It’s in theaters now, and all the secrets are out in the open. Star Trek Into Darkness, the second Trek film from J.J. Abrams, has been locked (mostly) in the producer/director’s “mystery box” for over a year. For hardcore fans, at least, the secrecy around the precise nature of the character played by Benedict Cumberbatch has been a big part of the marketing allure, but the energy Abrams and his cast brought to their first outing on the Enterprise has been enough to make a huge audience curious about their encore.
And in the end, the irony is that, while there was a type of secret to preserve with respect to the character, in the end he plays a weird role in the plot. (There’s a certain kinship to Iron Man 3 in that respect.)
Abrams has said that he wanted to make Star Trek for people who aren’t Star Trek fans, and in that respect he might have succeeded. Into Darkness has a few well-executed setpieces, and loads of the same winning cast presence that made the first Abrams Trek a success. But does it work? Does the film’s wide divergence from many well-established Trek characteristics fly, and does it even really matter who Cumberbatch is playing? Weigh in below, where full spoilers are in force.
Germain liked the film a lot more than I did. For him the energy and broad entertainment value was enough, while I saw the film trying to persuade me to care about things that don’t seem to matter. Cumberbatch is, frankly, more interesting as John Harrison than as Khan; there’s not much about him that screams “Khan” in any old sense, and his actions this time out don’t establish him as a very compelling new version. (Which, I suppose, is one reason Spock has to do the “Khaaaannn!” scream himself.)
Abrams and his writers (Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, and Roberto Orci) have license to do whatever they want with the characters thanks to the parallel universe setting established in the ’09 Trek. That’s not a bad thing. But were you convinced that this version of Kirk and Spock are interesting enough in their own right to command this sequel? There’s a lot of treading water here between going full-on into a new version of Star Trek, and calling back to well-established ideas from the original. (That’s another reason Spock gets to/has to scream the enemy’s name.)
So what worked for you, and what didn’t? There’s plenty to talk about, starting with the title and going down the list through the dual villains, the revisions of characters and scenes, the new setpieces, and the way each actor inhabits their character.