We need to talk about how bad ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ *really* was
Star Trek Into Darkness was the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek revamp, a smash hit directed by J.J. Abrams and featuring a star-studded cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and the late Anton Yelchin.
Today, with Chris Pine ready to make his return as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman 1984, directed by Patty Jenkins and set to be released in theatres & HBO Max on Christmas Day, we got to thinking about the series that really kicked off Pine’s career, Star Trek, and immediately began to regret doing so thanks to the franchise’s second installment, Star Trek Into Darkness.
Star Trek Into Darkness
The film was released in May 2013, with Abrams once again returning to the helm with his original cast as well as some new additions, including Robocop himself, Peter Weller, Alice Eve, and English “ace” Benedict Cumberbatch. We’ll get to him later . . .
Abrams once again brought together his perfectly cast crew aboard the Enterprise, where their group chemistry felt as organic & fun as it did in the first Star Trek film.
Star Trek Into Darkness actually holds an 84% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, along with an audience rating of 89%, leaving us to believe that most of the general public enjoys this science-fiction sequel.
So why didn’t we like Star Trek Into Darkness?
Look, we understand these Abrams films are supposed to serve as a loose prequel series to the original Star Trek show & movies we all grew up loving. However, what made the first one so great was its execution of an original story that searched for unfamiliar adventures for both the Enterprise crew and Star Trek audiences.
The sequel, sadly, took what might’ve been an interesting at best concept on paper and snowballed it into a storyline so large that it not only tried to align with 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but it completely plowed through it, damn near ruining BOTH films. . .
Oh, yeah, that reminds us . . .
While English actress Alice Eve was utterly wasted in the film, used primarily as a warm body prop in a character that was obviously nothing more than a sex marketing tool y’all know the scene, there was one casting that left us all a bit confused.
OK, we’ll stop doing that.
Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch, an English actor who’s actually very talented, was brought in to play the “mysterious villain” that’s still to this day possibly the worst kept secret in Hollywood history. We all knew who he was playing.
Must . . . resist.
Khan, who was originally played by Mexican-American actor Ricardo Montalbán in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, is a genetically superpowered human who will stop at nothing to save his dying race, even if it means by sacrificing others.
Cumberbatch, who played the character very stone-walled, like a slippery piece of bologna slowly sliding down a glass window, wasn’t the Khan we knew from the 1982 film. We understand there’s always a need to freshen things up, but when you keep the integrity of the original Enterprise crew in your updated cast’s performances but completely change a beloved villain in all aspects, it sort of feels like a betrayal, right?
Other Star Trek Into Darkness nitpicks
The sequel, given its nearly $200 million budget, had aspirations of topping the first one in nearly every way, a problem most sequels run into. While the first film sacrificed much logic for the sake of fun & entertainment that worked for the story, Into Darkness sacrificed most of its logic for, well, illogic.
How did Mr. Spock not calculate for this mess?
The overall story doesn’t seem to take any actual risks, either, playing the safe card of “lead officer goes rogue” with Weller’s character, while Cumberbatch’s Khan really is there just to make things a hair difficult for Capt. Kirk & the crew.
It’s a predictable, underwhelming follow-up to what was a great retooling of the Star Trek franchise, which gave fans all the familiar flavors of Star Trek while adding a kiss of spice.
Let’s just move on and greenlight Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek pitch that will no doubt see James T. Kirk wield a samurai-space sword while Lieutenant Uhura shows her feet.