startrekintodarkness_posterI found Star Trek Into Darkness to be an enjoyable, but somewhat problematic, film that was largely focussed on building the relationships between the characters [1].

NB: There are spoilers ahead, and they get more important the further into the review you read.

On this level the film succeeded admirably in recreating the dynamics from the original TV series and movies. The command partnership between this version [2] of Spock and Kirk has moments of misplaced trust based on false assumptions developing into justified trust based on mutual knowledge.

McCoy and the supporting characters are also fitting neatly into the matrix of the core team that long time fans would expect, whilst also showing enough of the development for it to feel natural to newer viewers.

The relationship between Spock and Uhura was particularly well handled in Star Trek Into Darkness in terms of mutual adjustments and as a vehicle for both characters to grow [3]. Uhura also gets her deserved moments of glory in this film: the linguist is there for a reason people, and Uhura also knows her way around a phaser.

Less well handled is the introduction of Carol Marcus that included an entirely gratuitous shot in her underwear. There may be a deleted scene that eventually explains it, but if so this scene should also have been cut from the cinema release, there’s really no excuse for the scene as it stands.

Finally Benedict Cumberbatch plays Khan Noonien Singh to perfection in his own way.

The problem is that he is playing the greatest Star Trek villain from the second of the original movies in the second reboot movie.

This really doesn’t work, and the business with Admiral Marcus makes even less sense. Granted it does lead to a lot of spectacular explosions, but these do not cover the holes in the plot.

The problem of inviting direct comparisons to the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is only made worse in the finale, and in a way that lacks the courage and dramatic impact of the original.  You’ll know it when you see it, and the dodge is entirely obvious.

I’m prepared to forgive this only because it gives Uhura one of her moments of glory.

Despite this I did enjoy Star Trek Into Darkness, and certainly don’t regret seeing it on the big screen. This film shines when it is focussed on the core characters, and suffers once the villain is revealed. Star Trek Into Darkness could have been an awesome film with a different villain.

[1] I agree with The Angriest re the silliness of the name, and pretty much the rest of his review.

[2] I trust that readers already know that this set of movies is an alternate timeline reboot.

[3] I suspect that the Spock/Uhura relationship is an attempt to derail the popularity of the original slash pairing. If it is though, I also predict that the attempt is doomed to fail.