Following J.J. Abrams' 2009 reboot of the Star Trek franchise, several fans of the series found themselves split on liking his new direction.
Abrams was clever enough to craft a new interpretation and telling of a beloved story, while intricately weaving it into the lore of previous shows and films.
After both commercial and critical success in the 2009 film, it stood to reason he would embark on a new chapter in this new vision of the franchise.
Needless to say, he delivered with Star Trek: Into Darkness.
While the first film was good, it lacked a compelling villain with a strong story narrative.
This is where Into Darkness flourishes.
Abrams seems to have realized fan feedback with Captain Nero (villain from Star Trek) and not being this maniacal villain, but rather a disgruntled miner with a personal grudge against Spock.
Into Darkness tells of a much darker and unsettling villain.
The film starts off with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and company on a mission on a primitive world tasked with observing the culture in its natural habitat.
Soon after the film's beginning, Kirk once again disobeys orders and finds himself in a world of trouble from his superiors at Starfleet.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Commander John Harrison begins his devious plot of committing acts of terror for his on personal goals and ambitions, prompting Kirk and the Enterprise to follow him to the reaches of the galaxy to bring him to justice.
It's at this point, the film's plot really takes off and becomes a mystery, leaving audiences in suspense. Why is this guy blowing up buildings and murdering innocents on Earth? What's his motivation?
Without revealing too much more of the plot, needless to say Abrams cleverly tells a new tale of the Star Trek universe, while paying homage to the story's roots in past films.
This time around Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) really bond as friends and you see less of the childish, immature Kirk and watch him grow into the respected captain you know him to be.
Much of the rest of the cast including Bones (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and Sulu (John Cho) take a bit of a back seat, but each have their own key moments in the film.
In the first film, I personally didn't care for Scotty's (Simon Pegg) introduction and how they just threw him onto the crew like an after thought.
In Into Darkness, Scotty plays a much more genuine character and Pegg delivers big time with his role.
But what really makes the entire film tick is Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).
This guy is flat out scary. His scratchy voice, his physique, demeanor, savvy, and intelligence is perfectly cast.
Technically speaking, there are some fantastic action scenes. The best of which would have to be a mid-warp scene with the Enterprise and another vessel.
Again, without saying too much, this particular scene steals the show.
Normally, I'm against seeing films in 3D, as I feel it's often a gimmick for theaters to nickel and dime you for a few more bucks after spending $20 on a drink and popcorn.
Into Darkness is one of the few films I thoroughly enjoyed in 3D. The space scenes (particularly the warp jumps) look incredible.
All said and done, Abrams does a fantastic job of telling a compelling second chapter in his revision of the franchise.
Hardcore Trekkies may not like some of the minor details, but keep in mind, he isn't doing things in spite of past films. Far from it. Abrams, being an outspoken and diehard fan of the Star Trek universe, incorporates things to pay homage to past iterations.
One final thing, the film ends in a clever way as well, setting up potential future films, or even a new TV series. The future is wide open and Abrams can truly take the series 'Where no one has gone before.'
If you're a fan of fast-paced, sci-fi action films, there's absolutely no reason to skip on this summer blockbuster.