Originally Aired: 2013-5-15
When terrorist attacks strike London and San Francisco, Captain Kirk is sent on a mission to bring the alleged terrorist to justice. But when things don't go according to plan, Kirk begins to wonder what the true motives behind his orders are. [buy tickets]
- Spock claims that Kirk shouldn't save him from the volcano because it would violate the Prime Directive. But Spock's entire intervention to save the natives from the volcano is itself a violation of the Prime Directive!
- Nothing in the altered timeline satisfactorily explains why Khan's ethnicity so radically changed.
- At one point Kirk says that since the Enterprise is at warp, the Vengeance can't catch up with them as a general principle, however that entire notion contradicts a whole host of prior episodes which have often depicted ships chasing each other at warp speed.
- Travel time between Qo'noS and Earth was way too short. They're at warp for all of a few minutes at most and then suddenly they drop out of warp only 237,000 kilometers from Earth!
- Technically the title of this film is just Star Trek Into Darkness, but I have prepended the "Star Trek [MovieNumber]" format to maintain consistency with the other films.
- The title of the film was an attempt to be clever by making "Star Trek" a verb rather than a noun, so as to "trek into darkness."
- Peter Weller, who plays Admiral Marcus in this film, also played John Frederick Paxton in Ent: Demons and Ent: Terra Prime.
- Christopher Doohan, the son of James Doohan (the original actor for Scotty), shares a scene with the new Scotty (Simon Pegg), appearing beside him as a transporter chief.
- According to Spock, a five year mission has never been attempted before.
- According to Carol Marcus, Kirk had a brief relationship with Nurse Chapel, but Kirk didn't even remember her name!
- Kirk and Spock retreating to an underwater Enterprise on the pre-warp planet.
- The Enterprise revealing itself to the natives in order to rescue Spock just as Spock completes his work rendering the volcano inert.
- Kirk to Spock upon being informed that he violated the Prime Directive: "Oh come on, Spock. They saw us. Big deal!"
- Kirk gushing to Spock about the possibility of being selected for the spiffy new "five year mission."
- Pike regarding Kirk: "You think you're infallible. You think you can't make a mistake. It's a pattern with you. The rules are for other people. And what's worse is you're using blind luck to justify your playing god."
- Pike's death.
- Spock: "There is no Starfleet regulation that condemns a man to die without a trial, something you and Admiral Marcus are forgetting. Also, preemptively firing torpedoes at the Klingons' home world..."
- Scotty: "This is clearly a military operation. Is that what we are now? Because I thought we were explorers."
- Kirk to Chekov: "You're my new chief. Now put on a red shirt." Chekov, with a look of terror on his face: "Aye captain..."
- Kirk making a snap decision not to use the special torpedoes to assassinate Harrison but instead to attempt a risky landing on Qo'noS to apprehend Harrison to satisfy due process.
- Kirk ordering his lieutenants to remove their red shirts, perhaps in the hope that will increase their odds of survival? ;)
- Spock revealing that he mind melded with Pike so that he could experience death vicariously.
- The Klingons ambushing the landing party.
- Harrison saving the landing party and then surrendering to them upon learning of the exact size of their arsenal.
- Kirk attempting to beat up Harrison only to fail to even leave a mark after multiple blows.
- Harrison revealing his true identity as Khan and outing Admiral Marcus' secret plans.
- Admiral Marcus attacking the Enterprise with the Vengeance.
- Scotty sabotaging the Vengeance.
- Kirk and Khan jumping from the Enterprise to the Vengeance.
- Young Spock calling old Spock to get advice about Khan.
- McCoy: "Damn it man, I'm a doctor, not a torpedo technician!" Count 38 for "I'm a doctor, not a (blah)" style lines, which McCoy was famous for.
- Khan taking out Admiral Marcus, taking over the Vengeance, and demanding his crew returned to him.
- Spock beaming armed torpedoes to the Vengeance and detonating them.
- The Enterprise falling to Earth.
- The seat belts appearing on the bridge. If only they'd had those in a few of the other 700 or so hours of Star Trek. ;)
- The gravity shifting all over the ship as it falls to Earth.
