The jolliest, most Trek-like of the reboot movies -- which probably explains why it lagged behind the first two in box office, given its relative lack of sturm-und-drang. The NuTrek cast is in fine form and the script gets in a lot of zingers and a certain amount of drama, along with the biggest Starbase we've ever seen. But one meta-zinger -- Chris Pine's Kirk opining that his life feels "episodic" three years into the Five-Year Mission -- really describes a movie that is itself episodic.
But that episodic nature does make it seem natural on TV and more entertaining than it was in the theatre.
Director Justin Lin delivers a few too many Fast-and-Furious chasey moments, but otherwise does solid work. The movie misses its chance for a true Star Trek moment late in the game involving the villain, Krall, whom Idris Elba tries to invest with the menace the script mostly leaves out. The decision to hide Elba under several pounds of alien make-up seems willfully perverse -- let him be human and perhaps give a Trek movie a compelling villain for the first time in decades.
Given Trek's normal box-office levels pre-reboot, Paramount really needs to find this series its own Harve Bennett before it prices itself out of existence: these need to be $100 million movies that look like $200 million movies, not the other way around. Maybe we could mostly just leave them on the ship next time. You know, like cost-saving Wrath of Khan and its mostly space-borne setting? Stop trying to reinvent the wheel by blowing stuff up. Recommended.