Star Trek Into Darkness opens with a lot of vibrating cameras and panicked yelling, which is more or less what I expected. Kirk and this other guy are being chased by a bunch of aliens who look like they are from some backwater Star Wars galaxy and are swathed in weird yellow diaper costumes. At one point I caught one of them picking a wedgie. Way to break the fourth wall, diapered alien extra!
The team is on some kind of mission to destroy a volcano on this random planet by freezing it, so Spock jumps out of their spacecraft into the volcano—but the line he’s dangling from snaps, which leaves him floating around on a rock in the middle of lava. But because he’s Spock, he’s all, “I don’t have feelings, so it’s cool if I just die here, whatever.”
His hot girlfriend, Uhura, is aboard the ship they took for the mission and she is NOT cool with that. You’d kind of think that at this point she’d be used to the way he is? You can’t change him, girl. Stop trying. You either come to terms with his emotionless attitude, or you move on. (Still, I get it: Zachary Quinto, in a world where he’s straight. I’d hang on to something like that with both hands, too.)
Ultimately, Spock falls off the lava rock and dies. Just kidding! He freezes the volcano and they rescue him, natch. But still, he’s all, “The prime directive is that the aliens in the yellow diapers not SEE us, and they did. We failed. You should have let me die so that we wouldn’t have broken that rule.” And of course his girlfriend is all “…”
I can imagine them having endless fights because he’s always saying stuff like, “Yes, your posterior does appear large in that uniform. Why did you react to my factual observation in a hostile manner?” Ugh. NOT WORTH IT, Uhura.
Anyway. The year is 2225 or something. There’s some drama around Kirk and how he just kind of does what he wants and doesn’t listen to anyone, so he gets demoted from captain and he’s at the bar drinking his sadness away, but I couldn’t really pay attention because it was hard for me to concentrate on anything besides WHY Chris Pine’s face is so weird looking. He’s puffy around the lips, but not in an attractive way; in kind of a mumps-y way. He’s objectively handsome, and the movie treats him like this womanizing lothario, but I can’t buy it.
There was also a tiny but important subplot in which this random office-worker’s daughter is dying in the hospital, and he accepts a miracle potion from a total stranger (Benedict Cumberbatch, more on him later) that cures her. But then the guy goes to his day job and blows up the whole building (by accident? On purpose? Not sure), and everyone is understandably freaked out.
So, the Star Congress meets, and they’re sitting around this big meeting table and Kirk is there because he got demoted but he still gets to sit in on the important stuff, and they’re trying to figure out what to do, and then Benedict Cumberbatch flies over in a ship and starts blowing them all up through the window.
Kirk’s boss dies in the crossfire, and Spock watches it happen and grabs his face while he’s dying so he can tell what he’s feeling, which seemed not super appropriate or kind, but again, the guy is half-Vulcan, so I get that he’s not great in social situations.
Everyone is really upset that Kirk’s boss is dead, so they tell Kirk and Spock to go hunt down the guy who did it. Apparently it’s this rogue good-guy-turned-bad named John Q. Alias or something else clearly fake. Except John Q. has gone into hiding on a Klingon planet, and it’s apparently really dangerous to go after him, because Klingon-Everyone Else relations are at an all-time low. It sounds like the guy’s hiding out in the space equivalent of North Korea, although I don’t think anyone smart would do ever that, in any century.
Also, for this mission to kill ONE guy, they’ve been equipped with over SEVENTY missiles. That seems like overkill, unless they just have really bad aim? (Also, the missiles all have random frozen people inside them, which I assume is not protocol. More on that later, too.)
Before they leave on the mission to Klingon Planet, this hot blonde woman pops up and is all, “I’m a total stranger but I know about engineering, can I come too?” And of course Kirk is all, “My boner says yes. Welcome aboard.” Good to see that 250 years from now women are welcome in Starfleet for all the right reasons (and are still required to wear sexy little mini-dress uniforms that don’t even have pockets). Spock totally gives the blonde, whose name is Dr. Marcus, the side-eye, which is also what I did. Later she pointlessly changes her clothes in front of Kirk so we can see she’s wearing a matching bra and panties. This is important to the plot, NOT.
They go to Klingon Planet and find John Q. Incognito really easily, but they’re intercepted by some badass Klingons right away and even though Uhura tries some weak diplomacy, the Klingons are not having it. It looks like they’re all toast when shots are fired out of nowhere and of course John has come to their rescue. Plot twist! Except everyone saw it coming, probably even the Klingons.
Let me take a moment for me to try to explain the phenomenon of Benedict Cumberbatch, who looks like one of the Beatles mated with an animatronic Lincoln puppet and yet manages to be insanely attractive. Maybe it’s his voice? He has a really deep voice. Also he’s tall and British: that helps. Anyway John surrenders to them, but you know he’s doing that for evil super villain reasons, because when Kirk tries to beat him up, he just stands there and takes like nine right hooks to the jaw without even blinking. HAWT. Why was that so hot? I don’t know. Stop asking me, I’m clearly biased here. All I can say about Benedict Cumberbatch is that for some reason I want to slap him around too, and then climb all over him. Call me, Ben.
