The entire franchise is now in 'Darkness'1/10
Since it has now become (dilithium) crystal clear that J.J. Abrams and his team of writers have COMPLETELY dismantled the entire Trek universe we once knew -- the one that was built so meticulously by Gene Roddenberry (and later, Harve Bennett and Nick Meyer too) -- we must now embrace a Trek product that will likely insult and disgust most purists, plus any ticket buyer who wants something more than a movie enjoyed by ADHD attention spans.
This "Into Darkness" film continues where the 2009 effort left off, and with much the same approach, but the decibel level is harder on the eardrums this time: more explosions, more stunts, more fisty-cuffs, more chases (both in space and Terra Firma), more phaser shots and more temper tantrums from Kirk and Spock both.
I could rhetorically say something like, "WTF? Why is this STAR TREK? WHY!?!?!?" and then launch into a heated Trek-purist diatribe attacking the intellectually-challenged, comic book-level screenplay penned by Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof. But instead, let us try to examine the movie as a space-bound rip-off of the "Die Hard" franchise, which obviously are the terms on which the film hopes to succeed.
The film's plot presents a saturnine, black-overcoated menace named John Harrison (played woodenly by Benedict Cumberpatch), who starts blowing up buildings in London, then shooting at a roomful of Starfleet's top brass during a staff meeting. He then escapes to the Klingon homeworld to hide out, and will presumably resume his mysterious rampage against the Federation later.
But not if James T. Kirk can help it. Even if it means starting a war with the Klingons, our risk-taking Captain gets the green light from Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) to warp the Enterprise over to Kronos, armed with some secret missiles and an undercover mission imperative. As Kirk tells his crew over the intercom, "Let's go get the son of a bitch."
Such a standardized, by-the-numbers action yarn has succeeded in efforts produced by the Jerry Bruckheimer stable, for example, or even the second "Aliens" movie. But here, the film feels so overstuffed with chases, phaser beams and mortal combat, it's much like the second Indiana Jones movie from 1984; after a while, we become numb to the "excitement" and viewing this movie is like riding a roller coaster that simply won't stop, even long after the rider has had enough "thrills."
****SPOILERS START HERE ------ Further ruining the film is the decision by Orci and Kurtzman to "unmask" John Harrison as Khan, the genetically-engineered super-baddie from the original Trek that the late, great Ricardo Montalban elevated to legendary Trek status. By forcibly shoving Khan into the "Into Darkness" storyline, the writers seemed almost desperate to include a familiar face as a crowd pleaser, but I found this "unmasking" about as convincing as a cheesy moment in a daytime soap opera, and it is essentially where I gave up on the film (about when the third act began).
From there, the movie worsened (for me) because soon after, we are then supposed to shed tears for our gallant Captain Kirk sacrificing himself in the Enterprise's warp core chamber to save his ship and crew. Orci and Kurtzman try to duplicate the same touching moment from the "The Wrath of Khan" (when Spock dies) by practically duplicating some of the dialogue from that 1982 film. They are reminding us that they know their Star Trek, but I found this moment to be gimmicky and as such, it registered a complete emotional zero.
Spock himself, as written by Orci and Kurtzman, also seems little more than a gimmick in these films now, especially at the film's climax, which uses our ever-logical Vulcan as a John Rambo wannabe, as he mercilessly pounds his fists into Khan's face, all in the name of revenge for the loss of his pal Jim Kirk. Much of the movie portrays Spock in the same simplistic manner, and his point-counterpoint interaction with the all-more human Kirk has none of the old magic that Shatner and Nimoy once provided so effortlessly.
As I said earlier, forget the fact that this movie is a horrifying abomination for Star Trek purists. Instead, just consider the fact that we have a new franchise, one where you check your brain at the door, don't concern yourself with characterization, and just ignore the words, "
to boldly go where no one has gone before." (those words were spoken by Chris Pine at the fadeout, and hearing them after watching THIS film was a moment of bitter irony for me, I might add)
I wish J.J. Abrams would stick to the new "Star Wars" films and leave it at that.