- Kirk: "You used what he wanted against him. That's a nice move." Spock: "It is what you would have done." Kirk, regarding saving the ship by exposing himself to radiation: "And this is what you would have done. It was only logical."
- Spock: "Khan!!!"
- The Vengeance crashing into San Francisco.
- A year later, Kirk retaking command of the Enterprise and embarking on the five year mission that he had hoped would be assigned to him originally.
The sequel to Star Trek XI's reboot corrects some of the prior film's sins, repeats others, and commits some new ones in the process. The biggest improvement was the hyperactive pace of the previous film being toned down a bit. This gave the film time to flesh out Kirk's and Spock's altered characters a bit more, doing much to set them apart from their counterparts in the original universe. Minor characters get more appropriate things to do too. The acting performances of Sulu and especially Chekov annoyed me last time around, but no longer. Probably the best minor character moment was Scotty objecting to classified weaponry on the Enterprise on the grounds of possible unintended technical consequences. Was he just jealous about the loss of control, or did he sincerely believe his caution to be warranted? Both the writing and the actor leave that open to interpretation, which I liked. The most important improvement from last time around is this film provides more texture for how Kirk went from cadet to fully commissioned officer with the rank of captain in one day. We already knew from the previous film that Admiral Pike made Kirk into a sort of pet, but here we're presented with a much more nuanced take on their relationship, which establishes the idea that Kirk's rapid rise through the ranks has been unconventional, controversial, and difficult for Pike to continue to justify. At the beginning of the film, Pike has had enough and finally resorts to threatening to demote Kirk all the way back to cadet. These scenes do much to establish the credibility that was lacking the previous film's plot, though in my view they don't go quite far enough.
While this film corrected the main issues with the previous film's character writing, it repeats most of the previous film's other missteps. First and foremost, we still have no on-screen evidence one way or the other as to whether this new universe exists apart from the old one or supersedes it. Also Scotty's magic transporter formula continues to defy my suspension of disbelief. As Emory Erickson stated in Ent: Daedalus, if it were possible to reliably beam people from one planetary system to another several light years away, then why have starships? Khan beaming directly from Earth to the Klingon home world was completely absurd. Likewise, the film once again had difficulty accurately portraying the speed of warp drive, with total travel time at warp speed between Earth and the Klingon home world apparently lasting only minutes. And just like the last film, this film is as sloppy with continuity as it is with its future tech. Admiral Marcus' involvement in Section 31 was a pathetic writing blunder compared to the smooth operation that Sloan ran on DS9, as it's stated that Admiral Marcus was motivated solely by the desire to establish a military-industrial complex. As such, there was no reason to tell Kirk about Section 31's existence at all, as Admiral Marcus could have satisfied his objectives without disclosing that detail. Likewise, it seems nobody on the Enterprise had ever cracked open a history book on the Eugenics Wars, or they'd have known precisely who Khan was well before it was necessary for Old Spock to educate his younger self on the matter.
What's worse, this film commits a striking new sin: it's considerably more unoriginal. For starters, the quickly chewed up and forgotten pre-warp civilization's portrayal at the beginning of the film strongly resembled the similar one in Star Trek IX: Insurrection. But more obviously, the vast majority of this film was a blatant rehash of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. While it was nice to see Carol Marcus in a strikingly different role and it was also nice to see the new character of Admiral Marcus overshadow Khan as the main villain for most of the film, those tweaks just weren't enough. The film just couldn't resist peppering itself endlessly with nostalgic references to its predecessor. Some were tasteful and clever, others were painful and tacky. Added together, the story isn't really much more than the sum of its parts: a more action-packed take on Wrath of Khan with a mildly interesting exploration of New Kirk's reckless youth as opposed to the much more interesting exploration of Old Kirk's decaying youth. Most of the film feels as though it's merely going through the motions of what a somewhat hollow but glitzy rehash of Wrath of Khan is supposed to look like. Even the title of the film doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose other than to simply sound cool. But that disappointing lack of depth, heart, and originality is by no means a showstopper. This film, just like the one it follows, is once again an undeniably fun action romp. It's just sad that these fun action romps must continue to come at the unnecessary expense of the intelligent storytelling and thoughtful embrace of the franchise's rich history that the series used to enjoy.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Bernard on 2013-05-17 at 11:05am:
Unfortunately I don't forgive some of the things that you do in order to give the film a pretty high rating. The fact that this film contained more than one moment that made me face palm myself and also a moment that made me laugh out loud when it was supposed to be a moment of drama says it all.
