In a way, Star Trek 3 has it's work cut out, for the Star Trek reboots have been praised for being able to capture the essence and feel of the original TV show. To a degree, I understand that. The look of the Star Trek original series has been updated immaculately, and a certain sheen of legitimacy has been added to once hokey images (similar to what Zack Snyder did with Watchmen). Despite the deft management of the look of these films, I can't overlook one detail. The crew never beam down to somewhere new.
Sure, the 2009 movie sees Kirk beam down to Vulcan (as the planet is collapsing), and Into Darkness has our heroes visit Kronos, but never have we seen a simple shot that looks like this...
To many, that is what encompasses the slow, measured, and sometimes boring nature of what Star Trek is. Of course, with the reboots, away missions go like this.
This clip exhibits the Star Trek reboots completely. The crew beam down to a planet, but only because a cataclysmic events is going down. It has the old model of problem, followed by solution, followed by problem with solution, followed by better solution that Abrams has always used to conjure excitement. And then there's Chekov saving the day because primary characters are magic. With Simon Pegg (a self proclaimed fan) in the writer's chair for Star Trek 3, you have to wonder if he will aim for a more tactful slow burn for the Enterprise's next adventure.
While Simon Pegg has stated that his intentions for Star Trek 3 involve respecting the original series as much as possible, it seems unlikely that modern Hollywood will allow him to write something that truly captures Gene Rodenberry's original creation in both narrative and theme.
Do modern audiences just not care about slow sci-fi?
It's very easy to chalk every Hollywood trend we don't like dow to cynical producers and audiences with tiny attention spans. In reality, the issues that caused the Star Trek reboots to be loud exciting romps spawn from the shared assumption that modern cinema just needs to be loud by it's very nature. It's a tricky trend to break, but it's no one's fault. How might Star Trek 3 break this trend? Well, I'm going to make the bold suggestion that it should introduce something completely new.
Consider Star Trek 3 having Klingons as the main antagonists. If it takes a slow, mediating approach, then audiences might deem it no different to The Next Generation or Deep Space 9. If it opts for loud and brash, then it's being no different than the two films that came before it. Venturing into entirely new territory, and feeding that classic sense of sci-fi curiosity might be the best option for Star Trek 3.
Star Trek was always about discovery
It seems to be the ultimate irony that a show that boasted "to boldly go where no one has gone before" would eventually become something that retreads its own material over and over. The last big budget Star Trek endeavor to indulge completely new ideas was Star Trek Nemesis and... yeesh.
Wouldn't it be nice to go into Star Trek 3 knowing you're about to discover something new, and not simply see an interpretation of what you already know from earlier shows and movies? Perhaps when Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto beam down to a desolate, unknown place, and find some undiscovered being when they will really be accepted as the new Kirk and Spock!