Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers!
So, Star Trek: Into Darkness didn’t go as far down into the “darkness” rabbit hole as I feared it would. It was fun and exciting with lots of explosions and CGI effects (especially the warp trail), and the Klingons finally appeared, briefly. Unlike the previous installment, though, it doesn’t connect with the core competencies of Star Trek. The story only barely takes place in space; much of the time the characters are on Earth or in orbit around it. The characters don’t have many opportunities to show much depth; so the film missed the familiar triangular dynamic among logical Spock and sensual McCoy with intuitive Kirk providing the leadership that holds them together.
It turns out the main villain really is Khan, though his identity isn’t revealed right away and when it is, it’s supposed to surprise us. Khan’s character has been described as “Northern Indian,” Benedict Cumberbatch, the whitest Englishman anybody could find, plays him. After reintroducing Khan, the story takes an interesting twist I didn’t expect, and didn’t dislike, though I have mixed feelings about it. There’s better discussion of it at the A.V. Club than I can offer here.
That the movie recycles Khan’s character and even some parts of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan makes me feel like the filmmakers were abandoning the “reboot” in favor of a “remake” (and, of all the Star Trek movies, Wrath of Khan needs remaking the least). The preceding movie supposedly freed the franchise of its canonical baggage, and I was hoping for something new. At the end, though, the crew finally embarks on its “five-year mission,” providing what Gene Roddenberry always intended: hope for something better in the future.