Shamelessly ripping off some parts of Star Trek II, this film does so with a heavy handedness that is obscene whilst seemingly patting itself on the back for tweaking some of the nuances slightly such as reversing characters. The writers seem to think this is clever... it is not.
There is a mish-mash of ideas that often culminate in a confused plot. Admiral Marcus is a good example. This guy poses more menace than Harrison and seems to be building to be the films major villain... but then he's not. Again, that's not clever and wastes time that could have been spent fleshing out Harrison's motivations and giving the brilliant Cumberbatch more screen time.
Some of the moments that were intended to grab you emotionally just fell flat. The scene where Harrison attacks Starfleet HQ for example just comes across as corny and the less said about the scene in engineering near the end the better. This is the type of thing that boosted up my opinion of 2009 (Vulcan being destroyed, George Kirk's sacrifice).
Into Darkness does do some of the things 2009 did equally well though. From the phenomenally sublime look, feel and effects of the movie to the raging soundtrack. From the stellar moments involving the Enterprise and also other fantastic set piece visuals this film feels even more spectacular than it's predeccesor. The character interaction between Kirk and Spock is also done consistantly throughout the film and it tells a good story between the two. So well done for that writers, but when I'm picking the bones trying to find good things to say it is not a good sign.
I can't be bothered to explain the lazy writing in this movie that causes me to make it a 0 rating (incidentally, I didn't give Star Trek 2009 a 0). But it has to have zero from me. It is ridiculous in parts, enjoyable but ridiculous. I felt like I was watching somebodies parody of Star Trek at points with Bones appearing simply to serve up gruff one liners, bizarre re-enactments of well loved scenes from STII, and lazy rehashing of a well loved adversary. I think most older Star Trek fans will surely only watch this movie to enjoy some of the better moments whilst laughing at it in equal measure.
When I commented on Star Trek 2009 I said it would be ok if they followed it by writing an ORIGINAL story that focused on building on the great foundation they had laid. Instead we get lazy writing that borders on parody whilst hammering us with visual after visual that whilst they may blow our mind are actually quite boring (anyone else get bored halfway through the scene where Harrison and Kirk are flying through space in space suits? That's boring to me, I don't want to watch a computer game... but unfortunately... the masses do and that's who they're trying to satisfy now and because it's working so well that's all we're going to get.
- From Selador on 2013-05-18 at 5:53pm:
This is a hideous, hideous film. It is epitomized by the scene where Spock punches the "bad guy" in the face, over and over and over again. It is violent, mindless and is everything Star Trek is supposed to not be.
The characterisation is awful. Neo-Kirk in horrible and unlovable, there wasn't a single scene where Spock wasn't emotional, Bones is an idiot and if it wasn't for Simon Pegg's brilliance the Scotty character wouldn't make any sense at all.
Throught the film there's an undertone of righteous, violent indignation. Neo-Kirk is constantly on the verge of beating people to a bloody pulp because he is idiotically convinced that he is the "good guy" and that everyone who disagrees with him deserves nothing but to be contemptibly and repeatedly punched in the face. Everything he does seems to me to be justifying American imperialism - he feels it's fine to intervene and that the moral code doesn't apply to his actions since he is infallibly correct. Never before have I had this feeling when watching Star Trek - and I've seen all the films and series'.
I feel there's no need to go into detail about why the plot doesn't make sense since it's so obvious.
This film put me in a bad mood for about a week, I would recommend and anyone who actually likes Star Trek to avoid it at all costs, despite Kethinov's absurdly generous review. If you've seen the South Park episode where indecent things are done to Indiana Jones you will understand what watching this film is like.
