The Star Trek series of films has become known for having an even-odd rule. If it’s an even-numbered entry, it’s a good one. If not, then no such luck. Into Darkness is the 12th in the franchise. According to my calculator, 12 is divisible by 2 with no remainder, which would mean that it’s an even number.
Except this one is no good.
I really cannot address why this film is terrible without spoiling things. So if for some reason you don’t want to be spoiled, well, you see that single ticket icon at the top of the page, right? That’s all you need to know. The movie sucks, stay away, thanks for reading, see you next time.
Alright, now for those of you still here, this is the big faux pas that pretty much unravels it all: “John Harrison”(Benedict Cumberbatch) is Khan. As in Khan Noonien Singh, as in not a white guy. Oh yes, I’m about to go there again.
Even though Ricardo Montalban – the actor for whom this is arguably his best-known role next to Fantasy Island – was not Indian, the choice for him in casting made it clear that this character is a brown man. The casting of Cumberbatch in this iconic role is flat-out horrifying. This franchise has had social progress and diversity as a central part of its very foundation. The original show made history with the first interracial kiss on television, in case you didn’t know.
I’ll link out to a great piece if you want to hear some more on this (http://www.racebending.com/v4/featured/star-trek-whiteness/), but suffice it to say Gene Roddenberry has to be rolling in his capsule.
It’s worth noting here that this character was the adversary faced in the franchise’s second film The Wrath of Khan (1982) (and appeared in the Original Series‘ episode, “Space Seed”), which is regarded as the best of the series (at least for the original crew; how it stacks up with First Contact is a discussion for another time). So anything even attempting this territory is not going to come out well by comparison. And unfortunately, the similarities don’t end there.
They didn’t just rip the bad guy from The Wrath of Khan, but the whole final act. Seriously. It all plays out virtually the same, save for one alteration that feels like a mere gimmick to change it up a little, especially when whatever emotional impact it could have had is undone. Not to mention the signature moments (that “Khan!” yell is back, big shocker there) being pathetically retreaded in what can only be a very poor idea of fan service.
As for what preceded to setup this redundancy, nothing special. It mainly concerns a corrupt Starfleet Admiral (Peter Weller) playing both sides to set into motion a war which he thinks was bound to happen anyway. Yawn. By the way, what is up with the Admiral speaking with an American accent, but his daughter Carol (Alice Eve) speaking with a British one? No wonder they fouled up the rest if they couldn’t even catch that.
I don’t know what possessed the filmmakers to try to redo one of the franchise’s shining moments so shamelessly. But be it severe laziness, severe arrogance, or severe stupidity, they failed. It’s alarming that the director is the guy being trusted with the next Star Wars. Is Episode VII just going to be a dumb repeat of The Empire Strikes Back? Is a white guy going to play Lando Calrissian?
Back to the numbers rule, we can only hope that that has reversed and the inevitable number 13 will prove to be lucky and we’ll get a film that shows respect for and understanding of Roddenberry’s vision. Choosing not to blatantly rip off a much better movie helps too.