I thought this review might be too long after the fact, since I didn't post it when the movie was in theaters--but now that the DVD has been released, I have a second chance!
I've been a fan of the Star Trek films and TV series for many years now. My favorite of the films remains Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home--but I've really enjoyed J.J. Abrams' take on the Trek universe. What I've loved most about this franchise overall, however, is not the sci-fi elements or the adventure or the special effects (which were amazing!), but the characters. The crew of the Enterprise is a wildly diverse group that has somehow produced just the right chemistry. They're not just a crew, they're a family. In the face of overwhelming danger, they come together in the way families do.
I'm pretty sure this is no longer a secret, so no spoiler alert--in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Kirk and company have their first face-off with the notorious Khan, who appears on Earth with an offer to help a couple whose child is dying. He can save her, he promises. But his offer comes with a price...one that will lead to the deaths of many members of Starfleet, including Kirk's mentor, Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Kirk and the Enterprise crew set off in pursuit--straight into Klingon territory.
The young Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) is what anyone familiar with the character in his later years would expect: brash, stubborn, daring--but always with the best intentions. And with a middle name like Tiberius, one can assume he learned to fight at an early age. He is, as Admiral Pike puts it, Starfleet's "only genius-level repeat offender."
Spock (Zachary Quinto), by contrast, is still trying to be all Vulcan, in spite of his half human side. Kirk brings out that human side, which frustrates Spock. Kirk has a nasty habit of giving a single-finger salute to logic. He might not break the rules, but he'll bend them beyond recognition, the way Uri Geller used to bend spoons.
The negatives? I was disappointed that a pivotal scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was borrowed in this movie, reversed to have Kirk dying to save the Enterprise as Spock did in that film. If one is going to rewrite Trek history, don't include retread scenes! Also, I never bought into the relationship between Spock and Uhura--there was never anything in the original series to even hint at such a relationship, and it seemed to me it was contrived to give the character a stronger presence in the story. It wasn't necessary. Uhura is and always was a great character without the romance angle.
All of the actors (Pine, Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho and Anton Yelchin are spot-on in their roles. (Okay, I do have one question: how is it that Scotty, in his later years, has so much more hair than young Scotty? He really is a miracle-worker--or those 23rd-century replicators are just that good!) Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan brings just the right degree of brilliance and menace to the role. I would have preferred he be a more complex villain, like Tom Hiddleston's Loki in Thor and The Avengers, but still I'm glad the character wasn't killed off--there's always the possibility he'll return in a future installment (and I do hope there will be future installments).
PS Be sure you check out William's blog--in addition to getting acquainted with his new toy, he has a fascinating story to share!