Lastly, I thought Cumberbatch was really a great actor, but he didn't really remind me of Khan. I absolutely loved his deviousness, his cold calculation, and his general badass qualities, but he seemed more like a robot for the majority of the time. It felt like he was lacking a certain charisma or something. Like when Kirk told Scotty to shoot Khan on the bridge of the Vengeance, I think we were supposed to feel conflicted about it, but I wasn't really.
It's hard to talk about this - because many people are either super critical and dismissive of Cumberbatch's casting, or they're "omg I love the film".
I really loved the film, and to me, it ranked up there as one of the best Trek films, but there were certain ways it could've been better. I see a lot of the younger, newer Trekkers having less of a problem.
I have very mixed feelings about Cumberbatch-Khan.
I can appreciate Cumberbatch's portrayal on its own merits, just based on the acting. To me, he was GENUINELY TERRIFYING and he *was* someone I bought as the product of advanced genetic engineering. He was almost inhuman. To me, he IS how Khan would've been written *if he had been written today* as an original character. They took the same backstory but rebuilt him from the ground up, in a way that's more believable today. I can really believe that genetic engineering would be outlawed if it would produce people like him.
This is practically Trek sacrilege, but as a gen X trekker, I always found Khan Prime to be a bit dated, and I never really found him quite as menacing as he seemed to be portrayed to be. He was stronger than the average human, and we're INFORMED that he's smarter. He's an intriguing character because of Montalban's portrayal.
This guy was actually shown to be superior in practically every way except in compassion for anyone but his own crew, and it's probable that someone who was engineered to be superior like that, would just see normal human beings as less evolved.
I really did enjoy Cumberbatch-Khan, but at the same time, he's much more of an inhuman thug than Montalban-Khan was; the latter had an aura of cultured man, enlightened despot, that isn't in Nu-Khan's portrayal.
Neither one is right, or wrong. They're just two different characters.
However, leaving aside politics/social justice issues, the fact that he wasn't at all believably Indian was really distracting and took me out if the film sometimes. Every other character was at least *approximately* recast to look *a little* similar to the original character, except for him.
I was either forced to suspend disbelief about the character being Indian, or forced to suspend disbelief about him not really being Khan. This was incredibly distracting.
The actor at least looking like the original Khan would've been enough of a link to the original character for me. He needed to either LOOK like Khan Prime, or ACT like Khan Prime. Otherwise, he's just an original character with the same name and a similar backstory.
So yes, mixed feelings. I definitely bought him as a genetically engineered superman and in some ways the story was even tighter than "Space Seed". But was he Khan, beyond us being told he was? I don't know.
I know that some of us will be headcanoning like crazy that he's really one of Khan's lackeys (such as Joaquin) acting to protect the real Khan and the rest of them. And in a way, this was more how he behaved.
This probably isn't a problem for younger Trekkers who are not familiar with Trek lore as much; I know a few who came on board because of JJ Abrams' Trek reboot and are only now getting into the universe. They seem happy to see one of their favorite actors (Cumberbatch) excellently portray a really menacing and morally ambiguous villain, and don't have the baggage of previous Trek clouding their judgments.
I still tremendously enjoyed the film. I consider it a successful film, I liked it more than ST (2009) and I liked it considerably more than ANY of the TNG films.
As for the "summer blockbuster" aspect, films these days are different, they must work on multiple levels. People aren't as patient as they used to be. We're an accelerated culture. I'm no different. I need a reason to sit through a film and not be checking Facebook while I'm watching it. The film didnt lack any of the moral questioning or philosophy or exploration, for being as fast paced as it was. It will hold up on multiple watches because it worked on multiple levels.