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Star Trek: Into Darkness

I saw it. I liked it. Fun, with lots of appropriately whiz-bang fights and explosions and some great character moments as well. I'd say it was about on par with the first movie -- a fun sci-fi films, some good nods to classic Trek while remaining clearly rooted in the J.J. Abrams 'verse. Good acting. Let's not talk about the plot.

About the Benedict Cumberbatch thing...

I have two main thoughts.

1. I'm glad there was a story-telling relevant reason not to reveal his identity as Khan in advance (even though it leaked anyway -- I had it confirmed for me a couple of weeks ago, and T overheard people talking about it while we were waiting to be let in. Come on, people. Don't talk about movie spoilers while waiting in line for that movie), because I'd been assuming it was purely to avoid controversy about the whitewashing. Probably that was a motivation, but it was also a twist within the story (if a fairly obvious one to anyone familiar with The Wrath of Khan). So that bothers me less than it would have.

2. Cumberbatch did a very good job in the role and I understand why they cast him in it. He's a master at the cold superiority thing, as well as the flashes into anger. But it still irritates me that they didn't give the role an Indian actor, or even a Latino one. Surely there are dozens who would have fit the bill, and even been recognizable faces to an America/European audience. No, none of them are quite the "It Boy" that Cumberbatch is, but if any film could have taken a chance on a lesser-known actor, it's a monster franchise like this one.

The main cast is really settling nicely into their roles. There's a third one planned, right? I was glad to see Uhura get a little more to do this time, although it could have been even more. I'm sure people will disagree with me on this one, but I also really liked the role reversal with Kirk and Spock and the warp core -- up until the moment that Spock threw his head back and yelled "Khaaaaaaaan!" It made me laugh, and I don't think it was supposed to.

There's one way in which I prefer Abrams movies to classic Trek: that Starfleet and the Federation are not always the squeaky clean role models. I always felt like Roddenberry's vision of Earth and the Federation as the perfect place where all of society's problems have been solved was a little bit naive, and it could even get boring. The franchise started moving away from that narrative (and brilliantly so) with Deep Space Nine, but in the Abrams-verse the shift is complete. I liked that a Federation admiral was one of the bad guys, and that Kirk had to make an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" judgement call in terms of working with Khan. (I also enjoyed how Spock pointed out one of the flaws in that particular argument.) I prefer my moral narratives to have more shades of gray, and reboot Trek has those in spades.

So, in conclusion: fun, just don't think too hard about the plot holes. I would watch it again. Two thumbs tentatively up.

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