JJ Abrams’ reinvention of Star Trek is best described as “good enough.” It’s good enough to earn enough money to prompt a sequel, Into Darkness. It’s good enough to balance the expectations of both avid Star Trek fans and those largely unfamiliar with the original series (though the fan service is a tad overdone). But it’s never really a great film in its own right. Star Trek is like a Big Mac: acceptable, consistent but nothing to get too excited about.
There are some great moments in the mix; the introduction really earns its histrionic emotion (thanks to a pre-stardom Chris Hemsworth) and the conceit – using time travel to reinterpret the backstory, the villain (Eric Bana, a rare disappointment) wielding formidable power thanks to technology from the future – is a clever way to construct the film.
Ultimately, it’s too uneven. It’s most successful when it adopts a jokey tone that’s at odds with a high stakes plot that revolves around the destruction of Vulcan and the near-destruction of Earth. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, in particular, shine when they’re exchanging banter but aren’t convincing in the more dramatic scenes. Star Trek tries to do too much and suffers for it.