I really enjoyed Star Trek Into Darkness. I’m a big fan of what JJ Abrams and the writers have done with the franchise. They balanced action, humor, visuals and surprise. The story worked on at least three big dramatic arcs (Kirk, Spock, Starfleet) and was enormously topical.
Spoiler-free review is below:
Were there plot holes? Heck yeah. But they mostly boiled down to problems with Star Trek physics. When you complain that the warp, red matter, replicator or transporter tech is unrealistic in Star Trek, you have gone over into Flying Snowmen territory.
Before you get your transwarp conduits in a bubble, remember that The Original Series had time travel, space Nazis, an evil universe, convenient amnesia, preachy progressivism, the OK Corral, frequent bouts of mind control/body possession and a ridiculous appearance by Abraham Lincoln. Why? Because they all served the story.
That. Is. Star. Trek.
Was it a remake of a particular Star Trek movie like many expected? No. Unless you consider that it was remaking a certain The Original Series episode, Enterprise’s story arc and several of the other movies, all at once, while building off its predecessor. That goes beyond remake, it turns it into the next step.
Was there too much fan service? What the hell is fan service: in-jokes? Ironic twists and appearances? If someone ‘rebooted’ American history and Alexander Hamilton, Winfield Scott and Andrew Jackson led the US Army to beat the snot out of the British in the War of 1812 and conquer Canada, would that be only fan service to history buffs? Or would that be a really interesting story? When there are jokes for adults in kid movies, is that ‘adult-service’ or just making a movie that appeals to multiple audiences?
Finally, it passed my day-after test; my opinion about the movie kept rising the day after seeing it. So many elements were balanced perfectly that the flaws people are highlighting amount to so much nitpicking. Kirk and Spock are much stronger characters in the reboot. Every crew member had a cool part in the movie that served the story and made them change. And under it all was a well-crafted message about contemporary society that only Star Trek could pull off.
Except for the Starfleet dress uniforms. They were awful. Every variation of gray looked like a cross between a West Point cadet and a dystopian sci-fi movie. Stick with the colored shirts, okay?