British villains rule: Benedict Cumberbatch in “Star Trek”

When I saw Benedict Cumberbatch glower into the camera in “Star Trek Into Darkness” and carefully pronounce his lines in an arch, theatrically overripe British accent, I got giddy. There’s just something about urbane English actors that makes them the perfect villains.

Maybe it’s the superiority complex implied in those uppercrust accents. Maybe it’s a latent American distrust of the Brits left over from eons ago, when they ruled us. Maybe we just needed a handy group of scoundrels when the Cold War ended and Russian bad guys seemed so last century, so why not the English?

Whatever the case, it works. Glorious cases in point: Jeremy Irons in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and Alan Rickman in “Die Hard.” They both stole the movies out from under the reputed stars.

I can’t say Cumberbatch overshadows Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in their roles as the intergalactic tag-team of Kirk and Spock, but he fires up the plot with lots of dramatic declarations and simmering stares.

I don’t want to give too much away about his character, but I will say there’s one word he outright howls that was fabulously entertaining. He bites into every line like it’s the world’s juiciest fruit. He narrows his already squinting-in-a-wind-tunnel eyes with such an appraising, knowing look that you’d swear he can tell what everyone else is thinking.

What did you think of “Star Trek Into Darkness” and Cumberbatch?

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