Now, back to lovely DS9...
- From dario on 2013-05-19 at 7:21am:
one problem you forgot to mention was the klingons had bumpy heads. while during this time their heads were smooth.
- From Kethinov on 2013-05-19 at 12:58pm:
Enterprise's resolution of the Klingon forehead problem established that while it would take generations for the Augment DNA to no longer suppress Klingon forehead ridges, that some Klingon families may resort to plastic surgery in the mean time. As such, there is no reason to fault this film for displaying Klingons with ridges, just as there's no reason to fault Star Trek I: The Motion Picture for the same reason.
- From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2013-05-19 at 8:07pm:
I literally just saw it about an hour ago, so I haven't formulated all my thoughts, but here's what I think so far:
I enjoyed the film a lot more than the previous one. Here's some reasons why:
-More homage is paid to the Enterprise itself. Let's face it, the Enterprise is the main character of the franchise. I was happy to see some wide shots of the ship while it was being still underwater and in the space dock. I don't seem to remember seeing the ship more than 2 seconds in the previous movie.
-This movie has more of that idealistic morality we Trekkers love. Throughout the film, the crew was trying to do the "right thing," like stopping a volcano, not participating in secret weapons, etc. I didn't sense any of that in the previous film.
-The part where new Spock contacts old Spock established that this Khan was pretty much the same Khan as before. Not some new Khan that was raised differently because of the new timeline. For some reason, I enjoy knowing this.
-There's no car going off a cliff.
-There's no cave where people bump into each other.
-It was cool to see the Klingon moon half destroyed, consistent with Star Trek VI.
That being said, the movie did some things it didn't need to do:
-The chemistry between Kirk and Spock doesn't seem to be there. They mention to each other they are close friends, but I just don't feel it. If anything, they seem like adversaries.
-Reproducing scenes from the Wrath of Khan was a bad choice. When Spock screamed “Kahn!” I instantly thought of the Darth Vader “nooooo!” part in Star Wars Episode III. I'm telling you right now, that part is going to be controversial for decades to come. The whole Kirk death scene itself had only about 10% of the emotion that the original Spock death scene. Once again, it's because the Kirk/Spock relationship doesn't seem to be there.
-The fistfight on top of the vehicles was ridiculous. Why is Spock the only one beaming down? How can they not get sucked off from the wind resistance? I can only imagine how many scenes like this Abrams is going to insert into Star Wars.
-Why remake the Klingon look? That face looked worse than the makeup job of the TNG era Klingons.
-From what I remember, in the scene where Pike is dressing down Kirk for letting the natives see the ship, he was also mad about them trying to freeze the volcano. Why? Starfleet rescues civilizations all the time. For example, in TOS they were once trying to stop an asteroid from hitting a planet full of Indians. I know, it's a different timeline, but that aspect of Starfleet's mission should still be there.
-I was confused about why they needed Khan to come back to the ship alive in order to resurrect Kirk. All they needed to do is transfuse blood from one of Khan's frozen men.
Overall, I'm giving the film 6 out of 10. The best thing it did was make me forget about the first movie.
- From Wes on 2013-05-19 at 8:56pm:
Kirk and Bones swam back to the ship. Spock was in the volcano.
I liked it much better than the first one as an adventure and the plot twists. This was entertaining. And it seems they are trying to be more entertaining than anything. Although, there were good classic Star Trek elements in this one.
The time to travel to "Kronos" was dumb. And what's with changing the spelling of the name of the Klingon home world to Kronos!? And yes, the rehash of Wrath of Khan elements was a little annoying (i.e. someone dying in engineering, yelling "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!" and others).
- From Wes on 2013-05-19 at 10:59pm:
Oh, I forgot.
