While Star Trek: Into Darkness is a loose remake of Wrath of Khan, it was never supposed to capture the original’s essence; because it couldn’t.
I was watching a video recently on the failings of Star Trek: Beyond and how that affected the Star Trek film franchise. In that video, it touched on how Star Trek: Into Darkness and Beyond borrowed from the original series movies and how in doing so, how replicating those key moments had less impact in the modern film compared to the original. The video theorized that the Original Series actors had 20 years with those roles and a great emotional resonance with fans, so some scenes hit more. For instance, the Enterprise being destroyed in Search for Spock felt more important in the movie because it was earned over three seasons and two and a half movies.
Unlike Beyond, when it destroyed the Enterprise in the first act. A random and half-hazard move.
This takes us Wrath of Khan, which saw the titular Khan returning to the franchise to take revenge on James Kirk. The original worked so well because it was filled with things fan knew. A familiar crew, with an enemy from the past, causing issues and death to characters fans love. Characters that fans have known for two decades at this point. The end of the movie saw the death of Spock, which was a big deal at the time, and because of that, it was effective to garner an emotional reaction and hook the audiences. Killing off a beloved childhood character to sell a movie? Nostalgia sold even in the ’80s.
There was a connection there that the newer J.J. Abram led films just couldn’t duplicate. So they didn’t try to. They took out the emotional resonance for a reason. These were familiar character but they weren’t emotionally tied to a fanbase at this point. They tried to make the film and make it their own thing. Less a remake and more an homage.
It’s not a great “Star Trek film” but it’s still an enjoyable film at its core. While we all want more traditional Trek, you have to respect that Into Darkness couldn’t duplicate the emotional resonance that Wrath of Khan or Search for Spock produced, so instead of trying they just tried to tell a decent story.
They made it more flashy and sexier (in more than one literal way) than it’s predecessor and used glitz and glam to draw fans instead of nostalgia, which the Wrath of Khan was fueled by. Maybe in twenty years, we’ll look at Into Darkness like some look at Wrath of Khan. If not, that’s ok, it’s certainly an enjoyable enough movie for me to sink my teeth into.
Plus RoboCop was an admiral. It’s no First Contact but what is? Not even pizza is that good.