That means I'll say something you'll hate me for if you don't know what happened. So go away until you've seen the film.
I credit myself with not taking seriously the only review I read about "Star Trek Into Darkness." I considered the reviewer's comment that "something was missing" as silly as it is subjective. Not that he might not have been correct, but it certainly wasn't going to prejudice me against the film before I saw it.
I write as someone who, as a preteen during Star Trek's first-run days in the 60s, didn't see the show, but who then grew up with Star Trek's syndicated resurgence in the 70s. The Star Trek films of the 80s were seismic events for people like me -- not someone who wore uniforms and attended conventions (I attended one) but someone for whom Star Trek represented so much about television in particular and life in general.
I read most of the Star Trek novels during the 90s. This is, for me, where the rubber met the road. Characters were fleshed out in ways they could not be in the program. Probably more than any other novel, one could accurately put a voice and a face to the characters in the book.
Eventually it was clear that, while Star Trek had more to say, the franchise could not continue with its current cast. Star Trek: The Next Generation was done, as was Deep Space Nine. Star Trek Voyager was mediocre, and Enterprise was a disaster. I was ready a dozen years ago for a new cast. I love the idea of blowing up concepts and redoing them. I had secretly cast Bruce Willis, Dennis Haysbert, Sean Connery, and Jack Nicholson as Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and McCoy, respectively, but even they were a bit too...er...mature for it.
You can imagine, then, that news of J.J. Abrams rewriting and recasting the original crew was a dream come true for me. The 2009 film was everything I hoped it would be. It literally blew up the Star Trek universe and rewrote all the rules. If I had any misgivings at all, there was too much nostalgia and -- forgive me, Leonard Nimoy -- too much of the original Mr. Spock. I hoped I had seen the last of him.
I hate all the hype that films get, now. It's just too much. It made me want to see the film just to put all the preview clips in context so the constant barrage of promos wouldn't drive me completely batty. I almost never see a film until long after the hype is over. I want to forget what people say about it. This can mean years in most cases, in which case I don't catch it in the cinema. Fine with me. Star Trek is the exception, and tonight was the night.
I had heard for months the possibility that Benedict Cumberbatch might reprise the role of Khan Noonien Singh. I tried to duck out of the way of those rumors and avoid as much knowledge as I could. I knew Cumberbatch was playing a character named Jonathan Harris. I willingly allowed myself to be swept along because, for me, I can get more from a film by being as blind as possible to the film's ultimate intent until it is revealed to me. I want the salesman to work for the deal, and that means he has to sell me on every detail. I don't want to know beforehand.
[Below: Kahn before becoming genetically superior (anything for a job!).]
And, yes, there was Leonard Nimoy, again. Sigh. I love Leonard, but I really didn't want to see him in this.
In 1982 we didn't know whether Shatner and Nimoy were really into doing more sequels, so when Spock met his fate in the Enterperprise's warp core, I just wasn't sure if they would come back for more. After all, these actors were middle-aged men, not young whippersnappers. The 1979 Star Trek film wasn't all that good, so...well, we all know about that, by now.
When Kirk and Spock traded places in STID, I almost -- ALMOST -- rolled my eyes. Not that I didn't enjoy being taken for a ride (in more metaphorical ways than one) but there was no suspense to be had, here. A third installment with this cast and crew is already expected, and...well let's face it, you don't kill James Kirk more than once and get away with it.
Putting all of this aside, Star Trek Into Darkness had a very simple and necessary mission for me: Maturity. Jim was a loose cannon. His ascendency to the captaincy was much sooner in his career than in the original time line. He was heroic but not commanding; brilliant, but totally lacking in wisdom. STID aged the wine, so to speak. In the new time line Kirk encountered Kahn years earlier, and this is what gave him his sense of purpose, his vision of what Star Fleet is to him and should be to his world, his ability to lead from confidence and courage rather than bravado and desperation.
To me, Star Trek Into Darkness was a helluva great ride, took the reborn franchise where I think it should be, and got away with a deliciously sly trick at morphing a supposedly re-imagined version of an iconic Star Trek villain into a bizarre remake -- or even send-up -- of "The Wrath of Kahn." Great fun!