This is an action movie. Set your expectations accordingly. I know that’s not what all Star Trek fans want, but like the last Star Trek movie this is primarily about providing explosions and thrills.
Personally I have to say I like that. Star Trek movies have been far too prone to pontification and while hitting on some deeper issues isn’t a bad thing, people standing around lecturing gets dull pretty quickly.
Star Trek Into Darkness does actually touch on some deeper stuff but it’s not subtle in how it does it. No one can miss the comparison being made about how the Federation apparently wants to handle this terrorist and what the US has been doing. But instead of presenting us with a grey area, we’re basically told what the correct answer should be and conveniently those who disagree end up being the bad guys.
Basically this is a movie that throws you from one major set piece to the next and keeps things moving so fast you don’t really question anything very much. The plot holds together largely, but it does rely on some major coincidences. It’s not going to win awards for screenwriting.
But, it excels at two things that honestly make up for any weakness. The interaction between Kirk, Spock and Kahn is gold and this movie gets the scale of space better than any Star Trek movie since The Motion Picture (only without you know the incredibly slowness). In most Star Trek movies and shows, the ships feel and look small. Not here. The internal sets are huge and you really get to feel how small people are next to the ships when you get the external shots.
People have complained that it was too soon to pull the Kirk/Spock death scene because they don’t have the history. I actually disagree. In this universe this is the event that cements that relationship. No, it’s not the same as it was in Wrath of Kahn. It’s not supposed to be.
Of course the film rather invites that comparison because it play too heavily to the fans. Too many references to Sulu as Captain, Red-shirts etc. Worst of all another cameo from Leonard Nimoy. Move on!
Outside of the triangle of Kirk/Spock/Kahn the secondary characters have mixed luck. McCoy, Sulu and Chekov really don’t get to do anything.
Uhura does fairly well playing a key role in the final victory as well as getting to have a reasonably credible relationship with Spock and a few moments with Kirk. The new addition, Dr. Marcus is… well she’s there, but largely irrelevant. I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t just a matter of trying to even out the gender numbers a bit.
This is not the perfect film. Nor is it the best Star Trek movie ever. But it is good. Far better than many of them. I really had no issue with the redo of the Kahn story and in some ways this is actually better use of the material. It’s exciting. It’s action packed and it’s just plain fun.
I would like to see them actually on the 5 year mission next time though.