I just got back from seeing Star Trek: Into Darkness. I’m a bit surprised at some of the lackluster reviews it’s been getting, because I thought it was pretty good. I do have some quarrels with it, but I can’t really go into them without spoilers, so I’ll save that discussion for a later date.
I can’t go into much detail about what I liked without getting into spoilers either, so let me make just three points:
On one level, I think ST:ID may be the most fan-friendly film in the franchise, i.e., the one with the greatest number of older Trek references for fans to pick up on – a bit like what Steven Moffat has been doing with Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary year – while at the same time being perfectly accessible to non-fans. (There’s one line – no, not one of the obvious ones – that’s a subtle reference to a specific scene in a previous film – argh, can’t talk about that yet ….) And there’s enough character development to give the two main actors the chance to do some nice work.
On a political level, the movie is a stinging indictment of the war on terror, bearing a clear message that a) terrorism should be treated as a crime of individuals rather than as a pretext for war, and b) one doesn’t have to sympathise with terrorists to recognise that their actions can be blowback from wrongdoing on one’s own side. (This message may seem to be undercut by the film’s dedication, but I suspect the dedication is ass-covering for the message.)
On yet another level, ST:ID represents a criticism of, and the promise of a departure from, the militarist, non-exploration focus of much recent Star Trek. Although the odds of Abrams directing the next Trek film are low, given that he’s got another rather hefty upcoming slice of iconic sf currently on his plate, I think it would be very difficult for anyone to follow up this movie with another recycled V’ger/whales/Borg/Remans/Romulans-attacking-Earth tale. The movie clearly points in a different direction, even if it doesn’t yet head there.