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a worthwhile trek

Star Trek Into Darkness: a reader's first impression...

Watch the trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness

Dear SayItCanada,

Long time listener, first time caller here. I just saw the new Star Trek Into Darkness movie this week and as it doesn't come out for another month, I thought I'd give your readers an early review of what they are in for.

A bit of background on my tastes. I'm really not the biggest Trekkie/Trekker/Whatever out there, but I'm not a hater either:

  • I didn't really care for the original series;
  • I thought the Next Generation was fine (more in the later seasons than the earlier ones);
  • I hated Deep Space 9;
  • I thought Voyager was okay after Seven of Nine showed up; and,
  • I only saw a few episodes of Enterprise and didn't think much of it.

As far as the previous movies went:

  • I hated Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979);
  • I loved Wrath of Khan (1982);
  • I could endure Search for Spock (1984);
  • Meh on Voyage Home (1986);
  • I won't even talk about the one after that;
  • The Undiscovered Country (1991) was fun and should have been a great farewell for the original crew;
  • Generations (1994) was awful;
  • the next one started off well; and,
  • the others I'd have to watch again in order to remember them.

So not a huge fan, but I'm hardly an outsider to the franchise. Now as for this new Star Trek movie, your opinion of it is going to be entirely dependent on how you enjoyed the last one (Star Trek, 2009) by JJ Abrams. For most people, they really enjoyed the amped-up action and the change up of Trekkian origins, while still paying homage to what had come before it. However, my understanding is that there was a huge backlash from the purists who felt that 'their' franchise had been taken from them and was made more accessible to a wider audience. While I do agree that the change ups did not really make it a pure Star Trek adventure, I would argue that there are ten films and thousands of hours of shows already done in that vein – and if you don't care for the changes, go watch what was and enjoy.

Movie poster for JJ Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness, 2013.

Anyway, to the new movie. I'm going to do my best to not ruin this for you as it's going to be hard to write about Star Trek Into Darkness without getting into some spoilers – let this be your warning. That said, I will finally implicitly say that the big rumour about this movie is true: Benedict Cumberbatch does indeed play Khan. They sort of try to hide that fact for the first hour, but it will be obvious to anyone who knows some Star Trek that that is where things are leading anyway.

From a grander point of view, this is a retelling of Wrath of Khan and there are a lot of references to it throughout. But because it's a retelling and because the universe has been fundamentally changed from Wrath of Khan, they have to make some big changes to make it work. For instance, in the original Wrath of Khan, there was a narrative about how Kirk's glory days were coming to an end and he was coming to the realization about how his age was going to be taking him out of the adventure game. In this one however, we are dealing with a young Kirk who is finding that his adventures are to come, but he is not mature enough for the responsibility. The whole opening scene is about his natural instincts to save Spock from death at the cost of following the rules of the Prime Directive. A lack of maturity to the character rather than the over-maturity in the case of the Shatner Kirk.

There are a lot of reversals of themes in this one that are in direct reference to Wrath of Khan. But going into them is going to be really destructive to your enjoyment of the film, so I'm going to leave it. With that in mind, since it is kind of like Wrath of Khan, I'll try to compare them a bit. To fully appreciate Wrath of Khan, it's best to have seen the backstory from ‘Space Seed' of the original TV series. Knowing the background of why Khan was angry at Kirk for abandoning him on a desert planet (after Khan had tried to take over the Enterprise) and having Khan's wife and other superiorly enhanced ‘family' die before him, you can understand why Khan wants to seek revenge on Kirk. In this new timeline however, Khan and Kirk haven't even met before. So during some of the crisis that is going on, Kirk and Khan are actually allies trying to solve a bigger problem. But of course, a reason for them to fight will come to fruition throughout the story.

So what did I think of this new Star Trek movie? Well, again, it's about how you're coming at it. The story is twisty and turny and even knowing it is linked to the Wrath of Khan storyline, you will be surprised with some of the change ups. Benedict Cumberbatch is always amazing and though he doesn't play Khan as the late Ricardo Montalbán played him, you still can't take your eyes off of him. If you haven't already, watch the BBC's Sherlock Holmes to see how amazing an actor he really is. The rest of the cast is great, and they expand a bit on the Kirk / Spock / McCoy relationship that began in the last one.

The lens flares be a'flaring, the visuals are amazing, the fast pace is like being on a roller coaster, and the whole movie is just fun. Yes there are some plot holes, yes there is a key solution to a problem that they over-explain, though the audience probably picked up on it way before, and ya, it's not The Godfather. Oh, and they never did explain how Khan Noonian Singh, an Indian, had somehow turned into a Brit (though Montalbán wasn't Indian either, so there you go). But if you are looking for a fun homage to a classic Star Trek movie, that follows the new direction of the last JJ Abrams Star Trek, then you are going to have a great time with this. It really is a fun ride.

If you use this, just call me: Long time listener, first time caller.

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On MONDAY, APRIL 29, 2013 at 10:01am EST from MISSISSAUGA, ON

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