I eagerly anticipated the return of Khan and his famous wrath. I was willing to give J.J. Abrams another chance. What did I get?
More of the same.
Not that it’s a bad thing. Unless you consider Abrams’ first effort an exciting sci-fi action spectacle wearing Star Trek’s skin, then, yeah, more of the same.
To be fair there is some Star Trek here. I enjoyed the trifecta of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Spock and McCoy are excellently acted, just shy of parody. This sequel is also grittier than classic Star Trek’s prevailing optimism would allow it to be.
Overall, my biggest grievance is that this very well could have been a sci-fi flick on its own merit without leaning on Star Trek to hold it up while the public ravenously consumes it. I say this because this departs just enough from the franchise that I catch myself thinking “Wow, this would make a good Star Trek flick” but then I realize that it already is. It may be slighter than a phase shift to some of us it’s more than enough for Devidians to thrive.
There are other quibbles (and a Tribble), such as hyper-advanced technology that allows minutes-long warp and trans-galactic transporters and Praxis’ premature explosion (remember Star Trek 6) and that little puppet alien thing that Scotty is married to. Among other things. Like Leonard Nimoy’s unnecessary cameo. I mean, come on…
And what of Khan? Of course the audience knew it was him despite the media’s futile attempts at obfuscation, but the character’s dramatic “big reveal” seemed to pander to the audience as it fell upon the deaf ears of the characters in the movie.
Bandicoot Cummerbund, I mean Benedict Cumberbatch expertly portrays a different Khan than we know, which is fine, and he is more nonchalantly menacing than Ricardo Montalban. However, I feel that his amazing character was not utilized well. There are some positive moments, like when Khan is (finally) unleashed. The rampage that ensues is truly wrathful, except that you have to slog through the rest of the film to get to it.
I appreciated the attempted complexity of plot, but Khan got lost in the fray and spent too much time lying in wait, not because of his serpentine calculativity, but because the plot is looser than a sorority girl.
And therein lies the crux of the issue. If you look at the best Star Trek films they had simple plots. Wrath of Khan was written in a weekend. This film tries to do too many things, unfortunately, and all at the expense of the components within that are pretty good. On paper, this film must have jumped off the page, but on the screen it falls flat.
It’s a shame really, but it’s good press will hopefully save the franchise from the obscurity it suffered after Nemesis. Even more hopefully, J.J. Abrams can apply his spectacular vision to Star Wars 7 and maybe we can get another director who can give more sci-fi and less lens flare.
So what can you expect from this sequel? More of the same, which is better than nothing. It’s just not better than Wrath of Khan.