What a nostalgia trip, especially for millions of Trekkies! STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS takes us where we have been before but with pizzaz, actual character development, Klingons, Leonard Nimoy, and even Tribbles. When J.J. Abrams rebooted the franchise in 2009, he cannily went back to origin stories for the beloved characters and successfully reminded us of the traits we loved in the originals while avoiding slavishly imitating them.
In the sequel the action is virtually non-stop with all of the major characters in mortal danger most of the time. Captain Kirk has become a firebrand who breaks rules to save lives while Spock continues to be logical to the point of losing his. There is a new and inexorable threat to the galaxy in the form of Commander John Harrison, a super-human who (SPOILER ALERT, even though true trekkies know he is the dreaded Khan). He is hell-bent on destroying the Federation. He allows himself to be captured and is kept in isolation on the Enterprise. Played by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, that's his name and he's the one who has made the new BBC Sherlock Holmes series such a joy to watch), this villain is mesmerizingly attractive in his unflappable English way. It's fun to watch Chris Pine (Kirk) explode against two Mensa superiors. I won't give away too much of the plot, except to say that San Francisco is partially destroyed, as is London. Don't worry, St. Paul's Cathedral survives.
There are loads of inside trekkie jokes and even a budding romance between Spock and Lt. Uhura, the most beautiful officer I've seen in a Star Trek film. Or is that a statement that will get me into trouble as when President Obama recently called Kamala Harris the "the best looking attorney general." All the actors imbue their characters with far more personality than I can remember from Shatner and the crowd, especially Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock.
The colors in this film are spectacular, especially in the fantasy version Jupiter and other areas. All in all, STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS is a real trip and a good one. It's by far superior to the other "summer action movies" we've seen so far because it has more sense, action, and real feeling.