An old villain returns and several others are name-checked in this second outing for the refreshed crew of the starship Enterprise.
Though it was a closely guarded secret before the film’s release, the back of the Blu-ray case gives away surprise, so I won’t bother with spoiler warnings: Benedict Cumberbatch is Khan Noonien Singh. In his original incarnation, Khan was revived from a 300 year cryogenic sleep by the crew of the Enterprise itself. A genetically engineered ‘superman,’ in the 1990s, Khan was a ruthless warlord, not unlike his namesake Genghis. After conquering a quarter of the Earth, he was deposed and run off the planet by rebellious inferiors.
This time around, he is revived by Starfleet admiral Alexander Marcus, who conscripts the cunning anachronism to design weaponry for the Federation. This is a secret mission spearheaded by Marcus himself, who believes that a war with the Klingons is inevitable, and that the peacenik Starfleet is wholly unprepared for such an event.
Which begs the question; what the hell does a man who was frozen for three hundred years know about building high-tech weapons? I mean, if you took the smartest person in the world from the year 1713, they’d be next to useless when it comes to programming a computer. And is there really no one of similar disposition today? Even Marcus himself?
Is Marcus the true villain of the film? He at least professes to have noble goals; but he takes some incredibly drastic measures to reach them. It’s odd that he’s so concerned with being found out; when his giant Jupiter base would seem to suggest that his plans aren’t much of a secret to begin with. At worst, he’s guilty of misappropriation of funds (though again, given the scale of his operation, it’s hard to believe that no one else knew about it).
And then we have Khan, whose goals are also noble, in a way. He only wants to safeguard his still-frozen crew. To what end, we don’t know. Does he want to take off into space to live in peace, or take another shot at conquering the world? Either way, he’s single minded in the pursuit of his goal, and is willing to kill anyone who stands in the way.
The Spock in these two latest Star Trek films is not the Spock of old. He’s not a horrible violation of established mythology (Spock is half human, so his relationship with a human isn’t non-canonical; nor are his fleeting displays of emotion); but this Spock definitely resides closer to the human side of bi-species genetic makeup.
Is this a good or bad thing? I don’t know. I suppose Spock is a more dynamic character; but he’s also less defined. His logic is less an alien (and in some ways superior) way of thinking, and more a social disorder that needs to be overcome. He’s basically Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.
Anyway, as with the first film in this new-age Star Trek series, it’s a great action movie with awesome visuals and an exciting pace. But at times it feels more like a movie wearing a Star Trek costume, than a Star Trek movie proper.