I look at the title as more of a preface to where this franchise is headed--war with the Klingons and a more militarized Starfleet. I do look for superhuman Kirk going to war with the Klingons in the next movie. Get ready for a rehash of General Chang ;)
- From Jem Hadar on 2013-05-22 at 2:29am:
I don't understand people who freak out over this film so much. It is a GREAT movie- this is a new generation of Star Trek, modernized- and I think some people are too stuck in the past. Yeah, it could have tackled "the issues" more- but that's not what this film was trying to do. I think the next movie in the series will have a more 'humanitarian' outlook, but for what this film was going for, it did a great job. I loved all the references to past Trek. The Nimoy cameo was fun, though the problem you pointed out was a sound one.
I loved the new Klingon look- the effects were top notch too. Cumberbatch did an excellent job as Khan. Scotty had some great scenes; it was nice to see him have an even bigger role this time around. The new Carol Marcus was really hot too, which was great. I will say, though, that the Spock "KHAN!" scream had me laughing, which I don't think was the intention.
I think the title of the film was perfect, and a good indicator of where the series is going.
- From OmicronThetaDeltaPhi on 2013-05-30 at 8:31am:
Well, Jem Hadar, if expecting the franchise to retain at least an inkling of the optimism and moral values it held dear for 40 years is "being stuck in the past", then I am proud to declare myself as one of those who are stuck in the past.
I'm really sad to see how the Star Trek franchise has transformed into a mindless sci-fi action franchise. And for what? In order to make it "more popular". As if popularity has ever been a measure of quality.
Into Darkness indeed.
- From Abigail on 2013-06-04 at 7:44pm:
My main thought about the movie (and this is not especially deep or thoughtful) was that 99% of the plot happened in the first hour and fifteen minutes. Then I watched people jump around on rooftops, fire phasers, and punch each other for the next forty-five minutes. Sorry, but that got pretty boring. That's not really "Star Trek" to me; I need some substance!
I do give them credit for the great special effects, though. I saw it in 3D, which made it particularly fun to view.
- From Pete Oliva on 2013-09-16 at 3:08am:
It just always bugged me how Khan's ethinc background changed. I know the new actor is British, but still, for continuity's sake, it stinks. His ethnicity wouldn't have been altered by the timeline fork.
- From Rob UK on 2013-09-17 at 8:13am:
Well where to start??
I just watched this for the third time to try and make some sense of it and do you know what i just realised? Obviously you all don't so here goes.
This is the plot and storyline from that ultra cheesy movie of the 90's The Demolition Man with Stallone (whole Enterprise), except shot in a I-phone store and some cgi thrown in, let me explain.
Future benevolent society ruler afraid of the unknown wakes up cryo frozen 'weapon' to use their powers for his own gain, everything backfires and our hero must save the day joining forces with the 'bad guys' to defeat the real enemy the benevolent leader! lame on so many levels, not even starting on all the swearing, the emotions from Spock acknowledging that his human side even affects him, i could go on and on, this is not the Star Trek standards I have come to expect by a long way, it is a nice cgi movie which I was amazed to find the second half was not directed by Michael Bay.
So am i right in thinking (judging by what we have seen so far) that this is the remake of Star Trek II, the last movie ingeniously titled 09(instantly dating it lol,imagine Star Trek the Movie was called Star Trek 1980, it certainly would not still be being watched now) was the new version of Star Trek the Movie and they are now just gonna churn out a remake of each movie rather than advanced the Star trek universe we have been drip fed the evolution of over the last 30 years? very lame, don't think i'll even torrent them lol.
What happens after the Dominion war, Cisco's evolution to join the profits how did this affect B'jor and the whole sector, what about the Mirror mirror lot who seemed to have almost found a permanent way through to our side, trade with the ferengi?????? Holograms rights????? Lame Lame lame lame so dissapointed
- From Rob UK on 2013-09-19 at 6:04am:
I think we should all start a fan petition to get some directors and some backing on the continuation of 'our' Star Trek Universe, they could run in parallel just like alternate universes reality theory. One could continue in the world we know and love and the other could churn out sci fi cgi flicks and dumbed down action orientated remakes for the ADHD generation.
- From BrentNorth on 2013-12-15 at 3:41am:
There is a potentially decent Star Trek film lurking somewhere here, trying to get out, a post-modern story about terrorism and militarism. But it is overwhelmed but the brutally clumsy attempts at Wrath of Khan nostalgia.
