There can’t be many people now who aren’t aware of the… misdirection (let’s be polite) that occurred in the run-up to the release of this film with regard to the identity of the bad guy. Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Khan, the character previously owned by Ricardo Montalban in both the original Star Trek series, and arguably the best of the movie series, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. But quite frankly, to the general public, the attitude to that was, so what? The speculation on this served its purpose, and diverted attention away from the real bad guy of the film, Peter Weller’s Admiral Marcus.
The idea of a Starfleet admiral using eugenics superman Khan for his own purposes is an excellent one, and initially I was applauding it as a clever reuse of a central tenet of the old series in a new way (as has been done successfully in some of the IDW comics – their Tribble story, notably). But then the film ends with a triple-header of annoying factors: firstly, the inversion of the end of Wrath of Khan; then, Spock whaling on Khan in the centre of San Francisco – which, remember, has just been hit by a starship – and bystanders don’t even seem to notice; and worst of all, the “we’ve conquered death” superblood, which I’ll bet doesn’t even get mentioned in the next movie. The plot holes (let alone the science) in this film do become bigger speed bumps on a repeat viewing.
There is a lot to applaud, though, in Into Darkness: as with the best of Star Trek in all its forms, it tackles a modern-day problem, and while there are definite missteps in the plotting, the film’s underlying motivation is good. The casting continues to be excellent: hopefully Alice Eve will get more to do (and less gratuitous scenes) as Carol Marcus in future films. The effects work, even in 2D on a TV screen, is stunning. Michael Giacchino’s score hits all the key areas: lyrical when needed, bombastic and terrifying at other times.
As far as the Blu-ray itself goes, the feature film is excellently presented. The extras though are diabolically poor – the sort of thing that used to be cobbled together for a cheap DVD. If you buy it from Sainsbury’s in the UK, you get some extra material, or you have to use a code for iTunes to get hold of a different version of the film which contains the commentary. Bad Robot are notorious at wanting to keep everything secret – note the complete lack of tie-in books, and the official magazine didn’t seem to get even the limited access they got on the first film. Maybe some day we’ll get a full Blu-ray with true behind the scenes material – but don’t hold your breath.
Verdict: If you loved the film – as many people did – then the Blu-ray is worth getting for the sheer beauty of the presentation; if you’re after the value added material, then it may be worth hanging on… 6/10