What bothers me most about the movie, despite repeated attempts to paint me as malcontent, is the lack of characterization. Scotty is a comedic ham even at his most serious. Uhura is nothing more than Spock's girlfriend in this movie. Sulu is just polishing to get command of the ship (he probably will be off the ship before the end of the next movie). If JJ says "it's about the relationships" and then clearly spends time making an action film about the story, then it's a bait-and-switch.
If it is truly about the characters, then the relationship between Spock and Kirk should take center stage. I understand what they are trying to do in the movie, have Spock feel the love for Kirk missing in the last movie, but I don't see it. Kirk is loyal to Spock because he doesn't want to lose a crew member. He then hints at a more personal reason. It isn't earned in this movie. There is emotion in Kirk that is never explained
. It comes off as a need to be liked by Spock. They are too busy blowing things up for it to make any sense. Kirk is not ready to command the Enterprise, something that was realized in the first draft of this script. He won't be a great person if this keeps up. He doesn't know the rules in order to know which ones should be broken. He acts on gut instinct alone
, and that is a problem with me. Kirk was well-trained and his advantage over the rule book that was Spock, was his ability to size up a situation and take calculated risks. When all options were exhausted, then he went with his gut. They don't seem to be making Kirk very likable or competent.
But even if it's driven by the story, the story fails to engage. Outside of Admiral Marcus creating a super ship, there is nothing of note or makes any logical sense. It's all a bunch of tropes we have seen over and over again. Try to disarm the torpedo, have it almost explode, check. Our heroes can do anything, even when it appears logically unsound (Scotty approaching a high-security base with no one recognizing it, being able to get aboard a ship without realizing it, etc.), check.
And then the nods, ripoffs during the key moments of the movie. Spock is about to die (The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few), Kirk dies instead of Spock (KHAAAAAAN!!!), Khan's lack of a plan or reason why he is telling Kirk what he is doing (unless he can tell that Scotty is on the ship, will somehow get him on the Vengeance, and then he can blow up the Enterprise OR he plans to kill Kirk and crew without anyone becoming aware and they use the Enterprise to re-start his work in Eugenics OR he is just trying to get Kirk to hand over the torpedoes to him BUT he has to somehow know that Kirk will get the torpedoes or his 72 friends could end up on different ships in different corners of the universe (if not destroyed)).
The movie got worse with each time I watched it. It's crap and it's crap that looks pretty and moves fast so it's pleasing crap. Tropes and lack of character consistency. A story as flimsy as they come.