Star Trek is supposed to be about new frontiers of exploration and thought, not cheap imitations of what has already been done. For that reason, I am at least partly of a mind to rank Star Trek V: The Final Frontier above Into Darkness. V may be a terrible film, but its concept is at least worthwhile in theory.
On a specific note, the portions of this film that relate to "Khan" constitute an unforgivable sin in my book (and were completely unnecessary). I have rarely if ever watched anything so excruciatingly cringe worthy. Whoever was responsible for the creative decisions behind those parts should have his/her Star Trek license immediately and permanently revoked.
- From Rob UK on 2014-02-17 at 8:48pm:
I have always loved my Trek fix ever since i was a kid, i am oddly amused at how mentally affected i am that 'they' (the Star Trek PTB)are not continuing the tale telling in regards to the STU as of Stardate 2373 when Voyager got home and after DS9 kicked Dominion ass, so much to work with (please see my above rantings on Cisco the profit and more lol).
It is the same type of mind torment all the original fans must have went through between the end of TOS and the Star Trek movies of the 80's, anyway we eventually arrive to my point in writing
If you are a fan of TOS and you never wanted it to end with Turnabout Intruder s03e24 then you would be crazy not to follow the link i just posted (webmaster permitting of course), I only just found the show a couple of weeks back and they've got my interest hanging on for ep3 coming soon.
- From Kevin on 2014-06-07 at 2:27am:
I tried to like it, and honestly bit here and there were good. Good visuals and music and pacing. But the story and all of the silly moments and things that made no sense took over and I realized it was simply a crappy big budged action movie, with no care taken to make a quality movie.
None of these complaints have ANYTHING to do with liking or not liking old star trek.
It was simply a lame, and lazily written movie, that nobody read the scrip and thought, wow this does not make sense.
There are literally about 4 dozen really noticeable plot issues. Things that just do not add up. It was as if they were trying make scenes simply to get to the next action part.
Really squandered their chance to make a quality lasting movie. Instead they took the easy, lazy and silly way out. A comic book parody of Star Trke, and a really not well thought out movie on its own.
Bad not only as star trek, but bad as a movie in general.
- From Kelly on 2014-06-07 at 11:07pm:
Really not sure what to say. I get why some like it sort of. But to me as a woman, in my 30's it felt like I was totally the wrong audience. It was very juvenile feeling many times. The plot was not so much confusing, but silly and nonsensical. It seemed okay when I watched it, but later as I thought about it, so much made no sense. Decent acting and filming and all the technical stuff, but it needs someone to double check the science and the script. I rolled my eyes many times.It made me crinnge. I laughed at stuff that was supposed to be serious. That stuff with Spock and Uhura was beyond embarrassing, as was him yelling "Khan". Kirk is not a captain, but a teenager jock in space. Really a bit insulting to me as an adult.
- From Bronn on 2014-11-26 at 6:46pm:
This film has many, many problems, which led to me scoring it a 2 (ST received a 6, Nemesis received a 1, and Final Frontier a 0, just for comparison). Before explaining the flaws that destroy this film, I'll start with what works well.
1) The visual effects are pretty stunning, and the visual style is actually an improvement on the flaws of the previous film. It has a futuristic style without the antiseptic look of the 2009 film (the same kind of problem the Star Wars prequels had, in which CG backgrounds had an unsettling fakeness about them) so it was easier to immerse. JJ Abrams also stopped with the lens flare nonsense.
2) The basic premise actually works for me. I don't mind Khan re-entering as a villain, and I don't mind that there's actually a secondary villain who is trying to steal control of Starfleet for the military-industrial complex. As a pair of plot devices, they work fine, and would have provided a fine story. Unfortunately, they failed to properly realize either plot.
3) The acting from the main cast is spot on. Chris Pine is extremely talented and believable, and I am a big fan of Quinto's abilities. Simon Pegg is nearly a show-stealer as Scotty, just as he was in the 2009 version. I also have no problems with Zoe Saldana as Uhura, even if she's a big intrusive at times.
