Synopsis: Kirk and crew must investigate and capture the mysterious terrorist John Harrison, and soon find Harrison’s connection with Star Fleet was not as it seemed.
• An overall engaging continuation of the Kelvin Timeline, succeeding in going bold for a second time in a row.
• The first scenes were genuinely fun, right down to an unplanned breaking of the Prime Directive.
• The inclusion of the darker side of Star Fleet, Section 31, was fascinating, and likely affected or ensured its inclusion elsewhere in the franchise.
• Benedict Cumberbatch succeeded in embodying the superior, short tempered, genius of Khan, no matter how much Section 31 messed with him physically and mentally.
• Again incorporating Dr. Carol Markus, Kirk’s once and future ex, into the Khan story was interesting, continuing the cerebral “the universe will unfold, as it should.”
• Admiral Christopher Pike!
• And Spock Prime!
• The casting of Cumberbatch as Khan was understandably controversial, considering Ricardo Montalbán (the Prime Khan) was Mexican.
• Going so bold in story two films in a row likely created some fatigue in both fans and writers. Indeed, the feeling a familiar originality was far less apparent.
This was not a remake of Wrath of Khan. This was not even a remake of the preceding episode “Space Seed.” Perhaps that is why the film worked as well as it did. Like the prior, this film worked to show elements of the franchise in similar yet different lighting. It also confirmed the darker undertones of the Kelvin Timeline, which already included an early death for Kirk’s father and destruction of Vulcan. Here Christopher Pike probably was never kidnapped by the Telosians and met Vina, and with his shocking death here, he will never go back them to live out a dream he secretly wanted. Sure, Pike is blown up and turned into a vegetable in the Prime reality, but at least he and others ended up happy!
And here we are, the Kelvin Timeline fighting against its own darkness. Did it really succeed? Probably not completely. The deep idealism of Trek did beat out the darkness for time at least.
Star Trek Franchise
Rotten Tomatoes — 84%