(Spoiler Alert: Eva, this means you.)
In spite of the plot holes big enough to fly a starship through, the newest Star Trek movie, which basically re-invents the franchise, is a fun romp through Federation space. The movie was intended to bring the 1960’s idea into the 21st Century, thereby attracting a whole new younger audience. There was even a tag line, This is not your father’s Star Trek.
To that extent the movie was successful. J. J. Abrams achieved this by ramping up the pace of the movie to warp speed. The action, the space battles, the bar fights, the incredible stunts and even the jokes come at the audience in rapid fire phaser blasts. It gets slightly repetitive, though, as Kirk seems to spend half the movie hanging by his finger nails from one precipice or another.
Abrams also achieved his goal by performing a frontal lobotomy on the philosophical side of Star Trek. One of the hallmarks of the original show is that the crew slowed down enough to discuss the ethics of what they were doing. Abrams could have gone a long ways towards keeping the original audience of the show by deleting just one of those cliff-hanging scenes and replacing it with a philosophical discussion on the ethics of time travel or some other aspect of the plot.
So while the movie is faster and more fun than most of the previous 10, it’s also dumber. This is exemplified by Kirk’s cheating of the Kobiyoshi Maru exercise. I always imagined this event to be something much more clever, and we are, in fact, advised that Kirk is “genius level” by Captain Pike. But instead of something clever, we get “in your face.” Instead of intelligence, we get self-absorbed belligerence.
And for this, it is implied that Kirk deserves, and indeed expects, to be promoted from cadet to commander of the fleet’s flagship. Kirk is rewarded for jumping first without thinking about it at all.
That’s not the Starfleet I came to know and love. My children’s generation is welcome to it.