This post contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read another sentence.
I should admit upfront that while I enjoy J.J. Abrams’ update of Star Trek, I ultimately prefer the quiet, more thoughtful and ethical dilemma-driven Original Series to the more action-oriented approach of the recent movies. That preference drives my major dislikes below, but I ultimately think it is a weaker film for its reliance on action, and that it’s not just my personal preference saying so.
I should also admit that I’ve only seen The Motion Picture of the original series movies, so I have very little knowledge or preconceptions of the particular Trek lore that informs Into Darkness.
Things I Liked
Now, THIS is a villain. Cumberbatch is menacing every second he’s on screen, but menacing in such an extremely charismatic way that I never wanted him to leave the screen. It’s only been a few days since I saw the movie, but I already remember every one of his scenes 10x better than all the other scenes. Kirk who? No, but seriously, he’s a villian who gives you chills simply with a glance or a tone of voice, and I loved seeing that.
The cast’s continued embodiment of the roles
I just said I didn’t remember the rest of the cast as much as Cumberbatch, and that’s probably true, but they still all did a wonderful job embodying their characters from the original series. That was my favorite thing about Abrams’ first Star Trek movie, and nobody’s fallen down on the job since then. I particularly liked the extra time given to Checkhov, even if he did prove not to be as good an engineer as Scottie. He was trying so hard!