Director: J.J. Abrams
Original Release: 2013
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
My Wife has a serious Benedict Cumberbatch crush. As such, she'd been looking forward to Star Trek into Darkness for quite a while. As for myself, I have misgivings about the Abrams relaunch of the Star Trek story. The alternate history introduced with the 2009 film just doesn't sit well. However, I do realize that Trek is a fictional universe to begin with and one history is, at least theoretically, as valid as another. As such, I am prepared to give the new concept a chance, even if it doesn't completely jive with my sensibilities.
Just to give you folks an idea of her level of infatuation, My Wife has all of Cumberbatch's lines from the trailer above memorized.
Cumberbatch plays the role of Khan, a villain first introduced in the original television series in 1967, performed by Ricardo Montalban. Montalban reprised the role for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), generally considered to be the best of the Star Trek movies. So, it is hallowed ground upon which J.J. Abrams treads in this latest installment.
In his interview with Jon Stewart last week, Abrams acknowledged the challenges of reinterpreting such a treasured franchise. He himself did not grow up as a Trek fan and hopes that the new film includes satisfying material for both newcomers and devotees. For newcomers, there's all the bells and whistles of 21st century film: dazzling special effects, frenetic action and plenty of eye candy in both dressing rooms. For the Trekkies, there are ample satisfying allusions to the original Khan movie. So, the pitches are made. Did he succeed?
As for mainstream success, the opening weekend was apparently disappointing. $84 million sure sounds like an awful lot of money to me but it fell short of the $100 million goal. As for the purists, I can only speak for myself. I preferred this movie to the 2009 film. Now that the alternate history has been established, I find it easier to settle in and appreciate the new timeline on its own merits. I was grateful, too, for the homage to Khan. I could have done without the close-up stubble shots of the men but My Wife assures me those were just fine by her.
There's loads of extra geek-satisfaction in this one. Cumberbatch is quickly becoming Hollywood's go-to man for the smoldering villain. He's also the voice of Smaug in the new Hobbit trilogy. His rich, deep, melodic voice alone will keep him employed for many years to come. The casting of both Noel Clarke (Doctor Who alum) and Peter Weller (Buckaroo Bonzai and RoboCop) are meaningful nods to the broader science fiction fan base.
- The movie is rated PG-13, most certainly for violence. I had to turn away myself during a head-crushing incident. Mock (who was sitting right next to me - he and his son joined us) assured me they didn't actually show it. The sound was more than enough for this guy!
- The theater may simply have had its sound system cranked up beyond necessity but the film is definitely loud.