Skip to content
Answering Your Questions About Reactor: Right here.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter. Everything in one handy email.

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: Star Trek Into Darkness


Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: Star Trek Into Darkness

Home / Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch / Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: Star Trek Into Darkness
Column Star Trek

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: Star Trek Into Darkness


Published on July 18, 2017


Star Trek Into Darkness
Written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Release date: May 16, 2013
Stardate: 2259.55

Captain’s log. On Nibiru, a planet with white-skinned natives and red plants, Kirk is running very fast, having pissed off the locals. Kirk is attacked by a giant animal and stuns it—except that was the mount McCoy had secured to get them out of there, and now it’s stunned. They keep running, having angered the natives deliberately to get them to chase him so that they won’t be harmed by the volcano that’s about to erupt.

While Kirk and McCoy run for their lives, Sulu pilots a shuttle over the volcano and Uhura puts Spock in an EVA suit. Spock is lowered on a cable into the volcano in order to detonate a device that will calm the volcano and save the locals. However, the shuttle has been damaged by the volcano, and Sulu has to abandon it and Spock, whose cable snaps, leaving him stuck in a literal hot mess.

Kirk and McCoy jump into the ocean, on the floor of which the Enterprise is inexplicably sitting. They go in an airlock—Sulu and Uhura had done likewise. They can’t beam Spock out thanks to the magnetic fields created by the volcano, but Chekov thinks they can do it if they have line of sight. Despite the risks mentioned by Spock, Scotty, and Sulu, Kirk goes for it, bringing the Enterprise out of the ocean and over the volcano. Spock is beamed safely aboard even though it means the natives have seen the Enterprise, which violates the Prime Directive.

Spock’s device does what’s intended and neutralizes the volcano, thus saving the Nibiru people.

In London on Earth, Thomas and Rima Harewood get up and go to the Royal Children’s Hospital to look in on their dying daughter. Outside, Thomas is approached by a man who claims he can save his daughter.

At Starfleet HQ, Kirk and Spock are summoned to meet with Pike. Kirk is hoping it’s to be assigned to the new program of deep-space exploration, but it turns out Pike wants to ream them for what happened on Nibiru. Especially since Kirk left some details out of his report, and Spock did not. Pike dismisses Spock and then rips Kirk a new one for filing a false report, for mistaking blind luck for skill, and for not following regulations. He says he doesn’t respect the chair and he’s not ready for it, which makes you wonder why Pike gave it to him in the first place.

Admiral Marcus has convened a tribunal—that Pike wasn’t invited to—and removed Kirk from command of the Enterprise.

In London, the man who approached Thomas puts his blood into a vial, which Thomas puts in his daughter’s IV. Her vitals return to normal almost instantly. (That sound you hear is a gun being put on a mantelpiece.) Thomas, who is a lieutenant in Starfleet, then goes to the Kelvin Memorial Archive and blows it up, with himself inside it.

Pike finds Kirk in a dive bar very similar to the one Pike found him in one movie ago, announcing that he’s getting the Enterprise back and Spock has been transferred to the Bradbury. Kirk will be Pike’s first officer. It took some convincing, but Pike talked the admiralty into it.

They’re interrupted by an emergency session. En route, Kirk bumps into Spock and chastises him for stabbing Kirk in the back after Kirk saved his life. Spock is mostly just confused.

Admiral Alexander Marcus leads the meeting. Thomas has claimed responsibility for the destruction of the archive (and the 42 resultant dead), and said he did it at the behest of Commander John Harrison, also in Starfleet, who has, according to Marcus, gone rogue. Per Starfleet protocol, all the senior captains and first officers of ships in the region are gathered in this room, which happens to be at the top of a very tall building. Kirk wonders if that was the point of the attack—and then a small shuttle shows up and shoots at the meeting, thus proving him right. Kirk seems to be the only one with the wherewithal to fight back for some reason, and he damages the shuttle enough that Harrison must beam away.

Pike is one of the casualties, and Spock mind-melds with him as he dies. Kirk and Spock are both devastated.

