[May contain spoilers] I grew up on Star Trek. TNG thru Voyager, we're talking like, serious, grade A, level one obsession from early childhood until about age 12. I had piles of toys and books: plastic phasers, tricorders, comm badges, an army of action figures and ships, novelizations, official guides, parts of the series of YA books about Jake Sisko and Nog; and thankfully a couple friends who shared similar interests. Outside of our tight-knit backyard circle of Starfleet adventurers, the other kids just didn't get it. I learned early on not to throw around a Trek enthusiasm too much on the playground, and after all those years of reluctant fandom, the mass acceptance that came into vogue post J.J. Abrams still makes me feel weirdly justified. There's just something about watching a line of teen girls fresh from cheer practice file into the theater and giggle to each other about Captain Kirk's shenanigans that's kind of great. Some Trek fans (Trekkers, Trekkies, I can't keep the preferred term straight any longer) have been quick to deride the Abrams films as too-glossy exercises in 'trying too hard', but dammit, Jim, fuck nerd-cred and exclusion. Star Trek is the kind of series that should belong to the people, and Abrams proves again once more with Into Darkness that he's capable of delivering it to the masses, at a minimal price.
Of course, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) has always been a sort of maverick. The film opens on an action-packed sequence that finds Kirk battling between keeping his crew alive and upholding a basic first-contact regulation. When his decision finds him suspended and without the Enterprise, he's present for a series of Earthbound terrorist attacks on major Starfleet marks. The perpetrator is John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a shadow figure who flees to the edges of Klingon space where he believes no reasonable peacekeeper will travel. That's what it takes to get Kirk back in the Captain's chair and reunited with the ever-logical Spock (Zachary Quinto), irritable Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (Jon Cho) and plucky Chekhov (Anton Yelchin). The familiar faces resume their duties as effectively as before, and there's a chemistry between the actors that makes the real highlight of this film the bickering, bantering, and 'in' jokes between crewmates, lovers, and would-be enemies.