Note: this is what I call a tongue-in-cheek review, where I have some fun and caricature the tone of a certain 1930s movie critic.
Star Trek into Darkness has pretty much the most pointless title one could imagine. Everyone predicting that series 2.0 would “go dark” and develop character and a tone of dread (à la Skyfall and Dark Knight) fell right into the trap (myself included). Abrams had no intention of it.
Instead, we get all pop and fizz and I’ll tell you what: darkness and depth have long been way overrated in blockbusters anyhow. Because that’s what Star Trek is–a blockbuster–and one whose fun comes from its whimsical hopping about from one preposterous death-defying predicament to the next, and from looking damn good doing it. The graphic matches using the Enterprise rocked, and how about that flying from door-to-door through space debris sequence? Peter Jackson’d give his left wingnut to do that one.
The whole shaky thing hangs together, but not for the usual reasons. The characters make sense only intermittently (why did Kirk relinquish command to Spock and then take it back?), and have almost no feeling to them (why should we care that Kirk has command, again?). Perhaps the best of the worst is this: Pike’s death made me tear up, but only because I realized that I wouldn’t get to see Bruce Greenwood half-melted and doing the whole “boop-boop” for a “no” thing.
In short, what breaths life into this hyperkinetic “keep-it-movin'” affair is that it’s one long thought experiment–a Guy Maddin-like “what if?” (See My Winnipeg.) Abrams keeps the mind buzzing with questions about how x event in the original Trek continuity might work its way in, and, sure, it’s mostly hollow when it is–Cumberbatch’s hammy “My name is Khan” was DOA–but then the brain really started to buzz when I realized that they might just try it. Oh shit, they are! And what guts, because they’re DOING IT IN REVERSE!
Translation: the parallel or alternative worlds storytelling here finally begins to run strong after Khan is released–and everything in the plot’s been twisted painfully to make it happen–and then we get Spock doing his best imitation of Kirk on Regula and transformed into an enraged mother****** running Khan down in the streets of San Fran.
Is all of this turning the Star Trek world inside out and topsy-turvy good for the narrative world itself? Nope. Not a bloody chance. Is it good for the franchise? You damn skippy.