WARNING: Spoiler Alert!!!!! Star Trek: Into Darkness Spoiler
The Star Trek Franchise has certainly had its ups and downs. The most recent J.J. Abrams feature is, in my opinion, definitely an up. I will admit that I was skeptical of this follow-up to Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot (which was fantastic by the way). But my skepticism soon transformed into admiration. Here are what I think are the three reasons this movie was so great:
1. The Characters
No matter what your special effects budget is (and I’m sure it was huge for Into Darkness), your movie is probably going to suck unless the people watching the movie have an emotional connection to the characters. Whether it is that we empathize with them, we are charmed by them, or we absolutely hate them, the emotional connection to the people we see on the screen is what makes the movie part of you, and thus believable.
Fortunately for Abrams, the feat of getting us to connect with his characters had already been accomplished in 2009’s Star Trek. This time around, it was all about keeping up that connection. I think that we connected with the crew of the Starship Enterprise because they each went through something during the film that the general human population can relate to. Kirk had to learn humility. Spock needed to learn that breaking the rules is okay sometimes when your friends life is at stake. Both Zulu and Chekov had to learned how to rise to the occasion when put in charge. Both the conflict and the resolution of that conflict resonated with us.
2. The Story
While Into Darkness took a different approach than the episode from the first season of the original Star Trek TV series and the 1982 film The Wrath of Kahn, the story was still captivating and still injected the sinister maliciousness of this demented character and his insatiable thirst for revenge. In fact, the “different approach” aspect is pretty much a non-issue because of the way 2009’s Star Trek set up the plot for all future films as being part of an alternate timeline. When you think about it, Kahn’s interaction with the crew of the Enterprise could occur in pretty much any way.
That being said, the story was about the juxtaposition of revenge and forgiveness. Kahn was the embodiment of revenge. Kirk, while hell-bent on revenge for the death of Captain Pike at first, learned forgiveness. These two ideas have been done over and over in many stories. When done right, it is fodder for a relatable and enthralling story.
3. Benedict Cumberbatch
This is an actor. Before I saw the movie, everyone that I spoke with who had already seen it immediately referenced the “bad guy” when I asked them how they liked it. It is pretty unanimous that this was one of the best villan performances ever. Cumberbatch was cold, calculated, and then just purely evil. Nothing conveyed this more than the scene aboard Marcus’ warship where Kahn savagely murders Marcus right in front of Marcus’ daughter. It was chilling.
In conclusion, this film was a perfect blend of relatable characters, a timeless storyline, and a perfectly cast villan. Movies like Star Trek: Into Darkness will continue to keep the Star Trek Franchise in the spot light.