The next day, Scotty summons Kirk and Spock. He’s examined the wreckage, and discovers that Harrison had a portable transwarp beaming device that sent him to the Klingon homeworld. Kirk reports this to Marcus, who reveals that the Kelvin archive was actually a front for Section 31. Harrison was a 31 agent, and he’s gone rogue. Spock says he’s hiding in the uninhabited Ketha Province, so Marcus authorizes the Enterprise to go to the border, fire special torpedoes that 31 has developed that Klingon sensors can’t detect, and then haul ass home without crossing the border. He puts Kirk back in the center seat, and Kirk requests Spock to be reinstated as his first officer.

When they board the shuttle that will take them to the Enterprise, Spock objects to the mission. Firing a weapon at the Klingon homeworld is an act of war, and killing Harrison without a trial is against Federation law.

Their argument is interrupted by the arrival of Lieutenant Carol Wallace, a new science officer assigned by Marcus.

They arrive on the Enterprise to find Scotty pitching a fit, as he refuses to allow weapons on board that he can’t scan the inside of nor be informed of the contents, being told that it’s classified. Kirk orders him to sign off on them anyhow, and Scotty resigns rather than follow that order. Kirk goes to the bridge, finding out from Uhura that Spock isn’t just being annoying with Kirk, but is being annoying in general. Kirk also makes Chekov the new chief engineer.

Kirk addresses the entire ship, and while in the middle of informing the crew of their mission, he decides to disobey Marcus’s orders and announces that he will lead a mission to capture Harrison so he can stand trial for his crimes.

Spock also exposes Wallace as being Carol Marcus, the admiral’s daughter. (Wallace is her mother’s name.) There is no actual transfer order for her to be on board. She says that the admiral can’t know she’s here, but before they can continue, the Enterprise drops out of warp unexpectedly. Chekov reports something wrong with the warp core and he had to take it offline before they had a meltdown.

Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and two security guards use a trade ship they confiscated during an incident the previous month, and, wearing civilian clothes, they travel to Ketha. If they’re caught, they have nothing on them tying them to Starfleet.

Sulu contacts Harrison and tells him to surrender to the landing party or he’ll fire the torpedoes. Meanwhile, the trade ship is fired on by a Klingon patrol, which they are unable to evade for long. The Klingons order them to land and surrender. Kirk wants to fight, but Uhura convinces him to let her negotiate on their behalf.

Uhura goes out alone to speak to the Klingons saying there is a criminal hiding in these ruins and they’re here to take him. But before she can continue, Harrison shows up, armed to the teeth, and fires on the Klingons. He singlehandedly takes most of them out, then asks how many torpedoes there were in Sulu’s threatening messages. The answer of “72” seems very significant to him, and he immediately surrenders.

Kirk hits Harrison a few times, which Harrison barely seems fazed by, and then they take him back to the Enterprise. They put him in the brig, where Harrison guesses that the warp core has been damaged, leaving them stranded at the Klingon border. He supplies Kirk with coordinates, and says that what he’ll find there will explain why Harrison did what he did. He also urges Kirk to open one of the torpedoes.

It turns out that Carol came on board because her father wouldn’t tell her about the torpedoes—and they’re not on any official record, either. On Kirk’s order, Carol and McCoy beam down to a planetoid to open the torpedo safely, using McCoy’s steady surgeon’s hands to aid in the operation. They almost detonate the warhead, but they do get it open—and there’s a person inside in suspended animation.

Kirk asks Scotty—hanging out with Keenser in a bar in San Francisco—to check out the coordinates Harrison gave him, which are near Jupiter. There he finds a giant dock holding a giant ship, which is apparently called the U.S.S. Vengeance, based on the comms traffic he overhears.

McCoy reveals that the cryotube is ancient, and the person inside is three hundred years old. Kirk confronts Harrison, who reveals that that’s not his real name, but rather he’s Khan Singh. After the destruction of Vulcan, Marcus sent ships out to aggressively find anything in deep space they could, and one of the things they turned up was the Botany Bay. Khan was the only one revived, and Marcus used him to design weapons, threatening the lives of his 72 compatriots.

