Star Trek: Into Darkness was, in short, a fantastic film from start to finish. I went to see this movie in 3D, and I will say that I was quite nervous about it. Most of the films that I have seen in 3D haven’t used the technology particularly well. Star Trek however, was great in 3D. The “freezing” of the volcano at the beginning was quite cool, but my favourite parts of the 3D had to be when the Enterprise went into warp drive and the stars kind of drifted out towards me.
One of my favourite aspects of the film was the dynamic displayed between Spock and Captain Kirk. Their relationship provided some great moments throughout the film, allowing for brief breaks amidst the seriousness and action of the film. In particular, the scene between Captain Kirk and Uhura in the elevator talking about Spock was great (Are your ears burning?), as well as “Pointy”, “Never trust a Vulcan”, and Captain Kirk’s exasperation at Spock’s silence right before the big meeting.
Their relationship also provided the most emotional scene of the film. When Captain Kirk raised his hand against the glass, and Spock raised his and did the Vulcan salute, and then Captain Kirk slowly mirroring it… it was amazing. It was the only scene where Spock truly let his human half through and displayed emotions, the peak of which was when he yelled out “KHAAAAAAAN!”
Speaking of Khan, I am certainly a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch. He’s got a fantastic presence on camera in all of his films (and of course, Sherlock) that I have seen. Star Trek: Into Darkness was the first time that I have seen him as a villain (barring the Hobbit, though he didn’t really appear in the one that has been released), and boy was he good. His voice always had that deep and commanding quality to it, but the use of it in this role added something more. Every single time that he talked I was immediately drawn to the words and paid complete attention to them. This, in my opinion, is one of the marks of a good villain. People have to pay attention to them in order for any of their plans to work. Cumberbatch’s Khan was able to read Captain Kirk and tell that he would not immediately kill him and that he would be able to use him to attain his own goals: “I surrendered to you because, despite your attempt to convince me otherwise, you seem to have a conscience, Mr Kirk. If you did not, then it would be impossible for me to convince you of the truth.” If I were to give stars for Benedict’s performance in this film, I would give him five out of five. While technically no performance is ever perfect, I would still allow for this five.
Putting aside Benedict’s performance for a moment, I really enjoyed the character of Khan himself. I was conflicted while watching the film because I knew that he was a villain and that he had killed many innocent people, including Admiral Pike, but his background provided a sympathetic story. He was just trying to get his people, his family, back. He was fighting against a corrupt Admiral Marcus, in the only way that he knew how: by being a soldier. He, along with his people, had been genetically engineered to be superior in every way, resulting in his blood having these almost supernatural powers and his ability to run as fast as Spock. He was bred to be a soldier, and thus his actions in the film, I believe, were the only things he knew how to do.
Both the commanding voice and presence of Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as the heart-string pulling back story of Khan’s family is exemplified in this trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5gdbUC9mWU
I would like to take a moment to address some of the controversy surrounding Benedict Cumberbatch being cast as Khan. I remember watching a lot of Star Trek growing up, my dad often had it on the television and I would end up sitting and watching. Despite this, I only remember a few details and I’m not sure how much of Khan’s story I knew before this film. After a short discussion though, this is how I understand it: a few of the characters were meant to be particular races/ethnicities (Chekov is supposed to be Russian, Uhura is supposed to be African-American, Scotty is supposed to be Scottish…you see the point), however Khan was genetically engineered. I don’t think that, whoever created Khan, had any particular ethnicity/race in mind. Therefore, he could be white, he could be black, Latino, Indian, Asian…anything. Should we see any of Khan’s people in future films, I think that there would be varied races. I think that the most important thing in Khan’s case would be to have the right actor portray him, regardless of the way that he looks. And, as I mentioned before, I think Benedict did a fantastic job.
Furthermore, I think that the final lines spoken by Captain Kirk: “Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before” were delivered really well. Those words are what sticks out the most in my mind about Star Trek, having heard them countless times growing up. I’m not sure anything associated with Star Trek would feel complete for me without some form of these words being spoken, or at least references to them in some way.
Overall, I think that I would say Star Trek: Into Darkness is my favourite film of the year, and I think that it’s only real competition could be the second Hobbit film. I could be surprised of course, but I don’t think I will be.