Well, if you don't want ham, you surely don't want Montalban's Khan. That's for damn sure. If his being an ancient exotic tyrant or an analogue of Captain Ahab doesn't work for you either, hey, different strokes.
For my money:
Saito S wrote:
Cumberbatch Khan was intelligent and menacing, and someone I could actually take seriously.
Loading one's own crew into explosive torpedoes doesn't actually sell a villain as being more intelligent and menacing than Montalban's Khan for me. And the parts of Cumberbatch's performance where he's selling us on his being Khan were like mainlining concentrated ham extract for me. Cumberbatch's villain is otherwise not bad, but not a huge standout from the Die Hard
villain mould; I think there's a reason that we have a scene with Spock calling Spock so that Spock can explain to Spock why Khan is a guy to be feared.
I found TWOK mediocre overall, and thought it had other flaws worthy of discussion. Kirk's inexplicable refusal to put up the shields during the Reliant's approach scene remains one of my personal all-time most notable Trek Klunker Moments.
Calling it "inexplicable" seems like reaching to me, just as with "why didn't Khan beam him up from Regula One"? It's a bad call, obviously, but hardly an "inexplicable" one, especially from Kirk who's been accustomed to finessing regulations in favour of his own judgment for most of his career, and in fact has no reason to expect an attack from a ship of his own fleet.