Khan managed to stash the other Augments in the very torpedoes he’d designed, but he was discovered. So he got Harewood to commit a terrorist act that would put Marcus where Khan could fire at him—only he missed (and killed Pike and others instead), so he ran away to Kronos, where Kirk found him. He’s grateful that the others are alive in the torpedoes, still.

Sulu reports a ship on approach: it’s the Vengeance, a Starfleet vessel that’s about twice times the size of the Enterprise. Marcus is in charge, and Kirk makes it clear that he knows more than Marcus is comfortable with. However, Marcus insists that Khan is dangerous and should be turned over to him, the other Augments killed.

Kirk agrees verbally, then has Sulu go to warp. However, the Vengeance is a bit more souped-up than Kirk realizes, and Marcus not only catches up, but fires on the Enterprise while both are at warp. They fall out of warp near Earth, and Carol urges Kirk to let her talk to him, as the only thing that will keep Marcus from destroying the ship is her being on it.

Unfortunately, Enterprise‘s shields are down, so Marcus can just beam his daughter off. He then explains that Kirk will be labelled a fugitive working in concert with “Harrison,” and Marcus was forced to execute him and his crew.

Kirk pleads for the life of his crew, offering to surrender himself and Khan as long as the rest of the crew is allowed to live. Marcus is impressed, but casually says he never intended to spare the crew.

But then Vengeance’s power goes down—Scotty snuck on board and has sabotaged it. However, the Enterprise has no weapons or propulsion, either. Their only chance is to board with a surgical team and retrieve Scotty and do more damage. Khan helped design the ship, so he knows it. Despite Spock’s caution against the notion, Kirk takes Khan along for a two-person insertion team.

Sulu aligns the ships and Kirk and Khan fly across in EVA suits. Scotty opens the hangar airlock, delayed slightly by a Vengeance crew member. However, the crew member is not secured, so Scotty opening the airlock blows him into space while Khan and Kirk are allowed ingress. (Scotty secured himself before he was caught by the guy.)

Khan leads them to the bridge. Meanwhile, Carol is brought to the bridge, where she slaps Marcus and says she’s ashamed to be his daughter. Just as power to Vengeance is restored, Kirk, Khan, and Scotty storm the bridge. On Kirk’s order, Scotty stuns Khan, and then Kirk places Marcus under arrest. Marcus sneers at him, saying the Federation needs him for the coming war. Kirk again asks him to get up from the chair so Kirk doesn’t have to stun his ass and drag him from it in front of his daughter.

Khan makes this all moot by regaining consciousness, slapping Scotty and Kirk around, breaking Carol’s leg, and crushing Marcus’s head. He then contacts the Enterprise and demands the return of his people or he will destroy Enterprise’s life-support, killing everyone on board, but leaving the torpedoes intact so he can still rescue his people.

However, Spock is smarter than the average bear. Having contacted Ambassador Spock and learned that Khan is nobody to be trifled with, Spock removed the Augment cryotubes from the torpedoes and armed them before beaming them over. Vengance is badly damaged when they detonate following transport.

Unfortunately, so is Enterprise. The power dies, and the ship starts to plummet into Earth’s atmosphere. Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov work to get the engines back online while Spock and Sulu try to minimize the damage as they fall. Kirk goes into the warp core itself to realign it, as it’s fallen out of whack, exposing himself to a crapton of radiation. He kicks it back into place, thus saving the ship.

Scotty calls Spock down to engineering to watch Kirk die. For no good reason except that someone else did it in a movie with a similar plot in a different timeline, Spock screams Khan’s name at a very loud volume after Kirk perishes.

Khan has Vengeance crash into San Francisco, causing obscene destruction. Khan himself survives the crash and tries to lose himself in the San Francisco crowd. However, Spock beams down and goes after him, chasing him through the streets. (Why he doesn’t alert the planet-bound authorities or other Starfleet ships to assist him is left as an exercise for the viewer.)

