Director J.J. Abrams' follow-up to his 2009 Star Trek reboot, Star Trek Into Darkness, is Abrams and company's equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back, or The Wrath of Khan, as you will. Like the two aforementioned films, Star Trek Into Darkness is not without wit, charm, and humor, but by the very nature of the life-and-death stakes of the story, it is far darker than its predecessor, but also more emotionally rewarding.
This film has Bad Robot's DNA all over it. J.J. Abrams' production outfit, Bad Robot, has produced a film that is as full of twists and breakneck turns as their TV shows. Suffice to say, if you are a fan of Bad Robot productions, in particular Lost, Fringe, and the first Star Trek from four years ago, then you will be right at home here and will love everything about this film. This is a sequel that maintains the character relationships that made the first film work so well, and deepens them even further in this film, to where you are actively engaged in the fates of each and every character.
While I would say the first film had more energy and bigger Summer thrills, this film has more character and more emotion, making the two impossible to compare. It's like trying to compare the original Star Wars to The Empire Strikes Back. They're two completely separate types of films, both are adventure films, but one is more lighthearted and one is the most moving Star Trek film I have ever seen.
Actor Chris Pine delivers a hero's performance as Captain James T. Kirk that is every bit as charming and soulful as Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then there's Zachary Quinto as Spock, who continues to make you ask, "Leonard Nimoy-who?" I actually believe that I am liking this crew of the Enterprise more and more than any other incarnation of Star Trek. I don't think there has ever been this good of chemistry between the actors as there is in this series of Star Trek films, and it shows in every single frame of this film. From the laughs, to the thrills, to the... Oh, come on. Just see the movie already!
I give Star Trek Into Darkness an A!