The following review has spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness. Only read on if you don’t mind being spoiled or have already seen the film.
Remember how I said that I really really wanted some more Kirk and Spock interaction in Into Darkness? Well I got it, but ouch! Way to punch me right in the heart! But no, seriously, thank you thank you thank you. My friend (a fellow fangirl, Cumberbitch, and Trekkie) and I were clinging onto one another at various points because we were just so overcome with emotion. We were literally sobbing… it was great!
To put things into perspective, yes, I ship Kirk/Spock, but she does not and yet we were both crying during that scene. You know the one I’m talking about. The one with the fingers on the glass and the “Khaaaaaaaan” and the sobbing. Yeah, that one. The powerful bond that these two characters have for one another is overwhelming whether you view it as platonically or romantically. The scene is based on the one in The Wrath of Khan, but the roles are reversed and the circumstances are a little different. But regardless of the changes, it still packs an incredibly powerful emotional punch just as the original scene did. When I glimpsed a piece of this scene in the International trailer I knew it was going to be emotional, but it surpassed even my expectations.
Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of the typically stoic Vulcan being reduced to tears opposite of Chris Pine’s glimpse at the scared and vulnerable side of the hotshot Captain made the scene absolutely pitch perfect. I have a feeling that when I get the DVD I’ll be rewinding that scene over and over and over again just to pick up on their subtle nuances in their performances. There were just so many emotions in such a fast paced scene that I know I didn’t have time to fully absorb them. These two actors have an amazing chemistry together and that type of chemistry is necessary to pull such a powerful scene off such as they did. They are good friends off screen, too, which is probably a huge contributing factor for how well they play off each other. To put it simply, these boys hit it out of the park.
Moving beyond my love of Kirk and Spock (as difficult as that may be), I was also very pleased with Uhura’s role in the film. I know that Kirk/Spock shippers get a bad rap for hating Uhura, but I love her like crazy and I’m glad that they gave her more screen time. The Original Series was very much a men’s club with Uhura mainly confined to the bridge, but when she was given a chance to shine Nichelle Nichols made it count (bless her). The writers of Into Darkness seemed to realize how important it is to have a woman as an active member of an away crew and put Uhura right beside Kirk and Spock several times throughout the film. But they didn’t just cram her in there unnecessarily. She had a purpose. She’s the Communications Officer and can speak Klingon and John Harrison (more on him later) just happens to have skipped off to Kronos. Her role wasn’t forced. She fit into the story perfectly.
And then we have John Harrison, the most conflicting part of the movie for me. I’m a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, a Cumberbitch) and I was very impressed by seeing him play someone who is so thoroughly evil. He always blows me away with his acting ability, but I’ve never seen him in a role like this before. There are moments on Sherlock where he can be downright terrifying (the look on his face as he pushes on the Taxi drivers wound with his foot, for example), but Sherlock isn’t really bad. He can be a jerk sometimes, but Sherlock is the good guy and that’s that. So to see him swing in the opposite direction was quite a treat and I think he did it brilliantly.
Also his hair was great. And his voice was, as always, perfect. Yay Cumberbatch!
But, well… he was playing Khan. For months people have been speculating about the identity of his character. Some very much wanted it to be Khan, who is pretty much the most well-known villain from TOS, while others were worried that this was going to be another case of Hollywood whitewashing minority characters. I mean his name is Khan Noonien Singh. He’s Indian. Come on guys. When they leaked the name “John Harrison” people relaxed a little bit and thought we were in the clear. Maybe John Harrison is someone completely different. Maybe it’s based off Khan, but not actually Khan. Unfortunately it turns out we were right. Dammit. We were so close to having this be perfect.
All in all, I very much enjoyed the film and I will definitely be watching it again. Repeatedly. And rewinding my favorite scenes and picking them apart with much glee. There were throw backs to TOS that I’m sure I’ll appreciate more as I make my way through the series (almost there!). The references I did understand definitely made me smile. Hell, even a tribble showed up. It was wonderful. Sure sucks about that Khan thing, though. That and the random gratuitous panty shot with no real purpose are the only reasons this film isn’t getting five stars.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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