Star Trek: silly fun. As with all J.J. Abrams productions, the writers clearly came up with the setpieces first (giant space battle! high-altitude parachute dive! Kirk fights a giant alien monster!) and then strung a plot together to connect them. But if the setpieces are fun there’s nothing wrong with that.
None of the cast made much of an impression on me, with the exception of Zachary Quinto as Spock and John Cho as Sulu. Karl Urban did a good enough job cranking his dial to “Ornery” and nailing it there, but that doesn’t take a lot of depth. And I hesitate to call Nero the most boring villain in any Star Trek movie of the last forty years only because I haven’t seen Nemesis.
Any problems I had were with the rather fumble-thumbed way Abrams steered his characters from plot point to plot point. I didn’t mind the Deus Ex Machina that much – it’s a neat tip of the cap to the hardcore fans, and it’s not out of place for the series. And I could even follow the jarring fight scenes pretty well. Abrams used the same MTV smash-cuts that have been a staple of Hollywood fights for twenty years, but I always had a general sense of what was at stake.
Worth seeing in the theaters, once. I don’t know if I’d see it again (though I’m grateful that Katie, Sylvia and RJ were willing to). But I’m glad Abrams made a Star Trek movie that no one has to apologize for. “Yeah, it’s weird, but the prior one was much worse.” “See, that’d make sense if you’d seen this particular episode.” This was a fun movie that anyone could access and enjoy. That being said, without the Star Trek franchise painted onto it, it’d be a perfectly unremarkable story of Maverick Made Good, with a dash of Hardass Learning To Trust His Feelings and a Generic Eurotrash Villain thrown in.
Not bad, Abrams. You’ve bought yourself a reprieve. Now do better with the next one.