In sickbay, McCoy discovers that the dead tribble that he injected Khan’s blood into to test it is now alive again. (By the way, the tribble hasn’t moved from the place on the table where we saw it the first time, even though in the interim the ship tumbled into Earth’s atmosphere with the gravity out. Did McCoy nail it to the table, or what?)

McCoy puts Kirk in a cryotube to preserve his brain function, then tries to call Spock to tell him that they need Khan’s blood. (Why he doesn’t see if any of the other 72 genetically enhanced folk he’s got lying in his sickbay also have magic blood is also left as an exercise for the viewer.)

Spock can’t answer, however, because he and Khan are in a fistfight aboard a giant red thing that flies through the air and serves no obvious function except to serve as a cool-looking locale for an utterly pointless fistfight. So Uhura beams down to get Spock to not kill Khan, which she barely does, and then McCoy uses Khan’s blood to save Kirk. It’s a Christmas miracle!

All 73 Augments are put in stasis and hidden away, never to be seen again even though at least one of them has magic blood that can cure death. The Enterprise is repaired and sent out on a five-year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations and boldly go where no one has gone before. Cha cha cha.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently Khan has magic blood that can cure anything. So, of course, every Trek movie in this timeline will have people being injected with Khan’s blood every time they’re sick, right? Right?

Fascinating. Ambassador Spock tells Spock that he made a vow never to tell his counterpart anything about his life and travels, which he then breaks to tell him about Khan, saying he is the most dangerous foe the Enterprise ever faced. Meanwhile, Gary Mitchell, Nomad, Chang, V’ger, Kruge, Bele and Lokai, the space amoeba, the planet-killer, and the Tholians are standing in the corner saying, “Yo, some respect over here!”

I’m a doctor, not an escalator. McCoy’s attempt to get the torpedo open fails, and he tries to get Carol to beam out so they won’t both die. He also figures out that Khan has magic blood.

Ahead warp one, aye. Sulu goes all badass when he sends the message to Khan, and later flies the Enterprise even though it only has about the equivalent power output to that of a digital watch.

Hailing frequencies open. Uhura takes a stab at talking to the Klingons, but is interrupted by Khan mowing them down.

I cannot change the laws of physics! Scotty resigns in protest rather than compromise his or the Federation’s ideals. Kirk accepts the resignation and then does what Scotty (and Spock) asked anyhow. But it’s okay, because it makes him available to sneak onto the Vengeance. How fortunate for the plot!

It’s a Russian invention. Chekov takes over engineering after Scotty resigns, and the ship breaks under his watch. (Though it wasn’t actually his fault.) He seems very relieved to have Scotty back on board.

Go put on a red shirt. Two security guards accompany Kirk, Spock, and Uhura on the mission to Kronos, and are never seen or heard from again after the trade ship lands.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Spock and Uhura are having issues, mostly relating to Spock’s apparent death wish, but Spock explains—in a totally inappropriately timed conversation on an away mission—that mind-melding with Pike made him realize that he doesn’t want to die and he’ll stop doing that now.

Kirk wakes up in San Francisco after returning from Nibiru with two women (both with tails) in his bed. He also can’t help but stare at Carol changing clothes.

Also in the scene where Carol boards the shuttle reporting as a new science officer, Spock acts exactly like a jealous lover. It’s kind of hilarious.

Channel open.

“Had the mission gone according to plan, Admiral, the indigenous species would never have been aware of our interference.”

“That’s a technicality.”

“I am Vulcan, sir, we embrace technicality.”

“Are you giving me attitude, Spock?”

“I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously—to which are you referring?”

–Spock raising pedantry to a new level, and Pike calling him on it.

