Star Trek: Into Darkness uses familiar characters and story lines but it's really just another shoot people and blow up things adventure film. It is entertaining except that I found the gratuitous violence just boring and tedious after awhile. "Yawn...okay well...are we done cracking his skull yet?"
While I enjoyed the adventure, when I got home and thought about it I kind of felt like I had been manipulated as a Trekkie to go and see a film I probably would not have otherwise gone to see.
I understand that a movie cannot be as cerebral as the television shows and has to have more action. But I thought the 2009 Star Trek with Chris Pine managed to make an exciting adventure film AND stay true to the star trek "feel" as well as enhancing the narrative by giving us an insight into the young Captain Kirk and what made him the captain he became.
Into Darkness gives us no real insights other than the cliche he's a rebel who does what he thinks is right, damn the consequences. Blah blah blah.
Take the opening scene. The crew of the Enterprise have violated the Prime Directive. Personally I think the whole of Star Trek is about the Prime Directive. Can we really interact with other cultures, other people, without interfering? What is the price of our influence? What is the price of our refusal to get involved? Do modern humans bring good or ill? Or both? For me, grappling with these questions is the real draw of Star Trek for me.
There was no such grappling in this movie. Kirk disregards the Prime Directive because it's stupid. We are not even supposed to question if he did the right thing; we are just supposed to feel sorry for him that such a talented and earnest young man is thwarted by stupid Federation rules.
I thought most of the dialogue was not particularly clever or insightful to the characters. If it was a little amusing it was only because it exploits what we know of these characters from other movies and TV shows. It is disappointing that the movie does absolutely nothing to further our understanding of them as young adults as they are forming their characters.
Without "spoiling" it, I'll just say the main storyline is just a further exploitation and cannibalization of a familiar plot that does nothing to enhance that story either.
And my final complaint is that in trying to entertain us with the special effects of explosions and giant star-ships crashing into San Francisco, the loss of property and life that would be so devestating to real star trek era people was glossed over. That is probably the most "un-Star Trek" part of the whole movie.
All in all I give it a "meh".