After far too long a wait for this trekkie, with blame going equally to laziness, busy-ness, and speeding bus-drivers that zoom by my stop about 5 minutes too early when I'm only about 100 feet away, I was finally able to go see Into Darkness yesterday. It was the first movie I've been able to see in a theater since The Hobbit back in January, so it was kind of a special treat, and it didn't disappoint.
Especially for an action/adventure flick, I thought the pacing was well-balanced, which I couldn't say for its immediate predecessor. Films like these often get too carried away in their break-neck speed then have boring little interludes mixed in as an attempt to even things out. It doesn't often work, but my attention was never diverted here by thoughts of "oh-my-god-this-is-too-much", nor did I want for a fast-forward button. It was kept tight, but not too tight.
My only real complaints about the film included the gratuitously alien planet in the beginning that was far too stylized to be believable and the reliance on "Spock Prime" near the climax. The former can be forgiven, but the latter is starting to get old. I love Nimoy, of course, and his appearance in the first film was thrilling and it worked. Here, though, I think it drew a bit too much attention to the fact that this was a rework of the original sequel, The Wrath of Khan. 2009's Trek, with its diversion into an alternate timeline, was a great way to both reboot and continue the series, but it's not much of a continuation if you start retelling the same stories over again. With all of the remakes flooding the film industry I, for one, am starved for original material, and while I did prefer this rework to the original Khan, it also left me hoping that they'll come up with something new for the next installment. Given the significant switch at the end of Darkness that upends the story arc that would otherwise have been the next two films, I'm optimistic.
Now to the point: I do have to admit that I squealed a little (just a little) when I heard that the formerly titular character would be played by my übercrush from BBC's Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch. The man is just so gorgeously British that he would melt any Anglophile. And I'm copying directly from the Into Darkness Wikipedia page here to drive that point home, but "Jonathan Romney of The Independent
specifically noted Cumberbatch's voice saying it was 'So sepulchrally
resonant that it could have been synthesised from the combined timbres
of Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Alan Rickman holding an elocution contest down a well'." Considering he just named three of my favorite British men, you might begin to understand my excitement. But the man just ran away with the show. We already know he can play the genius, but he was such an awesome villain that I found myself wanting him to win. I love a good villain, especially those you can sympathize with: those whose actions are understood to a point where you're forced to reflect on whether you would chose the same if in their position. Their motivation isn't some evil madness or blind revenge, but some very applicable situation. This shift from the original Khan was a stroke of genius, and Benedict's portrayal left me even more hopelessly than before his Cumberbitch.