easily been the same movie minus the identity of Khan. That being said, it mostly works as an accessible, action-packed summer blockbuster.

The emphasis in this film, as in its predecessor, is action. The Enterprise is sent to destroy Khan in retaliation for a terrorist attack he committed against the Federation. The film does raise questions that are relevant in our own world: When a terrorist commits a heinous act, do we have an obligation to hunt him down and put him on trial or do we simply act in revenge? What would you do to protect your family? This characterization helps Khan feel more like a real person than a mustache-twirling villain.

On the other hand, the relationship between Kirk and Khan in The Wrath of Khan comes from their history. Kirk personally wronged Khan between the events of the episode entitled Space Seed and the events at the beginning of The Wrath of Khan and inadvertently sentenced him to a hellish existence. When he seeks revenge, it’s earned. This remake lacks that gravitas. Kirk is more or less just an obstacle in Khan’s way in this film and Khan seems to have no more enmity against him than anyone else he dispatches in the course of his goals. It isn’t personal, it’s just business. That’s really why Abrams should’ve steered clear of Khan or just made the villain someone else entirely.

The other thing you’ll either love or hate is the ‘fan service’ moments. Some of them are harmless (the tribble in sick bay) but some of them are questionable as when one of the characters yells “KHAAAN!” like Shatner did in The Wrath of Khan which you’ll either appreciate or it will really take you out of the moment. While we’re on the subject, Leonard Nimoy has what has to be the most pointless cameo in any Star Trek film. Without giving too much away, at one point in the film, young Spock hails old Spock on New Vulcan. What’s off-putting about this is that young Spock and old Spock converse in front of the entire bridge and refer to old Spock so that his identity is stated in no uncertain terms. Does everyone know that old Spock is in this timeline? How would Section 31 not have abducted him and made off with as much information as they could? Old Spock tells young Spock that he cannot answer the question that young Spock asks and then proceeds to do just that. The information old Spock gives isn’t even good information. It’s something that logical young Spock should’ve been able to intuit already. It’s best not to think too much about this, I guess.

In regards to the final act, it was certainly a clever spin on the ending from The Wrath of Khan. Most of the film one could avoid a direct comparison to that film by virtue of the fact it was sufficiently different but how you feel about the ending probably depends on whether or not you were a fan of the original films. I shouldn’t go as easy on it as I do as it was telegraphed early on but it strikes the right emotional chords and feels true to this incarnation of the characters and does pretty much the only thing it could by that point in the film. At least we don’t have to look forward to a remake of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Though 2009’s Star Trek was better this was still an enjoyable film I’d rewatch. I couldn’t say that about the last time a Khan-like villain was trotted out in a Star Trek film.