Here's a Facebook discussion of the movie with "Brad." The first third of the movie, anyway:
You say the first two-thirds of Star Trek into Darkness is the good part, Brad? Does that mean I'm not gonna like the last third?
Forget about the Star Trek part. This isn't even good science fiction. It's all fiction, no science.
I'm trying to think of a comparison that's valid here. It's sort of like, maybe, a Roger Ramjet level of science fiction. Basically no rules apply. For instance, if they need more slugging power, no problem. The new underwater starship also converts into a giant robot.
Back on earth
Back at Starfleet, women are still wearing skirts. And now the cadets have military-style caps. That alone shows how ridiculously far Abrams is from the spirit of Trek.
Starfleet falls for the old "gather all the important people in one room" trick. I haven't seen that one more than a few dozen times. And amazingly, the headquarters of the Federation's military appears to be protected by nothing but a pane of glass. Duck and cover, VIPs!
The response is to order an act of aggression against the Klingon Empire. A torpedo fired from Federation space and exploding on the Klingon homeworld...what could go wrong there? I'm sure the Klingons will understand that the humans really, really needed to kill Harrison aka Khan. Who is totally evil although he hasn't cracked the list of the million greatest mass murderers yet.
And more science magic! Kirk and company will be able to find and hit Khan from beyond the Neutral Zone. Which is, what, a hundred or a thousand light years from Kronos?
Wow. With sensors this good, I think the Federation's problems are over. Is a Romulan plotting against the humans? No problem! Just tune in with your super-sensitive sensors! Maybe you can incinerate the data chip in his hand with a super-special phaser from 1,000 light years away, too!
Sending the Enterprise on a mission to assassinate someone...wow. Just wow. How is this even conceivable? It's literally the exact opposite of everything Trek has stood for the last 45 years. The real Jim Kirk would sacrifice his life to stop a wrongheaded Federation commander from executing someone in the name of "peace." (For one example, see The Undiscovered Country.)
Incidentally, others agree:
Which remake completely misses the point of the original?
Among the less critical problems are:
About the only part I liked was Pike's philosophical debate with Kirk. That at least is a reflection of the real Trek.
Any questions? On to the next 30 minutes later.
Debating Jim Kirk
The fact that it needs a debate is part of the problem. Kirk's whole thing is saving people--even bad guys. This should be axiomatic, not up for debate.
You don't give command of your flagship to a hothead who's still learning. You give him about a decade of training first--as the original Kirk got.
I understand what Abrams is going for. I just don't buy it. I think his attempted "world-building" is failing badly.
To me it's a kiddie version of Trek. Like, "Let's make the teenager a captain! And give him smokin' hot women! And a super-duper torpedo! How badass is that?"
Even on its own merits, it's fatally flawed, because rookies don't get the top position. More to the point, it isn't Trek.
The Enterprise was Kirk's first official command. Before that, I think he took command of the Farragut when his captain was killed, but that was a temporary or "field" command.
The novels may have put him in command of temporary training missions, or things like that. But nothing like, "This is your first command with no restrictions. Go forth on an official long-term mission."
But I'm not buying the premise underlying the explanation. Immature Kirk = emotional Spock = uncaring Bones = wrong.
Kirk's maturity wasn't something that needed an upgrade in the 21st century. In fact, as I've said before, this approach is more juvenile, not more adult.
In short, significant changes to Trek = not the real Trek.
It does seem like they didn't improve any of the things that they could have improved and changed a lot of stuff that didn't need changing instead.
I hope you'll accept this approach when Disney applies it to Star Wars. Luke Skywalker in bed with hot young women! Cursing his Jedi teachers and breaking their rules! Using the Force to play practical jokes!
The kiddies will love this updated Star Wars--all dolled up with gratuitous sex and violence for a new generation of fans! And old fans--well, they'll die soon enough, so who cares?
And for the record, I never said that I accepted Abrams approach to Star Trek.
Obviously Abrams wasn't just trying to update classic Trek with a contemporary feel. He was trying to radically reinvent it as a sexed-up, badass SF franchise that's Trek in name only.
That was a bad decision, since no one wants or needs the umpteenth grim 'n' gritty sci-fi universe. It's not impressive and it's not Trek.
One can contemporize a series successfully without ruining its basic elements. Good examples are the Hawaii Five-0 show, the Mission: Impossible movies, and Daniel Craig's James Bond. These are different from the originals, but no one think they grossly violate the originals' spirit.
Abrams's approach is like turning Gilligan's Island into Lost. They both involve castaways on an island, but that's about all they have in common. Same with old Trek and new Trek.
Because I'm not buying the "He's untested and out of control but in charge of the most powerful weapon in the Federation" concept.
I know! Why doesn't someone invent the Doomsday Machine or the Genesis Device and give that to Kirk? What could go wrong? Pike believes in him, so Kirk won't destroy more than 2-3 worlds accidentally before he learns.
Next up, Abrams revitalizes the James Bond franchise by portraying him as a tongue-tied youth who trips over his own feet and can't hold his liquor. Don't worry...he'll grow up to be Sean Connery in a decade or three. Meanwhile, enjoy his awkwardly funny antics, because...Bond!