After taking my seat in the third row of the upper balcony I slid on my 3-D glasses on and waited in static anticipation. The minute the screen flickered on I felt as though I was thrown from sleep into a freezing ocean of ice water (in the best way possible). The film starts in the midst of wild action on planet Nibiru where the Starship Enterprise and its crew has been sent to observe a primitive civilization that is about to be destroyed by an active volcano. The Starship must remain hidden or change the progression of this civilization. The opening grabs your attention by the throat, forgetting to ask for it politely like so many films do. An entire race is on the verge of extinction, the blood reds and starch whites of Nibiru’s foreign vegetation overwhelm your vision as Captain Kirk and Spock are chased by the inhabitants, and we find Spock dropped into the center of an active volcano in an attempt to stop its eruption and save the planet from imminent destruction, but almost assuredly sacrificing his own life in the process. The film constantly asks us to think about whether the individual or the common good is more important and whether we should live within the stringent constructs of law or think outside the box.
Action scene after action scene breaks over you like violent waves against the shore–by the end you find that you have been holding your breath the entire time, possibly even clinging to your armrest for support in the overwhelming visual barrage.Once the Starship returns from Nibiru the Enterprise is taken away from Kirk who, as per usual, did not stay within the permitted guidelines of his mission. Shortly after this, chaos breaks out again; Agent Harrison (Khan) is wreaking havoc by staging his escape after being awakened from his cryogenic sleep, it is only after Khan allows himself to be taken into custody by the Enterprise that we learn that he was awakened in order to help Commander Marcus build weapons of mass destruction while he holds the rest of Khan’s crew captive. Obviously, this plan goes awry and Khan stages his escape–violently of course–and then flees to Klingon infested Kronos.Which leads us to one of the most epic fight scenes in the film between the Klingons and Khan while on Kronos (during which Captain Kirk gets part of his overly inflated ego beat out of him by the superior Khan). Khan is “captured”and then joins forces with the Enterprise crew for a short period of time in order to overthrow the war mongering father of Carol Marcus, Commander Marcus, who has come half way across the galaxy in his ship the USS Vengeance to start a war against the Klingon Empire. Nods to the original series were sprinkled throughout the most obvious of which is the appearance of Spock Prime played by Leonard Nimoy.
Benedict Cumberbatch stole the show with his collected intensity and organic Badassery. He gave Khan depth, inviting the audience to empathize with his devotion to his popsicle crew and then tearing away any sympathy he may have cultivated within you by being deathly manipulative, violent, and as indestructible as a cockroach. The casting was phenomenal all around, with Simon Pegg portraying the reliable, yet chaotic engineer Scotty, John Cho (in all his Berkeley alumni splendor) plays a multitalented and masculine Hikaru Sulu, Alice Eve brings brains and a fierce presence to the role of Doctor Carol Marcus, while Zachary Quinto continues to portray Spock as both humorous and loving, as well as structured and objectively analytical.
If you have not seen this film yet GO SEE IT NOW! It was an incredible cinematic experience to add to the growing list of J. J. Abrams work and I am without a doubt going to see it again.