It is important, for the purposes of this review, that you all realize (and I am admitting) that I am a long time Star Trek fan. That being said, I’ve decided to revisit Star Trek Into Darkness, a movie that many long time Star Trek fans find terrible.
In the history of the franchise, the movies (not including this one) in the order I consider are “worst to best” are Star Trek (2009), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: Nemesis, Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. I gave TMP the edge simply because I know it better, but it could just as easily replace TFF at the bottom. That doesn’t answer the question: where would I put Into Darkness?
First off, enough of the damn italics. It’s slowing me down.
Upon initial watching, I’d have placed Star Trek Into Darkness right after Insurrection. I really like Insurrection and the only thing that J.J. Abrams could really do to the Khan character is mess him up, so it was never going to measure up… but upon rewatching, let me move Into Darkness up IN FRONT OF First Contact. That makes Into Darkness the third best Star Trek movie made so far…
Let me explain.
The major reason that Khan Noonien Singh was such a great character to use in TWOK was because he had history with Kirk and crew, there was something to build on and there was something interesting to see develop. ID had no prior history because Kirk and crew never met Khan before. That took most of the wind out of the sails. If we watch ID without comparing the movie to TWOK, though, I think the story is solid.
The second J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie is filled with interesting visuals, exciting parts, but also falls prey to some of the same things he played loose and fast with in the first one: rapid up and down of rank for characters, putting the ship into a nearly unusable state but the near end of the movie, and they overuse locations (like, there are far too many). The story was still interesting. Khan is way more “superior” than Ricardo Montalban’s version. The story was still interesting. The backstory is a little on the flimsy side but still holds up. The visuals and excitement make up for most of the failings. The original Khan movie is still better.
If you haven’t rewatched this movie because you haven’t been completely satisfied, watch it again. Give the movie a shot without all the baggage. I guarantee you’ll find it better.