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Last week, I picked up the Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray at my local Target. No, I didn’t get the “exclusive” Target version with extra special features – I am rarely interested in special features these days. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t, as Target was completely sold out of them by the time I got there (which made for hilarious advertising since the regular Blu-ray was also listed as the “exclusive” edition including a horribly misleading sticker on the package).
Anyway, I digress.
So, I re-watched it. This was the second time seeing the film, and I wanted to get another perspective on it. Given the decisive nature of the film with general audiences and Trek fans, I was curious how I would like it during as second run through.
I have to say that I do like Star Trek Into Darkness. Personally, I think it is a stronger film, overall, than 2009’s Star Trek. I still find the film’s story to be interesting, the reworking of Khan, and Kirk’s overall dilemma. A lot of this works. However, this is a film with several narrative faults. And these faults are really, really bad.
Honestly, the film really falls apart in the third act. We learn that Admiral Robocop is the bad guy who basically set Kirk and company up. But, then Khan kills him and becomes the main villain. This was the beginning of the trouble. The film was still working even though we had a game of musical chairs with the villain, but things were still on track.
The real problem – and this is a big one – is when Into Darkness completely plagiarizes Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan with Kirk’s “death”. Into Darkness was already going to be compared with Wrath of Khan for the mere fact it was the second installment. Even more so since it featured Khan. Abrams should not have a drawn more attention to the (let’s face it) superior earlier film by lifting its climatic scene.
The whole sequence was made worse when Spock inexplicitly yells “KHAAAN!” It was embarrassingly bad during the first viewing, and I doubt it will ever not be cringe-worthy. This is when the film completely blew up for me (no pun intended considering the following scene had Khan’s ship kamikaze into the San Francisco in a completely gratuitous manner).
But here is the thing: if someone isn’t a Star Trek fan and never saw Wrath of Khan, they wouldn’t know the difference. That sequence would not have been distracting for a new/uninitiated fan as it was for me. On that level, I suppose the film succeeds. But I know that I cannot overlook it. It is too difficult not to. And, because of that, it makes the other relatively minor flaws of the film completely stand out even more.
I don’t think that Star Trek Into Darkness was a complete misfire the way some militant butthurt fans are claiming. I also do not think that it is a wonderfully perfect movie the way other militant fans say it is. It is 2/3rds of a good movie that rams into a brick wall after a steady pace. Since it is looking like JJ Abrams will not be returning to the director’s chair for the next installment, I welcome some fresh blood into the franchise. I think it’ll be good for a series like this to rejuvenate. As a fan of the franchise, I want to see new takes and new directions. It keeps things fresh and interesting – something Star Trek Into Darkness may not have done the greatest job of doing.