The Gist: After breaking the prime directive (never interfere with the internal development of alien civilizations), Captain Kirk is relieved of command of the Enterprise and demoted to first officer by Admiral Pike, who resumes control of the vessel. Pike, however, is killed in Starfleet officer gone rogue John Harrison's sudden attack of Starfleet headquarters. Kirk is then put back in charge of the Enterprise on an unofficial and dangerous vengeance mission against Harrison, deep in Klingon territory. Harrison is later revealed to be Khan and his beef with Starfleet based on retaliation against the man who sent Kirk on his current chase.
Star Trek Into Darkness is J.J. Abrams' return to the Trek universe after he so successfully rebooted it with Star Trek, and he solidifies his credentials as a brilliant filmmaker when it comes to sci-fi/thrillers.
Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin all return to their roles, and this time they look even more comfortable than the first time around. Pine and Quinto have really established a yin yang relationship that brilliantly mirrors that of the original Kirk/Spock.
Benedict Cumberbatch, a favorite actor of mine, plays the bad guy with incredible flair and charisma, and given that Khan doesn't die like the antihero usually does, his return in future installments is a welcome possibility.
The Bottom Line: Star Trek Into Darkness is a fantastic follow up and a great addition to the Trek canon. It's engaging, full of great action sequences, features excellent visual effects, showcases great talent in front of and behind the camera, and even a great score. A must see for any fan of the genre.