Welcome aboard. The big guest is, of course, Benedict Cumberbatch, taking over the role of Khan from Ricardo Montalban. We’ve also got Peter Weller as Marcus (Weller previously played Paxton in the Enterprise episodes “Demons” and “Terra Prime”), Alice Eve taking over the role of Carol from Bibi Besch, Noel Clarke (best known for his work on Doctor Who) and Nazneen Contractor (best known for her work on 24) play the Harewoods, Christopher Doohan makes a cameo as the transporter operator, a nice tribute to his late father James. According to Doohan, Simon Pegg was instrumental in getting that cameo to happen.

And back from the 2009 film are Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, John Cho, Pegg, Zoë Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, and Leonard Nimoy. As is Deep Roy as Keenser, whom I forgot to mention in last week’s review.

Trivial matters: One of the working titles for this movie was Star Trek Vengeance, though that was scotched due to the similarly timed release of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Hilariously, the last Trek movie to feature Khan was supposed to be called The Vengeance of Khan, but it was changed due to the similarly timed release of Revenge of the Jedi—which itself was later retitled to Return of the Jedi. Obviously, the fates don’t want “vengeance” to be part of a Star Trek movie title…

This movie establishes that the Botany Bay was found much sooner, and by Marcus rather than the Enterprise as it was in “Space Seed.”

Benicio del Toro was in talks to play Khan, but the sides couldn’t agree on money. When Benedict Cumberbatch and Alice Eve were cast, several actors and production staff gave misdirects in interviews, including Karl Urban saying that Cumberbatch would make a great Gary Mitchell.

The building tensions between the Federation and Klingons that Marcus discusses matches that seen in “Errand of Mercy.”

The U.S.S. Bradbury is named after the great science fiction author Ray Bradbury, who passed away the year prior to this movie’s release.

Section 31 was first established in the DS9 episode “Inquisition,” and Enterprise later established that the organization was up and running in the 22nd century.

The Daystrom Conference Room is named after Richard Daystrom, established in “The Ultimate Computer” as revolutionizing 23rd century computers with duotronics.

Christine Chapel is mentioned by Carol as one of Kirk’s previous conquests. Chapel was also mentioned as a nurse on the Enterprise in the prior film. Played by Majel Barrett in the mainline timeline, she’s never seen in this or the previous film.

Khan seeks refuge in the Ketha Province on Kronos, which was the birthplace of Martok on DS9, as established in “Once More Unto the Breach.”

The Klingon homeworld has a devastated moon in its orbit, apparently a tribute to the destruction of Praxis in The Undiscovered Country, though its destruction thirty years sooner raises all kinds of questions the movie doesn’t address (though it could be the reason why Ketha is uninhanbited…).

Uhura is fluent in Klingon, even though The Undiscovered Country showed us an older Uhura with no clue as to how to speak Klingon. I know which of the two I find more convincing for a communications officer in 23rd-century Starfleet, and it ain’t the 1991 film…

Alan Dean Foster also novelized this film, as he did the prior one. There was no comic book adaptation of this movie, though IDW did release three companion miniseries: Countdown to Darkness by Mike Johnson, David Messina, & Marina Castelvetro, which chronicled the “Mudd Incident” Sulu refers to in the film; Khan by Johnson, Messina, Castelvetro, Claudia Balboni, Luca Lamberti, & Giorgia Sposito, which details Khan’s life in this timeline; and Manifest Destiny by Johnson, Ryan Parrott, & Angel Hernandez, which bridges the gap between Into Darkness and Beyond.

To boldly go. “Shall we begin?” This is such a half-assed movie. Seriously, they half-assed everything in this film. They half-assed Khan, they half-assed Carol Marcus, they half-assed the Klingons, they half-assed Section 31, they half-assed the death-to-save-the-ship, they half-assed Spock’s arc, they half-assed Kirk’s demotion, they half-assed the Kirk-Spock friendship, and right at the beginning, they half-assed the Nibiru mission.

I reviewed this movie when it came out in 2013, and I stand by pretty much everything I said there, but I do have a few things to add after seeing it again for the first time in four years. One is that the plot even makes less sense than I remembered. Okay, Khan has Harewood blow up the sooper-seekrit Section 31 base so that they’ll have the big meeting of ship captains and first officers in the big and tall building with the massive windows on a high floor, thus enabling Khan to kill Marcus.

