Thoughts (and spoilers) after the jump.
Basically I can divide this movie into Stuff I Liked and Stuff I Didn’t Like.
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE
Okay, so Benedict Cumberbatch is, indeed, Khan. (Not “Khan Noonien Singh,” since calling him that would emphasize rather pointedly that the role has been whitewashed since Ricardo Montalban played him. Just “Khan.”) That, combined with the repeated thematic callbacks to Wrath of Khan, is a little worrying because the last thing I want from the rebooted Trek is for it to get a bad case of Reboot Syndrome, where you have to re-introduce every fucking thing that the original mythos created because why tell new stories when you can just tell variations on older, successful ones. The plot doesn’t mirror Wrath that greatly, but it’s enough for me to mention it.
I like Benedict Cumberbatch and I liked his performance – which was just alien enough to emphasize that Khan, in real life, would be kind of weird and offputting – but most of his time in the movie is spent punching things dramatically and it would have been nice for him to have some more conversational moments. I would guess there is at least one decent conversation scene on the cutting room floor.
Also, Alice Eve, who plays Carol Marcus, was a bit wooden at times, and by “at times” I mean “for most of the movie.”
STUFF I LIKED
I liked that the major overriding theme of the movie was about the necessity and dangers of militarism within an advanced society. The first reboot Trek in 2009 was at times a little more militaristic than I would have liked, and this sets back firmly on an opposing course in that regard (Spock’s dislike of the mission parameters being “immoral,” Scotty being angry at taking experimental classified weapons on board and declaring that he wasn’t a soldier, et cetera). Trek by necessity has to have some militaristic elements to it, because the big spaceships have to have big lasers because big laser battles in space are kind of important for Trek, and if you’re gonna have publicly funded giant spaceships with lasers then Starfleet has to be at least a pseudo-military, but the movie gets Starfleet back right into that sweet space of “look, we might have a lot of army things, but we’re not an army,” and that matters to me. And I liked that Trek goes right back into talking about currently relevant issues by making a sci-fi story be about them.
I liked that each of the main characters gets a real important drama point in the movie – another gripe about the first movie was that Uhura didn’t get enough accomplishment-time and they more than fixed that this time around, and more importantly most of the crew’s accomplishments aren’t just repeats of what they did in the first movie. (Chekov maybe runs a little light, but Chekov was always the least important of the original crew, so it’s not too bad.) As before, the performances are uniformly rock-solid excellence.
I liked that they mentioned the Prime Directive and treated it like a serious thing. I liked the Nimoy cameo (although that is a well they need to stop drawing from right now). I liked that Team Enterprise figured out most of the bad guys’ plans before those plans were executed (although generally not quite fast enough to outright stop them).
Generally, I liked the movie a lot. I do have misgivings, but on the whole I thought this was a strong outing.