I’ll preface this by stating that I am a huge Star Trek fan, and I’ve never been overly impressed by JJ Abrams. But I will say, without hesitation, that the final nail in the Abrams coffin for me was the utterly lazy sequel to 2009’s “Star Trek” reboot.
Yes, I said lazy. The movie was lazy. And I’ll explain why. My first and largest point was that there was no point in redoing the Khan story. Abrams spent literally the entirety of the first film to make the very explicit point that this was a different, alternate timeline, and a very new and different Star Trek. So what does he do with all that new freedom and creative energy? He remakes Wrath of Khan, obviously… -.- Why spend the whole first move to set up an alternate universe only to NOT use it?
And for using the whole Khan element, Abrams did a pretty terrible job at butchering the themes of the source movie. Oh, he changed it so that Kirk is sacrificed and resurrected instead of Spock. How brilliant. Except that I don’t care. I literally couldn’t care less about the change, and Kirk’s sacrifice in the movie ultimately means nothing, too. The big, overarching theme of TWOK was aging and dealing with death. The whole reason that the sacrifice Spock made at the end of the original movie was that a) Kirk had never had to face death before in all his many years, and b) the sacrifice represented the end of a 30+ year friendship. It was like losing a family member for Kirk. We don’t get that with Abrams’ movie. There’s no decades-long friendship to add tangibility to the sadness of the sacrifice. There’s nothing about how as we grow older, we all inevitably face death. In other words, the original Wrath of Khan had the history of a franchise to lever, something that the new Trek does not. Thematically, the newest Star Trek movie is hollow and empty.
So yes, the sequel that was delivered to us was lazy. And it has nothing to do with the cast. In fact, I think that cast is great. I’ll tell you why the sequel was lazy. Two words: Star Wars. Abrams is not a Star Trek fan. He freely admits that he knew almost nothing about that universe before directing the films. Abrams does, however, get a raging boner for Star Wars. So when Lucas and Disney offered him the reigns…well, the quality of Star Trek suffered, disappointingly so, in my opinion.