We’ll dance around the fact that this meeting is held in a big and tall building with massive windows on a high floor, thus making it the biggest security risk ever. There’s also the fact that Khan manages to do everything pretty much perfectly in this film except kill Marcus, who manages to escape the carnage. Oh yeah, and Kirk is the only person in a room full of starship admirals and captains and first officers who has the wherewithal to fight back. That totally makes sense.

Also, funny, isn’t it, how when the archive went kablooey in London there was a table full of ship captains around, but when the Enterprise is getting its ass kicked in Earth orbit at the film’s climax, there’s nobody around to give them a hand?

Moving on, Khan escapes to Kronos for no compellingly good reason. (You have a long-range transporter, why not go to a neutral planet? Or at the very least, a planet where attempting to stop you won’t actually play into the hands of the guy you’re seeking vengeance against, since Khan being in Klingon space squares perfectly with Marcus’s plan.) Marcus gives Kirk 72 shiny new torpedoes to use. Scotty resigns in protest over using torpedoes he can’t scan and isn’t told the contents of due to 100% legitimate safety concerns, but that’s not to illuminate character, it’s to get Scotty off the ship so he can go to Jupiter later. I know this because Kirk lets Scotty resign so he can keep the torpedoes then turns around and doesn’t use them the way Marcus intended anyhow.

By the way, if Khan’s so super-brilliant, why did he enact an escape that resulted in Marcus ordering a ship captain to kill him with his own people? Marcus supposedly didn’t know that the other 72 Augments were in the torpedoes, so what if Kirk had obeyed Marcus’s orders and fired on Kronos? Khan and his followers would all be very dead. Good plan, there, übermensch!

And we find out that Marcus is the head of this huge-ass conspiracy to put the Federation on a war footing and we have no idea how far this conspiracy reaches, what they’ve accomplished, or what happens to it after Khan turns Marcus’s head into scrambled eggs.

After the Enterprise loses power, it takes ten minutes of screen time for Kirk to kick the engine frammistat back into place and Spock to scream Khan’s name for no compellingly good reason, and only then does Khan do his kamikaze run into San Francisco, which begs the question—what the hell was he doing for all that time? Taking a cigarette break?

I haven’t even mentioned the Nibiru prologue where the Enterprise hides underwater. This makes no fucking sense on any conceivable level. If the idea is for the natives not to see the ship, one wonders how they responded when the giant fireball that would have resulted from the Enterprise‘s friction-filled entry into the atmosphere appeared in the sky and dove into the ocean. If the idea is for the natives not to see the ship, how did they plan to leave the planet? They have transporters and shuttles, so why not keep the big honkin’ ship in orbit where the natives can’t actually see it (Pike says they barely have the wheel, so probably no telescopes)?

Also, Spock goes on (and on and on) about how letting the locals see the ship is a violation of regulations, yet what Pike reams Spock and Kirk out for is the artificial calming of the volcano. Wouldn’t Spock have objected to that as well?

Perhaps realizing that it looked kind of stupid for them to promote Kirk to captain when he hadn’t even finished his tenure at the Academy, they tried to walk it back by having him lose his command after the Nibiru mission. Which would’ve made a great subplot for the movie, except it’s reversed in no time flat, as right after the demotion is when London goes boom and they have the incredibly un-secure high-level meeting and Pike dies and Kirk gets his ship back, so what was the point of that, exactly?

Spock’s arc is even more botched. We see on Nibiru that he’s perfectly okay with dying in the volcano, and we see him mind-meld with Pike when he dies. And then Uhura confronts him with it—in the trading ship, of all places, while they’re in the middle of a mission, but leaving that aside, she confronts him and he explains how the mind-meld brought him back to himself. And—er, well, that’s it. We’re only 48 minutes into a two-hour movie, and one of the promising character side plots is already done, weakly.

