I Finally Saw . . .

STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS: I came to this film with zero expectations--possibly less than zero. Consequently, I rather enjoyed it. I was prepared for the Star Trek: Wrath of Khan references. I admit that I didn't anticipate the end being quite so, ah, reminiscent of the original, but it didn't particularly bother me. My thought was, Okay, so in the original series, this is about when Khan would show up, so how would that change in an alternate universe?

What did surprise me: my reaction to Khan/Cumberbatch.

Like everyone else in the known Trekkie-verse, I knew Benedict Cumberbatch's character was Khan (and I agree that it was unnecessary to hide that fact). And I didn't especially mind. I like Cumberbatch, and I figured he would make a decent villain.

I still think that, but unfortunately, my brain played a nasty trick on me.

Cumberbatch shows up as the villain de la film, I'm settling in for a fun viewing experience, and then he actually says, "I am Khan!"

And my brain immediately pictures Ricardo Montalban.

Stupid brain. 


Because from that point on, the disconnect was too wide for me to breach. I enjoyed the rest of the film, but I couldn't get over how disconcerting it was to look at Cumberbatch and think Montalban.

The difference isn't (merely) physical. Both Montalban and Cumberbatch are 6' although Montalban is built like a freight train and Cumberbatch is a skinny English dude. But the real difference is that they are different types of villains. Cumberbatch's Khan is cunning, vicious, and ambiguous. Montalban's Khan is cunning, dangerous, and larger-than-life.

It seems a subtle distinction, but it is quite broad in execution. Cumberbatch is Loki, shadow guy. As Stark says, Loki's a diva, but he's a diva who wins behind-the-scenes: Look what I did. Montalban is a god, wanting (literally) a world to stride across: Look at who I am.

So I spent half the movie, thinking, "Well, maybe they could have made Cumberbatch, like, Khan's brother?"

In any case, it isn't a great film, but like most things, it is still better than Pirates of the Caribbean II.

IRON MAN 3: This movie totally surprised me, mostly because it took the natural next step in Tony's progression.

About the time of The Avengers, I pondered Tony's seeming need to defend himself as himself rather than as Iron Man.

However, I didn't believe anyone would explore that tendency since it would put Tony as Iron Man under threat.

And yet . . . they did!

According to Whedon, Downey insisted that Paltrow be in The Avengers, and I see his hand here too. Downey seems to see Stark as a work in progress rather than a static entity, which greatly impresses me.

Likewise, although the movie wends a wild path all over the place (the Iron Man movies tend to do this in general), each part is linked naturally to the next part. It gives the movie an oddly organic feel that I haven't felt since The Devil's Own.

I do think Tony needs to adopt Harley. He needs a kid--not in some Batman & Robin sense, but in a "someone I can spoil rotten (not just Pepper) and who thinks like me" sense. Pepper is direct and honest, which is great for the Tony-Pepper relationship. But it would help Tony to have a (friendly) person trying to outwit him, keep him on his toes. I've accepted that he is apparently looking in on Harley from time to time.

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