Spoiler alert: There will be spoilers. Nothing too serious but for the love of all that is Godstiel, if you don’t want them, don’t read this until after you see Star Trek: Into Darkness.
I really wanted Star Trek: Into Darkness to be a fantastic movie. I wanted to love it, I really did. I was psyched for it from the moment that Benedict Cumberbatch’s silken voice whispered villainous things into my ears, threatening the future of my world. There’s a top secret dubstep remix made with the audio from the first ST:ID trailer that I’ve never shown anyone out of shame, because making dubstep remixes is a new level of bananas. The dubious content of this computer’s hard drive aside, I was really, really excited for the new Star Trek movie. I wanted it to be the best movie ever and I’d die and go to heaven just from watching it. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Instead, I found myself watching something that made me go… meh. While the movie had its highlights, and was a good enough movie, I just… I can’t. I can’t love it. Here are some things that made it awesome, and here are some things that were just… painfully bad.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about Star Trek: Into Darkness was the stunning, colorful visuals that set the mood for the movie. Scenes such as the opening scene of the movie (above) were visually pleasing and aesthetically balanced. Lots of lens flare, and futuristic buildings and structures aplenty – Into Darkness is a sci-fi movie with a rich and vibrant world that you really want to get lost in. There were deep blues mirroring the luminescent irises of Pine and Cumberbatch as they stared each other down like victims in the grind, probing all the weaknesses and hurts still left inside. There were yellows and reds to show off the passion, the fire, the heat of the battle and the flight. There was the icy, cold grays of the sky-high cities, towers reaching up high into the skies. Into Darkness was a lovely, stunning movie, visually speaking – especially if you saw it in 3D!
I do have mixed thoughts about the casting, though probably not the ones you’d expect. Let’s start by getting my thoughts on the casting of proper, posh, tea and crumpets Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan. I mean, okay, so Khan was supposed to be Sikh in the original movie… Guys. Khan is a terrorist that crashes spaceships into busy buildings in the middle of a bustling, futuristic metropolis in what used to be USA. Does no one see the problem with casting an Indian guy to play a terrorist? It would have been kind of like casting a Chinese guy to play the Mandarin in Iron Man 3. Casting someone who is Sikh to play a brutal, violent and murderous man, who in his original incarnation wiped out about a quarter of planet Earth’s population in a bloody, violent war would not have gone over well with the social justice bloggers, no sir, not at all. A part of me suspects it would end up being even more of a big deal than the casting of a tall, British fellow as a member of a superior bio-engineered master race.
With that said, I loved Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan. He was cold, calculating, ruthless. Khan is a frosty, controlled tornado of hatred and intelligence. He is a thorough, malevolent being, ready to destroy any and all he deems inferior to his own species – kind of like a really, really hot Dalek. He speaks slowly and precisely, as if he is addressing Neanderthals. His movements are exact, as if he had decided on each step he would take long before he even came aboard the Enterprise. There is nothing soft or vulnerable about Khan, even as he pulls out the crocodile tears and manipulates those around him with barely a minimal effort. Cumberbatch’s acting creates an eerie and haunting villain that is sure to prowl the subconscious nightmares of those who encounter him.
Now, as for things I didn’t like about the casting… Two words: Chris Pine. It’s still unclear to me how he was cast in the leading role as he is clearly a subpar actor. His presence on the screen is a wooden, stiff thing without spirit or power, and his performance lacks any sort of a compelling element to it. Although, really, putting Pine, Quinto, Saldana and Cumberbatch into the four main roles of Star Trek is akin to putting the Spice Girls and Mozart on the same stage for an improv violin recital and telling them all to do their absolute best. Cumberbatch outshines the stars in the main roles, and Khan literally steals the breath from the viewer’s lungs every time he is on the screen; it is impossible to outdo him. Perhaps this is why he has the starring spot on the posters and trailers – the movie’s greatness hinges on the strength of his performance and his innumerable army of Cumberpeople, ready to raise him to the throne of king should he ever so much as jokingly express an aspiration to a minor position in the British government. While Quinto and Saldana had their moments – notably Quinto’s impassioned scream of “KHAAAAAAAAN” - Chris Pine’s performance as Captain Kirk had about as many redeeming moments as the average lion on the Serengeti Plains has tramp stamps (that is to say, none).
Also, did anyone else really enjoy the fact that Sherlock Holmes coerced Mickey Smith into committing an act of terrorism? ‘Cause I liked that.
If there is anything I absolutely hated, it’s the continued and unnecessary attempts to shove romance into the plot with a crowbar. Who in their right mind ships Uhura with Spock in a great big messy emotional ship? No one, that’s who. It feels contrived, plays out awkward and stiff, and even the actors seem to be very uncomfortable with portraying characters who are romantically involved. I felt as if there was more romantic chemistry between Kirk and Spock than there was between Spock and Uhura. (On the bright side, a brand new generation of fangirls have picked up the original OTP – Kirk/Spock. I ship it.) And don’t get me started on the whole random moment when Alice Eve’s character suddenly needs to change in front of Captain Kirk and waltz around in her underwear. Why. Just why would you put that there. It’s not meant to be there. Take it out. We don’t need it. It adds nothing. Stop this madness. Also, is anyone else surprised that underwear in the distant future looks much like underwear in the 21st century, or is it just me?
There was much whinging and complaining on the internet as well; from those who felt that Admiral Marcus’s dastardly plot and hijacking of half of the villainy of the movie made things unnecessarily complicated to those who felt that the London protected view laws would have survived into the distant future of ST:ID. “You can’t just go around putting towers wherever you want, this is Great Britain, not some failed state,” complained one Redditor about the abundance of pointy towers reaching for the heavens against the velvet sky. The response to OP was rather mixed, as a troop of Brits debated the merits and failures of the movie while drinking crumpets and eating monocles while wearing tea.
Really, I wanted to love Star Trek: Into Darkness. I wanted to love it like Dean loves Castiel and I wanted to be with it forever and we’d be inseparable whether we’re in hell, heaven or purgaytory. We’d need each other and sacrifice ourselves for each other and we’d buy a charming lodge in Vermont and impregnate each other and raise a small troop of fledgelings. However, all I got was a one night stand with a handsome but kind of stupid stranger that I’d be perfectly okay not seeing again… and I’m kind of not okay with that. Really, can someone send Chris Pine to acting school?