Okay, now onto the problems.
The biggest failing of this film is the writing. The characters aren't believably written. We accepted the original Kirk and Spock as great friends because we saw that actively develop during their adventures together. We saw Spock nearly emotional at Kirk's fake death in "The Amok Time," and we realized there was an emotional bond there. However, at the end of Star Trek: 2009, this Kirk and Spock were closer to adversaries than friends-which is fine. They didn't HAVE to be friends, since this is a new universe; the writers could do whatever they wanted with this relationship. If they wanted to show them becoming friends, it would be something we could follow during the subsequent films.
That's not what happened, though. We're simply (and CONSTANTLY) told that these two are friends. I would accept that they've had plenty of off-screen adventures in which they've become close, even though it removes that interesting character development, except for what happens in the plot. It's clear that Spock and Kirk are very different people who don't even know each other that well. Kirk lies to Starfleet about their mission, and is surprised that Spock was completely truthful. How does he know so little about his friend that he simply assumes Spock will lie to keep him out of trouble? And if they're so close, why did Spock not anticipate Kirk's obfuscation? They have so little in common. It's like the writers simply went from "Well duh, they're Kirk and Spock, they HAVE to be best friends," and didn't bother actually portraying that.
Furthermore, Kirk's lie irritates me. It starts with ending the previous film with him as captain of the Enterprise when he's clearly got no experience or maturity and hasn't earned that post yet. I kept imagining Picard locking the door to his office and telling Chris Pine that "The first duty of any starfleet officer is to the truth!" It's not like violating the Prime Directive is automatic dismissal from Starfleet, since Picard and the original Kirk did so several times when they felt they had a moral imperative to act. Saving an entire civilization from catastrophic destruction should not be hard to justify. But Kirk just lied about it, and behaves like a spoiled brat when his lie is called out and he gets in trouble for it. Again, he thinks that saving Spock's life is sufficient to get Spock to lie on his behalf, even if lying (and especially a dishonorable cover-your-ass lie) goes against Spock's nature. It was very early on that this mischaracterization grated on me, and it continued through the rest of the film.
This poor characterization was even more deeply demonstrated during the mission to Qo'nos. Kirk asks Spock and Uhura, very frankly, if their personal issues are going to get in the way of the mission. They promise him that it won't, and he believes them because they're professionals, Starfleet officers, and one is a Vulcan to boot. I expect them, on a mission which is supposed to be serious (in which they could easily be killed) to actually get past personal issues, which were frankly fairly petty. I mean, Uhura's whining about the Vulcan she's dating refusing to share his feelings...seriously! And it happens almost as soon as the mission starts. I mean, not only is unprofessional, it's a bit childish. It makes me think of Battlestar Galactica (re-imagined), in which there were deeply flawed individuals who sometimes had severe personal conflicts, even open hatred, with people they worked with, but they were able to get past personal issues in life-or-death situations. Here we have Spock, of all people, drawn into an argument with his girlfriend on a life-or-death mission. It doesn't help reassure me that this junior crew, with an immature captain, is somehow still professional enough to get the job done.
I've rambled about the characters so much that I won't get into the plot very much, but let me say this: Why is it that the climax of the film has two starships blasting each other right next to the moon? I mean, are those the only two ships in starfleet? Why weren't other ships all over the place since they were literally minutes away from star fleet headquarters? They were closer to Starfleet headquarters than the freaking SHIPYARDS at Utopia Planetia. Yet somehow, nobody intervened, and both ships were completely at liberty to blast each without talking to anyone else. If nothing else, wouldn't Starfleet wonder why Marcus killed everyone on the Enterprise rather than have them face the law? Wouldn't other ships arrive to see if they could assist in the situation? Why is Spock able to send a subspace message to future Spock, but incapable of sending a message asking for help from other people in the vicinity of earth? I honestly don't know why this fight had to be near earth, except that they wanted Khan to threaten to destroy Starfleet headquarters at the end of it-would have made more sense if they'd been fighting near Qo'nos or anywhere OUTSIDE of the Federation, when these logical failures would not have existed.