If you’ve been enjoying this rebooted franchise, you will enjoy this latest addition to the new canon, even if it is just new skin on an old and much repeated plot. Lin’s (Fast and Furious 6) direction was full of energy and action, with room for breathing to keep it from being exhausting, but I have to admit it felt hollow.
Basically, the core story never really has impact. Once out of the theater, the entire experience was ephemeral, quickly vanishing from my brain unlike previous releases. This should have been Idris Elba’s (Zootopia) tale. Instead the side plots of Chris Pine’s (Z for Zachariah) Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s (Hitman: Agent 47) Spock take the fore, when they should have been much more in the background. But more than that, Pine and Karl Urban (Dredd), who had previously been nailing their rebirths of Kirk and Bones, turn in their weakest performances of the movie series, phoning in their scenes. Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), on the other hand, was a solid addition to the storyline showing she can do more than just leap and roll.
Though Simon Pegg (Absolutely Anything) and Jung’s script was tight structurally, the weighting in the final cut was all off. The result turned it more into a long episode of the TV show rather than a movie. The personal crises for the crew of the Enterprise weren’t so dire that they needed to be the center of the story and, in fact, couldn’t support it. The crew should have been the catalyst and template upon which the real plot grew; a reflection of the bigger themes and the results a side-effect of the main resolution. I don’t think the script was as much at fault here as the direction and editing given how precise the rest of the story choices were.
As expected, also, there are some nice nods to the late Leonard Nimoy and it can’t help but hurt to see Anton Yelchin (The Driftless Area) striding on screen in his last performance.
One thing that did stand out in this film is that Lin is addicted to camera fly-bys the way JJ Abrams was to lens flare in the first film. I will grant you it really drove home the idea of living in space and three dimensions, but it got to be a bit much.
Overall, this is a great amusement park ride but not a particularly great film. Enough to entertain, but not to really linger over. A shame, really, given the talents involved. Though another installment is already green-lit, I have to wonder if they can really keep it all going. Then again, even numbered Trek’s don’t suck and this was an odd number (and number 13 at that), so I haven’t lost all hope.