Icon in honor of the other Dr. McCoy, for reasons soon apparant. Overall: benefited from the change of script writing team and director (disclaimer: I actually like J.J. Abrams, mostly due to Alias
, and for the same reason, I like Kurtz & Orci, too, but Into Darkness
demonstrated they had already reached a dead end). A fun popcorn summer movie on neither end of the bad to great scale as far as Trek movies are concerned.
Virtues: this is finally when Reboot!Bones get stuff to do. The two previous movies arguably had him at No.4 to new the Kirk-Spock-Uhura triad, which since I love Reboot!Uhura (original Uhura, too, of course) wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but also in no way corresponded to the importance of the character in TOS. Here, in addition to his friendship with Kirk getting some good scenes, we finally get the treasured McCoy/Spock relationship as a key feature in the rebootverse as well. Karl Urban takes all the screentime and runs with it.
(Corresponding flaw: otoh, Uhura has less to do than in the two previous reboot movies and what little she has is exposition. Say about Into Darkness
what you want - and it does deserve a lot of criticism - but Uhura had some great scenes in it. It seems the Rebootverse can't have both
McCoy and Uhura be prominent. Sigh.)
Also, Kirk has finally grown up. In fact, the movie in general doesn't pretend no time has passed since the last one but is set three years into the five years mission, and not only is there not a single Horndog!Kirk scene, but he doesn't indulge in rebel-without-a-cause antics, either. Instead, he's going through almost an early midlife crisis, or rather: questioning where to move with his life next, but in an adult, not in a overgrown teenager manner.
All of the ensemble gets stuff to do, though some more prominently than others, see above; our two prominent new characters are Jaylah (female, alien, has the majority of her scenes with Scotty, but not romantic in nature, falls into the tough and scarred by past female warrior category), and the villain, Krall (Idris Elba, for the majority of the movie about as recognizable as Christpher Ecclestone was in Thor: The Dark World
, which is to say, buried under make-up and Evil McEvil - we do find out he's got a backstory and motive in the last reel, but, as I've often said, the ST movies do not live from their villains). The general theme of "better together" and the crew saving the deay through their belief in each other and cooperation with each other is a pleasingly optimistic theme for an anniversary movie, though I have to point out the innate hypocrisy in juxtaposing this to the villain's "conflict is where it's at! Yay fighting!" ethos, because one big problem of the ST movies in genera (i.e. of all Trek casts)l is that they try to fit something that's made for the TV format where you can explore character interaction and do a different type of story - sometimes comedy, sometimes big drama - every week - into the action movie format demanding big fight scenes and a clear cut villain to have a big showdown with, and this is true of this one as well. It feels a bit like Russell Crowe screaming at the Roman audience "is this what you like?" about the bloody spectacle of gladiators when directly Ridley Scott is indulging the movie audiences' fondness for same with this very movie.
Most touching scenes for long time Trekkers: inevitably, not just the tribute to Spock Prime but the entire TOS ensemble. Also, in the credits post movie there are the double dedications to Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, which come without any music whatsoever, just as a moment of silence, and it's impossible not to feel the rl sadness there.
Random example of "doing what the last one did, but doing it better": ( is spoilery. )
All in all: not a must, but enjoyable enough. Now I'm ready for the new tv show!