In 2009 JJ Abrams succeeded in making Star Trek hip. He flipped what was already written in myth into something that could be re imaged. Time travel is always the easy way out, but Abram's vision of Trek kept most fans happy while bringing it's share of new ones along for the ride. This sequel began filming and almost immediately speculation as to who the villain was began. Is it a new take on The Wrath of Khan or are we getting something new. It's a little of both.
We join the action already in progress and it is a very exciting opening. Kirk violates orders, we see a child dying back on earth, and a mysterious stranger able to save her. A terrorist attack begins and Kirk in the gang are sent to bring this rogue agent to justice. We briefly see the Klingon home world and Klingons. The Enterprise is left to save the earth from a new threat that could destroy both Star Fleet and the human race.
Benedict Cumberbach is the villain and he is John Harrison, but he is also Khan. We are given a slightly different approach to Khan and while the reveal drew applause, it was anything but unexpected. Kahn is both lethal and likable. Abrams does a good job of never letting you know who really is the villain. Cumberbach and Kirk's relationship in the movie plays very differently then what is shown in the trailers.
If you remember the Wrath of Khan, you will probably remember Dr Carol Marcus who is the future mother of Kirk's child. We get a very different Dr Marcus and it becomes hard to determine if she is the love interest of Kirk or McCoy. She is unfortunately mostly eye candy, but I was OK with it.
What the movie has going for it is the cast. Abrams does a good job of giving them something to do. The best parts of the film are when they are on the Enterprise playing their roles. They gel, there is a good balance of humor and action, and they truly have become those iconic characters. The action scenes and special effects are top notch.
What the film lacks is originality. There is a great cameo and Benedict is a great villain, but it's all been done before. Abram's story is incredibly predictable. There is obvious reason to Khan saving the child. The space jump is cool, but it was done better in the first film. I think the film would have played better had they not used Khan so early. I would have rather seen the newer version of the Klingons expanded upon.
In the end the story is Kirk and Spock. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are great on screen. The chemistry is there and Abram's take on their relationship is fun to watch. The movie does a good job of making you want to see more of their exploits. The problem with this Trek is originality. The trailers make the movie look better than it is. It is not bad. In my opinion it just doesn't live up to the hype. I am not calling it the movie of the summer, but I won't say it is a failure by any stretch. Star Trek Into Darkness is good, but it simply boldly goes where previous sequels have gone before.