‘Star Trek’ flies into theaters, exceeds expectations

If anyone out there is concerned about how Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock”) will perform as Khan in the new “Star Trek” movie, they needn’t worry. He owns this role.

Movie Poster

Even his iconic line from the movie trailer gives off chills.

“Now, shall we begin?”

After the crew of the Enterprise is called home, a member of Star Fleet betrays his organization and goes on a killing spree. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine, “Rise of the Guardians”) and his crew follow him to a planet on the brink of war with Star Fleet. Their mission is to bring the man to justice before they are discovered, and war follows.

It doesn’t sound like much, does it? But once fans of the “Star Trek” series look at the list of characters and see Khan’s name, there’s hope that the brief and vague IMDB summary of the movie is lame for a reason.

That hope is definitely realized.

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First and foremost, Zachary Quinto (“Heroes”) and Pine are wonderful together as Spock and Captain Kirk. They play off of one another well, as they did in the first reboot movie, and while Spock’s character is an emotionally constipated half-Vulcan, Quinto still manages to convey subtle displays and words of affection that make it easy to tell his character genuinely cares for his captain as a friend.

Kirk’s character wears his emotions on his sleeve no matter what they are, and Pine is great at changing Kirk’s temperament on a dime. As a character so rash and hind-sighted, it can be difficult to reign Kirk in to more subtle feelings, and Pine manages to make him look genuine during the many moments in this movie where he slows down and is uncertain. It can’t have been easy.

Khan is a complex character, and while he’s the villain from the start, Cumberbatch’s portrayal of him makes the audience root for him a little. Just a little though, since any fan of the “Star Trek” series and original movies know that he’s one of the most dangerous villains that the Enterprise faces. He possesses a higher level of intellect than the average human, as well as greater strength, and his capacity for rage and revenge is unparalleled. Cumberbatch’s performance is icy and intense. Even when Khan appears relaxed and uncaring, there’s a quality about him that reminds of a caged tiger waiting to pounce. It adds a level of tenseness to the movie that grips at viewers every time he’s on the screen. Cumberbatch’s choices in how he delivers certain lines makes him both sound and look dangerous, whether close up or seen at a distance, and his commanding presence dominates the screen. Give this man a medal, and more roles as a villain.

Other than the acting, there’s plenty to love in this movie. First and possibly most important is the fact that the plot continues with the theme of the distorted timeline initiated in the first “Star Trek” reboot. Certain plot elements of the “Star Trek” series are occurring sooner in the timeline as a response, and other key events in the series happen differently. If you’ve seen “Wrath of Khan,” the second in the original “Star Trek” movies, it’ll be much easier to appreciate this movie in terms of the distorted timeline and base plot.

There are also plenty of random “Star Trek” series references for the fans to chuckle over. Remember the 1967 episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles?” So did the writers.

If you’re not a die-hard fan of “Star Trek,” but still love action, you’ll enjoy this movie. If you’re a certified Trekkie, you’ll enjoy this movie. If you even remotely liked the first J.J. Abram’s “Star Trek” movie, you’ll enjoy this movie, and probably think it’s better.