At dinner, my mother asked me what I was going to say about the latest Star Trek film. In my best oracular voice, I intoned, "I am thinking deep thoughts." "How can you have deep thoughts," she inquired, "about something that shallow?"
...Which is, indeed, the problem, both with the film and, alas, this blog post. After the first installment in this reboot, I wondered if the new series was going to have enough brains to handle the implications of a universe in which there was no Vulcan, given the centrality of that planet both to the universe's scientific advances and to its diplomatic record. If film #2 is any indication, the answer to my question is--nope, it's not. Oh, there's a quick mention of exploded Vulcan, and another cameo from Spock Prime, but that civilization's now near-total absence doesn't appear to affect anything. Instead, we have a bizarre terrorist allegory, clearly inspired by the dangers of arming (or waking up) insurgents and hoping that they'll do your bidding afterwards. But the terrorist in question has no particular reason to behave as he does; he's awake, he's got nothing better to do, so hey, might as well get ride of the "inferior" types? Star Trek: Into Darkness wants to say something about terrorism and how we respond to it--don't be like the terrorists being the main takeaway there--but it runs quickly away from the "why" question and towards multiplying lens flares. Lots of people die in the film, but they're collateral damage of the wowzer FX; the "big" death does earn some sniffles, I admit, but it's also cheapened because you know it's going to meet the great reset button in the sky. (At least Spock's death in Wrath of Khan felt permanent at the time, because Nimoy did want out for a while.)
Plotwise, the film is amazingly incoherent (io9 had this covered). It attempts to hold things together with some Big Themes, like the Importance of Family, and the Power of Community (it takes an Enterprise to take out Khan, the raging individualist! And ooh, the big scary ship doesn't need lots of people to run it, hint hint!). But mostly, the film is special effects strung along a weak thread of something which occasionally wakes up and remembers that it's supposed to be a plot, which unfortunately leaves the viewer plenty of time to wonder why Benedict Cumberbatch is playing a character named Khan Noonien Singh, and whether his fate is supposed to be a shout-out to Raiders of the Lost Ark.