In February 1967, a first season episode of Star Trek entitled Space Seed premiered. It featured the regular crew of the Enterprise and a great appearance by Ricardo Montalban in the villainous role of Khan Noonien Singh. In 1982, Paramount released Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. RM was back and more villainous than ever. The film featured a great story, good special effects – many of which were left over scenes from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). It also featured the gut wrenching death of one of the lead characters. Or, so we thought.
The 1984 film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was a resurrection of the believed-to-be-dead Vulcan. In a brilliantly funny and terrific wrap up to what turned out to be a trilogy, Star Trek: The Voyage Home (1986) brought everything back to normal.
Other Star Trek TV series’ and films followed, but the trilogy was the best of the group. Part of the original cast remained intact through 1994 when Star Trek Generations (1994), using another dead-but-not-exactly-gone twist, brought the current Enterprise TV crew together with the original Capt. Kirk.
In 2009, Director JJ Abrams brought the series back with a complete reboot. Star Trek, the 2009 film, was the best film of the decade. Everything worked. After four long years, the second in the new series made its premiere in May of 2013. It continues the story begun in 2009, but reworks the Space Seed TV episode (and most of the ideas in the trilogy into a neat two hour package of high speed entertainment). Ricardo Montalban, aka the original Khan, was born in Mexico City in 1920 and passed away in Los Angeles 2009 at the age of 88. Unable to pull off the come-back-to-life trick used regularly in the Star Trek movies, the filmmakers turned to Benedict Cumberbatch to take up the role of young Khan. Good choice. BC has been acting since 2002 and is best known for his fantastic portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC update of the eternal story of the world’s first consulting detective. (Along with the writing, BC’s modernized portrayal of Holmes makes this one of the best TV series ever. Only three 90-minute episodes are produced each season. Season three should be out in January of 2014 and make an American appearance a few months later. The first two seasons totaling six episodes are on DVD and not to be missed.)
Star Trek Into Darkness is not quite as much fun as the original, but more than makes up for it in sheer speed, drama, action, and a pretty decent dose of humor. The plot does rework the original Khan stories previously mentioned, but adds some great twists and a new (and just as evil as Ricardo) villain. Star Trek fans should be thrilled. Fans of good movies in general should also be elated by what Abrams is doing with this series. Can’t wait for 2017 to see how they resolve one plot conundrum they created in Into Darkness. We will all be waiting in deep, dark space to find out what happens next.
Rated 3.8 out of 4.0 reasons you will ask yourself, “Why are there two Spocks?”