But hey, that puts it in good company. We get a lengthy speech from Marcus about the Klingon threat, and then nothing’s done with it aside from a doofy action sequence in Ketha that mostly serves to show what a badass Khan is. We get a lengthy speech from Pike about how Kirk is such a colossal fuckup that he’s being demoted, and then he gets the ship back anyhow, and then he spends the rest of the movie stumbling around like an idiot—even admitting to it at one point—to no good end.

The one change I would make to my four-year-old review is that I found the pacing to be much less brisk this time around. Maybe it’s because I watched it on my 23″ monitor rather than a big screen in a theatre, or maybe it was because I knew what was coming, so it drained the tension and suspense.

It’s interesting, both this movie and the James Bond film Spectre suffer from the same problem. We go through the film thinking the antagonist played by this superlative actor is a nasty-ass bad guy, and then they go and reveal that he’s really this iconic villain from the franchise’s past. Spectre did it with Blofeld, and we have it here with Khan, and it’s a mess in both cases. Aside from the nostalgia hit, the revelation that the head of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is named Ernst Blofeld and the revelation that “John Harrison” is really Khan adds nothing of consequence to the movie. (It does add the Leonard Nimoy cameo, but that’s not really of consequence, as the ambassador’s revelation doesn’t really change anything, since the crew wasn’t actually bursting with trust for Khan anyhow, what with him having been responsible for the deaths of around 50 people or so, including their former CO.) It’s a sign that the screenwriters are counting on nostalgia to do the work for them, not trusting the actors to handle the load on their own—which is spectacularly imbecilic when the actors in question are Christoph Waltz and Benedict Cumberbatch…

For all the complaints that Cumberbatch doesn’t look like an Indian sikh, it should be pointed out that Ricardo Montalbán doesn’t, either. They put him in brownface in 1967, remember, and his accent is no more Indian than Cumberbatch’s. And besides, when the actor’s as good as Cumberbatch, who gives a shit? I always point to this movie as an example of what a great actor Martin Freeman is, because Cumberbatch here acts everyone off the screen, and these aren’t scrubs he’s in this movie with. It’s to Freeman’s credit that he doesn’t let Cumberbatch outshine him on Sherlock the way he outshines everyone here.

And, again, we’re not talking no-talents here. These are some superlative actors, and as with last time, they make the movie watchable. John Cho and Simon Pegg stand out in particular here, as they do quite a bit with their small supporting roles. As with last time, the exception is one of the antagonists, as Peter Weller is simply dreadful, doing a third-rate Jack Nicholson. The moment when Khan kills him is a relief because we’re being spared his idiocy for the rest of the movie. Points also to Noel Clarke and Nazneen Contractor, who do an amazing job of conveying the Harewoods’ misery and heartbreak almost entirely with facial expressions and body language. (Only Clarke has dialogue, and it’s all of seven words.)

Although even they are there mostly in service of establishing the magic blood early on so it’s not completely out of nowhere, though I still want to know why Khan’s magic blood doesn’t revolutionize the entire galaxy’s medical procedures henceforth…

In the end, Into Darkness is like the 2009 film, only more so—decent visuals, great acting, script that’s dumber than a box of hair.

Warp factor rating: 2

Next week: Star Trek Beyond

Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s latest work of fiction is “Live and On the Scene” in Nights of the Living Dead, edited by Jonathan Maberry & the late George A. Romero, an anthology of stories set around the events of Romero’s seminal 1968 zombie film.

About the Author

Keith R.A. DeCandido


Keith R.A. DeCandido has been writing about popular culture for this site since 2011, primarily but not exclusively writing about Star Trek and screen adaptations of superhero comics. He is also the author of more than 60 novels, more than 100 short stories, and around 50 comic books, both in a variety of licensed universes from Alien to Zorro, as well as in worlds of his own creation. Read his blog, follow him on Facebook, The Site Formerly Known As Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and Blue Sky, and follow him on YouTube and Patreon.
Learn More About Keith
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments