Well, first: Into Darkness — worst title ever. Star Trek dramas have been darker. (Borg, anyone?) The movie, though, is better than its name, and certainly better than director J.J. Abrams' first Star Trek revival four years ago, when he flipped a big fat two-handed bird to the series' fans and insolently blew up (literally) the future we've watched unfold for 40 years.
Into Darkness is still a mess: too loud, too kinetic and with too much ham-handed action and "suspense" that you know will ultimately mean nothing. (Mee'sa thinkin' no one gonna die.) It's as much a generic sci-fi action movie as it is Star Trek, and those strains are tiresome.
Still, enough of Into Darkness embraces and respectfully reworks the cherished past. Abrams re-imagines The Wrath of Khan, with the sinewy British actor Benedict Cumberbatch as its genetically engineered superman, and Robocop (Peter Weller) as a Starfleet megalomaniac with an important name (and daughter). If the plot has too many black holes (don't they always?), at least we begin to recognize the characters again. Chris Pine is becoming a likable Kirk, and whereas the miscast Zachary Quinto is still a lifeless young Spock, the rest of the cast prospers. I'll give Abrams one more chance to get it all right.