The structure was poor. The pacing was off. The editing was bad. The score was ridiculous and distracting. The characters and moments were wasted.
I liked the reboot with the new cast in their first film. This one I hated. It left me wondering if these filmmakers really understand story, for they don't seem to grasp, at least in this film, how to tell a story.
For one, there is too much in this one film. The original cast took three films to tell the parallel story to this one. And did it much better, of course. (Oh, and this film also has to mix in elements of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country).
I was annoyed with the constant and uncessary climaxes. When Steven Spielberg used that technique in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark it was out of homage to the old serials and was done tongue-in-cheek. He did not intend for all action films to become like that, wasting moments. Even something like the fight with the Klingons can't be enjoyed because it is edited and shot in such a way that the coreography of a great fight scene is completely lacking. I think more filmmakers should be forced to go back and watch the sword fight between Basil Rathbone and Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood -- it well-paced and a delight to watch (or any gunfight in The Wild Bunch would work as well).
In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan one of the great sequences is when the two ships slowly and quietly stalk one another in a nebula. That is much more engaging than this over-the-top nonsense.
Another complaint, at the close of the film much of San Francisco is destroyed, in what would have clearly killed tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Yet, there is no moment for any emotion connected to that. It was most unncessary for the plot of the story. It was simply masturbatory destruction that really appals me. Can we watch hundreds of thousands of people being killed and simply rush on to the chase scene? This shocked me for its amorality, maybe immorality. I feel the water circling the drain of the nihilistic nadir of our moral tradition.
But what actually angered me -- and I mean angered me, really pissed me off -- was the ruining of a sacred moment. In my lifetime there were onlly two films which completely emotionally overwhelmed me to the point of being almost numb when I left the theatre. One was Schindler's List, the other was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I quite vividly remember that experience--people, including adults, crying in the theatre, the quiet numbness of the room when the film ended, the way people shuffled slowly out of the darkness, mumbling to themselves and their friends "He can't be dead, can he?" Our beloved Mr. Spock was dead and it was such a shock.
And the moment had been written, directed, and played beautifully -- with emotion, but not sentimentality, but most powerfully with a clear moral conviction. It was a lesson in the virtues for myself, and I know many other young boys. It is a scene which has remained with us.
This was not homage. It was a pale shadow that missed everything of value in the original scene. And to overcome its vacuity, it had to complicate it. Instead of the simple moral and physical struggle Spock endured, Jim has to climb and kick and act foolishly, turning a simple moment into some agon. It is not the courage of moral conviction, as in the original story, but physical exertion. Disgusting.
What appals me is that these filmmakers have watched and enjoyed and discussed and debated and imagined these stories and these characters throughout their lives just as I and my friends have done. And given the chance, the wonderful, amazing chance, to shape the characters and the stories themselves, this is what they give us?
I enjoy these characters and the new actors portraying them. And Benedict Cumberbatch was a delight as Khan, even if the character's power and force was wasted in this piece of trash.
1 film reel
1 popcorn kernel