Star Trekking Across the Universe . . .
The main problem with the film is that J.J. Abrams and his writers (the same duo responsible for such masterpieces as Transformers 2) have disguised the fact that this bold new adventure is actually a remake of two previous Trek stories: the orignal series episode "Space Seed" and the classic movie The Wrath of Khan. Anyone who has watched those will not be terribly surprised when the terrorist John Harrison (brilliantly played by Benedict Cumberbatch) dramatically reveals about halfway through the film that he is the infamous Khan (formerly played by the not at all pale and English Ricardo Montalban). This reveal seems thrown in purely to appeal to the fans, since the general audience (and the characters in the movie) have no idea who the hell Khan is. Not that revisiting Khan's origins is necessarily a bad thing, but when the film then basically copies the ending of Wrath of Khan (with Kirk taking Spock's place in the radiation chamber and even another OTT "Khaaaaaaan!" exclaimation) it's a problem because the filmmakers haven't earned it. Khan and Kirk are not archenemies yet in this timeline, and Kirk and Spock haven't been friends for fifteen or more years. It's a testament to Chris Pine's and Zachary Quinto's acting that the scene still has some emotional kick, despite the shoddy scriptwriting.
It's a similar problem that Abrams' otherwise excellent Super 8 had. That film started out wanting to be Jaws or Gremlins but then took a sharp left-turn into a cuddly E.T. ending, an emotional catharsis that the film hadn't successfully set up. It makes one a little worried that Abrams' Star Wars will have an ending where one of the heroes gets frozen in carbonite or finds out the villain is his father because, hey, it worked before, right?
Trekkie rage aside, there is much to enjoy in the film. The cast are still comfortable in their roles and most of them get a moment or two to shine (though Alice Eve's character is a complete waste, aside from a grautuitous underwear scene for the young boys in the audience). It's great to see Robocop himself, Peter Weller, in a major role. The pace never lets up and fans will enjoy seeing Klingons and even a plot significant Tribble! It's one of those films that you enjoy tremendously while you're watching it, but it's best not to think too hard about the plot or it unravels completely. I appreciate what Abrams has done to bring Star Trek back into the mainstream, but it would perhaps be best if another director has a shot at the third movie. And hopefully they'll get some writers who can balance action with the more philosophical elements that Trek used to be known for.