Moving on. They bring him back to the main ship and stick him in this plastic jail cell like he’s Magneto. He’s bringing the mind games but of course only Spock sees right through him. And we find out that his name isn’t John Q. Somedude, it’s actually Khan. So Khan is all, “The missile-sicles are friends of mine! We were just minding our business when the gov’ment froze all our asses except I escaped! Something-something, other things I’m angry about, I’m pale and shouty!”
Khan deigns to give them some of his blood, so they discover from it that he has magical unicorn properties and that’s why you can punch him all to hell and nothing happens. Their science guy injects some of his blood into a dead Tribble that just happened to be lying around, because that’s how you do science! There is also absolutely no foreshadowing in his doing that at all. Just get that thought out of your head.
Then Kirk teams up with Khan in an unlikely arrangement that you just know is going to work out well for everyone involved and they sneak back on the Enterprise by flying through space and entering it through a teeny weeny little portal. I found this strangely suggestive. Once on board, they skulk around trying to find the captain, who we now know is evil, since he was the guy who sent Kirk to kill Khan by essentially bombing him using his own friends, so clearly he’s got an agenda. Khan and Kirk have a kind of an uneasy truce going on. I wanted there to be sexual tension there, but there really wasn’t. Sorry, me.
Oh, and Dr. Marcus, who is literally the only female character in this entire universe who apparently matters besides Uhura, is also the now-evil captain’s daughter. Small world.
Wackiness ensues, and by wackiness I mean everyone shoots at everyone else and the ship is all “I’m losing power from everywhere and all my lights are blinking and I’m making alarm noises!” Khan eventually crushes the evil captain’s skull like a melon right in front of his daughter, who totally watches. I’m not saying it was wrong of her to watch, but she probably regretted that decision. Khan also viciously breaks her knee for basically no reason except to demonstrate that he is Callous and Brutal, since she’s so harmless that it was like kicking a puppy.
All the good guys beam back to their ship, which is also losing power from everywhere, because it’s super badly damaged and basically about to become a giant paperweight. In order to fix it, Kirk has to climb into this radioactive chamber in the ship’s core and like, kick this battery part back into place like the Enterprise is a used car or a TV with bad reception. He fixes the ship and all the lights come back on and he’s a hero. Then he gets radiation poisoning and dies. For real!
Spock watches him die (does Spock watch everyone die?!), and I’m pretty sure he cries, just proving the truth of the old adage, Bros before Hos. Don’t hate, Uhura. You just wouldn’t understand.
Spock is super pissed, and this time instead of being all, “Be careful! We never spend any time together! Why do you not have feelings!?” Uhura sends him after Khan, like, “GO GET ‘EM!”
Then Khan crashes the huge Mothership into Downtown Earth, presumably killing thousands of innocent pedestrians and the ship’s entire crew. He pretty much shreds up like two dozen office buildings, but you never really hear anything more about it. I guess everybody is just like “NBD that’s what happens sometimes when you build ginormous spacecrafts.”
They don’t think anyone on the ship could have survived that sort of impact, but of course Khan comes storming out of the wreckage looking ready to crush some more heads because he thinks that all his friendsicles were destroyed, when really they’re all fine, but no one tells him that. I would have told him! Maybe then he would have calmed down!
He and Spock get into fisticuffs on top of some sort of space vehicle as it’s flying around. Uhura is there too, and she’s cheering Spock on because he’s just beating the crap out of Khan and Vulcan Neck Pinching him and whatnot, and somehow it’s actually hurting him. And Uhura is afraid Spock is going to kill him, because she’s like, “No wait! He’s our only hope to save Kirk!” Because that Tribble you forgot about? It was dead, but being injected with Khan’s blood brought it back to life again. So they need more of Khan’s blood to save Kirk, because apparently Kirk is just 2 genes away from a Tribble. I would actually believe that.
So, a movie that started with an enemy pursuit through the woods, arced through some really huge and badass spacecraft chases and crashes, ended with two dudes punching each other while the girlfriend of one of them watched. I found this weird, but what do I know?
Oh, and after Spock beat him up, they froze Benedict Cumberbatch and stuck him and his friends in cold storage somewhere, which was also anticlimactic. They didn’t put him on trial for killing thousands and causing billions in property damage, just took some more of his blood and then put his ass on ice. Hey, government storage guys, if that frozen Khan is taking up too much room in your warehouse, just let me know and I’ll take it off your hands. I’ve got a huge chest freezer in the garage that I barely use. I’ll take good care of him, I promise.
So at the end of the movie apparently they rebuilt both the two-thirds of the city that got destroyed by Khan AND they fixed the busted-ass Enterprise. I think the most unbelievable part of this whole movie was the concept of our actually funding space exploration, not to mention fixing a spacecraft up after it was so badly damaged. In real life they’d be all, “Welp that’s the end of that space program forever, sorry everyone!” and turn the defunct ship into a museum or a restaurant or something.
I give this movie a B-.
I’ve written another article for the lovely Transcription company Verbal Ink. You can find it here.